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February 23, 2021

Welcome to the November newsflash of the Flood-based Livelihoods Network. We have gathered an interesting and exiting overview of developments and resources from within our network. Feel free to share your feedback, news or ideas with us through info@floodbased.org.
Enjoy the reading!

Reflection on the DREAM conference in Afar, Ethiopia

The DREAM ASAL 2019 conference took place from September 29 – October 3. Over 250 participants gathered in Semera, Ethiopia – an enormous outcome. The conference took stock of the most promising approaches in the arid and semi-arid lowlands of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. It hosted a large and diverse number of participants: pastoralists and agro-pastoralists, decision makers, international development partners, governmental implementers, civil society experts, researchers, and others. People came from Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Somaliland, Namibia and Pakistan.

Topics discussed included:

  • Participatory Land Use Planning
  • Land Rehabilitation – Including Flood Water Spreading
  • Rangeland Management, Grazing Management, Carrying Capacity
  • Livelihoods Development – Including Flood Based Farming
  • Water Supply and Disaster Risk Management
  • Controlling or Utilizing Invasive Species – esp. Prosopis Juliflora

Presentations and other resources from the conference are accessible through the 2019 conference website http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/news/609-conference.
The conference was a major success with a joint Declaration in the end and working groups working on all the themes to come with improved approaches to be presented in a follow up conference in 2020. More details to follow in other newsletters!

FBLN Short Course at Mekelle University

The Mekelle University will host the annual international training on integrated watershed management and flood-based farming systems (FBFS)  from 11 – 22 November 2019. Over 40 people have registered which is encouraging for the Ethiopian FBLN chapter. A summary of the event and some of the presentations will be published through the FBLN website after the course has finished.

New appointment for Dr. Adel Al-Washali from WEC Yemen

Dr. Adel Al-Washali has been a long term partner within the Flood-based Livelihoods Network, through the Sana’a University. Recently he has been requested by the High Council on Agriculture of the Government of Yemen to develop a national strategy on spate irrigation, starting in the Tihama. This is critically important as this once flood-based food basket of the country is now an area of high poverty with the spate diversion structures poorly maintained in four years of war and the flood channels encroached and blocked by prosopis juliflora. The aim is to ‘build back better’ both physically and institutionally – and come to sustainable and equitable spate water systems.
We congratulate Dr. Adel with this new appointment.

Pasture production with Road Water Harvesting

We have been working on making better use of short duration floods in arid lowland to grow seeded native grasses – so as to boost fodder production in pastoralist areas. This is a new practice we have been working on to introduce in Kitui in Kenya – using the short floods generated from road drainage. The results have been overwhelming! The project team has recently published a series of videos showcasing pasture production in the drylands of Kitui, Kenya. Six farmers share experiences on various aspects: one specializes in milk production, another sells hay, while yet another does seed production and livestock fattening simultaneously. They are all pioneers, venturing into active cultivation of grass. This is a new practice in the area, so they have an important role in their communities, showing and teaching others the importance of pasture production. Watch and learn from these role models….
The blog of the project can be accessed through https://vimeo.com/showcase/rofip and also via the Waterchannel http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/media-gallery?filter_tag=rofip.

Resolving Land Tenure Issues Under Spate Irrigation; A Case of FBLN Malawi

The FBLN Malawi chapter is working with communities in Balaka District, Southern Malawi to establish a Model Spate Irrigation scheme, using harvested road run-off water. The coordinator of the Malawi FBLN chapter, Macpherson Nthara has produced an overview of the results so far of which a summary is included in the newsflash. The full document is accessible through the website.

One of the drivers to establish the scheme is the increasing population pressure, resulting in reduced land holding size. The shrinking trend of land holding affects the ability of land users to cope with their problems, including investment on improved technologies for water management e.g. run off diversion structures. Due to the absence of clear land ownership rights, farmers cultivate the land under temporary arrangements and expect the land to be taken away from them during certain growing seasons. In Balaka, it was noted that land owners tend to use the land during the rainy season but they would rent it out during off season. Investing in their land is seen as inappropriate because they are unlikely to reap the benefit of their work.

The Customary Land Act 2006 (CLA) provides the necessary legal instruments to consolidate the many small parcels of land held under customary tenure into a single group-owned entity. The FBLN Malawi Chapter will use this provision to enable irrigation block formation as a foundational intervention for the development of business-oriented Spate irrigation farming. The land which is consolidated will be owned collectively by the group of farmers who have customary use-rights to the land parcels making up the Spate Irrigation Scheme, providing a stable basis for their investments.

Updates from FBLN Pakistan

With Strengthening Participatory Organisations (SPO) and RDF (Research for Development  Foundation) we are working on improving the performance of major spate irrigation systems in Pakistan.

The aim is to ensure fair water distribution – making sure that recent and planned changes in major infrastructure is incorporated to the benefit of all – and at the same time with a network of community organizations introducing better practices – taking examples from other areas. The activities focus on Sindh and Balochistan provinces, but we are in touch with all other Provinces in Pakistan as well.

One promising development is the possibility of marketing high value oils (cold pressed) and in general organic produce (for instance of cluster bean). In Sindh an early breakthrough has been achieved by dovetailing road redevelopment with the requirement of the flood channels – so as to make sure that blockage no longer occur.

Organic crops from flood based farming

As in flood based farming rich sediment comes with the floods, usually no fertilizers are required. Also other agrochemicals – in particular pesticides – are generally not used – instead there is a rich tradition of local pest management and selecting the most resistant varieties. This sets spate irrigation systems up for the sourcing of organic crops – especially those used at large quantities in the food industry, such as sesame or guar (cluster bean). See also the Practical Note no 16 on ‘Supply and value chains of organic and niche crops in spate ecologies Consultation paper Spate Irrigation’ http://spate-irrigation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/PN_16_Supply-value-chain_SF.pdf

We have made first contact with organizations sourcing organic material.

In addition there is also good scope for special organic crops. One main example we are now building the case for is the oil of rucola seed (arugula): this is a high value medication for hair growth, works to control obesity and is an aphrodisiac as well. More to come!

Soil moisture and flood water productivity

We are working to better understand the importance of soil moisture management and water conservation. In the past two years several detailed research studies were undertaken to better understand how we conserve and manage soil moisture. We are now wanting to extrapolate it and based on the WAPOR data base of FAO we are developing a suite of applications that will help assess the bio-mass production, the soil moisture at different depths and volumes of water used productively and non-productively.

See http://www.fao.org/in-action/remote-sensing-for-water-productivity/en/.

Training on Rainwater Harvesting, Organic Farming, Permaculture and Agroforestry

We recently co-facilitated a training for delegates from the Sudanese government, in Nairobi, Kenya. During the training the delegates were exposed to a range of promising approaches, including harvesting floods from roads and utilizing the water for crop cultivation, agro-forestry and methods to enhance water productivity. The training was an excellent opportunity to showcase the results of the work carried out in the recent years and to investigate opportunities for the Sudanese context.
Presentations and other resources from the training are available through the FBLN website.

ICOMOS – Water as a cultural heritage

We are partnering with ICOMOS to establish the significance of spate irrigations system as living and vibrant examples of cultural heritage still going strong. The aim is to ultimately emphasize the importance of such long lasting water systems and make them part of planning future land systems. ICOMOS − the International Council on Monuments and Sites − is the international NGO of professionals, practitioners, institutions, and other bodies committed to and supporting the conservation/preservation of the cultural heritage of all peoples.

New resources

Our partners have published several new videos related to using floods for livelihoods in Myanmar and turning bush into fodder in Namibia:

1. Video – Golden Apple Snail Management, Myanmar

2. Video – Bush Control Namibia: Turning Bush into Fodder

3. Book – Taking the Waters – Soil and Water Conservation among Settling Beja Nomads in Eastern Sudan. PhD thesis from 1995, uploaded on the FBLN resources page.

4. Paper  – Estimation of groundwater potential using GIS modelling in Kohistan region Jamshoro District, Southern Indus basin, Sindh, Pakistan (a case study). Research article by Aneela Memon, et al.