Modeling and spatial analysis is very versatile and supports research for development at many different stages. Spatial analysis assists case study identification, characterizes the geographic context of research findings, and is subsequently used to assess the context for out-scaling purposes. Components of agricultural systems and elements of their context and interrelationships can be characterized with an explicit spatial dimension. Output from spatial analysis linked to the results of simulation and optimization models provides support for decision-making. This is especially important where decisions involve different disciplines and interaction with a variety of experts usually working together in a sustainable development team.
Many modelers and spatial analysts engaged in the Mekong, Ganges, Andes, Volta, Limpopo and Nile basins are, however, grappling with similar issues:
- How do we get hold of and share quality information?
- How do we integrate bio-physical and socio-economic data?
- What are the best methods to fill data gaps and move across scales?
- How do we link different models and build feed-back loops, etc.?
Informal discussions and ad-hoc data exchange have already added value to the development of conceptual frameworks and the initial implementation of basin level analyses. In response to this, a Topic Working Group on Spatial Analysis and Modeling (SAM TWG) has been created. Members from all 6 basins are sharing information, comparing methods, examining and critically appraising each other’s work.
The group had an initial workshop in November 2011 and continued discussions at the International Forum on Water and Food. The SAM TWG has been a great opportunity to discuss approaches, find commonalities and exchange ideas. A vibrant community of practice is emerging.
We want to continue to share information and provide each other support. It is not intended to streamline approaches across basins, but to focus more on innovation through cross-fertilization of experiences and learning from each other’s varied experiences in the different basin contexts.