Global Water Initiative East Africa

The Global Water Initiative East Africa (Phase II) was a project run by CARE and funded by the Howard G. Buffett Foundation between 2012 and 2015.

The program has now closed, but this website is maintained to provide access to the project’s learning, publications and media outputs.

These resources are still available on the project’s Publications page. If you are interested in finding out more about the project, please contact CARE directly.


Water-Smart Agriculture  benefits farmers in East Africa

East Africa is a rapidly changing region with a population highly dependent on smallholder agriculture for food and livelihood security.

Water management is at the heart of the farming challenge, including how to enhance resilience and food security through access to and use of water for smallholders, how to optimize water management support provided by external agencies and how to ensure that options for investment in water for smallholders are based on best-available knowledge.

Santa Opio, Global Water Initiative (GWI) "Champion Farmer" collecting cassava in her fields. Subsistence farmers in East Africa are facing huge challenges because of climate variability which means that they often experience a shortage of rainfall in the growing season. They have traditionally relied on rainfall for irrigation, but now need to adopt new techniques to ensure that they can continue to survive and feed their families. Otuke District, Uganda © Andy Johnstone/Wild Dog for GWI EA 2013The Global Water Initiative East Africa (GWI EA) project was designed to work with smallholders and local and national stakeholders in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda, using evidence generated through learning and practice alliances and learning hubs to advocate for increased investments, especially for women farmers, at local, national and regional levels.

A summative achievement for GWI EA was the development of the Water-Smart Agriculture (WaSA) concept and its application. WaSA means combining the best available knowledge and experience on rainfed systems (‘green water’) with the development of surface and groundwater irrigation (‘blue water’) to achieve an optimal balance for farmers.

GWI_regionalcharter_iconThe GWI EA Regional Charter was agreed with more than 40 stakeholders in Morogoro, Tanzania, in 2013. The charter sets out the program’s broad advocacy objectives at a regional level and in partnership with organizations across the region where the project sought to implement the six undertakings presented.


Achieving our Goal

To achieve its goals GWI EA sought three strategic outcomes:

  • Greater political attention to water for smallholder production evidenced through changes in policies and plans, and their effective implementation at local, national and regional levels
  • Increased investment in smarter, affordable and innovative solutions to providing water for smallholder production, especially for women farmers
  • A greater voice and influence of smallholders, particularly women  within institutions responsible for access to water fro smallholder production.


Where we work

GWIEA_AfricamapGWI EA was a regional research, advocacy and policy influencing program. Our Regional HQ was located in Kampala, within CARE International., with staff based in CARE sub-offices in Gulu (Northern Uganda servicing our Otuke District work), in CARE Bahi Dar, Amhara Region, Ethiopia, servicing our Dera Woreda work, and with a partner Water Users Association  in Same District, Tanzania.

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Champion Farmers

Champion farmer 2GWI EA used a network of Champion Farmers as active participants in the project’s action research.

These farmers were selected with partners through our Learning and Practice Alliances.

The project aimed to make sure that at least half of the Champion Farmers were women at any one time, reflecting the project’s specific focus on empowering women within rural development contexts across East Africa.

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More Chance, More Change: Water-Smart Agriculture in East Africa.

This film is the final installment in a series of film projects produced by our media team in association with filmmakers Wild Dog Limited and presented by William Odinga.

The film is an overview of the GWI EA project and looks at how farmers in East Africa can build sustainable futures by making the most of existing water resources through improved irrigation systems and new farming techniques. The film also highlights the impact that the GWI EA Water-Smart Agriculture concept is now having on other projects in the region, including those funded by government agencies.

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