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  • Innovation feature 2

    Examining Avenues for Change and Innovation in the Volta

    Basin, Homepage Highlights, Publications, Volta, Working Papers and Reports March 17, 2014 at 04:47 Comments are Disabled

    Innovation. The word certainly seems to have taken a place of prominence in the research-for-development community. But what does innovation really look like in practice? A new paper by social anthropologist Karen Greenough sets out to answer that question through the lens of the Challenge Program on Water and Food’s […]

  • ypard

    Three young professionals face the realities of agricultural research for development in West Africa

    Basin, Homepage Highlights, Volta July 7, 2013 at 06:03 2 comments

    This story was originally published on the YPARD (Young Professionals’ Platform for Agricultural Research for Development) blog on 4 July, 2013. I have been travelling to Ghana and Burkina Faso to visit two ILRI Research fellows whom I am supervising. They are currently finishing their data collection in the field with the CGIAR Challenge […]

  • Volta Storylines and Scenarios: Burkina and the Upper West

    Basin, Imported, Volta, Volta Feed August 27, 2012 at 14:54 Comments are Disabled

    There are no translations available.
    Returning to the North of Ghana

    Three days, 1100kms and two border crossings… this was the field trip facing the VSS team as we set off to explore V3 and V2 sites in Southern Burkina Faso and the Upper Wes…

  • Volta Storylines and Scenarios: Moving Forward with Feedback

    Basin, Imported, Volta, Volta Feed July 26, 2012 at 00:00 Comments are Disabled
    There are no translations available.

    Next Steps: By Fred Kizito

    The Volta Storylines and Scenarios (VSS) Project has generated interesting discussions over the last few months. Given the short project time frame and original proposed scope of the project, it will not be possible for the project to convey all the suggested requests from researchers on the VBDC. However, there is a possibility for further follow up through a joint collaborative effort with one of the VBDC partners on the VSS project to address some of the requests/comments.

    The recent CPWF Annual Workshop in Burkina Faso provided the perfect opportunity to get some thoughts from researchers involved in the Challenge Program about the VSS project plan, the modeling and data we are looking to capture and the geographic areas we will be sampling from.

    Unfortunately I could not be there in person to present on the topic but I have been fed some of the pertinent points from the ensuing discussion and I am pleased there was a lot of feedback. For the sake of transparency I would like to provide answers where possible to this feedback now.

    Also, because I was not able to attribute all of the comments to researchers at the workshop I have kept them anonymous.



    CPWF Workshop Feedback – Volta Storylines and Scenarios

    Comment 1: My first comment is it’s a reasonable framework and it looks good.

    Response: Comment noted


    Comment 2: When you showed the scenario structures it appeared self-congratulatory of the project and you have to be careful about that. There’s always trade-offs people for instance will trade off security with financial risk.

    Response: It is true that there are best-case scenarios discussed in the project, however, there are also worst-case scenarios that are discussed and as the comment noted, indeed trade-offs need to be conducted for the communities considering the  various scenario options.


    Comment 3: What is the timescale for the scenarios?

    Response: The scenarios are based on data collected within the Volta Basin and are anticipated to span for about a 10-year duration.  This is principally because conditions out there are very dynamic with communities, nations and regions responding to various global drivers and pressures. As a result, making forecasts that are so much further out into the future requires more data, more studies, models and analysis.


    Comment 4: The global drivers could also go further than farmers’ narratives and VBDC research, and include for example spread of technologies from another region, increasing urbanization and education level, etc.

    Response: This is true and the project is cognicant of this fact.


    Comment 5: The terminology “future” or “prediction” must be used with caution, we’d better use descriptive words. Try and avoid the word prediction. We can’t be that definitive just yet. It’s looking likely but there may be many futures.

    Response: The comment is well noted. Hereafter the terms that will be used in the project include: “feasible outcomes” and “foreseeable forecast”.


    Comment 6: Eric is very familiar with the XLRM framework, and also has been developing other framework/models that could be of use for us. It would be a good idea to check directly with him.

    Response: I have met with Eric Kemp Bennett and it was productive. The outcome of the meeting was that we will work closely with Eric on the XLRM framework. Currently, I am working on vulnerability assessment and relating it to the XLRM  framework. This work will be shared with Eric for further input.


    Comment 7: Also when you are working with scenarios you have an opportunity to include some drivers beyond what you’re working with. For example China is concerned for its food security and knowing that the Chinese can produce cheap products and materials how will this make a difference for African communities in terms of access to technologies.

    Response: This is true and will give project members an opportunity to think about innovative linkages between the project target groups (farmers) and other major global drivers and players.

    There may be opportunities to look at this issue in greater detail in a follow up phase of this project, considering that this project is winding down.


    Comment 8: The XLRM framework seems attractive but the one thing that bothers me is the cause and reality of these relationships can be quite vague.

    Response: The project has now endeavoured to be more explicit by giving examples that are applicable to the XLRM framework within the context of the VBDC research.


    Comment 9: The R in the XLRM framework: the relationships between practices and measurable outcomes can be very subtle/complicated. How are we going to take this complexity into account?

    Response: This is well noted; the “R” depicts the relationships that exist. Relationships are the connections from specific choices about levers and specific values of uncertainties, to produce the measures or metrics. They provide the map from combinations of a policy and a future to an outcome. It is important to write down what we know about the way the different interactions in the Volta Basin work. It is also important to acknowledge where important relationships are uncertain or controversial. A specific set of relationships can be called a model. Examples of relationships might include:

    • Effect of varying tax rates on economic growth

    •  Impact of pollution in the watershed on water quality

    • Effect of varying prices on economic and environmental trade-offs

    • Effect of policies such as fertilizer subsidies on farming practices


    Comment 10: The definition of vulnerability differs from discipline to discipline. What definition will you use?

    Response: This is correct. The term has different interpretations for various disciplines.  Although people know intuitively that vulnerability means a potential for harm; it could be considered fairly abstract but can be streamlined depending on the research question at hand. In the current context of the VSS project, the term is used to indicate a situation that increases exposure to risk where risk could be denoted as global ad basin drivers such as climate change or other socio-economic aspects that are not favourable for optimal performance or compromise adaptation capacity of a given target group.  


    Comment 11: I’m not sure what is meant by the definition of storyline. As this differs from project to project.  Also the scale needs to be slightly more defined.

    Response: As the comment noted, the definition of storyline varies from project to project. For the VSS project, the term storyline indicates a set of possible narratives that emerge from previous and on-going research as well as farmers’ feedback for which a compelling set of outcomes can be compiled in order to have better informed decisions on potential interventions to address a given challenge.

    The scale includes both a time horizon and a spatial extent.  The VSS time horizon is from 2010-2020, and the spatial extent is the Volta Basin which includes Ghana and Burkina Faso but with specific reference to watersheds where the VBDC research is occurring.


    Comment 12: I’m a little bit worried that this is supposed to be a cross cutting framework. When I look at some of the levers in your framework. They do not correspond to what is going on now in V2, V3 and V4.

    Response: This relates to Comments 8 and 9; As noted earlier, the project is endeavouring to be more explicit by giving examples that are applicable to the XLRM framework within the context of the VBDC research.


    Comment 13: I’m also concerned of the timing. As we have heard over the last few days we are only just starting to get some data of worth from projects. For this to conclude in a few months it will miss so much of this. So my concern is it has to be as real as possible.

    Response: This comment is well noted. Indeed, the project duration is short (6-7 months). Additionally the scope (i.e. extent of research emphasis) was limited to a given set of conditions that staff had proposed to conduct within the Basin for the proposed duration. However, this has been recognized and there are on-going talks to have a “Phase II” that adds to what has been done in the current VSS project. There are no current details on how this will evolve but the team will be kept informed on any further developments in this regard.


    Comment 14: The PL was not aware that some activities for the storylines and scenario work are going to happen soon and requests that they  be informed in advance if people plan to discuss with  stakeholders and visit specific sites

    Response: The VSS Project leader only informs the concerned PL for a given site once the visit dates have been confirmed and the necessary logistics are in place. However wherever possible we try to coordinate visits with existing V research so that we don’t wear out farmers and stakeholders.


    Comment 15: Which type of data/analysis are we using to set the scenarios with climate change?

    Response: This is a pertinent and important comment. Considering the budget and scope of the project, as originally proposed, the VSS project will not look at scenarios in the context of climate change as conventionally known e.g. the A2 emission scenario but it broadly considers how biophysical and socioeconomic factors interact to impact the Basin in four generic options for Business as usual, moderate, best case and worst case scenarios.


  • Volta Storylines and Scenarios: Getting into the field

    Basin, Imported, Volta, Volta Feed June 4, 2012 at 12:04 Comments are Disabled

    There are no translations available. Tamale and surrounding communities Our first field trip as part of the Volta Storylines and Scenarios project took us to Tamale where we had the opportunity to visit and hear from a number of communities about the issues they face with crop production and livestock […]

  • Multi-actor systems as entry point for action research – Burkina Faso & Ghana

    Basin, Stories from the Field, Volta October 21, 2011 at 03:10 Comments are Disabled

    Improving crop-livestock value chains in the Volta basin The Volta Basin Development Challenge (VBDC) aims “to strengthen integrated management of rainwater and small reservoirs so that they can be used equitably for multiple uses.”. One way by which to do this is to increase crop and livestock productivity through Rainwater […]