About the Project

(The NBDC came to a stop on 31 December 2013 - this page provides an overview of the program and what followed, to build upon the NBDC legacy in Ethiopia).
The CPWF Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) seeks to contribute to developmental outcomes and impact by ensuring quality of research and quality of processes in rainwater management designed to contribute to solving an important and pressing Basin Development Challenge (BDC).

It is about improving rural livelihoods and their resilience in the region through a landscape approach to rainwater management.

At the end of 2013 the NBDC programme came to a close.

We anticipate that in 2014 a number of publications and other outputs stemming from the work will continue to become available. These will appear on these pages. However at the same time various strands of the work will migrate into a series of new research programmes run by the CG centres and their partners. The two CGIAR Research Programmes in which the NBDC legacy will emerge are:
  • Water, Land and Ecosystems. As part of this new programme the Nile Basin and East Africa is one of the focal regional areas in which research for development utilizing the past experience of the NBDC together with partners will be taken forward. More detail and how the programme is unfolding can be found at- http://wle.cgiar.org/
  • Integrated Systems for the Humid Tropics. The East and Central African Highlands is one of four global Action Areas for this Programme. Parts of western Ethiopia especially western Oromia form one of the Humidtropics Action Sites. The focus of this programme is sustainable intensification of farming systems and many of the tools, approaches and philosophy of NBDC will inform Humidtropics activities. For more detail: www.humidtropics.org

Background information about the project


The NBDC research challenge is made up of five projects:
i) Nile 1 on learning from the past on rainwater management systems (RWMS);
ii) Nile 2 on integrated rainwater management strategies;
iii) Nile 3 On targeting and scaling out of RWMS;
iv) Nile 4 on assessing and anticipating consequences of innovation of RWMS;
v) Nile 5 on fostering learning across the BDC in support of innovation and adaptive management within Nile Basin projects and with other related initiatives in the region
In addition, attempts are bringing together Nile 3 and Nile 4 projects were documented on this N3-N4 page; Finally, a project taking place in Wollo under the patronage of UNEP was also dealing with rainwater management and involved a number of NBDC team members. As such it was introduced as the 'Nile 6' project.

This is a four-year interdisciplinary project which would give emphasis to:

i) Synergies, lessons and interactions between projects are fully exploited so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts in addressing the challenge of improving rural livelihoods and their resilience through improved rainwater management (RWM) in the Nile basin;

ii) Linkages among the wider NBDC actors is strengthened, successful ‘significant changes’ are promoted and integrated into current and emerging initiatives.
An impact pathway – both at the overall BDC level and within individual projects will provide an important common framework to allow those participating in each project to locate their work in the bigger whole and to ensure that appropriate channels for communication are established, monitored and adjusted. This will also ensure projects have quality research, good coordination but also create a forum for interaction and adjustment. The project will use innovation approaches to foster change; first to map networks of present and desired actors and their interactions, and to develop plans for engaging and influencing them. Innovation research will inform decisions by facilitating new knowledge and capturing ‘significant changes’ required to strengthen the existing platforms and to develop new ones.

iii) The third focuses is on communication, ensuring a) effective communication among RWM actors and between policy makers and development actors is established, good practices are continually fed and priorities and concerns are shared among NBDC actors; b) all partners within the five projects as well as other local and national initiatives will be able to access and benefit from the information as it is generated. Communication starts at the beginning of the project where plans are made in alignment with impact pathways and through consultative processes with stakeholders.

The project also gives emphasis for two crosscutting areas, namely capacity building and mainstreaming gender into the RWM agenda. It also aligns with core CPWF values of interdisciplinary research, fostering partnership across scales and organizations and addressing gender and diversity.


Expected Uses and Users of Research Results

This research will produce key policy recommendation in addressing poverty and resource degradation through improved Rainwater management systems (RWMS), and develop strategies for farmers, water managers, irrigation planners and development and extension authorities by providing planning and management tools to RWMS for efficient use of water resources in the basin. It will facilitate cross-basin learning and produce public goods for the global research community in agriculture and development.


Key partners
  • International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) (lead institution)
  • International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Nile Basin and East Africa Office
  • World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
  • Ethiopian Economic Policy Research Institute (EEA)
  • Catholic Relief Services- Ethiopia (CRS)
  • Amhara Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI), Ethiopia
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MoARD) and BOARD of ARS, Ethiopia
See the full list of NBDC partners.

The NBDC is also connected to other CPWF basin challenges. See more about this in the 'Cross-basin' pages.