Newsflash April 2020

Dear readers,

Welcome to the April 2020 Newsflash of the Flood-Based Livelihoods Network. Our world is going through unprecedented times, due to the COVID-19 virus and the measures that are taken to reduce the spread of the virus. The impact on your personal life will be there, but will also vary from person to person. In this newsflash we have included some cases from communities depending on floods for their livelihood, where especially the families depending on daily wages are affected, but we also included some of the efforts that are being undertaken to cushion the effects.

As always, feel free to share input or resources through info@spate-irrigation.org.

For now, stay safe and healthy!

The FBLN Team

Effect of COVID-19 in Flood Based areas – request for ideas

COVID-19 has an effect on almost all groups of people and societies, including the Flood-Based areas. As Flood-Based Livelihoods Network we will organise an open Zoom meeting around this development in the coming weeks and we want to give you the opportunity to contribute your ideas on (1) how COVID-19 will affect Flood Based areas and (2) what response can be formulated.

Please share your contributions with us through info@spate-irrigation.org. The Zoom meeting will be announced in a separate Newsflash and through our Twitter & Facebook pages.

Blog on COVID-19: “Lockdowns in rural Pakistan – what to do”

Senior Agronomist Karim Nawaz describes what a COVID-19-lockdown looks like in a rural area, and how rural communities could be supported through it. This example is from Pakistan but relevant to rural contexts across the board.

The blog especially zooms in on spate-irrigated areas, where the lack of movement is taking its toll. Also, recommendations are made to support the population engaged in spate irrigation areas.

The blog can be read here.

Distribution of food packages – One of the recommendations made in the blog

Effects of lockdown on labour and harvest

As mentioned in the blog above, the corona virus affects spate-irrigated areas and the communities depending on these areas for their livelihoods. This is also the case for Tehsil Jampur, Rajanpur District, Pakistan. In this area, the growth and anticipated harvest of wheat was quite reasonable this year and the mechanical harvest was completed for 75%. However, the corona pandemic has disabled the movement of laborers to the adjacent plains. As a result, they cannot make any money and there is little labour available to carry out weeding prior to harvest. As a result the weeds are harvested together with the wheat and this affects both the quantity and quality of the harvest, and thus also the price.

Mechanical harvest
Field of harvested wheat
Khuram Mubeen and others during their visit to the area

Follow-up workshop in Yemen

In the last month, the Water and Environment Centre (WEC) of Sana’a University organized a multiple-day workshop for policy makers and other stakeholders to present the outcomes of the recent assessment and to plan for the re-development of the Spate Irrigation systems of Yemen.

The overall aim of this earlier assessment and workshop was to achieve food security, allocate poverty and to rise livelihoods. This will be done by rehabilitating the Tihama Spate Irrigation System, for which proposals are being written and in which the Yemen chapter of the FBLN has an important role.

During the workshop several topics have been discussed. Initially, the water and resilience problems have been defined, followed by designing a plan of recovery on utilities level. A training on collaboration between the WEC and LC (local corporations) took place, besides a risk assessment from the gender perspective. On the last day, an open discussion on how to implement the training in the coming phases was planned.

Opening slide of the multiple-day workshop
Use of sticky notes to brainstorm on the topics
Impression of the workshop

Webinars on TheWaterChannel

In April, TheWaterChannel hosted two interesting webinars. A brief summary + link to recordings can be found below. Updates on upcoming webinars will be posted on www.thewaterchannel.tv.

Past Webinars

April 8 – Ecologically-based Rodent Management (EBRM) for Food Security

  • The rodent problem in agriculture is bigger than most of us realise.
  • 15% of all stored and standing crops are destroyed by rodents globally.
  • In some parts, rodents damage upto 46% of all food.

In Ethiopia, rodents cost the economy $2 billion in losses, individual farmers lose $100-230 per hectare annually.
How to curb this menace without harming the environment, people, and pets/livestock?
In this webinar, Luwieke Bosma from MetaMeta and Getachew Engdayehu from Amhara Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development shared their experiences implementing EBRM, and discussed its relevance to farmers elsewhere.

The recording of the webinar can be accessed here.

April 15 – Green Roads for Water, for Resilience & Recovery

Over the past few years, ‘Green Roads for Water’ programmes have been introduced in over than 10 countries, and have brought about marked improvements in water availability and road management. The relevance of these programmes, this approach to infrastructure, is high in these times of Corona when people’s resilience is being pushed to the limits. Firstly, it helps create new sources of water wherever roads are built. Secondly, when built into social safety net and recovery programmes, it creates employment as well as better rural roads.
In this webinar, several MetaMeta experts shared their experiences and all questions of the participants were answered.

The recording of the webinar can be accessed here.

New pictures on FBLN website

The FBLN website (www.spate-irrigation.org) has an extensive photo library. In this section of the website, a range of photos from different FBLN aspects can be accessed. Categories include engineering, flood water & satellite images. Currently, the photo library is being updated with photos from the whole network.

If you have any FBLN-related photos to share, please share them through info@spate-irrigation.org. Thanks in advance!

Flooded tree – Afar, Ethiopia – One of the new photos in the library

Postcard from the Beja, Akla Almahate, Eastern Sudan: Health, Water, Education, Work

In this blog, the livelihoods of the Beja are described. The Beja have been living in the land between the Nile and the Red Sea for centuries. An important Beja community is located in eastern Sudan at Gash basin in Kassala State. The blog especially highlights the gender aspects in this community and describes some possibilities to improve live of women in this area.

The blog can be accessed here.

Portable tents belonging to the Beja community

Blog on Symbiosis: Pastoralists and Farmers in Balochistan

There is a narrative that the competition between pastoralist and farmers in arid areas is a sure route to conflict, and there are many examples that illustrate this – from Darfur in Sudan to Afar and Issa in Ethiopia. Yet this need not be so. Relations between pastoralist and farmers can be just as well symbiotic, mutually beneficial, and relatively peaceful. This the story from Balochistan – Pakistan’s large arid western-most Province.

Curious about the rest of the blog? Read it here.

Symbiosis between pastoralists and farmers

Presentation on “Pre-analysis Wadi Mawr, Yemen”

An analysis of productivity and evapotranspiration in Spate Irrigation through Remote Sensing

Many areas in the world are not easily accessible by everyone every day, whether it be conflict, financial restrictions, or remote areas lacking infrastructure. Additionally, when trying to obtain an understanding of what is going on in certain regions and systems, an observation from a single day may not suffice and it is difficult to go back in time for historical observations. This brings us to the power of remote sensing. Through freely available software’s and daily datasets of the past decades, analyses can be conducted from home of any place in the world. Even though it is vital to combine these analyses with ground data and local knowledge for further interpretation, a relatively quick first impression can be obtained using remote sensing. This quick assessment can then be used to select areas of interest for further analyses. 

In this presentation an example is provided of a pre-analyses of Wadi Mawr in Yemen using the FAO WaPOR database (https://wapor.apps.fao.org/home/WAPOR_2/1). This analysis was a first experiment of using WaPOR for spate irrigation. It is only in the beginning stage and will need to be further worked out based on the needs on the ground and using ground data. However, from this pre-analysis some first insights can be obtained of the area. Wadi Mawr is the northern most large spate irrigation systems on Yemen’s Red Sea Coast (Tihama). The Tihama was Yemen’s ‘grain basket’ and ‘fodder basket’ – and in fact the only area that contributes to food security in the country – though Yemen for many years imported 85-90% of its grains. The Tihama system suffered heavily from the war – less inputs, less maintenance, and more infestation of invasive species blocking irrigation canals.

The presentation is accessible through http://spate-irrigation.org

Upcoming DREAM2 Conference

The dates for the 2020 DREAM ASAL conference have been set. It is tentatively scheduled to take place from 20 – 24 September in Jijiga, Ethiopia. DREAM is an abbreviation for Development of Resilience Empowering Alternative Measures for Ethiopian Lowlands, which is an ongoing project of GIZ. More details will be shared in the next FBLN Newsflash.

Other resources

Stay up to date with developments through our Facebook pageTwitter account and the FBLN website.

We hope you enjoyed reading this newsletter and we encourage you to share updates with the network!