August-September 2023 research journal roundup

IWMI contributions to research in August and September of 2023

IWMI contributions to research in August and September of 2023

By Laura Keil, Princeton in Asia Fellow

Cover photo: Rice farming in Pakistan. Faseeh Shams/IWMI
Cover photo: Rice farming in Pakistan. Faseeh Shams/IWMI

Future water conditions are uncertain, but IWMI researchers assert that humans have the ability to guide water management towards sustainable recovery. From big picture level thinking about innovation in agricultural water policies to assessing the future of rice crop performance using remote sensing, IWMI researchers have tackled questions about the future of local and global freshwater practices. Below is a selection of some of IWMI’s key articles from August and September 2023.

Research and innovation in agricultural water management for a water-secure world

IWMI’s Director General Mark Smith and researchers Alok Sikka, Tinashe Dirwai and Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi share their perspectives on agricultural water management in an article published by Irrigation and Drainage. They emphasize that innovations in sustainable freshwater management are crucial to balancing irrigation demands and a growing global population. Further, sustainable innovations must address social justice and delayed agricultural advances in the Global South. Mark Smith and colleagues believe that adopting transdisciplinary tactics will enable us to meet the challenge of transforming water and food systems in a climate crisis.

Read more here.

Future-proofing the emergency recovery plan for freshwater biodiversity

Global freshwater biodiversity is at risk. Humans have long relied on freshwater for food, water, transportation, and sanitation systems. Changes in land-use management, increased contaminants, nonnative species introduction, and climate change are threatening the future of freshwater ecosystems. IWMI’s Matthew McCartney and colleagues investigate the potential of future-proofing the freshwater Emergency Recovery Plan. Their findings, published in Canadian Science Publishing, suggest that best available science and other knowledge systems should be used to set freshwater protection goals, providing policymakers with science-informed choices in the face of uncertain futures. The authors highlight that uncertainty about the future must be viewed as a call to action; we can learn from defeats and successes to fill information gaps and anticipate future freshwater changes.

Read more here.

Hydrological response under CMIP6 climate projection in Astore River Basin, Pakistan

With an economy grounded in agriculture, Pakistan is dependent on water. A growing population and climate change are putting stress on the country’s hydrological processes. IWMI’s Zeshan Ali and colleagues utilized datasets, a selection of global climate models, and a watershed model to assess future changes in temperature and precipitation in the Astore River Basin. Their study, published in Journal of Mountain Science, shows that the annual streamflow in the Astore River will decrease by 2079 due to an increase in temperature and minimal increase in precipitation. These findings will help decision makers plan regional water policies.

Read more here.

Assessing the biophysical factors affecting irrigation performance in rice cultivation using remote sensing derived information

Rainfall variability, socioeconomic growth, and non-agricultural water usage has put pressure on the application of water for irrigation in Sub-Sahara Africa. Two modeling approaches (random forest-based and linear mixed models) were utilized in a study published in Science Direct with contributions from IWMI’s Elliott Dossou-Yovo, Louis Kouadio and Sander Zwart to study evapotranspiration and crop water productivity in rice in the Kou Valley irrigation scheme in Burkina Faso. The paper finds that growing rice within 300 meters of sea level, closer to the irrigation scheme inlet, and supplying the crop with nitrogen and potassium rich fertilizer leads to improved rice performance. These findings are vital to improving irrigation water management in Burkina Faso by helping locate underperforming rice plots and reevaluating their operations.

Read more here.

Policy gaps and food systems optimization: a review of agriculture, environment, and health policies in South Africa

South Africa faces problems of malnutrition, poverty, and unemployment. These burdens directly impact the country’s nutrition security. IWMI’s Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi and colleagues analyzed sustainable food policies in South Africa to find how agricultural, environmental, and health sectors are integrated in national and local planning. They found that while decision makers in these three sectors collaborate on policy making, they have run into challenges integrating their solutions. Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi and colleagues believe that a sustainable food system is possible by transitioning to a cross sectoral policy implementation strategy.

Read more here.

Gender and socially inclusive WASH in Nepal: moving beyond “technical fixes”

Nepal’s 2015 Constitution gave civilians the right to a healthy environment and clean water. However, as of 2020, less than 19% of people in Nepal have access to safe water. Women and girls are most affected by water supply issues. In a study led by IWMI’s Manohara Khadka and Deepa Joshi and published in Frontiers, interview data were used to assess linkages between water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and gender equality in Nepal. The study reveals gaps between the national intention of including women in policy making and government, and the reality of entrenched patriarchal systems and beliefs. The authors note that “transformative change requires more than just affirmative policies.”

Read more here.

Response to COVID-19: building resilience through water and wastewater management in Ghana

 COVID-19 was first found in Ghana on March 12, 2020, and immediate health measures were implemented. In a study published in the Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, IWMI’s Olufunke Cofie, Everisto Mapedza, Solomie Gebrezgabher, Andrew Emmanuel Okem and colleagues asked: how did Ghana’s COVID-19 measures impact the country’s water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) system? Their study found that male-headed households fared better than women-headed homes since the burden of water collection generally falls on the shoulders of women in Ghana. The researchers highlight that Ghana’s response to the recent pandemic stresses a need for partnerships between governmental sectors beyond just water and sanitation.

Read more here.

Status of integrated crop-livestock research in the mixed farming systems of the Global South: a scoping study

 Mixed farming systems (MFS) house both crops and livestock on one farm. These systems are the main food source for communities in the Global South. A recent study published in Frontiers with contributions from IWMI’s Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi and Alok Sikka found that there was limited research on the integration of crop and livestock systems as well as between MFS and water management. To build resilience of MFS, the authors recommend ten tools that focus on farm design, nutrient cycling and operational decision-making.

Read more here.

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