Participatory Research to Identify Irrigation Technologies for Horticulture for Women and Smallholder Farmers in Eastern Uganda

Kate Scow, Dept. of LAWR, UC Davis

Scow research 

Dry season vegetable production is high priority in largely rainfed (>97%) agricultural systems of Uganda. Irrigation opens up new markets and helps endure unpredictable rainfall patterns. Using a participatory approach, farmers and our team consider different alternatives, and then design and implement irrigated vegetable production systems and associated marketing schemes. We build on local capacity for irrigation among farmer, university, extension, non-governmental, and private industry stakeholders. We also focus on needs of smallholder women farmers who are often excluded from irrigation and marketing developments.

The project is implemented at 6 ‘innovation sites’ in eastern Uganda and brings together multi-disciplinary research teams (farmers, scientists, local NGOs, government, and university students) to co-develop technologies that build on existing, locally relevant farmer knowledge as a foundation and expand this with technologies and practices appropriate for small scale horticulture in the region (e.g. on-farm water storage, improved conveyance systems, drip irrigation, moveable sprinklers, managed infiltration/drainage, and irrigation strategies/schedules). An output is a framework for local public and private sector organizations to create, expand, and disseminate smallscale irrigation systems. We are evaluating agronomic, economic, market, nutrition, and gender impacts and implications of the different innovations and developing scale-out options for the most promising technologies. Identification of promising innovations in dry season vegetable production, combined with tools to assess their benefits and sustainability, will strengthen smallscale farmer enterprises targeted to both local markets and family consumption.

* Successes and failures/challenges you have faced in this work: women w/access to irrigation increase production save more money and develop a second business. Irrigation requires good governance strategies to anticipate conflicts that arise around shared resources. Limited access to land is greater deterrent for  women than men to invest in irrigation technologies.

* How this work relates to one or more of the Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 2: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture: vegetable production all year around for local markets

Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls: access to irrigation for all

Goal 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts: irrigation is powerful adaption strategy for agriculture

* Critical points/topics you would like input on from the conference discussions

How to efficiently scale up to more sites and larger regions using modeling, effective communication approaches. Integration of irrigation with other climate smart strategies. Assessing and reducing environmental impacts of irrigation. Governance strategies for farmer groups engaged in irrigation using shared resources.



Linking SDG Health Research and Livelihood Improvement: 

The HALI Project in Tanzania

Woutrina Smith, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis

 Smith HALI

Description. Over 10 years ago, two leading veterinary schools in Africa and America partnered to launch the Health for Animals and Livelihood Improvement (HALI) project in Tanzania. HALI means ‘state of health’ in Swahili, and seemed an appropriate name for the interdisciplinary consortium of faculty, staff, students, and stakeholders who were coming together to address emerging One Health problems. Since 2006, HALI research and outreach teams have been working to investigate livelihoods and patterns of infectious diseases at key interface areas where water, wildlife, livestock, and people come together, to deepen our understanding of health and disease processes in the Rungwa-Ruaha ecosystems that include National Park protected areas surrounded by village areas where pastoral and agropastoral livelihoods predominate. The HALI vision has been to identify potential points and processes of intervention to improve ecosystem health, population health, and livelihoods, from the community level to the national policy level. Multiple SDG themes are involved with this work, including healthy lives and well-being, access to clean water and energy, and sustainable food production. Approaches to characterizing and addressing these SDG themes have included community surveys and focus groups, collection and testing of human, animal, and environmental samples, predictive modeling, and community outreach.

Africa provides diverse settings for promoting a One Health approach to address SDGs. Successes of the HALI Project thus far have included increased acceptance and engagement with local communities and government ministries using both a bottom-up and a top-down approach over time, improved capacities for conducting infectious disease and livelihood research in the country and region, and increased knowledge of health and disease processes that inform predictive modeling to prioritize intervention strategies. However, moving from research and recommendations to actual implementation for multiple SDGs affecting health and livelihoods presents a new set of opportunities and challenges, often requiring transdisciplinary problem solving and innovation. As global health research and practice is increasingly integrated with development objectives and donor agendas, understanding concepts and methods to translate research into real-world impacts is an invaluable skillset for health researchers and practitioners. Discussion related to best practices and approaches to addressing multiple SDGs in study communities and then extending culturally appropriate and sustainable strategies out more broadly in the countries of interest is needed. 

Bundling Innovative Risk Management Technologies to Boost the Agricultural Productivity and Food Security of Vulnerable Small Farm Households in Africa
Michael Carter, Agricultural & Resource Economics
Carter research

Agricultural development interventions most often offer technologies that will, in a typical year, increase the local availability of nutritionally dense foods, or increase the incomes of rural families. In the study to be presented, we are examining the productivity and nutritional impacts of scaling up “stress-resistant” agricultural technologies designed to stabilize production and incomes in atypical or bad crop years.

First and foremost, this approach should reduce the human development losses that occur during periods of drought and other types of climatic stress that reduce incomes for both farm and landless labor families. Second, stress-resistant technologies pay a further “risk-reduction dividend,” enabling farmers to prudentially take on more risk by investing in the kind of yield increasing technologies that largely remain beyond the reach of many small farm households in broad swatches of Africa. This work thus relates directly to SDGs 2 and 3 and its importance potentially grows as continuing climate change further destabilizes weather patterns for farmers in our research areas and across many parts of the globe.

Recent years have seen the separate development of two technologies designed to help small- scale farmers manage climatic stress. The first technology is drought tolerant (DT) seed varieties developed under the auspices of the Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa program. The second is the financial technology of index insurance that we have pioneered here at UC-Davis to reliably transfer risk out of small-scale farming systems by issuing compensatory payments when climatic events occur and agricultural production collapses. While both technologies target the same problem, they work indifferent ways and offer important synergies. We are now testing these technologies and their synergies in two large scale randomized controlled trials, one in Tanzania and one in Mozambique.

After a first year in which treatment group farmers were offered the opportunity to experiment with trial packets of DT seeds provided by our seed company partners, we are now entering the next critical stage of the project in which farmers will be offered the seeds for purchase alone or bundled with a tailored index insurance contract designed to protect the farmer when DT seeds do not. The technological challenges of designing a reliable insurance index have been substantial, but we now have a reliable index based on satellite information and our insurance company partners are on board and ready to market the product (see our logo below). A severe drought in the 2015/16-crop year and political violence in Mozambique have been our most severe challenges in arriving to this stage.

Going forward, we continue to search for better ways to predict crop yields using remote sensing technologies. We also need assistance with the design and implementation of cost- effective nutrition, behavior change interventions that will make it more likely that increased and stabilized family farm incomes spill over into improved nutritional outcomes. 

REDD+ in Zanzibar
Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, Department of Anthropology
mulder research

Case Study: In 2015 Tim Caro (WCFB) and I started a research project to determine the opportunities and challenges facing a REDD+ project in Zanzibar. REDD+ links communities to the global carbon market; more specifically polluters in developed nations paying communities proportional to their success in reducing emissions from deforestation. The Norwegian/CARE International HIMA programme issued permits to 18 “REDD-ready” communities in Pemba (Zanzibar’s northern island) that are now, under a four party agreement (CARE International, the Division of Forestry, a local NGO responsible for implementation and rewards, and the San Francisco-based carbon agent Terra Global Carbon), poised to participate in REDD+.

Success and Failures: Our investigations, building off 20+ years studying economic development, demography, health, and biodiversity protection in Africa, focus on the real time challenges and opportunities of the REDD+ programme in Pemba’s fragile ecology, vibrant clove economy, and complex political isolation from not only mainland Tanzania, but the better developed southern island (known commonly as Zanzibar). The most prominent successes we identify are the links between palpable experiences of climate change (sea level rise exposing burials, salt water intrusion in rice fields, etc.), and the extraordinary strength of some communities in excluding outside interference – rejecting both investors and government agencies intent on “managing” their forests. The notable failures we observe result from unfulfilled expectations – carbon payments were mimicked by CARE’s one off “motivation payments” but are not as yet materializing; this is due to a troubled international carbon market, as well as inexplicable (from the communities’ viewpoint) delays with the Validation/Verification steps required by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

SDGs: REDD+ aligns directly with Goal 13 (Take Urgent Action on Climate Change). In line with Goal 10 (Reduce Inequality Within/Among Countries) it addresses North-South imbalances in the distributions of costs/benefits of carbon storage, as well as the fair allocation of benefits within forest-protecting communities. Goal 15 (Protect, Restore and Promote Sustainable Use of Terrestrial Ecosystems) is an integral outcome of a successful REDD+ programme, as are Goals 8,12 and 16 more distally.

Critical points/inputs. From my experiences, both on Pemba and in a variety of projects in mainland Tanzania, I see two things as critical to project success: communication between stake holders, and having stake holders properly represented (i.e. present) on the ground. Neither are novel insights, but the mechanisms for achieving them are challenging in the extreme, and typically failing. Furthermore as technological innovations are increasingly offered as development solutions, the challenges emerging from infrequent consultation and ever more remote decision-makers escalate. Maybe it is our experience as anthropological and conservation biology fieldworkers that makes us see the fundamental role of having committed individuals (project personnel, researchers, evaluators in real time, etc.) on the ground. Only in this way can problems be properly addressed, better averted. My additional experience as a co-founder of a monitoring and evaluation agency in Tanzania (SFTZ: Data for Development) reveals how structurally challenging this can be. How do we move forward? What is the role of research in the development process? How can real time, community-led monitoring and evaluation of development interventions by the targets of the development process itself be institutionalized? How to support Civil Society Organizations (CSO)?