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Network for the exchange of methodologies and expertise on sustainable water management and land husbandry in the Mediterranean

Final Report Summary - SOWAMED (Network for the exchange of methodologies and expertise on sustainable water management and land husbandry in the Mediterranean)

The SOWAMED project aimed to establish a methodology and an exchange network as well as to build expertise capacity among the members of research projects in the domains of sustainable land and water resources management and prevention of risks on cultivated and inhabited watersheds. Therefore, long-term benefits for the promotion of tools concerning the understanding and management of the effect of global change on water and soil resources were produced, including the facilitation of future international research projects organisation.

SOWAMED focused on the Mediterranean basin and analysed the outcomes of previously undertaken research projects in order to utilise their deliverables to assist decision making at local, regional, national and international levels. Thus, an interactive and comprehensive framework of assessment methods for land and water management was developed. The project objectives were achieved through the maintenance and update of a website, the organisation of meetings and workshops, the creation of an experts' contact details database and the preparation of training sessions.

Firstly, the SOWAMED network was established, which served as a basis to identify potential participants for the workshops and training activities. A common methodology to analyse the previous projects was subsequently defined. Moreover, a user friendly website was developed, to serve as an information, training and communication platform. The website targeted experts in the Arab world, but could also be used by decision makers, governmental agencies and ministries.

SOWAMED undertook the elaboration of three regional workshops, which aimed to carry out an overview of the existing methodologies on different topics related to water resources in arid and semiarid regions. The workshops focused on land development and water conservation in semiarid hilly lands, irrigation management and, finally, water and land use planning, particularly in cases of competing rural and urban uses. Relevant projects were analysed and the associated tools, databases, models and decision support systems (DSS) were listed. Issues of significant interest were highlighted and served as case studies. Furthermore, the links between research and development were investigated, useful conclusions were derived and future research needs were identified.

Training courses were also organised based on the previous projects' acquired experience. The courses concentrated on spatial techniques for modelling and analysis as well as on water management and water projects. In addition, knowledge was disseminated in academia, through the elaboration of a PhD thesis and the associated publication of scientific papers. The Arab Centre for the Studies of Arid Zones and Dry Lands (ACSAD) was responsible for the dissemination of project results in the Arab states and provided policy makers and experts with information on databases, models and DSS. The project website was translated in Arabic so as to overcome communication barriers and be accessible by the general public.

SOWAMED was an overall successful project, which managed to:
1. establish a network of scientists and stakeholders working on soil and water in the Mediterranean basin;
2. create reference databases on models, tools and DSS;
3. develop expertise on sustainable water and land management and risk prevention;
4. reinforce relevant expertise capacities through the organisation of educational and training activities;
5. disseminate and evaluate various existing methods and approaches;
6. produce scientific documentation;
7. motivate future research via the communicational framework that was established as part of the project.