NBDC final stakeholder meeting - "Sustainable land and water management in transition"

14-15 November 2013

Sheraton Hotel and ILRI campus, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Documentation of these events:

  • To display the most accomplished outputs of the Nile Basin Development Challenge to a variety of key actors of land and rain water management (LRWM)
  • To raise awareness of influential LRWM actors about the opportunities highlighted in the Nile Basin Development Challenge
  • To pave the way for further opportunities to interact among LRWM champions with e.g. Water Lands and Ecosystems, Humidtropics and Africa RISING.

  • Thursday 14 November (18.00 - 21.00): High level dinner to project the messages related to the NBDC digital story and discuss upcoming issues
  • Friday 15 November (13.30 - 17.30): NBDC knowledge watershed event
    • 12.00: Registration and lunch
    • 13.30: Welcome and overview of the Knowledge watershed (possibly including an introduction of the visual NBDC watershed).
    • 13.45: Open mic: Our own achievements (NBDC team and partners), possibly mapped onto the watershed visual and with indications about where we can hear more about this in the 'watershed ballad' (see next section) part of the event.
    • 14.30: Ballad through the knowledge watershed:
      • 14.30: Discovering NBDC key messages at scales:
        • Introduction to the 8 NBDC messages
        • Going round the scales of NBDC work to discuss NBDC key messages at: local (woreda) level, regional level, national level
      • 15.30: Open walk around (coinciding with coffee break) for participants to deepen their understanding about specific aspects of the bus stop + unveiling upcoming scientific work (planned publications that are not yet finalised, and additional research questions/ideas) and possible pathways forward (WLE, Humidtropics, National Platform 'space' etc.). This would be the more typical 'Share Fair' part with free format display of various bits of work around:
        • Upcoming scientific outputs (presentation of upcoming papers + research questions).
        • The current pool of knowledge and practices - the messages and existing publications.
        • A series of future opportunities' streams (e.g. WLE, Humidtropics, National Platform, SLM).
    • 16.15: Highlands panel - back to the future, from Tis Abay to...?
      • This panel discussion will involve high level reps from EIAR, Ministries, Research institutes, SLM about key opportunities around the NBDC science, existing knowledge and practice and possible new ideas and initiatives to build upon. To be MC'd by a high profile person (Belay? Alan? Simon?). The content of the panel discussion (involving other participants than panelists also eventually) would be a final reflection from these fairly high level participants - though not as high as the evening before - around the new ideas they have heard, how they see their organisation and other initiatives build upon NBDC work, in the Blue Nile basin and beyond. Once again here, of course there's no pressure to execute this (nor any accountability mechanism).
    • 17.00: Closing and cocktails


Notes of the event

NBDC achievements

(After a world of welcome, all participants were invited to reflect, for themselves, upon one major achievement effected by or contributed to by NBDC; then they were invited to share their top achievement with table mates and pin down all these achievements on the 'Achievements wall' which was later clustered/organised).

Partnership / collaboration
  • Sharing the communication skills
  • It shares knowledge to local communities
  • Brings different stakeholders together for common goals / one focal issue
  • Participation of different actors in the planning and implementation
  • Working with local communities and empowering them
  • Innovative platforms established
  • Participatory planning (planning - implementation = community empowerment)
  • Participatory problem identification, prioritisation and implementation
  • I have observed active involvement of community in integrated watershed development plan at Fogera district
  • NBDC as catalyst for CG inter-institutional collaboration
  • Indicated a clue of cooperation / collaboration
  • The contribution made by all actors particularly institutions acting as technical groups for the success. Our initiative was warmly appreciated by the people and the farmers (from Diga woreda)
  • Develop a partnership of different actors
  • Sense of ownership
  • Focus on community problems and work closely with that community
  • New forms of engagement (platforms and participatory tools)
  • Budget generation
  • Improve participation at different levels providing opportunities for impact
  • Much richer CG-partner interaction / engagement
  • Incubated testbed of really nice approaches & tools that others are taking up e.g. PV, happy strategy etc.
  • Tested and documented IP approach
  • National platform established?
  • Participation of different actors in the planning
  • Integrated consultation with relevant partners/stakeholders
  • Consultation and creating awareness with the watershed inhabitants
  • Exit strategy

Knowledge generation and policy influence
  • Transformation of R4D perspectives of researchers in project
  • Establishing knowledge base and structure on LWM for influencing policy and practice
  • Gathering a wealth of policy relevant knowledge and information
  • Modelling and piloting an actor-focused approach to developing and implementing local NRM interventions
  • Basic data information collected
  • Research that helps move discourse towards real change:
    • Engagement
    • Diversity of partnership
    • Multi-stalce
    • Rooted in real challenges
  • Link local agroecological knowledge
  • Integrated landscape approach:
    • Population pressure
    • Tree cover loss
    • Eucalyptus plantation expansion
  • Enabled stakeholders to set up platforms that promote knowledge & practice on watershed management
  • Creating of primary data on biophysical, social and economic aspects of NRM collected at a landscape scale

Technological innovations
  • Linkage with impact / poverty reduction on the ground (e.g. fodder) through household benefits
  • Alternatives for enhanced farming systems productivity identified
  • Diga NBDC: achievements:
    • Feed shortage is reduced
    • Soil & water erosion is minimised
    • Farmers are making money from Rhodes seed sale
  • Science / knowledge
  • Solving the problem of livestock feed
  • Improving the soil conservation problem
  • Promoting a landscape approach
  • Substantial work on land and water management
  • Creates a basis for an integrated sustainable land and water management options
  • Tackling the termite problem
  • Demonstrating cut and carry system to stop free grazing
  • This is important for all ???
  • Soil conservation
  • Tangible changes have been laid down for sustainability of the initiative

Capacity development
  • Awareness of how to improve livelihoods
  • Attitudinal change
  • Awareness creation on natural resource management and water harvesting technology for communities
  • Capacity building - short term MSc, PhD
  • Capacity building: technical, institutional
  • Awareness on wise use of water, soil and forests being created
  • Improved (to some extent) livelihood of farmers and beneficiaries of Jeldu
  • It created job opportunities for local people
  • Encouraged students who are working on research
  • Local problems and opportunities are identified
  • Few interventions were started
  • The achievement of NBDC in our woreda is:
    • Based on soil and water conservation at the past taken the awareness of farmers is very low but now the capacity of our farmers changed day to day.
    • To improve livelihoods
  • Created / stimulated interest (by Ethiopian gov't and institutions) in further collaborative work
  • Increased knowledge of erosion and sedimentation in the Upper Blue Nile as a result of studies carried out by Bahir Dar and Cornell Universities' students and faculty.
  • Empowering the local community in filming development by operating the devices themselves
  • Local capacity enhanced
  • Farmer to farmer knowledge sharing
  • Farmers' awareness
  • Capacitate local partners on participatory planning and implementation
  • Improved partners knowledge / attitude & skills through capacity building etc.
  • Facilitated improved understanding of water use and management at the local level (through ???)
  • Awareness raising and sharing information
  • Sharing Wat-a-game technique for identifying the problems and solutions in a watershed
  • It shares communication skills for researchers experts and local communities

Way forward
  • Looking forward: building and adding on to NBDC experience - water-energy nexus
  • Installed equipment for further study
  • A potential impact for poor Ethiopian households - not yet realised / moved widely. What happens next will be key!

Bus stop discussion: implications of NBDC 8 key messages at local, regional and national scale?

(The NBDC team introduced the 8 NBDC key messages and participants were then invited, in three groups of about 20-30 people, to reflect on the implications of these messages at local, regional and national level. The results from these group deliberations are documented below).

Local level

Group 1:
  • Message 4: Incentives (Libo-Kemkem woreda)
  • Message 1: Achievements of NBDC: empowered local communities (training, experience sharing, IP meetings, workshops, nursery sites)
  • Challenges: staff turnover
  • Fogera:
    • Achievements: small scale intervention. Farmer-led. ---> forward --> knowledge on future way of stopping free grazing by farmers --> looking to minimize no. of livestock & start improved breeds keeping
    • Challenges: farmers are still not ready to minimize the livestock... achieving gov't plan --> farmers need top be punished to stop free grazing
  • Diga:
    • Achievements: rehabilitation of degraded land (IP); crop production increased (termite project); the projected addressed gov't's big agenda
    • Incentives? debatable

Group 2:
  • Message 1: Empowering communities! Fogera is a good example.
  • Sustainability? Scale?
  • Build capacity - but sustainability?
  • Policy issue: Jeldu will continue even after the project. The capacity is there but requires incentives
  • The time of the project is short.
  • Small scale
  • Change of traditional practices that exist for centuries: so make it a long period project at large scale.
  • Moral incentive has greater impact than money for farmers - but for DA's money incentives come first

Group 3:
  • Involve private sector in the system
  • Incentives (not only money) but other technologies, inputs - continuous capacity building - etc. e.g.
    • Different fodder varieties
    • Capacity building
    • Seed selling to other farmers
    • Degraded land - rehabilitated
    • M&E additional key message - incentive what?
  • Not just free grazing but free cultivating land
  • Fodder development is an opportunity to address farmer issues
  • In relation with grazing, control is impossible. In the short term other things should come first. Community buy-in should come first: 100% commitment by farmers

Regional level

Free grazing:
  • Participation
  • Community involvement
  • Still need by-laws, support (platforms), education
Payment for ecosystem services

National level

Group 1:
  • Message 3: Capacity is human and institutional (as support / incentive). Which one comes first?
    • What is your evaluation of institutional capacity?
    • How can we evaluate this? --> less experience within the CG
  • Message 8: How were market linkages / infrastructures created? How can we create value? --> linking NRM to markets (as incentives)
  • Question: Messages don't emphasize poverty reduction --> but messages are linked to poverty reduction
  • How to put into action different levels? Who is responsible for strategy?
  • Generated good knowledge / packages for scaling up at national level e.g. support platforms, dissemination packages.
Group 2:
  • Messages are ok but how to integrate different aspects and how to implement?
    • Challenge to integrate elements in general but also at national level --> by making use of the SLM framework or particularly using the watershed management guidelines. Example: free grazing as a key problem
  • Involve community - must really help people benefit / livelihood
  • Implementation will need engagement over long run / needs resources
    • Focus on community contribution - own it if contribute resources in any form

Group 3:
  • The 8 messages are not so different. Scaling up is an issue, through gov't, NGOs, other development partners
  • Some of the activities need to continue to contribute to impact (possibly expanding)
  • Need for system to disseminate and scale up farmer experience sharing
  • System/ feedback mechanism at national level (2-way communication)
  • Task forces can play a role but there is a need for feedback, 2-way communication;
  • Make peoples' voices heard at regional / national level
  • Projects need time / resources to have meaningful conclusions / outputs that can be upscaled!
  • Needs to be practical and tested (link between ??? and value chains)

High level panel

(At the very end of the event, a talk show/panel discussion was hosted by CPWF's Amanda Harding, with representatives of NBDC work at local, regional and national level. The panel discussion touched upon key lessons, possible improvements to a virtual 'NBDC 2' etc.)

  1. Dereje Duressa – Wollega University
  2. Birhanu Agumas – Adet Research Center
  3. Amanda Harding - CPWF Management Team
  5. Dejene Abesha - coordinator RED-FS
  6. Daba Gareda - Jeldu Woreda Office of Agriculture (Aberra translating for Dabba)

  • (Amanda Harding / AH) We have this information at hand and we need to disseminate it at larger scale. What is started should be scaled up. Not everything is well organized and coordinated at grassroots level. There are different initiatives for a few years and then we start another initiative in another place. Everybody has to understand what is happening. Otherwise we will be discussing the same challenges in 10 years. Once it’s tried at a small scale you need a system to disseminate the information and implement at grassroots level. National level events, workshops etc. do not seem to go down to those levels… We come up with similar recommendations so we have to go down to the community level. It’s not just about climate change.
  • (#3) We need a strong M&E system across each message.
  • (Daba) I’m quite optimistic that the good initiative started here can continue forward because we have strong linkages at woreda and community level. The community is buying into operations, this initiative is aligned with government’s initiatives so I’m confident we can avoid duplicating such meetings.
  • (AH) Good to have a voice of optimism straight from the woreda.
  • (Dejene Abesha) The technology is crucial – technology that can address technological, social and institutional aspects. Have you done enough to address appropriate tech development. That’s the turning point before talking about scaling out. It’s a matter of packaging the technology for different categories of actors. Do we have the capacity to package these in such a way that technologies impact farmers’ livelihood? It’s like talking about the value chain and relating to a whole host of different activities. We need commitment at all levels, at farmer, woreda, regional, federal gov’t level. Empowering the communities and capacity building is not a one-time activity but continuous so we have to look more widely at our issues.
  • (Birhanu) We have learned from platforms in different districts, looking at our use of resources to optimize this. The key issue is how do we sustain this? It requires thinking about how each system communicates and is being monitored. The other aspect is the integration between actors and sectors. It’s an issue that really needs attention.
AH: We want to avoid business as usual e.g. real systematization, that we are monitoring activities, not one-off activities and that a variety of actors need to be involved. How far do we recognize the value of farmers’ voices as opposed to expert researchers. We have to recognize the value of farmers’ voices. Can we really put this in practice? Does it contradict the system we have in place?
  • (Daba) The community isi already aware of existing problems of land and water management. The gov’t is trying to bring changes through training, experience sharing etc. and farmers are aware and willing to change. In order to effectively engage communities and ensure their empowerment and decision-making capability we have to provide what they need, whatever resources, not whatever we want them to take.
  • (Dejene) There is a say that dev’t starts in the minds of the people. Acknowledging their knowledge etc. is a first step… We have to focus at collective action. Livelihood, dev options require joint efforts in terms of delivering results to the value chain. In doing so, the issue of empowerment will come up. Acknowledging their knowledge is important (e.g. for researchers). That’s a challenge for researchers and dev workers. It’s a debatable issue and we have to dig it. Then the paradigm shift comes in.
  • ?? (#4) Recognising knowledge is important in specializing in the research. Community knowledge e.g. water resource management etc. is always coming to pictures of Konso managing natural resources etc. (good examples). It is critically important to value the knowledge of local communities and their different practices, their different culture which contributes. There are also local institutions that are operating within communities for years and they are considered in designing to test our community K in research it’s important.
AH: The idea of community wisdom etc. is important. How do we do this is important. One of the other areas of debate is the feasibility, the issue of incentives etc. How realistic is it to put this in place, is there any point in doing more research on these incentives?
  • (#2) Incentives may be different for different people… Incentives are very important to go forward. I realize that incentives are important and should be addressed.
  • (#5) We discussed earlier the main issue of ‘criteria’ – we have to set clear criteria for actors to be incentivized and the issue of sustainability should be tackled seriously again. We shouldn’t stop after a year or so. The question of sustainability should go after incentives.
What is the one thing that you would want to do as a new NBDC?
  • (Dejene) I think the new NBDC should look beyond watershed ecosystems (beyond water harvesting). The new NBDC should look into regional issues e.g. riparian. At national level it’s ok but ensuring sustainability requires looking into business with riparian countries. That research undertaking will feed the debate about the Renaissance dam etc. We need to benefit upstream and downstream.
  • (#2)
  • (Daba) There’s a lot of knowledge and willingness from the communities. The incentives are not just about the money but also e.g. single improved seeds are an incentive already. How can we go forward as a new NBDC we have good experiences and lessons and there’s very few fractions of what the gov’t/wider community wants to achieve so we want to scale out and show it works out, using community perspectives.
  • (#4) Future: First package the knowledge that’s already generated by institutions to be scaled up. 2) research has to continue because the research took place for only 3 years (very short time) and change scenarios. Things are changing rapidly. Other dimensions to include: rainwater harvesting, climate change etc.
  • (#5) The new NBDC should strongly work on a better ownership of gov’t and community. 2) work on demand-driven holistic approaches and 3) focus on the right stakeholders.
We’ve had very visionary but also very practical recommendations.
We are hungry for conversations like this and we continue with drinks for the closing.

Agenda for organizers