Agricultural water productivity for adaptation to climate change

Project description

Title: Agricultural water productivity for adaptation to climate change
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Egypt
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR)
Overall term: 2013 to 2016

Egypt is well below the water scarcity threshold with an annual per capita water share of 650 m3. A limited water availability coupled with an escalating demand from various sectors necessitates an efficient water use in agriculture which accounts for 85% of Egypt’s annual water use. Climate change induced temperature rises and more frequent and severe heat waves will likely reduce the productivity of major crops and increase their water requirements, thereby directly decreasing water-use efficiency. The current increase in water productivity is not high enough to mitigate the impact of climate change on farmers’ livelihoods and food security. The Agricultural Water Productivity for Adaptation to Climate Change (AWP ACC) project seeks to address this issue by improving the institutional and professional capacities of actors in the Nile Delta for an efficient water use in agriculture.

The farmers of the Nile Delta, as well as the relevant administration and agricultural organisations are better able to contribute to the efficient use of water in agriculture, and to adapt agricultural production to climate change.

AWP ACC has adopted a threefold approach:

  1. On a national level AWP ACC supported strengthening the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR) to advise and support so called Marwa Committees. Marwa Committees are water user associations, which represent the interests of farmers along irrigation canals at farm level and as such play a significant role in improving irrigation infrastructure and solving water conflicts at field level.
  2. AWP ACC conducted relevant capacity building measures and studies to deepen the professional competencies of both farmers and the agricultural extension services on methods and techniques for climate change adaptation. In order to ensure a continuous delivery of the latest know-how on adaptation, the project linked research institutes for adaptation in the agricultural sector with the decentralised units for farmer advisory services within MALR, which can process research into extension messages to be delivered to farmers.
  3. On the level of the pilot project areas in the Delta governorates of Kafr el Sheikh and Beheira, AWP ACC supported the establishment of Farmer Field Schools (FFS) for smallholder farmers. In FFS farmers meet regularly with a facilitator from the agricultural extension service during the cropping season to discuss relevant topics using the field as learning ground. At the same time, FFS serve as a starting point for joint activities to improve irrigation and support the decision-making on a more equitable water distribution.
IP CONSULT (part of the Niras Group) focused on strengthening the agricultural extension service by introducing the Farmer Field School approach.

At the national level, the roles and responsibilities of Marwa Committees were defined and a Monitoring & Evaluation system was developed at the level of the Central Administraton of Agricultural Extension and Environment to unify the evaluation of Marwa Committee related activities.

At the local level FFS and related demonstration fields were established. The first 8 FFS specifically addressed female farmers. The response to FFS was so universally positive that the World Bank project with MALR provided financial support for up-scaling FFS by another 14 to address both female and male farmers. In total more than 550 farmers (at least 40% women) were reached over two cultivation seasons. The improved agricultural practices tested at FFS demonstration fields showed promising yield increases of up to 50% while saving 20% in irrigation water.

The dialogue and communication channels between researchers and extension services staff resulted in links between the local and central level. Adapted farming and water efficient irrigation methods to increase water productivity, while protecting soil and water resources and taking gender aspects into consideration were developed.


Kirsten Nyman