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WorldFish, IWMI Release Research on Agricultural Water Use and Adaptation in Africa

WorldFishMarch 2014: Working with national partners in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia, WorldFish, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the University of Osnabruck have released the results of an examination of climate change adaptation in food production in the Chinyanja Triangle. After project completion at the end of 2013, researchers have presented their results to stakeholders in the region, recommending improved water allocation and management strategies.

According to WorldFish, the research project, titled 'Enhancing Adaptive Capacity to Climate Change Impacts through Well Managed Water Use for Aquaculture Integrated with Small Scale Irrigation in the Chinyanja Triangle in Africa,' aimed to equip farmers with skills and knowledge they needed to improve water management.

The project has identified a number of shifts in agricultural practices in response to climate-related changes. As weather becomes less predictable, local communities have embraced fish farming and small-scale irrigation. In response to reduced rainfall, farmers are increasing water storage and not draining their ponds for longer periods of time. Communities endowed with more land have also begun to trade with communities with more water resources.

While these changes have helped mitigate some of the effects of climate change, the researchers found that increases in irrigation and aquaculture are straining local water supplies. Flows from local rivers are greatly reduced and often seasonal as a result of deforestation along their banks. Thus, the project recommended that farmers plant trees along the rivers to increase shade cover, decrease evaporation, and reduce erosion. Other best practices include: distancing crops from the streams' banks to decrease siltation; creating ridges to slow run-off; and planting crops earlier to make use of residual moisture.

The research was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), which is administered by the German International Cooperation (GIZ). WorldFish and IWMI are members of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). [WorldFish Press Release] [IWMI Website] [Osnabruck University Website]