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WATDEV project presented and discussed with stakeholders in Bahir Dar, Ethiopia

WATDEV activities in Ethiopia are focused on the Koga Irrigation System (KIS) in the Abbay Basin, located 40km from Bahir Dar town. In this study area it will be possible to draw lessons learnt in the catchment management and scale best practices on irrigation water management and sustainable land management.

The first stakeholder meeting in Ethiopia was held in Bahir Dar, on October 26-27, 2022, to analyze existing best management practices (BMPs) in the study area while identifying challenges, opportunities, and methods of improvement of irrigation water management and sustainable land management.

The event was hosted by the Water and Land Resource Centre (WLRC) of Addis Ababa University, partner of WATDEV initiative, and organized in cooperation with the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) and the Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Bari (CIHEAM Bari).

Dr. Almaz Gizew

The Deputy Head of Agriculture of the Bureau of Agriculture (BOA) of the Amhara Regional State (ARS), Her Excellency Dr. Almaz Gizew, welcomed participants to Bahir Dar, the ARS Capital. In her introductive speech, she underlined that food and nutrition insecurity is prevalent in the Amhara Regional State – an issue that requires concerted efforts by all the stakeholders to transform agricultural practices focusing on opportunities in irrigation agriculture. Dr. Almaz further noted that the Regional Government, in partnership with the Federal Government, has prioritized the development of the country's water resources for irrigation as a major entry point to stabilize food security, especially at a time when global and regional food systems are vulnerable due to global food crises.

The representative of AICS Addis Ababa, Ms. Silvia Vanzetti, delivered an introductory note highlighting how WATDEV will allow the development of useful tools that will complement the activities of AICS Ethiopia in supporting the Ministry of Water and Energy to implement integrated water resource management. Ms. Margherita Tenedini, AICS Cairo representative and WATDEV coordinator, welcomed the participants and gave an overview of the Italian Cooperation activities in the sector of environmental protection and sustainable agriculture

Dr. Tena Alamirew

Dr. Tena Alamirew from WLRC made a presentation on the objectives of the meeting as well as the whole agenda of the two-day event. Together with Mr. Moses Odeke (ASARECA), he facilitated the entire discussion on local needs assessment, considering possible sectors of application of best management practices, such as groundwater, soil, crop, surface water, and air/atmosphere and stimulating a debate on preservation, exploitation, management of various BMPs under these sectors.

Thirty-three local stakeholders and six consortium members participated to the meeting. The public sector was represented by the Ministry of Water and Energy (MoWE), the Bureau of Agriculture for the Amhara Regional State, the Federal Parliament (Republic of Ethiopia), the Ministry of Agriculture, the Bureau of Agriculture, Water and Cooperatives Development. Stakeholders from research and academia comprised the Ethiopian Institute of Agriculture (EIARI), the Bahir Dar University, the Amhara Regional Agricultural Research Institute (ARARI), and other researchers and consultants. Other stakeholders included the Koga Dam Operators, experts from the Woreda District Agricultural and Irrigation Management Extension, the Irrigation Water Users Association, the Koga Farmers Union, and lead farmers and private irrigation companies.

WATDEV objectives, methods and expected results were presented by Aymen Sawassi from CIHEAM Bari. Finally, an information on the outcome of the best management practices collection was illustrated by the National Research Council of Italy. It was underlined that the BMPs aim is to enhance and improve, and in some cases correct, the positive balance between the human and environmental subsystems.

On October 27th, the group of participants visited the Koga Irrigation Dam, Irrigation Users Union Cold Storage Facility and Irrigation farms. A final session of discussion was held in the afternoon among WATDEV partners to share and discuss their assessment on group of stakeholders’ attitudes on adopting changes and cooperating among themselves.

The outcome of the discussion and assessment undertaken during the meeting with local stakeholders will be matched with the inventory of best management practices to find those practices that best fit the needs and group’s attitude, and which should be transferred or improved locally.

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