Investing in the future
Capacity strengthening is an investment in the future - providing farmers, extension agents, and researchers with new knowledge and skills that can help rural communities benefit more fully from economic development, strengthen their resilience, and help them to access or create new employment opportunities.
Last year, the Water and Livelihoods Initiative (WLI) provided 28 trainings for over 500 people – 30 percent of whom were women – and gave researchers and agricultural students the opportunity to pursue exciting projects and exchange new knowledge.
Trainings and workshops
Capacity strengthening across the initiative’s eight participating countries involved stakeholder meetings, field days, and workshops at the regional, national, and local levels. Subjects were wide-ranging and relevant to WLI aims and objectives: the management of salt-affected land; on-farm management of sustainable water use; mitigating the effects of brackish water; sub-surface drip irrigation; protected agriculture; and the methods and implementation of conservation agriculture.
Creating opportunities for students
Support provided to students acknowledges the importance of finding long-term solutions to water and food insecurity across the Middle East. An investment now is critical and could pay-off for years and decades to come as students become agricultural professionals and help strengthen national systems and the region’s capacity to deal with climate change.
Over the past year WLI has supported students with the following projects: monitoring of water stress and supplement irrigation scheduling; the effects of supplemental irrigation on water use efficiency and yields of barley and durum wheat; irrigation management and crop water modeling; and the application of remote-sensing technologies.
In Tunisia, WLI has also facilitated post-doc research opportunities for national researchers with partner organizations, including the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS). In addition, the initiative creates research opportunities for students from the United States - through its partnership with US Land Grant Universities. One PhD student from the University of Florida, for instance, conducted research on assessing farmers’ perceptions towards the use of treated greywater for home gardens in Jordan.
Assessing adoption constraints
Researchers also benefit from on-the-job learning – their capacities strengthened by the findings generated by on-going research. Socio-economic assessments on the adoption of new technologies have yielded crucial information on adoption constraints, which will inform the development of new extension and dissemination strategies.
In total, over 300 farmers, 34 researchers, and 17 extension agents have responded to standardized surveys - providing invaluable data to help determine the factors that influence technology adoption. Results of the study provide the needed evidence for effective involvement of all relevant stakeholders along the research to development continuum.
International knowledge exchange
WLI researchers are also given the opportunity to contribute to on-going academic debates - regarding the solutions required to reverse land and water degradation and strengthen food security in the Middle East. Academic papers based on WLI research have been submitted to research journals and presented at relevant forums and conferences – including papers on integrated water and land management, supplemental irrigation and water use efficiency, and the application of remote sensing.