An index for enabling socially inclusive digital innovation processes in food, land, and water systems
Currently metrics for assessing digital inclusivity focus on evaluating the outcomes of digital innovation rather than the process of developing such innovations. Digital inclusivity has five different dimensions, spanning both technical and social aspects, and therefore requires a holistic approach to attain. We propose a digital inclusivity index as a holistic and standard guideline for enabling digital inclusivity in food land and water systems. Since formal research and development is skewed towards the Global North, such an index may embody the perspectives and interests of organisations based in the Global North, and will therefore require testing, validation and co-development with stakeholders based in the Global South.
Indicators / Participatory approaches / Stakeholders / Guidelines / Water systems / Land resources / Food systems / Social inclusion / Innovation / Digital technology
The mini stream assessment scoring system (miniSASS) was developed as a citizen science biomonitoring tool for assessing the water quality and health of stream and river systems. A miniSASS survey involves sampling the aquatic macroinvertebrate community in a stream or river reach and using the known sensitivities and tolerances of the taxa present to infer information about the water quality and health of the stream or river. The quality of the outcomes of a miniSASS survey is dependent on good sampling technique and accurate identification of aquatic macroinvertebrates by low-skilled citizen scientists. As such, there is potential for errors in sampling and identification which may impact the accuracy of results. In response, we aimed to 1) develop a smartphone application (miniSASS mobile app with built-in machine learning (ML) algorithm for the automatic, real-time identification of aquatic macroinvertebrates) to assist in miniSASS surveys, 2) modernise and upgrade the miniSASS website to handle new data submissions (including photographs) and improve the user interface (UI), and 3) develop an online miniSASS training course. This report presents the methodology and preliminary results pertaining to these objectives.
Sustainable Development Goals / Training / Databases / Algorithms / Machine learning / Mobile applications / Macroinvertebrates / Water quality / Rivers / Biomonitoring / Citizen science / Digital technology
Beyond the digital divide: a multi-dimensional approach to enabling digital inclusivity in food, land, and water systems
In what is proclaimed as the ‘fourth industrial revolution’, digital innovation is thought to have the potential to provide solutions to key challenges facing food production and consumption together with the support of sustainability of the underpinning support of land, and water systems. Nowhere is this more the case in less-industrialised countries, which largely have agrarian based economies. Applications of digital innovations include faster and more reliable communication, better collection, analysis, and storage of data, enhancing democratic processes and transparency in governance, affordable financial services and can provide the basis for decision support. However, there is a risk that people with less formal education and skills and little resource endowments as well as particular groups of people such as women will be excluded from participating or benefiting from digital innovation, the so-called digital divide. In addition, there is a risk that people, communities, and societies may be disadvantaged or harmed by digital innovation processes. Digital inclusivity within food, land and water systems are approaches in digital innovation need to include the differing needs and resources of men, women, youth, indigenous communities who produce most the world’s food in smallholder land holdings. Here we provide the state-of-the-art evidence from peer reviewed literature and other literature in support of these statements. On the basis of this and our wider anecdotal experience we present, a holistic multi-dimensional framework for digital inclusivity. The aim of the digital inclusivity index (and supporting tools) is to provide a resource to guide to transform and change development and application of digital innovations. Specifically, it provides governments, funders, researchers, and development agencies a framework on how to assess, minimise and lessen exclusion from digital innovation. This is achieved through increasing awareness of the characteristics of digital exclusion, recognising the needs of the actors that they target with digital interventions which are more inclusive, making interventions more participatory and mitigating any potential harm that can be caused by digital innovation. We also argue that the approach to digital innovation needs to be set within the context of a wide ranging ‘digital ecosystem’ where different actors contribute knowledge and resources, and digital innovation goes beyond the adoption and use of technologies to include changes in preexisting social arrangement and institutions.
Participation / Social structure / Digital divide / Water systems / Land resources / Food systems / Indicators / Frameworks / Social inclusion / Digital technology
Impacts of climate-smart agricultural practices on farm households’ climate resilience and vulnerability in Bale-Eco Region, Ethiopia
Climate change remains a significant threat to farm households, especially in developing countries. It exacerbates their vulnerability to food insecurity by reducing agricultural productivity and raising agricultural production costs. Adoption of climate smart-agricultural (CSA) practices is a promising alternative to build resilient farm households. In this study, we assessed the impacts of adopting CSA practices on climate resilience and vulnerability among farm households in Bale-Eco Region, Ethiopia. A power calculation was used to determine the sample size, and 404 farm households were randomly selected to collect data using structured questionnaire. We estimated household climate resilience index using categorical principal component analysis, and vulnerability index using vulnerability as expected poverty approach. Endogenous switching regression model, which is conditional on the adoption of multiple CSA practices and used to control selection bias and unobserved heterogeneity, was used to assess the impacts of CSA practices on household climate resilience and vulnerability. We employed counterfactual approaches to assess the impacts. The results show that the average treatment effects for most CSA practices are statistically significant and positive for resilience, but negative for vulnerability. This provides empirical support for interventions in climate-smart agriculture, which can help farm households build resilience and reduce vulnerability. We, therefore, suggest that agricultural policies should encourage the adoption of CSA practices and provide incentive packages to farm households that promote this.
Vulnerability / Climate resilience / Households / Agricultural practices / Climate-smart agriculture
The nexus across water, energy and food (WEF): learning from research, building on evidence, strengthening practice
While water-energy-food (WEF) Nexus is one of the most important, and widely investigated, environmental topics of our time, previous stock taking efforts possess notable limitations, namely (i) their focus is restricted to research articles, and (ii) there is less focus on nexus permutations that begin with energy and food. This paper assembled more than 900 documents and systematically categorized them according to more than 10 key parameters (e.g. scale, methods, limitations), to characterize approaches, achieved outcomes and presence of variables likely to support on-the-ground change. Our results reveal that WEF Nexus activities are often driven by the water sector, undertaken at global and national scale and authored by experts from diverse backgrounds. Among the utilized methods, modelling and review (i.e. systematic) are the most common. While climate change and governance are routinely considered in WEF Nexus documents, gender, stakeholders and capacity are not. These findings highlight areas for improvement in the design of WEF Nexus initiatives.
Gender / Stakeholders / Governance / Frameworks / Nexus approaches / Food Security / Energy / Water Security
Geospatial modeling of hydrological ecosystem services in an ungauged upper Yamuna Catchment using SWAT
Hydrological ecosystem services (HES) are vital for resource allocation, conservation prioritization, and climate change adaptation. However, research gaps persist due to limited understanding of complex hydrological systems and inadequate ground-station data, especially in ungauged watersheds with complex terrains. The present study addresses these gaps by estimating and mapping HES descriptors using regionalization techniques in an ungauged Aglar watershed. Additionally, it conducts a temporal analysis of hydrological fluxes using Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). Aglar is a constituent sub-watershed of a gauged watershed named Bausan having two discharge observation stations located at Naugaon and Bausan sites in Uttarakhand, India. A nested parameterization approach was adopted to represent the hydrological variabilities over the Bausan watershed with one outlet at Aglar. The stream flow derived from the calibrated Bausan watershed was used as synthetic observations in SWAT model setup for Aglar and found to yield very good statistical results. Calibration yielded coefficient of determination (R2 ) = 0.91, Nash Sutcliff Efficiency (NSE) = 0.91, and standardized root mean square error (RSR) = 0.29, while the validation yielded R2 = 0.68, NSE = 0.50, and RSR = 0.37. Parameters related to base flow or stream flow were the most sensitive in the model’s output. Water balance analysis reveals 36% of precipitation transformed into stream flow, with direct runoff accounting for 72% and base flow for 28%. Forest cover contributed approximately 50.68% of precipitation through evapotranspiration. The study identifies a maximum sediment load of approximately 26 t/ha, indicating fragility of the landscape. Non-parametric tests such as Mann Kendall and Sen’s slope indicated increasing trends in surface runoff, lateral flow, water yield, and groundwater recharge. The analysis of the empirical cumulative distribution function demonstrated that all hydrological components exhibit trends similar to precipitation. Spatially and temporally, variations in HES provisioning were observed, with forests surpassing non-forest areas. These findings emphasize the value of HES descriptors in analyzing spatiotemporal changes in HES provisioning and offer valuable insights for policymakers for future policy dialogues. This study lays the groundwork for further investigations into the hydrological processes of ungauged watersheds.
Sensitivity analysis / Watersheds / Hydrological modelling / Ecosystem services
Recent estimations indicate that Pakistan is currently host to approximately 3.28 million migrants, comprising roughly 1.5 percent of the nation’s total population. While Pakistan possesses an extensive national registration database, the National Database and Registration Authority, encompassing both citizens and individuals of Pakistani origin, it is noteworthy that the country lacks a comprehensive migration-sensitive infrastructure. Consequently, there exists a pressing need for in-depth analytical approaches to elucidate the complexities of migration governance and data management within the Pakistani context. Despite the undeniable significance of migration in driving macroeconomic and socioeconomic development within Pakistan, this sector remains notably marginalized in terms of policy prioritization. At present, Pakistan lacks a dedicated migration policy, a centralized coordinating body responsible for managing migration-related data, and a cohesive framework for analytical or advisory efforts regarding the collection and validation of migration data across diverse stakeholders. Consequently, Pakistan’s approach to migration governance is characterized by fragmentation, with numerous government entities engaged in the handling and reporting of migration data and service provision. In light of these circumstances, this country report serves as a diagnostic tool, shedding light on salient governance, and data-related challenges. Its overarching objective is to advocate for the elevation of migration governance to a prominent position on Pakistan’s policy agenda, thereby addressing the pressing issues outlined herein.
Policies / Emigration / Governance / Migration
One hundred priority questions for the development of sustainable food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa is facing an expected doubling of human population and tripling of food demand over the next quarter century, posing a range of severe environmental, political, and socio-economic challenges. In some cases, key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are in direct conflict, raising difficult policy and funding decisions, particularly in relation to trade-offs between food production, social inequality, and ecosystem health. In this study, we used a horizon-scanning approach to identify 100 practical or research-focused questions that, if answered, would have the greatest positive impact on addressing these trade-offs and ensuring future productivity and resilience of food-production systems across sub-Saharan Africa. Through direct canvassing of opinions, we obtained 1339 questions from 331 experts based in 55 countries. We then used online voting and participatory workshops to produce a final list of 100 questions divided into 12 thematic sections spanning topics from gender inequality to technological adoption and climate change. Using data on the background of respondents, we show that perspectives and priorities can vary, but they are largely consistent across different professional and geographical contexts. We hope these questions provide a template for establishing new research directions and prioritising funding decisions in sub-Saharan Africa.
knowledge / Indigenous Peoplesapos / Natural resources management / Climate change / Urbanization / Investment / Policies / Land-use planning / Postharvest technology / Technology adoption / Food production / Women / Gender equality / Social inclusion / Food security / Environmental impact / Agroecosystems / Agricultural development / Sustainable Development Goals / Food systems
Implications of changes in land use for ecosystem service values of two highly eroded watersheds in Lake Abaya Chamo Sub-basin, Ethiopia
Ecosystems provide a variety of ecosystem services and functions for mankind, and their sustainable use plays an important role in livelihoods. However, the resulting land degradation due to land use and land cover changes leads to loss of valuable ecosystems and associated ecosystem functions and services. This study takes two highly degraded watersheds, Aba-Bora and Guder, in Ethiopia and uses the value transfer valuation method to estimate changes in ecosystem service values. The study shows how loss of cropland and grazing lands can significantly affect ecosystem services even when plantations and shrubland increase. The results suggest that over a period of 41 years, the ecosystem service value of exclosures/shrublands and plantations increased, whereas that of crop and grazing lands decreased. The loss of ecosystem service values due to the decrease in cropland and grazing lands outweigh the gains due to the expansion of plantations and exclosures and resulted in a total loss of ecosystem service values of US$ 1.6 million in Aba-Bora watershed and US$ 24.4 million in Guder. In both watersheds, the greatest contributor to ecosystem service loss was a decline in supporting services, while the increase in plantation and shrublands (mainly through establishment of exclosures) meant that regulating ecosystem services suffered the smallest loss. Given their importance to livelihoods in these areas, the loss in crop and grazing lands significantly increase the vulnerability to shocks and narrow future livelihood options for many households. Given that severe gully erosion is the major contributor to the reduction in crop and grazing lands, catchment management that integrates the conservation of upstream areas using diverse sustainable land management practices, and gully rehabilitation measures in downstream areas could be an important option to reducing the expansion of big gullies, and conserving crop and grazing lands and ecosystem service values. However, the results suggest that the risks to livelihoods may be underestimated while the effectiveness of current actions to address land degradation over-estimated by communities.
Landscape conservation / Shrublands / Exclosures / Land degradation / Livelihoods / Gully erosion / Grazing lands / Farmland / Watershed management / Ecosystem services / Land cover / Land use
Forest and landscape restoration opportunities in the western catchment of Lake Ziway, Central Rift Valley, Ethiopia: technical report
Forest and landscape restoration measures could address landscape degradation, increase ecosystem services, and improve livelihoods. However, mapping potential areas for forest and landscape restoration measures and identifying enabling and constraining factors is crucial for effective implementation. This study was conducted in the western catchment of Lake Ziway, Central Rift Valley, Ethiopia, to identify potential forest and landscape restoration options, map potential areas, assess the benefits and cost of options, and investigate success and failure factors for implementing interventions. The study adopted the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology (ROAM), which enables selecting and mapping forest and landscape restoration options. Data were collected using field surveys, key informant interviews, focus group discussion and literature reviews. We also employed GIS and remote sensing methods to characterize the long-term land use and land-cover dynamics and changes in the status of land degradation. Cost–benefit analysis was conducted to assess the economic viability of identified restoration options. The results suggested that over the last 20 years (2002 to 2022), the western catchment of Lake Ziway experienced severe forest and landscape degradation due to anthropogenic and climatic factors, resulting in multiple environmental and socioeconomic consequences. This study identified seven context-specific forest and landscape restoration measures to address the problem. They vary in cost, trajectory and specific economic and social outcomes. Most options were economically viable with additional environmental and social benefits. For example, the benefit of carbon sequestration for home garden agroforestry was estimated at USD 27,032.5 ha-1 over 20 years. It was also found that a considerable portion of the catchment area was potentially suitable for agroforestry practices (40%), particularly for scattered trees on farmlands. However, the potential areas suitable for full afforestation or reforestation and tree buffers are smaller (6%). Integrating multiple forest and landscape restoration measures in the catchment could maximize the environmental and socioeconomic outcomes. Opportunities to effectively implement and scale up the identified forest and landscape restoration options include the availability of adequate active labor, the diverse benefits of measures, and the existence of supporting policies and strategies, multiple potential financing mechanisms and active development of governmental and non-governmental organizations. However, the absence of guidelines for implementing legal issues, weak coordination among responsible institutions, and inadequate finance and incentives have been identified as major constraints to scale up forest and landscape restoration measures. The findings of this study may serve as a guide for the planning, design and implementation of restoration measures in the study catchment and similar futur
Rainfall / Vegetation / Water conservation / Biodiversity / Freshwater ecosystems / Communities / Remote sensing / Restoration / Ecosystem services / Economic viability / Cost benefit analysis / Carbon sequestration / Farmland / Socioeconomic aspects / Agroforestry / Watersheds / Landforms / Land productivity / Land degradation / Land cover / Land use / Landscape conservation / Forests
Mapping community perception, synergy, and trade-off of multiple water values in the Central Rift Valley Water System of Ethiopia
Individuals and communities use and value water in multiple and complex ways. In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), the pluralistic nature of water values is poorly documented, and the existing and potential value trade-offs are unidentified. This study was undertaken in the Central Rift Valley (CRV) of Ethiopia to understand and map water values, priorities, risks, and trade-offs in a multi-stakeholder engagement process to provide the basis for more transparent and accountable decision-making. Integrated assessment methods, combining bio-physical and social methods, were applied. The results show 24 community-perceived and articulated water values that are diverse but interconnected, including values of water, landscapes, the river system, and downstream water bodies. Connections between people and landscape structures are articulated. In terms of priority water values, the overall results reflect the primary but basic need for water for food security and domestic uses. The results further illustrate the pluralistic nature of water values and the dichotomy of preferences among people of different backgrounds. The scenario-based Environmental Flow (EF) assessment exercise integrated into community value preferences and the event calendar that was used show that the river systems in CRV (Ketar, Kulumsa, and Gusha-Temela) have different ecological and socio-cultural flow requirements and that there are marked water value trade-offs. The conclusions of the study suggest that overlapping governance structures are affecting people’s perceptions of water and the way they articulate water values. Policy directions and decision-making need to recognize and acknowledge the multiple water values and competing uses of water in the CRV as a starting point to reconcile trade-offs that will then improve water security. Findings suggest that EF estimation and decision support tools can be customized to local ecological requirements through engaging local stakeholders in the assessment process.
Sociocultural environment / Environmental flows / Assessment / Communities / Rivers / Water demand / Water governance
Improve acceptance of water reuse: guidelines for planners, investors, project designers and operators [Thematic Brief of the ReWater MENA Project]
Planning / Project design / Public participation / Water quality / Water security / Water management / Water resources / Technology / Stakeholders / Guidelines / Water reuse
Rangelands / Disaster preparedness / Action plans / Stakeholders / Policies / Government / Groundwater / Mitigation / Vulnerability / Weather hazards / Climate change / Rainfed farming / Agricultural sector / Forecasting / Precipitation / Early warning systems / Impact assessment / Monitoring / Risk management / Drought
Harmonious governance frameworks for water reuse: guidelines for planners, investors, project designers and operators [Thematic Brief of the ReWater MENA Project]
Guidelines / Planning / Project design / Conflicts / Political aspects / Water treatment / Water quality / Institutions / Stakeholders / Decision making / Governance / Frameworks / Water reuse
Gender mainstreaming in water reuse: guidelines for planners, investors, project designers and operators [Thematic Brief of the ReWater MENA Project]
Policies / Guidelines / Investment / Planning / Project design / Employment / Children / Youth / Men / s participation / Womenapos / Gender-transformative approaches / Gender equality / Water reuse / Gender mainstreaming
Communities / Farmers / Action plans / Forecasting / Precipitation / Government / Agricultural sector / Assessment / Vulnerability / Climate change / Monitoring / Risk management / Drought
Developing bankable water reuse projects: guidelines for planners, investors, project designers and operators [Thematic Brief of the ReWater MENA Project]
Guidelines / Planning / Project design / Investment / Government / Risk / Financing / Cost recovery / Business models / Freshwater / Rural areas / Water reuse
Communities / Stakeholders / Government / Policies / Financing / Farmers / Smallholders / Agricultural sector / Precipitation / Forecasting / Early warning systems / Vulnerability / Climate change / Action plans / Impact assessment / Monitoring / Risk management / Drought
Combining sub-surface fertigation with conservation agriculture in intensively irrigated rice under rice-wheat system can be an option for sustainably improving water and nitrogen use-efficiency
Context: The rice-wheat cropping system in the Indo-Gangetic plains (IGP) of South Asia has been shown to have higher productivity. However, this benefit is offset by the unsustainable over-drafting of groundwater resources. Given the growing scarcity of water, it is imperative to investigate alternative crop establishment and irrigation methods that do not rely on the conventional puddled transplanting method (PTR).; Objective: This study aims to assess the impact of combining conservation agriculture-CA with sub-surface drip irrigation-SSD referred to as CA+, at different nitrogen (N) doses on physiological performance, crop yield, irrigation and nitrogen use-efficiency, as well as farm profitability of rice in the north-western IGP of India.; Method: A two-year field experiment was conducted to assess the effects of medium-term CA and the combination of CA with SSD (CA+) at three levels of N (0%, 75%, and 100% of the recommended dose), in comparison to PTR using recommended dose of nitrogen-RDN (120 kg N ha-1). Indicators of crop growth (under CA, CA+), i.e., biomass, grain yield, water-use, water-use efficiency (WUE), nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE), and economic analysis of rice production were evaluated and compared with PTR.; Result: The results revealed that the PTR plots produced 15% and 11% higher grain yield than CA and CA+ systems, respectively, even at 100%RDN, due to a significantly higher number of fertile tillers. However, the application of 100%RDN and irrigation through SSD resulted in a significant increase in nitrogen uptake (4.5%) and remobilization (7.5%) into the grain compared to PTR. The CA+ plots demonstrated a reduction in irrigation water usage by 1.5 and 2 times compared to the CA and PTR systems, leading to a respective increase in WUE by 1.6% and 1.8%. PTR exhibited highest net returns, while the CA+ treatment– SSD-N100 achieved the highest benefit-cost ratio.; Conclusion: The combination of CA with SSD at 100%RDN offers significant benefits, including notable water saving, improved WUE, NUE and crop yield. This integrated approach presents a promising solution to address the pressing issues of food security and sustainability arising from water scarcity and groundwater depletion in South Asia.; Future implication: There is a need to increase awareness among farmers about the benefits of CA coupled with SSD i.e., CA+ , for water-intensive rice-based systems. Additionally, further research should focus on identifying ideal rice cultivars suitable for CA+ systems and determining the optimal specifications for drip lines and emitter discharge rates for diverse water-scarce agro-ecological conditions.
Irrigated rice / Conservation agriculture / Fertigation / Crop yield / Nitrogen-use efficiency / Water-use efficiency / Drip irrigation / Subsurface irrigation
Changes in soil properties with long-term organic inputs due to distance from homestead and farm characteristics in southern Ethiopian farmlands
Traditional farming systems across much of Sub-Saharan Africa have greater organic inputs near to the homestead than in fields further away. This is likely to produce a fertility gradient that impacts production capacity, and so provides an opportunity to explore impacts of organic amendments on soils. Across 198 farm plots in 69 households in Halaba, Southern Ethiopia, we investigated the influence of different organic input systems on soil properties. The study also examined the influence of household and farm characteristics on the adoption of land management practices and its impact on soil properties. Samples were taken from farm plots located close (300 m) from the homestead, representing different levels of organic amendments. Soils located close to homesteads had significantly greater soil organic carbon, cation exchange capacity and soil nutrient content compared to soil located near and far from the homestead areas. Soil organic carbon concentrations close to the home were 15%, 27% and 45% greater than farm plots located at far from the home in Andegna Choroko, Asore and Lay Arisho kebeles, respectively. Across all sites, the mean soil organic carbon stock ranged from 20.6 t ha- 1 to 84.6 t ha- 1 , depending on the location of the plots with respect to the homestead. Household and farm characteristics also influenced land management practices and soil properties. In some catchments, farm plots managed by female headed households and relatively rich farmers displayed significantly greater soil organic carbon than farm plots managed by male headed and relatively poor households. This was likely due to greater organic inputs in female headed households in areas where men were otherwise engaged in off-farm activities and in wealthier households with greater access to organic manures. Tree cover in farmlands influenced accumulation of soil organic carbon. The results suggest that out-scaling farm management practices that are common around homesteads, such as adding animal manure or household wastes and maintaining tree cover, would help to improve key soil properties and agricultural productivity.
Women / Gender / Income / Households / Agricultural productivity / Cation exchange capacity / Canopy / Agricultural practices / Farmland / Soil organic carbon / Soil fertility / Soil properties
Training / Course Materials and Fact Sheet
Pumping / Batteries / Maintenance / Installation / Photovoltaic systems / Solar energy / Manuals / Training materials / Pumps / Solar powered irrigation systems
Building resilience in fragile and conflict-affected agrifood systems through a water-energy-food nexus approach
Conflicts / Sustainable development / Risk / Political aspects / Capacity development / Data analysis / Innovation / Decision making / Investment / Financing / Governance / Stakeholders / Policies / Climate change / Nexus approaches / Food security / Energy / Water resources / Resilience / Agrifood systems
Women / Vulnerability / Flooding / Drought / Water availability / Decision making / Early warning systems / Extreme weather events / Disaster risk reduction / Strategies / Local communities / Climate resilience / Sustainability / Climate change adaptation
Position paper on enhancing water security in Nepal. Prepared for the UN 2023 Water Conference, New York, USA, 22-24 March 2023
Investment / Policies / Water governance / Disaster risk reduction / Climate change / Socioeconomic development / Women / Social inclusion / Gender equality / Water supply / Sustainable Development Goals / Natural resources management / Water availability / Water management / Water resources / Water security
A critical analysis of soil (and water) conservation practices in the Ethiopian Highlands: implications for future research and modeling
Soil and water conservation have been traditionally part of farming practices for thousands of years. Despite massive efforts to implement modern soil and water conservation practices (SWCPs) in the Ethiopian Highlands, soil erosion increased after the 1970s when social and political events led to a remarkable change in land use. This review aims to critically analyze the impact of conservation practices on soil loss and crop yield and highlight research and modeling gaps. In doing so, 120 published articles on experimental and simulated soil losses in the Ethiopian Highlands were retrieved from the refereed literature. We found that most published experimental studies evaluating SWCPs lasted less than five years in areas of less than 100 ha. Most modeling studies were over short periods, too; some models simulated soil loss over large areas. The literature analysis for these short-term experimental studies showed that SWCP decreased soil loss on individual sites and increased crop yield in semi-arid regions. Simulated sediment concentration increased as a function of watershed size, while observed soil losses did not follow this trend. Moreover, the decrease in soil loss due to the soil and water conservation practices on small plots was also greatly overestimated. Consequently, past research and current modeling techniques are inconclusive on the effectiveness of SWCPs in large catchments over periods exceeding five years and those with active gullies. Additional long-term experimental studies in catchments are required to evaluate whether SWCPs can decrease sediment loads.
Modelling / Crop yield / Land use / Environmental monitoring / Ecosystem services / Sediment / Erosion / Soil loss / Highlands / Water conservation / Soil conservation
Hydro-climatic extremes in a medium range river basin in western Nepal: learning from analysis of observed data
Hydro-climatic extremes, such as floods and droughts, are influenced by climate change and climate variability, significantly affecting natural ecosystems, human lives, and livelihood. It is crucial to advance the understanding of long-term trends of hydro-climatic extremes for effective water resource planning and management. We analyzed 25 climatic extremes-related indices and 33 hydrologic extremes-related indices in a medium-range river basin in western Nepal, the Babai River Basin. We used RClimDex and Indicators for Hydrologic Alterations to analyze extreme climatic and hydrologic parameters. We computed monotonic trends to evaluate temporal changes in extreme events. The results show a positive trend of total precipitation at Kusum (+ 2.2 mm/year) and Bargadaha (+ 17.7 mm/year) stations and a negative trend at Gulariya (- 5.7 mm/year), Nayabasti (- 7.0 mm/year), Luwamjula (- 5.9 mm/year), and Ghorai (- 18.5 mm/year) stations. Similarly, we observe that almost all temperature extreme indices have a rising trend except the percentage of the days when the maximum temperature is less than the 10th percentile index at Rani Jaruwa station, located at a low elevation. Notably, the cold day temperature index falls at 0.13 days per year. Overall, the hydrologic alteration value shows moderate variability and reduction in the median flow for the second half. The findings of this study indicate that the study area is subjected to a reduced flow regime with a medium degree of variability.
Spatial distribution / Trends / Discharge / Temperature / Precipitation / Parameters / Climate change / River basins / Indicators / Hydrological factors / Extreme weather events
There is a need to address resource security and distributional justice in developing countries. People need water, energy, and food to sustain their livelihoods, grow economies, and achieve sustainable development. The interactions between these resource sectors form the crux of water-energy-food (WEF) nexus assessments. In this study, we have utilised the WEF Nexus Index to analyse the WEF nexus of 54 African nations. The results from the analysis were used to illustrate the opportunities and constraints for future development. Generally, African countries are performing sub-optimally in the WEF Nexus Index due to the insecurity of water, energy and/or food. The performance of countries varies with context, highlighting the need for contextual analysis in identifying challenges and potential solutions. Implementation of interventions for achieving WEF security needs to be planned from an integrated perspective to optimise synergies and minimize trade-offs. Implementation of the WEF nexus approach towards simultaneous security of WEF resources has potential to improve the WEF nexus. For example and for many African countries, policies that undergird investments in energy supply projects are needed to unlock available freshwater resources and meet food requirements—energy is shown to be a critical enabler of development. Such projects can be utilised to enhance the ability of farmers to manage water through drought-proofing rainfed agriculture, an increase in irrigation development, or both. WEF nexus-based studies, policies, and projects must be focused on the direct and indirect achievement of SDGs 1, 2, 6, 7, and 13, both in terms of access and availability, to ensure distributional justice, especially in the African context. Such actions, combined with broad public participation, can have a ripple effect on other SDGs such as SDGs 5, 10, and 17, thereby reducing inequalities and building partnerships to attain these aspirational goals. The assessment of Africa’s relatively low scores in terms of the WEF Nexus Index does not represent a negative narrative. Instead, it provides an entry point to identifying hotspots and understanding the underlying challenges, through which more detailed analyses can lead to identified solutions and policies. Many African countries are trapped in an environment that could be termed a ‘poverty-unemployment-inequality nexus’ (due to the interlinkages that exist between these ‘wicked’ problems). The WEF Nexus Index provides high-level insights into these opportunities.
Freshwater / Food production / Sustainable Development Goals / Policies / Development indicators / Assessment / Nexus approaches / Food security / Energy security / Water resources
Remote sensing hail damage on maize crops in smallholder farms using data acquired by remotely piloted aircraft system
Smallholder farmers reside in marginal environments typified by dryland maize-based farming systems. Despite the significant contribution of smallholder farmers to food production, they are vulnerable to extreme weather events such as hailstorms, floods and drought. Extreme weather events are expected to increase in frequency and intensity under climate change, threatening the sustainability of smallholder farming systems. Access to climate services and information, as well as digital advisories such as Robust spatially explicit monitoring techniques from remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), could be instrumental in understanding the impact and extent of crop damage. It could assist in providing adequate response mechanisms suitable for bolstering crop productivity in a spatially explicit manner. This study, therefore, sought to evaluate the utility of drone-derived multispectral data in estimating crop productivity elements (Equivalent water thickness (EWT), Chlorophyll content, and leaf area index (LAI)) in maize smallholder croplands based on the random forest regression algorithm. A hailstorm occurred in the study area during the reproductive stages 2 to 3 and 3 to 4. EWT, Chlorophyll content, and LAI were measured before and after the storm. Results of this study showed that EWT, Chlorophyll content, and LAI could be optimally estimated based on the red edge and its spectral derivatives. Specifically, EWT was estimated to a rRMEs 2.7% and 59%, RMSEs of 5.31 gm- 2 and 27.35 gm-2, R2 of 0.88 and 0.77, while chlorophyll exhibited rRMSE of 28% and 25%, RMSEs of 87.4 mol m- 2 and 76.2 mol m- 2 and R2 of 0.89 and 0.80 and LAI yielded a rRMSE of 10.9% and 15.2%, RMSEs of 0.6 m2 /m2 and 0.19 m2 /m2 before and after the hail damage, respectively. Overall, the study underscores the potential of RPAS-based remote sensing as a valuable resource for assessing crop damage and responding to the impact of hailstorms on crop productivity in smallholder croplands. This offers a means to enhance agricultural resilience and adaptability under climate change.
Climate change / Agricultural productivity / Vegetation index / Leaf area index / Plant health / Unmanned aerial vehicles / Small-scale farming / Farmland / Farmers / Smallholders / Remote sensing / Maize / Hail damage / Crop damage
Examining the legitimacy of inclusive innovation processes: perspectives from smallholder farmers in Uasin Gishu, Kenya
In recent decades, the concept of inclusive innovation has been used to refer to how innovation can include actors that are considered marginalised from its processes and outcomes. Contrary to the ‘expert-driven’ approaches prevalent in evaluating the legitimacy of such processes, this paper examines the legitimacy of inclusive innovation from the perspective of smallholder farmers with little resource endowments in Uasin Gishu, Kenya, that are targeted with various agricultural innovation interventions. Findings indicate that procedural aspects of legitimacy, such as including farmers as co-innovators and including their knowledge and skills in agricultural innovation processes, are an important criterion used by targeted farmers to accord legitimacy to such interventions. We also find that such interventions need to be stable over time to be legitimate to the intended beneficiaries. These criteria used by targeted actors can be an important addition to evaluation procedures and methods for inclusive innovation.
Intervention / Organizations / Knowledge sharing / Technology / Rural areas / Agricultural development / Farmers / Smallholders / Inclusion / Agricultural innovation
Integrating open-source datasets to analyze the transboundary water–food–energy–climate nexus in Central Asia
In today’s intrinsically connected world, the Water–Food–Energy–Climate Nexus (WFEC Nexus) concept provides a starting point for informed and transparent decision-making based on the trade-offs and synergies between different sectors, including aquatic ecosystems, food security, energy production, and climate neutrality. The WFEC Nexus approach is particularly applicable in regions requiring transboundary water management, such as Central Asia. Unfortunately, this region with unevenly distributed water resources—consisting of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—is characterized by data scarcity, which limits informed decision-making. However, open-source geodata is becoming increasingly available. This paper aims to fill Central Asia’s WFEC Nexus data gap by providing an overview of key data. We collected geodata through an integrated survey of stakeholders and researchers, stakeholder consultation, and literature screening. Sixty unique datasets were identified, belonging to one of six thematic categories: (1) climate, (2) hydrology, (3) geography and topography, (4) geomorphology, (5) ecology, and (6) anthropogenic uses. For each dataset, a succinct description, including a link to the online source, is provided. We also provide possible applications of using the presented datasets, demonstrating how they can assist in conducting various studies linked to the WFEC Nexus in Central Asia and worldwide.
Anthropogenic factors / Ecology / Geomorphology / Biodiversity / Hydropower / Geographical information systems / Spatial data / Datasets / Open data / Nexus approaches / Climate change / Energy generation / Food security / Transboundary waters
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