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Home > Outcome Stories

Click through the icons below to read our outcome stories. This project was supported by the IFAD Mainstreaming Innovations grant.

  • Peru Pilots Benefit-Sharing Mechanisms for Healthy Watersheds

    In the Cañete River basin in Peru a diverse population and range of industries relies on the upstream ecosystem for its water supply. Yet the benefits derived from this water use are inequitably distributed among those living upstream and those downstream. On top of this, the Cañete basin ecosystem is changing rapidly due to development and climate change. Benefit-sharing mechanisms, typically a series of agreements on how to use land and water in ways that protect the environment, are one solution for creating a virtuous circle between the welfare of people and they ecosystems they live in.

    With guidance from one CPWF project, the Peruvian Ministry of Environment established a new scheme for rewarding ecosystem services in the Cañete basin and designated the basin as an official pilot for a national benefit-sharing program. The project would also later be involved in advising the Ministry of Environment on the incorporation of benefit-sharing mechanisms within a new, proposed ecosystem services law.

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  • Pursuing Proactive Hydropower Planning in Cambodia

    In the Mekong, lack of communication between dam developers and national government authorities, and the communities, local government agencies and other stakeholders who stand to bear the brunt of costs related to hydropower development is a common issue. The proposed Stung Treng dam in northern Cambodia is one such project that has raised concerns amongst both community members and local government officials.

    One CPWF project recognized the opportunity to capitalize on lessons learned by dam developers and communities during the construction of a hydropower project in Lao PDR. The project organized an exchange visit for community members, local government officials and representatives of non-government organizations working or living near the proposed Stung Treng dam site to visit the dam site, resettled communities and discuss potential opportunities and challenges associated with hydropower construction. As a result of the visit, participants gained insight into the various stages of hydropower development and have since begun to proactively engage in hydropower discussions in Cambodia.

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  • Collectively Weighing in on Water in Burkina Faso

    More than two-thirds of the population of Burkina Faso relies on rain-fed agriculture for food and income. But for many, access to water of the right quality, in the right quantity and at the right time is becoming increasingly difficult. This is due in part of the fact that implementation of on-the-ground water governance lags behind the integrated water resources management policies the government has promoted for two decades.

    In order to address this gap, one CPWF project facilitated exchanges between a local water committee and its various stakeholders using companion modeling. The participatory discussion between local water committee members and farmers, pastoralists, fishermen, miners, women, civil society and policy makers resulted in a renewed effort by the committee to draft a management plan and assume its role in integrated water resources management implementation.



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  • Taking Advantage of Changing Landscapes in Vietnam

    The construction of the 720 MW Yali Falls Hydropower Dam in central Vietnam created big changes for local farmers who were forced to confront new land limitations and variable water levels. One CPWF-Mekong research project set out to introduce a new variety of cassava that would thrive in the reservoirs’ fertile drawdown zone, which is exposed for seven to eight months out of the year.

    The new, quick-maturing cassava variety was piloted by farmers during two growing seasons and demonstrated the potential for both higher yields and higher economic gains. By working closely with the local agricultural department, the project has generated buy-in for the new cassava variety and also built technical capacity to assist farmers in the out-scaling of this new crop.




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  • Irrigation Drips Life into Cambodian Markets

    In Cambodia, innovative market-based strategies helped capitalize on water efficiency gains for small farmers. Demand for high value crops is rapidly increasing in Cambodia’s urban areas. This project designed a strategy to enable smallholders to establish links to markets for their products, while encouraging adoption of water and food technologies.

    Improved water efficiency, primarily in the form of irrigation drip-kits, resulted in water savings, lower labor requirements and improved yields.  Income of the target farmers more than doubled.  A strategy of drip irrigation in conjunction with improved soil fertility, high value crops, appropriate horticulture training for farmers, and better market integration leads to enhanced water productivity and improved livelihoods.




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  • Small is Beautiful in the Volta

    Using an integrated approach to water, nutrient and crop management, this research project optimized the use of inputs and improved crop production in semi-arid areas in the Volta basin, where rain-fed agriculture is often considered a risky venture. Working with communities in Burkina Faso and Ghana, the project demonstrated that crop yields can be increased several-fold through the introduction of simple, low-cost technologies and the inclusion of legumes in the crop rotation systems.

    In order to help farmers capitalize on their increased crop yields, the project introduced an inventory credit system which has led to increased household food security and financial stability for farmers. Key to the long-term success of this project were the farmers’ associations and community based organizations that worked as partners with researchers.



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  • Growing Rice with a Grain of Salt in Asia

    Considerable opportunities exist for diversification of rice-based systems in saline ecosystems. Working in the Indo-Gangetic, Mekong and Nile River basins, this project emphasized the development and deployment of high-yielding salt-tolerant rice varieties and non-rice crops, coupled with matching management practices, to enhance system productivity in coastal and inland salt-affected areas. Broadly adapted varieties, which were considered more viable for the variable and complex environments, were developed and evaluated by farmers through a participatory process in order to accelerate adoption.

    These efforts, combined with the introduction of appropriate nutrient management options, resulted in substantial yield increases for the target farmers. Farmers’ responses to the adoption of new crops have been encouraging and demand for seed is increasing rapidly as food availability, employment and income continue to increase in these communities.


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  • Weighing in on Wetlands in the Limpopo

    Wetlands play a key role in supporting local livelihoods, but in the Limpopo River basin they are threatened by the encroachment of agriculture. This project examined the capacity of South Africa’s GaMampa wetland to continue delivering ecosystem services under different wetland resource use scenarios. Supported by field surveys, discussions with the community and capacity development activities, the project designed generic guidelines for wetland ecosystem management that can be used to guide government decisions regarding sustainable use and management of wetlands.

    By engaging local government officials responsible for natural resource management, the project has helped ensure local concerns are incorporated into program management decisions.




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  • Urban Ghanaian Farming is Cleaning Up Its Act

    The livelihoods of vegetable growers in and around Accra, Ghana were threatened by a city bylaw banning the use of polluted drain water, their main source of irrigation. This project built on past work by local universities to find solutions to reduce health risks without compromising the livelihoods of the producers and the health of the consumers. Farm level interventions included low-cost water treatment methods and safer irrigation practices. Interventions in the street food sector focused on appropriate vegetable washing.

    These low-cost measures showed varying potentials for risk reduction, but used in combination they are significantly more effective in ensuring food safety. The project helped establish strong working relationships with farmers’ organizations and networks of farmers and food sellers and led to various follow-up projects and the founding of the Ghana Environmental Health Platform.



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  • Finding a Middle Ground for Salt Management in Vietnam

    In the Mekong River delta, management interventions attempting to address agricultural challenges related to seawater intrusion often result in environmental degradation and conflict among water users. With the goal of improving food security in the Vietnam delta, the project collaborated with farming communities to design appropriate integrated approaches to managing land, as well as fresh and saline water resources.

    The studies carried out in Vietnam demonstrated that farming diversification and polyculture can increase profitability considerably and reduce risk in both rice- and shrimp-based coastal production systems. The project’s recommendations for sluice gate procedures were adopted by the Provincial Water Management Bureau. Additionally, recommendations for diversified polyculture systems and technologies were adopted by over 8,700 households.



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  • Slash and Mulch: The Way Forward in Central America

    Drought-prone hillsides in the sub-humid tropics suffer from seasonal water scarcity and dry spells. Local farmers in southeast Honduras and northeast Nicaragua found ways to cope with these adverse conditions, using the Quesungual Slash and Mulch Agroforestry System (QSMAS). In QSMAS, farmers undertake agricultural crop production within secondary forests, relying on existing trees to employ slash and mulch methods. QSMAS conserves moisture, reduces erosion, protects biodiversity, and improves carbon accumulation and nutrient cycling.

    From its village of origin in Honduras, QSMAS expanded to cover 7,000 hectares of crops grown by 6,000 farming families. Over 60,000 hectares of secondary forest in Honduras are now conserved. It is estimated that 90% of the 120 farmers in the Nicaraguan site have stopped slash and burn, and more than 60% have adopted the QSMAS system.



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  • Nile Termites Turned onto Manure

    The completely degraded and desertified pasture land of Nakosongola, Uganda had been the subject of repeated rehabilitation efforts that failed when large termite populations destroyed young grass seedlings. Soil erosion resulting from this degradation caused nearby water sources to become heavily silted and impaired. A simple solution ended up being a breakthrough on a problem that had eluded ecologists and put livestock keepers under scrutiny for their role in accelerating land degradation. Cattle were corralled every night over a two-week period, and this corralling provided a source of manure for the termites to feast on, allowing the degraded grassland to recover.

    This intervention demonstrates the importance of taking an ecosystems approach to understanding ecological shifts. Upon seeing the results, pastoralists were inspired to take collective action to restore grassland, and this collective action has spilled over to other initiatives that require community engagement and cooperation.


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  • Participatory Rice Seed Initiative Delivers in Laos

    A short fallow period, intensified cultivation, soil erosion, water losses, and the decline of forest cover have all contributed to the decrease in farm productivity for upland farms in northern Lao PDR. This project produced and validated a number of technologies for different upland ecosystems, including 28 rice varieties. The yield advantage of improved rice varieties over local variety ranged from 200 to 1500 kg/ha for paddy rice. One of the key features of the project was the participatory rice seed production initiative. The project produced 17 tons of seed from around 53 upland varieties. It distributed 15 tons of 28 upland rice variety seeds to about 800 farmers.

    The project also had a substantial impact on building national capacities. The research team trained 321 National Agricultural Research Extension System (NARES) staff members to help strengthen their research capacities.



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  • Conservation Agriculture Slows Sediment’s Slide in the Andes

    Lake Fuquene in Colombia is at the center of an environmental controversy. The watershed is changing and concerns are mounting over the health and biodiversity of the lake. Crop production and cattle raising in the Fuquene watershed have degraded the ecosystem. In an attempt to decrease nutrient and sediment flows into the lake, local partners promoted a transition from traditional practices to conservation agriculture (CA). These practices control erosion, increase water percolation, increase soil water storage capacity, improve soil organic matter content, and increase crop quality and yield.

    Adoption of CA practices finally picked up with the promotion of a scheme for payment for environmental services (PES). Partners set up a revolving fund program managed by farmers’ associations. The fund provided smallholder farmers with credit to make an initial investment in conservation agriculture. So far, 100% of the first round of loans have been recovered. From 2006 to 2009, more than 180 hectares of land were brought under conservation agriculture.

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  • When it Comes to Rice in the Ganges, What Do Women Want?

    High salt stress is a major cause of low productivity across large rice-producing inland and coastal areas. Salt stress is most severe during the dry season. In the Ganges, the CPWF team developed participatory validation of newly bred salt-tolerant varieties in order to derive farmer-friendly crop and natural resource management options.

    Participation of female family members is especially important because resource-poor families living in stress-prone rice environments in eastern Uttar Pradesh, India, rely heavily on female family members for rice production and processing operations. Women demonstrated improved confidence in applying new knowledge on new rice varieties and improved skills in nutrient management, which enhanced their recognition as farmers. The value of engaging beneficiaries–particularly women–in important processes and decisions was demonstrated and realized by the researchers.


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  • Simulating Water Sharing Scenarios in Bhutan

    In Lingmuteychu catchment in the Bhutanese highlands competition over water for rice irrigation has caused conflicts between communities for generations. Traditional rules allow upstream villages such as Limbukha to control the release of water to downstream villages – to the gross disadvantage of the latter. Using the innovative companion modeling approach, upstream and downstream user perspectives and needs were considered in the formulation of a new water agreement. Participants explored virtual situations through a combination of role playing games and computer simulations, along with discussions and negotiations about real-world problems. Translating these into concrete plans of action helped them to discuss their differences and work toward mutually acceptable solutions.

    The villagers ended up forming a functional watershed management committee (WMC)–the first of its kind in the country. The WMC was composed of seven villages in the catchment, and later evolved to include five more villages. Its success led to the Ministry of Agriculture requesting that the same approach be applied in resolving water disputes in another part of the country.

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  • Opportunity in Adversity: Collective Fish Culture in Bangladesh

    Past efforts to increase the productivity of seasonal floodplains have focused primarily on increasing water productivity during the dry season, when farmers are able to plant food crops. This project looked at how to increase floodplain productivity during the wet season through the use of community-based fish culture (CBFC). A community fishers’ society in Beel Mail, Bangladesh was able to enter into a leasing arrangement with the support of local authorities. With the introduction of CBFC, households have learned to work together to manage fish culture activities and to protect the stock. A benefit sharing arrangement was agreed on, according to which landowners and fishers both receive a share of the net benefit from CBFC.

    CBFC enabled them to produce 400 kilograms of fish per hectare, or an increase of 133% from the baseline production. Not only did volume of fish increase, but so did length of the harvests: traditional fishers, the landless and the poor were able to harvest fish over a longer period of time than prior to the intervention, obtaining higher incomes from fish harvests.

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