Solar irrigation pumps in Ethiopia

A farmers in Lemo woreda with his newly installed solar irrigation pump (photo credit: IWMI/ Petra Schmitter). –


Expanding use of solar irrigation pumps in Ethiopia

In the first phase of the Africa RISING project in the Ethiopian highlands, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) investigated technologies that could improve farmers’ access and use of the available water in their surroundings for better agricultural production and productivity. Water scarcity and lack of technologies for accessing and managing available water are major constraints to farming in Ethiopia.

Starting in August 2015, IWMI introduced and tested the effectiveness of water lifting technologies such as solar-powered irrigation pumps that help farmers’ easily access water from near their farms. The solar pump-based irrigation was tested in the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region. Farmers from the Upper Gana and Jawe kebeles used these pumps to irrigate fodder (oats and vetch mixed cropping) for their animals and fruits and vegetables farms in the dry seasons.

An assessment showed that most of the farmers used the pumps to lift water for domestic purposes and agriculture across seasons. They claimed improved production and productivity; saved labour and time and improved access to clean water.

To expand these benefits to more farmers, IWMI, the Solar Development PLC (the main supplier of solar pumps in Ethiopia) and partners are working together to accelerate wider adoption of the technology as a key goal of the second phase (2017-2021) of the Africa RISING project.

Read the full article: Africa Rising


Improved soil management for land restoration in sub-Saharan Africa


Photo credit: Agroforestry World

Panelists at the session on sustainable soil management in Africa at the European Development Days 2017. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/ Susan Onyango

ICRAF presents the role of evidence and improved soil management for land restoration in sub-Saharan Africa at the European Development Days

Degraded land in Marsabit, Kenya. Poor land management which leads to degradation. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/ Ake Mamo

Approximately 70% of Africa’s population depends on its agriculture-based economy for their livelihoods, underscoring the importance of soil to the sector. Fertile soils across the continent are under threat, however, due in large part to climate change and poor land management which leads to the depletion of nutrients and soil organic matter and increased soil erosion.

During the recent European Development Days held on 7-8 June 2017 in Brussels, Belgium, the Joint Research Commission of the European Commission led a session on sustainable soil management in Africa. Panelists drew from different organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) and University of Leuven. Their discussion focused on solutions to large-scale adoption, both at policy and practical levels, of key land restoration options including integrated soil fertility management alongside practices such as intercropping and agroforestry. Scientists from ICRAF presented compelling evidence on how soil restoration can contribute to improved food security and livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa.

Read the full article: Agroforestry World

Community rights around large dams.


Photo credit: IIED – LAND-L

Global Water Initiative animations

In February 2017, the Global Water Initiative (GWI) West Africa released an animation explaining how policymakers can work with local communities to protect the rights of people affected by large dams in West Africa.

The animation is the first in a series of three animations looking at community rights around large dams. It is available in English and French, and can be viewed at the IIED website.

The second animation in the collection looks at revenue sharing from dams and will be released next week – watch this space!

For further information on GWI contact Jamie Skinner (, principal researcher, IIED’s Natural Resources research group.


Anne Schulthess

International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

80-86 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8NH

Israel’s top 10 advances to combat desertification


Photo credit: Israel 21c

10 top ways Israel fights desertification

Israel has gained a worldwide reputation for its ability to turn barren desert into useful and arable land. ISRAEL21c takes a look at the country’s top 10 eco-strategies.

By Karin Kloosterman – JULY 15, 2012, 12:00 AM

This past year’s erratic and violent weather is only a small taste of what’s to come, climate scientists predict, as the impact of global warming starts to hit. Weather will become more unpredictable, flooding will become even fiercer, and droughts and famine more widespread as land increasingly gives over to desert.

With desert covering a large part of its surface, Israel has had to quickly develop solutions for its lack of arable land and potable water. Israeli research, innovation, achievements and education on this topic now span the globe in tackling problems common to all desert dwellers.

“We’ve done a lot of research on ecosystem response to drought because we have this problem on our doorstep,” says Prof. Pedro Berliner, director of Israel’s foremost research center for desert research, the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev Desert.

ISRAEL21c looks at Israel’s top 10 advances to combat desertification, putting special focus on the work done by researchers at the Blaustein Institute.

1. Looking to the ancients

They lived in the Land of Israel more than 2,000 years ago in the heart of the Negev Desert, yet found a way to survive and thrive. How did the Nabateans build a sustainable community that provided food, firewood and fodder for animals?

This is Prof Pedro Berliner’s area of interest.

Read the full article: Israel 21c

Desertification occurs not only in Africa (in German)


Photo credit: EURACTIV

Dürre in Äthiopien [Oxfam/Flickr]

Wüstenausbreitung findet nicht nur in Afrika statt

Von: Michael Brüntrup | Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik

Mit Welttagen ist es wie mit katholischen Heiligen und mit UN-Organisationen – es gibt viele und für alle Sorgen einen. Doch das Thema Wüstenbildung könnte derzeit eine Renaissance erleben.

Den Welttag für die Bekämpfung von Wüstenbildung und Dürre (17. Juni) gibt es erst seit 1995. Er ist damit das Pendant der ebenfalls 1994 verabschiedeten internationalen Konvention zur Bekämpfung der Wüstenbildung, die im vollen Titel (United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa, UNCCD) ebenfalls das Doppelproblem Wüstenbildung und Dürre thematisiert. Diese wiederum ist eine der drei aus dem Erdgipfel in Rio 1992 hervorgegangenen Umwelt- und Entwicklungs-Konventionen, gemeinsam mit den Abkommen zum Klimawandel (UNFCCC) und zur Biologischen Diversität (CBD).

Deutschland und Bonn haben einen besonderen Bezug zu dem Thema, denn sie beherbergen seit 1999 das UNCCD Sekretariat. Damals war Verwüstung ein besonders brisantes Thema. So erklärte der Wissenschaftliche Beirat der Bundesregierung Globale Umweltveränderungen (WBGU) anlässlich des Weltwüstentages 1996: „Die weltweit zu beobachtende Desertifikation und Degradation von Böden wird nach Ansicht des WBGU in den nächsten zwei bis drei Dekaden sehr viel deutlicher zu spüren sein als die Folgen des globalen Klimawandels“.

Doch schon bald nach der Verabschiedung wurde es relativ still um Konvention und Gedenktag. Wüstenbildung und Dürre galten hauptsächlich als Probleme in und für arme Länder, während es schien, als hätten die Industrieländer diese hinter sich gelassen beziehungsweise im Griff.

Wüstenausbreitung findet nicht nur in Afrika statt

Sinnbild der Wüstenbildung war damals die sich nach Süden ausbreitende Sahara, nicht der Dustbowl des mittleren Westens der USA. Der weiter gefasste Begriff der (Boden- und Vegetations-) Degradation wurde nicht gewählt, obwohl er oft die bessere Bezeichnung für die Art von Prozessen ist, die durch die Konvention bekämpft werden soll. Auch die Reduzierung auf trockene und halbtrockene Standorte schloss viele Länder der gemäßigten Breiten aus.

Read the full article: EURACTIV

Better management of land so that it can provide a place where individuals and communities “can build a future.”



Help preserve land – our ‘home and future’ – UN urges on World Day to Combat Desertification

India Blooms News Service

With hundreds of millions of people around the globe directly affected by desertification – the degradation of land ecosystems due to unsustainable farming or mining practices, or climate change – United Nations agencies have called for better management of land so that it can provide a place where individuals and communities “can build a future.”

“Population growth means demand for food and water is set to double by 2050 but crop yields are projected to fall precipitously on drought affected, degraded land. More than 1.3 billion people, mostly in the rural areas of developing countries, are in this situation,” said Monique Barbut, the Executive Secretary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) secretariat, in her message on the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought.

“So this year, the Convention is calling for a focus on making the land and life in rural communities viable for young people […] let us give them better choices and options.”

According to estimates, nearly 500 million hectares of once fertile land – close to two million square miles – have now been abandoned.

The UNCCD believes that with access to new technologies and to the knowledge, these lands can build resilience to extreme weather-elements like drought and with the right, feed a hungry planet and develop new green sectors of the economy.

“Let us give young people the chance to bring that natural capital back to life and into production [which can then] develop markets for rural products and revitalize communities.” added Barbut, calling for increased and relevant investments in land, rural infrastructure and skills development so that “the future can be bright.”

The role of environment change is also increasingly clear in motivating or compelling people to migrate or become displaced.

With more land getting lost to desertification, rural populations – relying on pastoral livelihoods, agriculture and natural resources – will face additional vulnerabilities, compounding poverty, poor levels of education, lack of investment and isolation, voiced Irina Bokova, the head of UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

To address this growing threat, Bokova called for a two pronged approach: first, better land management to arrest desertification as well as for preserving its productivity; and second, strengthening resilience of vulnerable populations by supporting alternative livelihoods.

“We must recognise that desertification is a global phenomenon that threatens everyone and we must start to act globally to build a sustainable and stable future for all,” she underscored.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) also highlighted the challenges noted by Ms. Bokova.

Read the full article: INDIA BLOOMS