News & Media
News and Media
New report sheds light on soft components in mesoscale interventions for rural smallholder farming communities.
In the developing world, poverty and hunger alleviation is still the dominant issue among rural communities. Rainfed agro-ecological landscapes currently provide food and livelihoods for predominantly rural populations.
This is also where poverty and under-nourishment is at its highest, estimated to be approximately 70% of rural inhabitants.
- Agricultural water management (AWM) in conventional smallholder farming systems can provide a win-win solution in the provision of opportunities to secure crop production, thus enabling other much-needed investments. However, the emerging effects on landscape water resources induced by many farmers changing their field-scale water management strategies are unpredictable and context specific, say SEI researchers Jennie Barron and Stacey Noel in a new report entitled Agricultural water management in smallholder farming systems: the value of soft components in mesoscale interventions.
- The soft component is throughout recognised as a key corner stone together with the existing social capital in the targeted watershed. But there is very little synthesized evidence on past watershed management interventions for increased agricultural productivity available, and how it affects off-farm land as well as downstream locations, Barron and Noel say.
Five factors for sustainable management
The report, carried out as a desk study on existing literature and documentation and through selected consultations in the water and land management development sector in sub-Saharan Africa, provides an overview of ‘soft components’ in mesoscale interventions in AWM strategies targeting rural smallholder farming communities in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and South Asia.
The report specifically addresses lessons learned in individual cases (i.e., who initiated the process, what were the initial investments, how did the out-scaling gain momentum, etc.).
Barron and Noel conclude that studies identify five key factors leading to sustainable, natural (land, water, forest) management:
- Policy setting should be inclusive and able to cope with multiple interests;
- Investments must pay: the returns to individuals need to be short term;
- Actions need to build local capacity (empowerment) and address equity in the process;
- Economies need to be diversified to enable entry into monetary markets as well as increasing the livelihood support net;
- Research and development implementation need to work better in collaboration to enhance synergies in outputs.
Download the report here