Newsflash March 2020

We have prepared a new Newsflash for you full with updates from the network, including the newest resources and papers published. Feel free to share your feedback, news or ideas with us through

Enjoy the reading!

Sudan – “FBLN Curriculum meeting”

Recently, representatives of different universities, institutes and FBLN chapters had a multiple-day workshop in Wad Medani and Kassala, Sudan. The topic of this workshop was the integration of FBLS in education and institutes. Presentations covered topics which can be integrated in the FBLS curricula such as soil moisture management, use of Remote Sensing and Gender and Well-being in FBLS. The presentations and additional pictures can be accessed through via this link

More on the results of the curriculum development in Kenya can be found later on in this newsletter.

Besides presentations and discussions, the group visited the Gezira Irrigation Scheme and Gash, a spate irrigation system in the East of Sudan. 

Gezira Irrigation Scheme
Part of the group at Gezira
Diversion structure in Gash spate irrigation scheme, notice the build-up of sediments which can be up to 10cm/year

Update from Myanmar – Climate resilience through flood risk reduction map for the Ayeyarwaddy Delta

The Department of Agriculture (DoA) of Myanmar states that floods cause the loss of 350,000 tons of rice annually in the Ayeyarwady Delta.  Changes in flood behaviour and rainfall patterns, make floods the primary cause of crop losses in the delta. For this reason, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) updated outdated maps, which were very limited. The new maps indicate which areas are suitable for what category of rice (favourable/modern, deep water and flooded), in the whole delta.

The maps help the DoA extension staff to better help farmers match their rice variety choices and planting times. In order to facilitate the interpretation, application and updating of these maps, IWMI conducted presentations and several short theory and practical training events for all administrative levels within the DoA.

A more extended article can be found here. For more in, Sanjiv De Silva of IWMI can be contacted via S.S.DESILVA@CGIAR.ORG.

One of the produced maps for Ayeyarwady Delta
DoA staff discussing the township maps with IWMI staff

Alluvial fan and spate irrigation in Iran

This simulated natural-colour image of south-eastern Fars province in southern Iran shows a dry river channel carving through arid mountains toward the northeast, clear indications of the existence of a spate irrigation system. The dry river spreads out across the valley floor in a silvery fan. A broad belt of lush agricultural land follows the curve of the fan and stretches out along a road that runs parallel to the ridgeline. The valley-ward margin of the intensely green agricultural belt fades to dull green along streams (or irrigation canals). The image was captured by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite on October 12, 2004.
The images have been accessed through the website of Nasa.

Policy and stakeholder workshop organised in Yemen

In February’s newsflash, we wrote about the assessment of the Tihama Wadis Spate Irrigation Systems by Water and Environment Centre (WEC) and FBLN Yemen. Following this assessment, the WEC is organising a 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 is to achieve food security, allocate poverty and to rise livelihoods. This will be done by rehabilitating the Wadis Spate Irrigation System, for which proposals are being written, in which the Yemen chapter of the FBLN has an important role.
The FBLN teamleader for Yemen, Dr. Sharafaddin can be contacted for more information,

Canals overgrown with prosopis, showing the need for maintenance
Announcement of the policy and stakeholder workshop @ the WEC in Sana’a, Yemen

Postcard from the Beja, Akla Almahate, Eastern Sudan: Health, Water, Education, Work – a blog on the use of the well-being survey in Gash

During the recent curriculum workshop the team took the opportunity to visit some communities in the Gash Spate Irrigation scheme and gather a better understanding of their lives, the challenges they come across and how the community is set-up. A tool called ‘well-being survey’ was used for this activity, with a special focus on understanding the role of women and children in society.
On the WaterChannel a blog has been published, presenting some of the interesting findings of this survey. See

Updates from Pakistan (1) – Spreading the message

Recently, a lot has been going on in Pakistan regarding flood-based farming. There have been awareness campaigns on radio and results of recent research has been presented at international conferences. Besides that, the spate irrigation brochure, which has been made by MetaMeta and the Pakistan FBLN chapter, has been translated to the natio-nal language and distributed at the MNS University. The brochure can be accessed through this link. The aim of these efforts is to increase the visibility of FBLS.

Awareness campaign on national radio
Presentations of FBLS at international conferences
Distribution of Spate Irrigation brochures translated in Urdu amoungst students

Updates from Pakistan (2) – Visit to Sanghar hill torrent

Also, FBLN Pakistan recentlyvisited Sanghar hill torent, which has a potential to support 33.000 acres of flood-based farming. Currently, only 4600 acres of this command area are cultivated. Plants with medicinal value were found and possible crops were indentified. This area has high potential for improvement; a lot of tree species and medicinal plant are suitable in this area. Some of these species were already found growing wild. 

Peganum Harmala Plant (Hermal Seed) – High potential for this medicinal plant in this area
Livestock in Sanghar command area
Potential for agroforestry

Kenya – Curriculum review and development

Even though flood-based livelihoods exist for a long time, they are relatively new in Kenyan education, extension services and science. For this reason, the FBLS Foundation aims to give FBLS a place in extension services and higher education. In Kenya, meetings between FBLS team members, universities and tertiary institutions took place, in order to:

  • Solidify the knowledge on FBLS by upscaling the knowledge base, both geographically and content wise
  • Strengthen the content and delivery of FBLS courses that have been mainstreamed in universities and other educational institutions
  • Assess the potential opportunities for introduction of FBLS courses in various educational institutions
Consultative meeting at Kenya School of Agriculture

Tertiary institutions

The tertiary institutions involved are CETRAD (Centre for Training and Research in Asal Development), Kenya School of Government (KSG) and Kenya Water Institute (KEWI). They aim to design short courses for different target populations and to integrate flood-based farming in already existing courses and manuals.


The universities currently involved are Egerton University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology and University of Nairobi. The aim is to integrate flood-based farming into the BSc and MSc curricula and to provide courses for other target groups such as practitioners, policy makers and farmers.

WaPOR analysis at weir locations in Afar, Ethiopia

FBLN Ethiopia has been involved in an analysis of the effects of the construction of Water Spreading Weirs (WSWs). One of the tools to analyse the effects of this intervention is the WAPOR tool, developed by the FAO, see In past editions of the newsflash we have also referred to this tool as we believe it can be of great use for the analysis of Spate Irrigation systems and more broadly areas in which FBLS is applied.

In the specific case of the application of WSWs in Afar the following outcomes were discovered:

  1. Actual evapotranspiration and interception (AETI) show continuously increased from 2009 to 2018. After the weir were constructed (after 2014) the value of AETI were increased. This is probably due to construction of weirs. Maybe after the weir were constructed the harvested water might have increases the value of evaporated water from soil body and from plants leaves.
  2. The value of Net Primary Production (NPP) also clearly increased after the weir were constructed. Net Primary Production means in other word above ground biomass. Comparing biomass before the weir were constructed (2013) and after the weir were constructed (2016 &2018), high biomass was observed in 2016 and 2018 at all weir locations. So, this incremental of biomass is also due to construction of weirs.
  3. The value of normalized difference soil moisture index (NDMI) show some variation over the area. At some weir location the value increased after weir were constructed, but at some weir location the value is declined after weir were constructed.

For more background on Water Spreading Weirs, see this section of the Wocat website. and the gallery on the FBLN website as well as the academic articles mentioned further on in this newsflash.

Locations of the Water Spreading Weirs which were assessed using WaPOR
Analysis of the Net Primary Production at one of the WSW sites. The analysis clearly shows and increase in the NPP in 2016 and 2018, when compared to 2009

Desert locusts – Video

Desert locusts’ outbreaks in the recent months in East Africa and West Asia have been the biggest and most destructive in decades. They have wiped away hectares of standing crops, pastureland, and food reserves of hundreds of thousands of farmers.

In this interview from the WaterChannel, Senior Agronomist Camillo Risoli explains why, despite technological advancements, these little grasshoppers continue to outfox us. He also highlights the importance of ‘Locust Prospectors,’ who work tirelessly in deserts for months on end, detecting and destroying locust colonies before they grow wings and become unstoppable; and how the deteriorating security situation in Africa’s Sahel region (the breeding ground for desert locusts) has impeded their crucial work.

Click here to watch this video on the

Screenshot of the video on desert locusts

Rodent control – Video

Rodents are a major threat for agriculture and food security worldwide. The rodent problem in agriculture is bigger than most of us realise.

  • Globally, 15% of all stored and standing crops are destroyed by rodents
  • In some parts of the world, rodents damage up to 46% of all food
  • In Ethiopia alone, the rodent problem costs the economy $2 billion annually.
  • Rodents cost a farmerbetween$105 and $230 per hectare, annually

This clip describes how to curb this menace without harming the environment, people, andlivestock.The bio-rodenticide featured in this video is produced from botanical extracts, by local women groups. Unlike chemicalrodenticides, it does not have any inclement effects on the environment, humans, pets, or livestock.

Click here to watch this video on the

Screenshot of the video on rodent control

Rock carvings in Mehar Tukk Hill, Pakistan

Rock carvings are found in Mehar Tuck Hill near Mian Saleh Graveyard UC Khari Tehsil Ganadawah District Jhal Magsi Balochistan, which is within Spate Irrigation systems. These human and animal figurines and hunting scenes are located in Mula River area and believed to be 8.000 – 10.000 years old, which underlines the old roots and ancient nature of Spate Irrigation.

New resources

There has been increasing interest for the construction of Water Spreading Weirs (WSW) in Afar, Ethiopia. Recently three research papers have been published in the Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems journal of Cambridge University Press. The articles look into various aspects of these facilities.
Assessing potential locations for flood-based farming using satellite imagery: a case study of Afar region, Ethiopia
Article 1
Water spreading weirs altering flood, nutrient distribution and crop productivity in upstream–downstream settings in dry lowlands of Afar, Ethiopia
Article 2
Facilitating livelihoods diversification through flood-based land restoration in pastoral systems of Afar, Ethiopia
Article 3
The papers go into WSWs which have been built under GIZ projects from 2015 onwards. The results are very encouraging from an increase in land cover and biomass production to diversification of household income to the use of Remote Sensing in identifying potential sites.

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!