March 2022 Research Journal Roundup

“Irrigation water management in the space age” and more: A roundup of IWMI contributions to research articles and journals in March 2022

“Irrigation water management in the space age” and more: A roundup of IWMI contributions to research articles and journals in March 2022

By Clara Colton Symmes, Princeton in Asia Fellow, IWMI

Last month, IWMI researchers contributed to more than 20 research articles and journals, addressing topics ranging from wastewater treatment and reuse to the impact of climate change on indigenous crops. Continue reading below to learn more about how our researchers are studying new approaches for mitigating climate change, adapting to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and re-imagining agricultural practices.

Photo: Metro Media / IWMI
Photo: Metro Media / IWMI

Climate change, land cover change, and overharvesting threaten a widely used medicinal plant in South Africa

One of the most widely traded medicinal plants in South Africa is the Natal Lily, an essential contributor to traditional medicine and to the livelihoods of the primarily low-income women who trade the plant. But as IWMI’s Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi highlights in an article published in Ecological Applications, the species is threatened by declines in suitable habitat. Climate change, land cover change, and harvesting have reduced quantities of the plant by more than 40 percent in the last 90 years. The article predicts that unless future conservation efforts prioritize the protection of suitable habitats and sustainable harvesting, there will be significant damage to wild Natal Lily populations, which will in turn impact those who rely upon the plant.

Read more here.

COVID-19 and household water insecurities in vulnerable communities in the Mekong Region

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of sanitation in preventing and documenting the spread of disease. But in regions with already-poor water quality or low water availability, tactics aimed at preventing the spread of disease can also lead to further water insecurity. In the results of a survey published in Environment, Development and Sustainability, IWMI’s Chu Thai Hoanh emphasizes how the pandemic has impacted water accessibility in vulnerable communities in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, discusses how increased handwashing and facemask washing leads to growing demand for water at the household level, and explores how lockdowns can disrupt water delivery or system servicing. The authors emphasize that future efforts aimed at preventing the spread of the pandemic must be aimed at assisting with clean water accessibility in vulnerable communities.

Read more here.

The WHO guidelines for safe wastewater use in agriculture: A review of implementation challenges and possible solutions in the Global South

Despite significant investment in wastewater treatment over the last decade, agriculture irrigated with untreated wastewater still significantly outweighs treated wastewater irrigation (30 million hectares versus 1 million hectares). Over the last 30 years, the World Health Organization has released guidelines and manuals to educate and operationalize sanitation safety planning, but it has continued to face challenges triggering, supporting, and sustaining behavior changes. In an article published in Water, IWMI’s Pay Drechsel considers how future editions could be revised or reframed in order to address these challenges.

Read more here.

Viewpoint: Irrigation water management in a space age

Large portions of the roughly 70 percent of global freshwater used for irrigation are not used efficiently. In an article published in Irrigation and Drainage, IWMI’s Mohsin Hafeez and Usman Khalid Awan address the potential of satellite imagery to enhance and improve water resource management. These technologies can monitor the performance of largescale irrigation, quantify surface and groundwater, and forecast future irrigation supply and crop yields. The paper highlights how these innovative tools can increase the crop per drop ratio, and can help farmers adapt to the challenges of climate change with minimal environmental impact.

Read more here.

Changes in soil properties following the establishment of exclosures in Ethiopia: a meta-analysis

Since the 1990s, Ethiopian communities have established exclosures — land designated to exclude livestock grazing and farming — on degraded communal land with the aim of restoring the health of the soil. IWMI’s Wolde Mekuria contributed to a study published in Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution: Conservation and Restoration Ecology that found that after 16 years, the carbon and nitrogen present in soil in exclosures more than doubled. The researchers also found that the type and depth of the soil affected the restoration of nutrients, and highlighted that this information should be used when planning and implementing future exclosures.

Read more here.

Agricultural water management practices to improve the climate resilience of irrigated agriculture in India

With climate change projected to increasingly impact the availability of water for agriculture, the sector must use water-saving technologies and methods. IWMI’s Alok K. Sikka, Mohammad Faiz Alam, and Vidya Mandave wrote an article published in Irrigation and Drainage presenting location-specific, science- and evidence-based agricultural water management (AWM) techniques that will enhance water resilience, increase crop yields, and reduce emissions that would further contribute to climate change. The researchers present approaches to these practices as well as methods for mainstreaming and financing AWM.

Read more here.

Statistical verification of 16-day rainfall forecast for a farmers advisory service in Pakistan

Smallholder farmers practicing rainfed irrigation are increasingly vulnerable to changing weather patterns driven by climate change. IWMI’s Muhammad Tousif Bhatti and Arif A. Anwar completed a study published in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology focusing on the development of a Farmers Advisory Service (FAS) in Pakistan, the fifth-most vulnerable country to climate change in the world. Researchers verified the accuracy of rainfall forecasts based on data collected from 15 observatories and aim to use the results to continue developing a service that can support farmers making agricultural decisions.

Read more here.

Interested in reading more of IWMI’s recently published research? Check out these other journal articles from March 2022:

Challenges in the governance of community-managed forests in Ethiopia: review

Published in Sustainability with contributions from Wolde Mekuria.

Contrasting changes in hydrological processes of the Volta River basin under global warming

Published in Hydrology and Earth System Sciences with contributions from Moctar Dembélé and Sander J. Zwart.

Water-Energy-Food Nexus Tools in Theory and Practice: A Systematic Review

Published in Frontiers in Water with contributions from Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi.

Stakeholder Perspectives on COVID-19 and Household Water Access in Vulnerable Communities in the Mekong Region

Published in Environmental Management with contributions from Chu Thai Hoanh.

A sustainable livelihoods framework for the 21st century

Published in World Development with contributions from Diana Suhardiman.

Visioning a Food System for an Equitable Transition towards Sustainable Diets—A South African Perspective

Published in Sustainability with contributions from Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi.

Resilience and sustainability of the water sector during the COVID-19 pandemic

Published in Sustainability with contributions from Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi.

Using participatory GIS and collaborative management approaches to enhance local actors’ participation in rangeland management: the case of Vulindlela, South Africa

Published in Journal of Environmental Planning and Management with contributions from Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi.

Predicting Infectious Diseases: A Bibliometric Review on Africa

Published in International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health with contributions from Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi.

Development and validation of a model for soil wetting geometry under Moistube Irrigation

Published in Scientific Reports with contributions from Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi.

The Future of Food: Domestication and Commercialization of Indigenous Food Crops in Africa over the Third Decade (2012–2021)

Published in Sustainability with contributions from Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi.

From wastewater to resource

Published in Voices with contributions from Javier Mateo-Sagasta.

Implications of water abstraction on the interconnected Central Rift Valley Lakes Sub-Basin of Ethiopia using WEAP

Published in Journal of Hydrology: Regional studies with contributions from Alemseged Tamiru Haile.

UAV-based multispectral vegetation indices for assessing the interactive effects of water and nitrogen in irrigated horticultural crops production under tropical sub-humid conditions: A case of African eggplant

Published in Agricultural Water Management with contributions from Petra Schmitter.

Coupling remote sensing and hydrological model for evaluating the impacts of climate change on streamflow in data-scarce environment

Published in Sustainability with contributions from Usman Khalid Awan.

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