Tag Archives: water

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

“It’s funny”, muses filmmaker Andrew Johnstone of film company Wild Dog, “but its rare to work on an international development project where you can actually see policy changes being actioned as a result of the work that you do”.

Producer/Director Andy Johnstone and reporter William Odinga on assignment near Lira in Northern Uganda.

For the past two years Wild Dog has been working with the Global Water initiative East Africa to deliver a series of media outputs to highlight the work that the Kampala based agency has been working on. “We have produced a series of fours films for GWI EA as part of this media project and the worry is that the important issues that projects like GWI are attempting to highlight through the films we produce will simply fall on deaf ears and be ignored. So when you actually see that some of these fresh ideas are being adopted, it renews your faith in the importance of the work that so many development agencies do and also in the power of documentary film to help deliver these messages”, says Johnstone.

“The water that we need to survive comes in many forms”, says GWI EA Program Director Dr Alan Nicol. “Domestic water supply is most commonly the ‘World Water Day’ focus and global rallying point. Yet a full 70% of all water extracted from the hydrological system is used in agriculture to maintain our food security. Rarely getting the attention it deserves, the Global Water Initiative East Africa has, however, spent the last two years privileging understanding of this key agricultural resource and how best to use it effectively and efficiently in smallholder farming across Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda.”

GWI EA has established series of research activities and communications outputs (blogs, films and podcasts) that have helped raise attention and driven forward a new approach to ‘Water-Smart Agriculture’. GWI EA’s groundbreaking work has only been possible because of partnerships with local, national and international stakeholders — including Wild Dog Media.

“As we transition to a new source of funding, we wish to mark World Water Day 2015 by thanking all the champion farmers, local government officials, researchers and research institutions, national ministries and media stakeholders and others who have ridden with us since late 2012″, says Nicol. “The journey has not ended, we are simply changing vehicle. Our recently-launched Sourcebook on Water Smart Agriculture will be showcased at the World Water Forum in Korea on the 14th April and we hope to develop further this important resource as a centerpiece for advocacy and awareness-raising.”

In this new film More Chances, More Change, the Wild Dog production team, including Ugandan Science Journalist reporter William Odinga travelled back to Northern Uganda to see if the prospects of farmers in rural communities had improved. “We were very pleased to find that some of the ideas that GWI EA had been developing are now being enthusiastically adopted by these farming communities and that these ideas and techniques are now being shared within these communities”, says Odinga “and furthermore, we found evidence of government backed projects adopted key Water-Smart Agriculture techniques as well.”

“To see ideas being adopted and projects making progress is really heartening”, says Johnstone. “To think that in some small way our films may be helping to drive these changes by helping persuade policy and decision makers to adopt new practices and invest in change for agriculture is very rewarding.”

The film is now being released to mark World Water Day on 22 March 2015 and is available to view here:

Enjoy the film and please share with your network!

Please continue to visit this site for regular updates and don’t hesitate to join our journey as we progress through 2015.

Making Movies – Journalist William Odinga on filming with farmers from Same, Tanzania

Same, a town in Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro region, sits in a basin on the leeward side of the South Pare Mountains.

Dawn has broken and from the compound of my hotel, Nzoroko, I see sunrays pierce though the mountains, forcing the dark morning mist to fade away rapidly.

I am in Same to find out how farmers are able to produce food in semi arid conditions, where annual rainfall can be as low as 400 millimetres.

With my crew, including James Mbiri, Liz Agiro, Dosteus Lopa, Donath Fungu and Bakari the driver, we set off for the villages.

We arrive at the home of a woman farmer, Rizaeli Samueli, in Mwembe village, a little after 9:00am and as soon as I step out of our air conditioned car the real Same welcomes me.

It is hot, windy and dusty. The land is bare; shrubs, rocks and thorny bushes stretch out as far as the eye can see. Every tree or grass is shrinking.

Hot, Windy & Dusty: Water-Smart Agriculture in the Dry Zone from Andy Johnstone – Wild Dog Ltd on Vimeo.

Farming is an uphill task, but, the population must eat. And so they practice agriculture.

At the moment no crop is growing on Rizaeli’s home farm, which is on a slope. It is too dry. She keeps a few cows which are now eating away at dry maize stocks from the previous harvest. They look unbothered by our presence, neither are they concerned about Rizaeli’s creaking wheelbarrow. It is Rizaeli’s duty, after all, to feed them if she is to get any milk out of them.

During this time Risaeli manages another garden in the adjoining valley, a few metres away from her home. With a bit of irrigation from a small stream, her beans and vegetables are growing very well, a sharp contrast to the trees and grasses uphill.

“It is difficult to farm here because of little rains,” Rizaeli tells us. “But we have been taught to do it better so these days we get good yields.”

Rizaeli is one of 63 farmers in this district that were selected by the Global Water Initiative East Africa (GWI EA) to practice soil and water conservation techniques in order to produce more food with less water.

The techniques include terracing, which reduces run-off and increases water infiltration into the soil, mulching which preserves soil moisture and supplementary irrigation where conditions allow.Same film shoot

GWI EA refers to the application of these techniques as “Water Smart Agriculture” and Rizaeli is a “Champion Farmer,” a farmer from whom others can learn and adopt these techniques.

In the blazing afternoon heat we drive off to see another farmer, Ali Mrindoko, in Bangalala village.

Mrindoko’s garden is one to behold. Using a technique known as stone terracing, where stone embankments are made for every terrace, Mrindoko is able to keep moisture in his garden for far much longer, to the extent that he can even grow sugarcane, a heavy consumer of water.

“We receive very little rain in this area. Building this stone wall terrace is a big task but the benefits are enormous. I get very good yields. My family cannot starve,” Mrindoko tells us.

Mrindoko and Rizaeli are on steep hills but in terms of altitude, they are much lower compared to Vudee, up in the Pares.

Traveling to Vudee is not for the fainthearted. The road, cut through hard rock, is so narrow, the climb too steep and the bends very sharp. Bakari and Fungu, the GWI EA agronomist covering this area, have been doing this route many times so I imagine they are used to it. To me, sometimes it feels like driving at the edge of a cliff.

Initially, people living in these highlands trekked long distances to the lowlands to farm and went back to the highlands to sleep. This they called seasonal farming.

But now, with better farming techniques and practices, they can use very little of land and water to grow so much. They farm near their homes.

With the help of government farming trainers, and programmes such as GWI EA, farmers have learnt techniques and practices such as bench and stone terracing, crop spacing, planting in rows, mulching, minimum tillage and inter cropping.

We find a group of women planting potatoes at a very steep slope, assisted by a government employed trainer, Ibrahim Ndumbalo.

“We are planting potatoes on terraces. This helps to manage soil erosion, controls nutrient loss and increases the soil’s capacity to trap and retain water,” Ndumbalo tells us.

As evening approaches, we start our descent to Same town. A photo shoot in the town, just for fun, caps our 2-day trip here. It has been a wonderful experience especially for me and James, the Wild Dog crew based in Kampala, Uganda.

William Odinga Balikuddembe

Science Journalist

Watch the film here.

Semi-arid Conditions Favour Sunflower

While Samweli Mchome is not among the Champion Farmers selected for the GWI EA training project in Tanzania last year, his enthusiasm for following in the footsteps of those who were handpicked has borne fruits.

When he noticed his neighbours’ crops in Mwembe, Vudee and Bangalala had significantly started performing well, he wanted to know the secret. So he shadowed them, picking up new techniques on water and soil conversation. Where before he cultivated on slopes without preparing the land, he now creates bench terraces to minimise runoff. He was also encouraged to adopt crop spacing, plant one seedling per hole, mulch his garden and practice double digging to ensure water infiltration and moisture retention.

With the additional help of government extension workers and GWI field officers in Bangalala village, Samweli picked up enough lessons to revamp his gardens.

When we visited him in early July this year, the 53-year-old had planted sun flower on one acre of land. He explained that it was towards the off season and most farmers had harvested their crops. Also, sunflower is drought tolerant – given the semi arid conditions in Same district – and he wanted to utilise the land without leaving it idle. After some assessment, he concluded that the available water would be adequate for his crop. Although aware that there will be limited water during the season, he knows that his soil has good water storage ability.

“Sunflower has deep roots which can access water from the ground. Since I planted in May, I have irrigated only twice,” he said.

Samweli in his sunflower garden
Samweli in his sunflower garden
Sunflower is a drought resistant crop favourable for semi arid conditions
Sunflower is a drought resistant crop favourable for semi arid conditions







Samweli owns about four acres of land. He practices mixed cropping by planting maize and pigeon peas on the same plot. Last season, he harvested a small plot and got three tins (20kg each), a feat he had never achieved before.

Elizabeth Agiro
GWI EA, Uganda






Farmers Believe What They See

Technology can serve as a catalyst in agriculture, shifting farmers from subsistence to profit oriented production, and spurring dramatic quality of life improvement for the rural poor. New technologies can also help farmers contend with the mounting challenges to food security brought about by climate variability. The million dollar question is how to best get these new technologies to the farmers who need them.

A learning tour of Masaka and Rakai districts

The Global Water Initiative EA (GWI EA) in November 2013 organized a visit for its stakeholders from northern Uganda to Masaka and Rakai districts, in central and southern Uganda respectively, to expose them to water for agriculture technologies. One of the immediate objectives of the visit was to increase appreciation, understanding and inspire smallholder farmers to identify feasible and cost efficient water harvesting technologies to increase farm production.

Among the participants in the week-long study tour were champion framers, community based trainers, policy makers, technical staff at the district and sub county levels, and GWI EA partner staff from Otuke and Gulu districts.

A learning opportunity

This was a combination of theory and practice. After brief introductory presentations by the farm managers and owners, participants would be taken to the farms to see how technology can improve a farmer’s production.

The farmers learned how to harvest rainwater and manage run offs. They were taught how rain water harvesting facilities are built and maintained, as well as the economic and social benefits of rainwater harvesting.

Otuke farmers learn about rainwater harvesting

At a climate resilience centre in Masaka, hosted by Mr and Mrs Dhaki; the farmers learnt that it was possible to harvest run off and rainwater without external support. They were taught how to use the treadle pump and the importance of group marketing as demonstrated to the participants by the “Akamira Eyiye Tagiseera Mata” group where all the 27 members had planted Nakatti, a green leafy vegetable, and each member had two days to supply to their local market.

At Josephine Kizza’s family farm project, farmers learnt the importance of intensive land use for optimum land productivity. They learnt that for higher yields, a farmer did not need to open huge chunks of land but could work on two acres and earn sufficient income and be food secure. It is at this farm that they were introduced to the farmers’ motto: “Know what to grow, grow what you know and be known for what you grow.’’

After interacting and seeing what their fellow farmers were doing, the northern Uganda farmers, most of them from Otuke district, were inspired to harvest and use water to increase farm production. By February 2014, 10 out of the 13 farmers who had been on the trip had dug pits to harvest runoff water.

Ojur John, Champion Farmer, Otuke

One of the farmers, John Ojur, was inspired by the Friesian cows he saw on Josephine Kizza’s farm and has procured for himself one heifer which has now calved and he is getting milk.

The Masaka and Rakai experience opened many participants’ eyes not only to water harvesting technologies but also to farm management skills including book keeping.

“We are delighted with the experience we have had in Masaka and Rakai,” said Ojur John, a Champion Farmer in Olilim sub county. “We will go home and turn around our farming systems. We have a lot to do, a long way to go, but we will get there.”

When I visited some of these farmers recently, I found they were still excited about their Masaka and Rakai visit. They were full of ideas of what their farms would look like in the coming two years. Indeed, farmers believe what they see!

Miriam Imalingat

GWI EA East Africa, Uganda

World Food Day

Making a change where it Counts: Celebrating World Food Day at IWMI’s “River of Learning” Share Fair

October 16 was World Food Day and GWI EA attended celebrations in Addis Ababa. This year’s theme announced by FAO was ‘Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition’.
In Addis Ababa, the day was celebrated with a ‘River of Learning’ Share Fair at the ILRI compound, convened by IWMI as a way to mark the 10th anniversary of IWMI East Africa’s office establishment in Ethiopia. There was a rich turn-out of research institutions, private sector organizations, NGOs and donor agencies, sharing their work and achievements on water for agriculture over the past decade, but also asking important questions about where to go next. GWI East Africa was invited to participate, convening a stand and making several contributions to the discussion and debate.
One of the key achievements, mentioned during the fair, was the recognition that agriculture water management is a cornerstone for growth in the region – and none more so than in Ethiopia. Community based integrated watershed management is adapted as a strategy in all of Ethiopia’s regions and funded by the Sustainable Land Management program run by the Ministry of Agriculture. More recently, water-centered development is adapted as a key strategy in Ethiopia’s growth corridors.

Bethel Terefe and Tesfaye Ewnetie on GWI East Africa's stand.
Bethel Terefe and Tesfaye Ewnetie on GWI East Africa’s stand.

Many actors shared their work during the fair. The Nile Water, Land and Ecosystems program (NLWE) of the CG system – IWMI’s flagship research program – focuses on sustainable agriculture, water and livelihoods, and emphasized the need for sustainable intensification as part of a paradigm shift from the green revolution era and its unintended impacts on water and ecosystems. The aim of the NWLE project is scaling up sustainable innovations through joint platforms in the Nile corridor in East Africa. The project will address multiple and complex issues of land and water management, ecosystem strengthening and human development over a 12-year period, focusing on issues including small-scale irrigation and rain-fed farming, including in the highlands of Ethiopia, around Lake Victoria and in complex development environments including the Sudd in South Sudan. GWI EA has been invited to contribute its thinking into developing the program, and, in particular, how to exploit synergies between research activities and how to reach out to and influence key decision makers.
In a session on achievements, GWI-EA flagged its program approach and the development of the regional charter in Morogoro Tanzania this August. The charter engages government, civil society, academic institutions and practitioners from Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania in undertaking to increase political attention and investment levels in water for smallholder agriculture. For more information and to download the charter please go here.
Highlighting the multiplicity of actors and efforts in sector represented at the Share Fair and yet the scattered knowledge and learning in the region from the many research and implementation programs, the GWI-EA Program Director,  Dr. Alan Nicol, suggested that the gathered organizations should commit to a synthesis of existing knowledge and learning in the sector in the coming year. The suggestion was seconded and followed up on by others, including from the CG system, and subsequent discussions are now shaping the process by which this can take place in 2014.
During the event, we were reminded that Sub-Saharan Africa has made significant strides in reducing hunger in recent years. In July of this year, African Union member states set an ambitious target to eradicate hunger completely by 2025. Ten of the AU state countries are showing agricultural growth rates of more than 6% per annum and allocating more that 10% of their GDP to the agriculture sector, as per the  Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) framework agreement. Yet a grim reality remains that by 2015 a quarter of the world’s poor will be from sub-Saharan Africa. African states therefore still have a long way to go.
Arguably, one of the most important messages of the day came at the close and from one of the participants, a farmer from Tigray. While appreciating all the mentioned achievements of the sector and all the projects and future intentions, he noted, “Measure your achievements by the change you make on the lives of individual farmers, not by the amount of research and learning documents generated by your programs. Make a change in the lives of farmers, because that’s the change that counts.”

Please see GWI EA’s new film Harvesting our Futures that was launched on World Food Day.
Bethel Terefe, Tesfaye Ewnetie and Alan Nicol

Talking Stockholm: Taking stock of cooperation and partnerships

GWI EA, a five-year program of action research, advocacy and policy influencing that focuses on investments in water for smallholder agriculture attended World Water Week in Sweden 1-6th September, the focus of which was on water cooperation  and “ building partnerships”.

2013 World Water Week: Opening Plenary_46
Dr. Peter Morgan, 2013 Stockholm Water Prize Laureate.

Our Program Director and Uganda and Tanzania Policy and Advocacy Managers used the occasion to contribute to sessions, strengthen networks and increase awareness on the GWI EA achievements to date. We also wanted to get a stronger sense of how cooperation and partnership building could address the “wicked” problem(s) of investing in water

management for smallholder farmers in East Africa, and how different levels of partnership building could contribute significantly to this task. Team members attended a variety of sessions and presented at the event.


Some of the key take-homes and reflections include:

  1. Competing demands on water in many parts of the world mean that there is no taking for granted agricultural use “ hence there is need for a far more robust business case for investing in water for small-holder agriculture. This should include demonstrating increases in income, improved food security and time savings, including a far stronger understanding of private sector engagement to help mitigate risk and optimize supply/investment. We will work on the latter process of engagement, in particular, given the huge significance of private sector operators in determining market behaviour in our three focus countries Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda.
  2. At least 10% of agricultural budgets should be spent on water for smallholder agriculture over the next 5-year period.  This aligns with the Maputo Declaration implemented by CAADP and is also (apparently) what is being discussed within the UN under the development of sustainable development goals. This provides an entry point for those keen to influence (as GWI EA is) inter-sectoral budget allocations. One investment challenge, is how to establish funds that can support water investments in smallholder agriculture “ at all levels“ and in particular focusing on technologies and practices that put more emphasis on harvesting “green” water.
  3. Promoting the use of natural capital “water infrastructure” is high on the current global policy agenda – unsurprisingly given that 70% of current water withdrawals are being used in agriculture, and this figure is likely to rise in coming years. Water use efficiency was one area of emphasis, particularly in the wider context of water management within “landscapes” (land and ecosystems). This strong message throughout the week built on an understanding of “natural capital” as a key asset to harness, including improving “green water” availability and use through enhancing soil moisture and establishing more robust and resilient soil systems. Conservation agriculture is one “smart” way of achieving this, using water for agriculture as part of wider farmer management of natural regeneration (FMNR).
  4. Returns on investment in conservation agriculture can be high because labour needs are reduced by 30%, as well as other inputs. There is a need to build a case for productivity per unit area under Conservation Agriculture (CA), and to nurture more private sector-led engagement in this area. This is an area GWI EA could lead on, providing examples of what can be done, how much it costs, and the kinds of mechanisms required to scale up.
  5. The week also allowed showcasing of new initiatives. USAID and SIDA launched the Grand Food Security Challenge, a venture capital fund to support implementation of promising innovations. This is an important initiative, and, we hope, will include support to innovations in learning. Innovation in funding is required globally as well as locally to respond to the need for investments in water for agriculture that are appropriate at different scales, affordable and sustainable.
  6. Strengthening Stockholm?: The World Water Week is an important global gathering.  The technical “meat” of the event is strong, but linkage to political engagement  and commitment  remains weak, apart from the “Stockholm Statement” that comes out on Friday (see here). From a GWI EA perspective, this makes participation less effective than it could be, so in future we will seek more targeted and political engagement in the process. This will include specific efforts to leverage greater global focus on levels of investment in water for smallholder agriculture, including building partnerships around the messaging of our Regional Charter on Investing in Water for Smallholder Agriculture. Our planning for Stockholm 2014 has already begun!

Violet Alinda, Lopa Dosteus and Alan Nicol

Valuing Women in Rural Agriculture

Recognizing the Role of Women Smallholder Farmers to Achieve Food Security and Development in Eastern Africa

If agriculture is the economic spine of East Africa, then smallholder farmers are its individual vertebrae. They undertake most land utilization and food production and, in a country like Ethiopia, where agriculture accounts for 43 percent of GDP and 80 percent of export earnings, produce nearly all the cereals, pulses and oilseed crops. Similarly in Tanzania and Uganda smallholder farming accounts for about 75 percent of agricultural production and over 75 percent of employment.  Smallholders are, in short, critical to food security at all levels.

The fact that many smallholders are women is often overlooked, and wrongly so.

Women constitute at least half the agriculture labor force and perform vital productive roles. Yet even when tenure rights are legally confirmed, traditional social norms restrict access to land and water resources and modern extension services may not reach them due to a lack of recognition and effort on the part of agricultural extension workers and the sector as a whole. Their mountain of challenges also includes lack of access to credit (linked to the lack of tenure rights hindering their capacity to borrow from banks) and, where micro-finance institutions do try and target women, these institutions may have higher transaction costs and therefore charge higher interest rates, making loans for women more unaffordable.  Their access to markets is also frequently restricted by limited mobility and lack of market information and as a result they may sell raw products to more local retailers and receive limited income as a result.

The situation of women farmers in GWI program site, Dera district in South Gonder Ethiopia, is a case in point. Most female headed households in Dera belong to a vulnerable group of farmers having the smallest landholding size, an average of less than one hectare of land. Social norms restrict women from tiling land and female headed households are forced to enter into share cropping arrangements, asking male relatives to till the land for them, in return for sharing half ofETH088 the crops produced on their small plots.

Similar to women elsewhere, women farmers in Dera have limited access to extension services. Most of them don’t visit farmers training centers, either due to workload or because there is a general perception that training on farming techniques is a man’s thing. Female headed households have the lowest rate of uptake of agriculture water management technologies. In Dera, only 8.7% use hand dug wells and 0.74% motorized pumps for irrigation, compared to male headed households, 30.8% and 3.1%, respectively. Most of the women farmers are not members of the most common farmers’ organizations, multi-purpose cooperatives, and do not attend farmers meetings. As a result, they miss vital farming related information communicated to farmers through the cooperatives. Women farmers in Dera are often hard pressed for money to buy inputs, such as, fertilizers and improved seeds. When they face hazards, such as their crops being attacked by pests, they feel helpless, with little clue of about what actions to take and where to get services. They struggle to make a meager earning selling what little they produce, among all these hardships, in the local market, often in smaller quantities. Bigger markets are usually out of reach for them.

This cycle of low productivity traps them in a low input-output model of farming, limiting their future income potential and creating missed opportunities to improve the welfare of their households and surrounding communities. It is an established fact that income earned by women is usually spent on household consumption items, including food and the health and education needs of children. Their success in farming, therefore, can generate positive spinoffs across the economy through contributing to a more productive and skilled labor force that can drive forward economic growth.

What can be done?

Change should begin with the recognition of women as productive farmers by governments and donors alike.

Governments need to take the necessary measures to ensure women’s land tenure rights are recognized legally and de facto where this persists to be a problem. They should also increase gender sensitivity within agricultural extension services, including identifying and promoting technologies that are more suitable for women, especially around the development of more effective management and use of water in agriculture. This should combine with a focus on crops traditionally cultivated by women  or crops over which they have more access and control using models of extension support that allow women to combine farming with other unpaid care work responsibilities. It will also be important for governments to invest in labor saving technologies that help to reduce the demands of reproductive work on women’s time.

The Global Water Initiative  East Africa recognizes these challenges and aims to support women farmers through evidence-based advocacy at different levels. Our core concern is to achieve greater political commitment to investment in water for agriculture in Ethiopia as well as Tanzania and Uganda. Our strategy to make this change happen is through building a body of evidence with key partners under Learning and Practice Alliances (LPAs) in which women smallholder farmers can articulate their concerns and aspirations and bring their voices into institutions and fora responsible for investing in water for agriculture. We envisage the progressive development of smallholder capacity, particularly of women,  to engage with decision makers, to raise their concerns and demand that decision making reflects their needs and priorities in the efficient utilization of water for agriculture.

Bethel Terefe

Program Policy Advisor, Ethiopia

A Quick Climb to the Top

I am used to programs where things build up slowly, steadily, and sometimes laboriously to a climax. But attending a recent Global Water Initiative Regional Advocacy meeting in August, a much more nimble dynamic seemed to be afoot. A group of about 50 (?) participants from national- and intermediate-levels of government in Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda, research institutions, the media and NGOs came together in Morogoro, Tanzania to discuss the grave need for enhanced financial investments and political commitment to water for smallholder agriculture in East Africa. In a mere day and a half of meetings and with revisions to the draft text rather bravely facilitated in a plenary discussion, these individuals had penned their names, and thus affixed their commitments, to a joint charter urging for governments and other concerned stakeholders to take action.

Let me put things in context. This was the first time this particular group of people had come together. The meeting organizers had merely hoped for consensus around a draft charter text; it was participants that wanted to sign a finalized charter before leaving. An official from Uganda even requested that the word “government” be added in a certain place to leave no ambiguity as to who needed to take action.

Having been involved from the NGO side with projects that aim to work closely with government, I tried to reflect (with the hopes of future replication) on what the ingredients of success were. Maybe it was the fact that GWI, an action-research project, has been designed to involve government early on, rather than carry on independently before sending forth some well-researched but ill-timed and uninformed requests—a shortcoming many programs are guilty of. Maybe it is that government, despite its reputation for bureaucracy and interminable deliberations, is comprised of many individuals who are eager to improve the lot of their constituents and are capable of swift action. Or maybe all were inspired to do bold things by the grandeur of the Uluguru Mountains overlooking the venue. Whatever the secret, I hope to see more of this catchy enthusiasm spread out from the various players that came together to change the face of water for smallholder agriculture in East Africa.

By Malaika Cheney-Coker
Learning and Influencing Advisor, CARE Water Team


Welcome to our Blog

GWI East Africa is nearly a year old now and we want to use this opportunity to invite comment from you on what we do, how we can help make change happen in support of smallholder farmers in East Africa and how we can reach out successfully to influence key decision makers.UGD00430 Whilst we have time to achieve change – the Global Water Initiative East Africa (GWI EA) Secure Water for Smallholder Agriculture is a 5-year program of action research, advocacy and policy influencing – there is urgency behind what we do. Each year of poor or unreliable rainfall, farmer food security it seriously affected (in both Tanzania and Uganda this year, for example, rains have been poor (see how this has affected production levels in Tanzania). Our funding partner, the Howard G Buffett Foundation, generously supports our work because of a firm commitment to achieving change in support of smallholder farmers, the bedrock of household food security in East Africa.

Our program in East Africa is part of the wider Global Water Initiative working in addition in West Africa and Central America on water for agriculture issues. In all regions the focus is on generating solid evidence to support policy change. In East Africa our goal is that through this change, smallholder farmers will achieve greater food security through more sustainable access to and productive use of water.

We are working towards three strategic outcomes to achieve this goal: 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; and that the voice and influence of smallholders, particularly women, will increase within institutions responsible for access to and control over water for agriculture.

These are complex and challenging outcomes to achieve, but we’re confident of success given the right political support and public debate. We will be using this blog to showcase what we are doing regionally, but also to invite guest blogs from our partners and others working with us across East Africa. Please sign up and join in. A starting point should be our Regional Charter on Investment in Water for Smallholder Agriculture. Concluded and signed up to by all participants at a recent regional meeting in Morogoro, the Charter sets out six key undertakings in support of water for smallholder agriculture. Please take a look and join us by signing up to the Charter here!

Dr Alan Nicol
Program Director
GWI East Africa