Water, Land and Ecosystems in the Ganges

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By Michael Victor, Martin van Brakel, Craig Meisner and Benoy Barman. At Ganges Regional Research Workshop of the Challenge Program on Water and Food/Water Land and Ecosystems (CPWF/WLE), May 2014

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  • -- Excited as we have spent last two years reviewing research results, engaging with research users. The challenge now is how do we move this forward. How do we start to engage in processes and influence large scale developments in the polders.

    --- WLE I believe offers a spring board to adapt and use the momentum here but it will be challenge and stretch us. Present a bit of where WLE is also going.
  • Martin and I will do a bit of a song and dance
  • Thought I would take some quotes here which I think sum up the challenge.

    Two challenge that I think we have:
    how do we start addressing the complexity that was brought up a lot yesterday in terms of the sub-polders development
    How do we take the reearch and not just hand it over but engage in processes. Example of G1 or even governance issues brought up by G3 – how can we ensure that the research is embedded into development processes. We will need different partnerships and ways to go about doing this.

    I got a sense from the end of yesterday that we cannot just hand over results but find ways to engage more in processes.
  • WLE builds upon CPWF but it doesn’t necessarily follow it directly. There are slight changes which I think bring what Ganges team is doing to another level.
  • WLE Theory of Change is not crop, commodity or value chain driven but focused on decision-makers and how large scale investments. For instance, our focus is not necessarily on the communities/local farmers but looking at decision-makers (policy makers, investors, NGO development parnters, even other CRPs such as AAS which have a more community focused approached. Can we
  • Partnerships and partners are key to this. WLE is complex because it is has a range of partners and is looking at very complex integrated issues.
  • In Laos, IWMI through CPWF/WLE has been working with the Theun Hinboun hydropower company to find ways to improve the livelihoods options for impacted communities.
    For a resilient future gender and social inclusion needs to be placed at the forefront: To understand the impacts of different interventions women, men, poor and socially excluded groups have to be included in the decision-making process.

    The study on gendered decision making in relation to sustainable hydropower demonstrated that decisions result in benefits or costs. These are social (relational), cultural (relational/subjective), emotional (subjective) as well as economic (material)

    In changing or replacing livelihoods in the context of hydropower development, it is necessary to disaggregate the costs and benefits to women and men, as well as ethnic groups separately. These costs and benefits need to be assessed not only in material, but in relational and subjective terms as well.

    In the resettlement site, men and women had to adapt to a new area and lifestyle where traditional livelihood activities have been significantly changed and the new livelihood options had different implications to men and women. For example;

    Upland rice - men’s control limited by new land use patterns (material, relational and subjective costs)
    Fishing – men’s control has increased (material benefits)
    Riverbank gardening – women’s control has decreased (material costs)
    NTFP – women’s control has decreased (material costs)
    Weaving – women’s control has increased (material and subjective benefits)
    Livestock – women’s control unchanged; men’s control over cattle decreased (material costs)
    Education – men’s control unchanged but women have increased participation in decisions (relational and subjective benefits)

    Therefore in changing or replacing livelihoods in the context of hydropower development, it is necessary to disaggregate the costs and benefits to women and men, as well as ethnic groups separately. These costs and benefits need to be assessed not only in material, but in relational and subjective terms as well. This provides insights into why some household members may accept and others reject livelihood options offered by hydropower development.

    A combination of material, relational and subjective factors contribute to decisions made by women and men. Hydropower companies generally focus on the material aspects of wellbeing within their resettlement and livelihood packages. Ensuring joint assets and equity in capabilities (education and health) can contribute to maintaining and/or enhancing joint decision making.
  • Work in Bangladesh on this.

    With BRAC, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme, NGO Forum on Public Health

    Policy barriers to adoption – changes needed in policy and/or licensing of new fertiliser/ compost product likely to take longer than project period
    Producers – not well organised as yet, particularly around ‘organic’ production (no representation of compost manufacturers in Chamber of Commerce)
    Users –user satisfaction likely to be dependent on targeting to specific crops – need for additional work to look at effectiveness in various cropping scenarios
  • The Merti project has engaged an eclectic group of policy-makers, hydrogeologists, agricultural scientists, representatives of local groups and several other stakeholder groups. It also engages research partners at a university and a water consulting firm in Europe.

    Convening stakeholders and engaging them in model building has shown potential to overcome some of the controversy surrounding the Merti aquifer project. While the process has not yet been finalized, the positive disposition of all stakeholders towards the probabilistic impact modelling process was very encouraging. For all decision-makers present, a group that included the senator of the affected county, the process of being explicit about their mental models of impact pathways, uncertainties and desired outcomes of the intervention, appeared to be novel and eye-opening.
  • We found that, after showing high growth in the mid 1980s and early 1990s, West Bengal’s agricultural economy had slowed down with an adverse impact on farmers’ incomes and livelihoods. In recent years, it has barely registered 1% annual growth. The groundwater economy contracted too. For example, according to the Minor Irrigation Census, the number of groundwater wells declined by over 100,000 from 2001 to 2007 – entirely unprecedented in India. This is a paradox given that the same minor irrigation census shows that in 80% of the villages, groundwater is available within less than 10 metres and that groundwater levels recover sufficiently after the monsoon season due to high rainfall (1,500-3,000 mm per year) and the alluvial nature of the aquifer [underground layer of water-bearing rock]. Yet, farmers found it difficult to pump water from aquifers for their crops. Why was this so?

    We discovered that the reason was that farmers were facing high energy costs for pumping groundwater because of their dependence on diesel pumps and the fact that diesel prices have been increasing quite rapidly since the early 2000s. In West Bengal, only 17% of all pumps are electrified, compared to a national average of over 60%. The electrification of pumps would have been an easy solution, especially since West Bengal has been an electricity surplus state for a long time now. However, we found that farmers faced two difficulties in connecting their pumps to the electricity grid. First was the Groundwater Act of 2005 which required all farmers to procure a permit from the groundwater authority before they could apply for a connection. This process of getting a permit was fraught with red tape and corruption and often led to harassment of farmers by unscrupulous officials. And then, even if a farmer managed to get a permit from the groundwater authorities he then had to pay the full capital cost of electrification of tube wells which was often much beyond the capacity of small and marginal farmers owning less than half a hectare of land.
    In 2011, West Bengal State Government accepted IWMI’s propositions to scrap small pump licences and introduce a flat connection fee. As a result, demand for electric pumps has increased significantly from 170,000 to 250,000 in 2012. Assuming that each electric pump owner serves ten water buyers, the number of new water buyers will be 4.7 million.
  • Water, Land and Ecosystems in the Ganges

    1. 1. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction Water, Land and Ecosystems in the Ganges May2014
    2. 2. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction Overview • Overview of WLE – what we are? - Michael • Focus on ESS/R – martin and Benoy • Focus on WLE’s R4D Approach - Michael • Ganges Focal Region - Craig • Take home messages – Michael
    3. 3. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction CPWF External Review on Ganges “Collectively, the evidence-based science within local livelihood practices conducted by CPWF has built up essential political and institutional capital…..” “it is the assessment of this review that the CPWF partners have demonstrably brought scientific- based evidence, and the accompanying engagement process into tangible advances in opportunities for food security within the distinctive characteristics of the Ganges polders.
    4. 4. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction Shifting how we think of food production and research Productivity enhancement while reducing environmental impacts Management of healthy ecosystems are an entry point for sustainable intensification. Governance & equity are a pre- requisite Development challenge approach Outcome based R4D Problem and client driven Engage in development and establish alliances
    5. 5. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction CGIAR Research Program on Water Land and Ecosystem (WLE) Vision: A world in which agriculture thrives within vibrant ecosystems, where communities have higher incomes, improved food security and the ability to continuously improve their lives
    6. 6. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction WLE Theory of Change • In order to sustain food production we need to manage our natural ecosystem. • Complement technolgy and system approach by influencing how decisions are made in relation to food production and its impact on ecosystems. • Shift in thinking is about changing behaviour/changing decision making patterns – need to work with broad alliances • Need to work at multiple scales – farm to basin • Key targets: • Communities • local governments • Investors (donors, private sector) • Policy makers (influence national policies, investments, plans) • NGOs, Development/implementing agencies
    7. 7. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction Partner driven program Looking for wider range of partners who can support working with those engage and can reach different end targets
    8. 8. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction WLE Areas of Research
    9. 9. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction Gender Three over-arching strategies: • Research on on women as stewards of natural resources • Gender responsive research – strengthening gender within WLE projects • Gender in Focal regions – gender profiling
    10. 10. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction WLE Approach to work in Focal Regions • Goal is to stimulate well-targeted investments in agriculture taking full account of possible costs and benefits associated with ecosystem services and resilience that ensure sustainability. • Objectives: • Better define and geographically target through appropriate landscape and water resources analysis and planning sustainable agricultural investments • Value and better manage ecosystem services to deliver improved and sustainable land use under increasing demands on water, food and energy
    11. 11. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction WLE Focal Regions WLE challenge is to bring a sustainability agenda to existing and evolving processes and investments to achieve green, resilient and equitable growth to the countries of the Ganges Basin.
    12. 12. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction WLE research outputs WLE research outcomes WLE Intermediate Development Outcomes Opportunity identification Client analysis Decision analysis Partner engagement Levers and incentives WLE uptake strategy: significant focus on the research client System Level Outcomes
    13. 13. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction Risk analysis: major decisions affecting agro-ecosystems that support large numbers of people Opportunity analysis: research needed to provide alternatives that improve ecosystem services for human development Client analysis: decision makers demand research Niche analysis: limited research available WLE opportunity space In each focal region, WLE is identifying the “opportunity space” for research to support client decision making WLE integrated portfolio of research is designed to capitalize on this opportunity
    14. 14. Example of client focus: WLE resource recovery and reuse Issue: Urban areas are growing and consuming more resources. How do we recover nutrients and water at scale? Technical knowledge is available, but few projects go to scale. WLE seeks to change this by analyzing business models and returns on investment. Clear client focus: the private sector, public private partnerships, and business schools  The research portfolio is designed for the client: analyze successes and test promising business models for replication at scale  Multi-disciplinary research team includes economists, business developers, and environmental scientists Faecal sludge Nutrients for agricultural production
    15. 15. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction WLE research outputs WLE research outcomes WLE Intermediate Development Outcomes Opportunity identification Client analysis Decision analysis Partner engagement Levers and incentives Supporting research client decision making through decision analysis System Level Outcomes
    16. 16. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction Example: the decision analysis process Northeast Kenya: Tap the Merti aquifer to pump water > 100 km to town of Waiir? Identify risks and uncertainties in decision of interest Engage decision makers Make probabilistic cost/benefit impacts on different stakeholder groups of likely outcomes of decision Compute value of additional information (uncertain variables with high information value = priorities for measurement) Probabilistic outcomes (benefits/negative impacts) for different stakeholder groupsApplied Information Economics D. Hubbard, “How to Measure Anything”, 2010
    17. 17. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction WLE research outputs WLE research outcomes WLE Intermediate Development Outcomes Opportunity identification Client analysis Decision analysis Partner engagement Levers and incentives Focused partner engagement, levers and incentives System Level Outcomes
    18. 18. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction Banking on Groundwater: How policies can lever change in India • Agricultural growth in West Bengal had slumped by more than half. • Research identified a major block to agricultural productivity was getting access to groundwater • Policies recommended by IWMI were adopted to improve groundwater access for smallholder farmers. • Estimated rise in irrigated area from 3 to 4.8 mill ha & additional 4.6 mill tons of paddy per year.
    19. 19. Take Home Messages • There are no magic bullets or quick fixes to the challenges we face. • It will require greater perseverance, hard decisions and political will. • We can achieve this together.
    20. 20. Uniting agriculture and nature for poverty reduction Thank You wle.cgiar.org wle.cgiar.org/blogs

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