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Dissemination of research results in semi-arid and arid ecosystems with a focus on sustainable water resource management in Ethiopia

Final Report Summary - WATERMAN (Dissemination of research results in semi-arid and arid ecosystems with a focus on sustainable water resource management in Ethiopia)

The WATERMAN project focused on analysis and dissemination of research results regarding sustainable, integrated water resource management at a river basin scale in Ethiopia. However, the acquired knowledge could also be applied in other developing countries located in semi-arid and arid regions. Intense communication with stakeholders allowed for the project practices to be tested in the field, so that additional research needs could be addressed.

WATERMAN had the following specific objectives:
1. to manage arid and semi arid ecosystems;
2. to develop management strategies for enhanced economic productivity;
3. to propose sustainable water management at river basin scale;
4. to establish an interactive learning approach between farmers and the project team;
5. to share information between stakeholders;
4. to provide motivation through successful project experiences.

The project general framework was established during a meeting involving all partners, so that common understanding of the tasks and duties could be achieved. In addition, the meeting provided a link with the related IIPE project concentrated on irrigation, which was then ongoing in Ethiopian regions.

Moreover, WATERMAN involved the preparation and organisation of numerous workshops in order to address different dissemination needs. The first aimed to define details of participatory approach settings. Partners were encouraged to ensure the involvement of researchers and local stakeholders, which could be achieved through an integrated participatory approach established for all succeeding activities. Apart from that, a common workshop setup was designed.

The second workshop aimed to demonstrate ways of adequately using hydrological data and information to plan and implement integrated water supply and resources management. Issues such as irrigation, multi-purpose utilisation, water harvesting technologies, competing demands and water re-use were examined. Its scope of work was of major importance for Ethiopia, given that integrated water management was recognised as a priority for the country's socioeconomic development. The workshop was evaluated after its completion in order to serve as an example for other similar WATERMAN activities.

Moreover, the problem of soil salinity was examined in a specific workshop. Salt affected soils and associated problems were most pronounced in arid and semi arid regions of the earth, which could evolve to major food producing regions because of their frequent potential for multiple cropping. Research themes related to the problem were defined, while suggestions for knowledge dissemination, management and potential governmental programs were proposed.

Finally, a workshop focusing on groundwater and its potential contribution to irrigation and water management was realised. Local action, bridging and strategy groups of experts participated in the procedures, while student discussions were motivated.

A symposium was additionally organised, addressing to groups or people who could facilitate dissemination of research to end users in order to improve their activities and lives. Its aim was to establish collaboration towards a better suite of dissemination approaches to reach the various target groups in effective ways. Several innovative methodologies were applied to reach the symposium goals. Its activities managed to bring together people of different backgrounds, such as academics, researchers, practitioners, development workers and students.

Furthermore, a scientific project plan award was designed to identify and plan high impact, sustainable water management projects. Young Ethiopian researchers were motivated to demonstrate the usefulness of research results and the importance of how these are communicated to end users. The candidates presented topics related to integrated water resource management, soil salinity and fertility, water management and irrigation.

WATERMAN was very effective in providing a base for communication between stakeholders of all levels. Some farmers in particular were included in such programs for the first time. In addition, WATERMAN provided better understanding of the different groups' role and identified numerous topics for future research. Finally, a better understanding of how dissemination could be organised and performed in order to increase its efficacy was acquired.

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