The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) shares a campus in Ethiopia with ILRI – the International Livestock Research Institute. The two organizations are also close partners in a number of projects across the world – but especially in Ethiopia and the Nile Basin.
The event was kicked off by the Ethiopian State Minister for Water and Energy – Dr. Gebede Gerba. He emphasized the size and importance of Ethiopia’s water resources. Me mentioned that the growth, since 2004, in numbers IWMI staff in Ethiopia – from 4 staff to 21 staff – surely reflects the importance of water to Ethiopia and the region.
Seleshi Bekele – outgoing head of the IWMI office in Ethiopia – then provided an overview of IWMI activities in the East Africa region. What roles has IWMI played: knowledge management and brokering; partnerships and collaboration, and capacity building – to get research, and research into use.
According to Seleshi, the top IWMI ‘impact’ stories, in a historical perspective, have been:
- Initially, the generation of a knowledge base on irrigation
- Its about people, institutions and governance (participatory approaches, gender, etc)
- The basin approach – from irrigation to water, from IIMI (International Irrigation Management Institute) to IWMI
- Water scarcity: putting IWMI on the global map
- More ‘crop per drop’ – increasing water productivity
- Remote sensing
- Partnership, diversity and knowledge management
- Wastewater – raising global awareness
- Groundwater – taming the anarchy and addressing governance issues
- The people of IWMI; and the people it works with through partnerships and capacity building
In this region, the top IWMI issues have been:
11. the need for greater investment in agricultural water management
12.Improving irrigation performance
13. Agricultural water management – the key to growth, poverty reduction and resilience
14. Improved land and water management in the Ethiopian Highlands can be a win-win option for the Blue Nile Basin
15. Water storage for climate change adaptation
16. Decision support systems for dam planning and operations
17. Concept of livestock water productivity developed with ILRI
18. Agricultural water management targets, diverse with variable successes
Following this overview, IWMI colleagues provided deeper insights into specific projects in this region:
Matthew McCartney on ‘rethinking water storage for climate change’ in the Nile and Volta river basins. According to McCartney, the basic problem for Africa is that climate variability is high, but water storage is low… So the project asks how we can embed climate change variability into planning and decisions on water storage? More on this project
Solomon Demissie on the Nile Basin Focal Project that aims to identify which high potential agricultural water management interventions could help us reduce poverty and increase water productivity. Some findings: poverty is related to water access for agriculture; we need to differentiate between water access and water availability; and we need to look at rainwater management across the entire landscape. More on this project
Lisa-Maria Rebelo explained the uses of remote sensing in the wetlands of the Nile basin. Access to reliable data is a massive problem in the management of natural resources in Africa; remote sensing is a promising tool to remedy this.
Tilahun Amede introduced the newly-launched Nile Basin Development Challenge that is looking at rainwater management systems in Ethiopia. More on this project
After the presentations, IWMI staff facilitated a lively conversation among the participants, focused on what issues IWMI should address in the future.