Annual Report 2015

Towards sustainable
livelihoods in drylands

In 2015, Dryland Systems helped advance holistic, systemic responses to urgent issues of climate change, food security, and land degradation through interdisciplinary collaboration among scientists and numerous other research and development partners.

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Messages

Message from the Chair of the Steering Committee, Dryland Systems

The CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems has forged the way in tackling the challenge of sustainable agriculture development through systems research of the harsh environmental and socio-economic conditions of rural drylands in the developing world, which are home to 1.6 billion people.

In 2015, Dryland Systems body of robust scientific evidence convinced policy makers formulating the Sustainable Development Goals, the landmark Paris Climate Change Agreement, and Ankara Land Degradation Neutrality Agreement to take a holistic systems approach to global challenges.

As Dryland Systems consistently advocates, breakthroughs will not come from single discipline science alone. Appropriate, holistic, systemic responses to urgent issues of climate change, food security, and land degradation will only come through interdisciplinary collaboration between scientists and numerous other research and development partners.

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Messages

Message from the Program Director, Dryland Systems

Systems research addresses the complex dynamics of socio-ecological systems that operate at different scales of space, time, and human organization. Our work builds on previous research to address development challenges.

Early successes are the re-greening of silvo-pastoral systems, integrating smallholders in agricultural value chains, gender empowerment through village-based seed enterprises in Afghanistan, the adoption in Nigeria of a policy promoting new, high yielding, heat-tolerant wheat varieties, and Index-Based Livestock Insurance in Kenya and Ethiopia.

Measuring the results and impact of systems research is not straightforward. To establish greater transparency and accountability for our results, we continued to develop and refine our user-friendly, interactive Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) system. Other CGIAR research programs and CGIAR research centers have adopted the system, widening the scope for sharing knowledge and information and spurring greater innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration.

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From the Chair of the
Steering Committee
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From the
Director
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Highlights 2015
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Advancing knowledge and sharing information

We provided scientific evidence, tools, and practices generated through our integrated systems approach to agricultural research to shape global policies to mitigate land and resource degradation in 3 billion hectares of drylands.

Advancing knowledge and sharing information
Highlights 2015
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Exceeding our targets

In 2015, we exceeded 8 of our 34 targets by over 100%, and four of our targets by over 50%.

Exceeding our targets Exceeding our targets
Highlights 2015
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Promoting the integrated systems approach

We made significant advances in promoting the integrated systems approach to agricultural research in order to encourage new thinking, innovation, inclusive solutions, equitable policies, and to reverse the chronic lack of investment in drylands.

In particular, Dryland Systems helped shape the following:

Highlights 2015

During 2015, Dryland Systems research contributed to improving the lives of 1.6 billion people living in rural drylands of the developing world. We provided scientific evidence, tools, and practices generated through our integrated systems approach to agricultural research to shape global policies to mitigate land and resource degradation in 3 billion hectares of drylands.

Advancing knowledge
and sharing information
Exceeding
our targets
Promoting the integrated
systems approach
Our systems approach
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Our systems approach
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Integrated systems research

Our approach aims to achieve concrete outcomes. Collective integrated systems research involving more than 481 partners and many stakeholders targets the CGIAR strategic goals. Our Program Impact Pathway is fully aligned with the CGIAR Strategy and Results Framework 2016–2025.

Advancing knowledge and sharing information
Our systems approach
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Systems research on the ground – transforming the livelihoods of Ethiopian agro-pastoralists

Abu Tona is a 39-year-old farmer in Haleku Gulenta Kebele, Adami Tulu, East Shewa, Ethiopia, where low and declining productivity is a major concern. Systems research involved examining soil, climate and crop data, sustainable intensification, pigeonpea as an intercrop for maize and wheat, and social and economic factors, such as access to microfinance.

As one of the 50 farmers taking part in our program, Abu Tona tested out a couple of the ‘best-bet’ solutions offered by researchers. He planted pigeonpea as an intercrop to get more from his land. He also dug a farm pond to collect rainwater, which he used to irrigate onions and tomatoes.

During 2015, a drought year in Ethiopia, farmers who took part in the program produced more food than farmers who did not. Our systems research, by addressing low and declining productivity holistically, effectively addressed the multiple challenges of food insecurity, access to finance, land degradation, scarce water, scarce livestock feed, and low incomes.

Our systems approach

Dryland Systems is part of the global effort to stem poverty, hunger, and environmental degradation.

Our work directly addresses seven of the post 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

Dryland Systems also contributes to five other Sustainable Development Goals:

Integrated systems research
Systems research
on the ground
Stories of success
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Less poverty

Our research for reducing poverty seeks to generate higher and more sustainable incomes and a better standard of living for households in the drylands of the developing world.

Less poverty
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Understanding the drivers of poverty in rangelands, Central Asia

Ahmad, a wealthy agro-pastoralist Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan, repaired 20 wells in rangelands reserved for Shirkat, pastoral Karakul sheep cooperatives, so that he could graze his sheep, goats, and horses. Shortly after, the Shirkat cancelled his permission to graze. He lost a significant amount as repairs to each well cost UZS 30 million (USD 11,500).

Our research showed that because of uncertainty about land tenure, pastures surrounding rural communities are overused and degraded while remote rangelands where wells are in disrepair are underused. Experiences such as those of Ahmad discourage pastoralists from investing in improvements. This means that land degradation is lowering incomes and exacerbating poverty. Whereas traditional research would probably have focused on reversing rangeland degradation and improving rangeland productivity, our research focused on understanding the barriers the current tenure arrangements pose to lifting communities out of poverty. Research evidence indicates that a systems approach to rangeland tenure and inclusive rangeland management plans adapted to local conditions are required.

Less poverty
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Matching crops, conditions and markets, Rajasthan

In rainfed agricultural livelihoods systems, droughts can mean that farmers earn nothing. Our introduction of medicinal plants in six villages in Barmer, western Rajasthan, a strategy to diversify and spread risk, and the links we helped set up between producers and markets, have helped 250 farmers through droughts. Farmers involved in our program now earn around INR 15,000–45,000 (USD 220–670) more a year than they earned previously. Their success is triggering interest among other farmers, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government departments, and the media.

Shankhpushpi, a herb widely used in Ayurvedic medicine, has been used for centuries as a brain tonic and memory enhancer. Researchers showed farmers that shankhpushpi can be grown successfully with traditional grains like bajra and gaur. Once shankhpushpi germinates, it requires no more water than any other dryland crop.

Our systems research indicates that, by introducing high value commodity crops, such as shankhpushpi, which scientists have established are suited to the prevailing climate and soils, farmers can raise their earnings significantly.

Less poverty
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Sharing fruitfully, Central Asia

For centuries generations of farmers in Central Asia have dealt with harsh environments, poor soils, spring frosts, soil salinity, and water scarcity by selecting strains of the native apple, apricot, pomegranate, and grape that produce the best fruit in their particular conditions. This means that the region is home to a huge range of varieties, each adapted to a particular mountain, foothill, or lowland environment.

The fruit play an important role in livelihoods, providing food and income year round. Apple and pomegranate are eaten fresh or can be stored for months. Apricots and raisins are eaten fresh and when dried can be stored for even longer than apple and pomegranate.

Researchers made an inventory of 109 varieties of six native fruits: apple, pear, apricot, grape, peach, and pomegranate. When they had tested how these varieties reacted to salinity, drought, and frost they looked at how saplings of fruit trees are produced and marketed – the ‘seed system’ – because farmers can only buy what nurseries offer for sale. Scientists worked with local nurseries to produce planting material of the varieties best adapted to local conditions. Nurseries raised and supplied 729,000 saplings to local growers. In 2015, 290 farmers obtained saplings of the fruit trees most suitable for local conditions.

Word of mouth is spreading knowledge of the best varieties for particular areas. Owners and managers of nurseries exchange contact details and track the varieties they produce. Farmers and fruit growers can now order the particular varieties best suited to their farms or orchards. Quality planting material benefits both farmers and nursery owners. Farmers have the assurance that the saplings they buy have desirable traits and nursery owners maintain a reputation for quality.

Research for improving food and nutrition security seeks to ensure that vulnerable households in marginalized rural drylands, where natural resources are scarce, have adequate, diverse, and nutritious foods throughout the year.

Stories of success
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Better food and nutrition security and health

Better food and nutrition security and health
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Changing mindsets, a shot in the arm for food production

Heat-tolerant wheat varieties are convincing Sudan’s decision makers that domestic wheat production is a solution to growing dependence on wheat imports. Sudan currently produces only 30% of the wheat it consumes and imports some 1.5 million tonnes of wheat each year. Producing more wheat in-country, therefore, means better food security and that prices of basic foods are more stable.

Once considered not suitable for the hot, dry conditions prevalent across Sudan, heat-tolerant wheat has changed policy makers’ perspectives, convincing many that wheat can be grown productively in the country. But these changes in perspective are not down to the introduction of improved varieties alone. While heat-tolerant varieties are a crucial factor, they are not enough.

Together with seed of the heat-tolerant varieties, researchers introduced practices to optimize wheat production under local conditions – new ways to prepare land, optimal dates to sow seed, methods for integrated pest management, and more efficient irrigation.

Better food and nutrition security and health
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Drawing out women strengthens wheat value chains

Part of the wider effort targeting food and nutritional security was a workshop March 3–4, in Khartoum, that examined gender issues in wheat production. Participants from 12 countries – wheat breeders, socio-economists, agronomists, and monitoring and evaluation specialists in addition to gender experts – shared their understanding of the roles played by men and women. Ways to avoid gender assumptions and guide gender integration included empowering women to participate in conservation agriculture, seed production, improving irrigation, and encouraging them to choose wheat varieties according to taste and cooking quality. In Sudan, women have successfully taken to baking and making pastries that add value to wheat. Similarly, in Nigeria, women have set up small enterprises to make bread and other baked goods.

The integrated ‘systems’ approach can be replicated to tackle food security in agricultural livelihoods systems across Sub-Saharan Africa where similar conditions and import dependence prevail. The Sudanese government is now applying the approach to production systems for all major agricultural commodities, including food legumes.

Better food and nutrition security and health
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Growing superfoods, a dry-season lifeline

In the dry season in the rainfed agro-pastoral agricultural livelihoods system in Mali, fresh fruit and vegetables are scarce. Lacking the micronutrients these foods provide, ‘hidden hunger’ is widespread.

Systems research in Malian drylands has encouraged ten villages across Sikasso to set up tree-based fruit and vegetable gardens, also known as foodbanks. The idea behind these living foodbanks is that they provide households with a ready supply of nutrient-rich, fresh food when it would otherwise be scarce. Villagers planted the foodbank gardens with baobab and moringa – trees whose fruit and leaves are described as ‘superfoods’. The varieties that villagers planted had been selected and domesticated by scientists at the World Agroforestry Centre, based in Samanko, because, unlike traditional varieties, they produce fresh leaves throughout the year.

By 2015, seventeen farmers had set up foodbank gardens, partly to provide their families with fresh fruit and vegetables during the dry season, but also as a way to raise their incomes by selling the surplus in local markets. Ten women’s associations, 500 women in all, have also taken up the idea.

Foodbanks, such as those flourishing in Sikasso, can be a lifeline for rural families in drylands in the West African Sahel.

Stories of success
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More sustainable natural resources and ecosystems

Research on natural resources and ecosystem services seeks to develop equitable and sustainable management of land, water resources, energy, and biodiversity in drylands agricultural livelihoods systems of the developing world for generations to come.

More sustainable natural resources and ecosystems
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Low cost, high return ponds kick-start rainfed agricultural growth, India

Scarce water is a major factor in low agricultural productivity in rainfed Andhra Pradesh. This means that a way to boost productivity is to make the most of every drop of rain. Micro-catchments that harvest rainwater are not expensive and are easy to construct. Even in Andhra Pradesh, where dams have to be lined with concrete to prevent water percolating away rapidly through the red soils, they are relatively cheap to create. A small farm pond, 10 meters by 10 meters and 2.5 meters deep, lined with 1 centimeter of concrete costs about USD 300.

During 2014 and 2015, 40 smallholders stepped up to work with scientists to build cement-lined ponds for conserving rainwater on their farms. Researchers involved families in siting and building the ponds to make sure micro-catchments worked as they were supposed to work and did not hamper other farming activities. Drawing on local knowledge was critical to locating the dams where they would catch most rainwater and would be most useful for crops.

During the long dry spells in 2015, the ponds helped farmers avert losses of up to 20% to 30% in their crops of groundnut, foxtail millet, and pigeonpea. On land next to the ponds they grew fruit, such as mangoes, which gave them an extra source of food and income. Some families even took the risk of growing a small plot of vegetables next to the dams, a fairly significant move in a conservative community, but one that enhanced household nutrition and earnings. Women took the opportunity to grow fodder for livestock, further boosting food supplies and income.

Our research shows that understanding the farming system is a critical first step in developing solutions that work on the ground and deliver a range of benefits. In the drylands of Andhra Pradesh, modest investments in ponds are kick-starting the stagnant growth engine of agriculture, paving the way to transforming livelihoods.

More sustainable natural resources and ecosystems
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The Value of Land

Some 52% of agricultural land across the globe is moderately or severely degraded. But, few policy makers recognize that effectively addressing land degradation could help avert the migration of an estimated 50 million people forced to seek new homes and livelihoods in the next 10 years. Tackling land degradation could add USD 75.6 trillion to annual world income.

A ground-breaking report, The Value of Land, presents solid scientific evidence of the huge cost of not managing land well. the report was the culmination of the Economics of Land Degradation Initiative, a four-year collaboration involving 30 international research and policy institutes and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, the European Commission, and the Korean Forest Service.

The authors of The Value of Land call on countries to recognize the enormous value of improving land management. They stress the need to enhance institutional capacity and knowledge for improving land management, and to develop national policy, economic, legislative, and regulatory frameworks.

Stories of success
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Better prepared for climate change

The breakthrough agreement reached at the Paris climate talks in late 2015 was momentous. The Paris Climate Agreement lays the foundations for major work to adapt developing country agri-food systems to become climate compatible or climate smart, and low carbon or carbon neutral.

Better prepared for climate change
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Learning to live with climate variability, Ethiopia, Kenya

Many households in agro-pastoral agricultural livelihoods systems in southern Ethiopia and northern Kenya are learning to live sustainably with climate variability. Over 13,000 pastoralists in the region take out Index-Based Livestock Insurance. Livestock – the principal store of wealth and the foundation of livelihoods of pastoralists in the arid and semi-arid lands of the Horn of Africa – are at tremendous risk from frequent droughts. Pervasive poverty means that livestock losses can be catastrophic. Losing livestock in droughts can throw households into destitution.

Our research on the effects of Index-Based Livestock Insurance shows that it has a strong positive influence on well-being, and that the effects on wellbeing are particularly pronounced during droughts. Of households sampled by researchers, more than 40% had bought Index-Based Livestock Insurance at least once.

Index insurance is not a one-shot solution to pastoralists’ vulnerability to climatic variability. But our research shows that the marginal benefit to cost ratio of Index-Based Livestock Insurance substantially exceeds that of unconditional cash transfers, despite the imperfect coverage of risk. The Government of Kenya plans to launch an insurance scheme to help very poor pastoralists in the north of the country. The government will pay insurance premiums, but the pastoralists will receive any pay-outs directly.

Insurance schemes are one of various solutions that can be important to help strengthen resilience in agri-food systems where households need to shield themselves against risk. Insurance companies and NGOs are realizing that these previously ignored pastoralists are an important market for insurance, and are expanding into these areas.

Better prepared for climate change
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Sweet potatoes for strengthening resilience to climate change, Malawi

Research to develop resilience to variable climatic conditions in rainfed agricultural livelihoods systems in Eastern and Southern Africa involved tried and tested action-oriented problem solving – understanding the system, introducing solutions, partnering with NGOs, demonstrating on-farm, and training.

In Malawi, we demonstrated six varieties of drought-resistant sweet potato in plots in six villages to show how the different varieties scientists had selected as best bets for local conditions performed. We trained 90 farmers to run trials, to look after mother plots to produce planting material, to harvest rainwater, and to conserve soil moisture.

Malawi experienced one of the worst El Niño droughts during the 2014–2015 growing season. Recognizing the value of timely, context-specific action, we gave about 1200 farming families cuttings of sweet potato, about 100 for each family, to buffer the effect of the drought. Despite the long dry spell, farmers harvested up to 9 tonnes per hectare against the national average of 4 tonnes per hectare.

Communities where we had introduced the new varieties of sweet potato quickly latched on to the value of drought resistance. Farmers saw for themselves how technologies that help boost productivity, nutrition, and incomes can help buffer their livelihoods in difficult and changing circumstances. They saved cuttings of sweet potato in nursery plots for growing on the next season. Our partner non-governmental organization, Total LandCare (TLC) and Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), plan to build on this momentum, scaling out the drought-resilient varieties of sweet potato and moisture saving agronomic practices we introduced.

Better prepared for climate change
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Changing mindsets through “magic” beans

Pokoma Lebita, a farmer hosting a trial at Ungwe village in Linthipe, Dedza district, Malawi, wished she had had an opportunity to plant the ‘magic bean’ in a bigger area. The ‘magic bean’ is an improved variety of the common bean introduced by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) to rainfed agricultural livelihoods systems in Eastern and Southern Africa.

CIAT introduced the drought-resilient improved common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris L, genotypes SER43 and SER83 to the maize agri-food system in Malawi. Despite the 2014–2015 drought, yields of maize improved by almost 163% or 1050 kilograms per hectare. Farmers shown how to plant maize with appropriate ridging and spacing to conserve residual moisture, how to manage soil fertility in an integrated way, and how to intercrop beans, harvested good yields. Seeing is believing changed the mind-set of 209 farmers as far as beans grown with maize is concerned and attracted the interest of other farmers who attended field days.

Research such as this develops resilience to climate change, in this case from synergies among drought-resilient varieties, and integrated soil fertility and water management.

Stories of success
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More empowered women and youth

Research to empower women and young people seeks to improve their access to productive assets, inputs, information, and market opportunities, and to help them gain an equal share of incomes, food supplies, and other benefits.

More empowered women and youth
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Learning together beats learning alone, Central Asia

In one of the many examples of women grasping opportunities to learn, share knowledge, and improve the lot of their families, 45 women in Karakalpakstan, Khorezm region in Uzbekistan, Dashauz province in northern Turkmenistan, and Kyzylorda region in Kazakhstan have set up a Rural Women Learning Alliance. The group of women learners spans agropastoral systems in the Amu Darya River watershed, the transition zone between irrigated agriculture and the Kyzylkum sandy desert.

It all started with a series of seminars led by scientists on non-traditional forage crops for feeding livestock in winter. Scientists showed that, even in the very saline, water-logged soils widespread throughout the region, there are many salt-loving species – halophytes – and salt-tolerant non-traditional crops that produce good quality forage and food grains.

The seminars were an inspiration. Women learned that agroforestry and mixed farming-livestock systems could help them earn more. They learned about the different trees – poplar, apple, apricot, mulberry, Russian olive – and berries they could intercrop with salt-tolerant species, their nutritional value and how to use them for forage, food, and for producing oil. The scientists demonstrated how to grow the different varieties, manage root zone salinity, irrigate, and control pests.

The women were particularly enthused by the class on cooking non-traditional nutritious grains, such as topinambur, proso, quinoa, pearl millet, and sorghum.

Motivated by their experiences, the women joined forces with scientists in the learning alliance. They aim to keep on learning and to encourage other women to do so too.

More empowered women and youth
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Gender and youth research highlights 2015

  • Collaboration with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) on the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA) agricultural information by mobile program started up-scaling in five West African countries, promising to enable more than 75,000 women to participate in tree value chains between 2015 and 2019.
  • Systems research on mung bean, moth bean, groundnut, pigeon pea, and foxtail millet enabled women and youth in Central Asia and India to produce more food, food that is nutritious, and to produce seed for sale.
  • Gender research in the Nile Delta showed how women contribute to adapting to climate change through innovations in crop and agricultural practices, while improving women’s income-earning possibilities.
  • A systems-perspective study in Morocco and Egypt on the gender gap in agricultural labor, and commercial and subsistence production provided insights that informed a Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) tool to assess decent work for women in rural areas and promote evidence-based policy dialogue.
More empowered women and youth
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Gender and youth research studies 2015

  • Our study in West Africa and India indicated that women undertake 57% of farm work, meaning that access to information and knowledge is critical for increasing their decision-making power in smallholder households. Six studies on gender-responsive extension services in India and in West and Eastern Africa produced similar findings. The studies recommend employing female extension officers, and training both male and female extension officers to serve the different needs of men and women farmers. Because men and women derive different benefits from biodiversity, gender affects how women and men perceive and manage biodiversity, and how they make decisions about which species to grow.
  • A pilot study, in collaboration with the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR), and the Bern University of Applied Sciences, School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences (HAFL), in the drylands of Morocco shed light on the complex web of socioeconomic factors that affects the options and future choices of young people.
  • A participatory systems analysis identified factors that prevent women from investing in agribusiness in agro-pastoral and smallholder vegetable production in Eastern Africa. To overcome challenges to women in accumulating savings and securing loans, we helped women in East Shewa, Ethiopia, to set up savings and credit groups. The four groups, each with 20 members, have become role models for other women in the region. They use their savings and access cheap loans to intensify existing cropping systems with legumes. Women and children benefit from more income, access to new food sources, and better nutrition.
Stories of success
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Better policies and institutions

Dryland Systems engages with policy makers at the global level on issues of land degradation and desertification. Our innovative approaches and solid scientific evidence enrich science-policy collaboration under the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, improving decision making on critical land degradation issues.

Better policies and institutions
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Moving towards multifunctional rangelands, Tunisia

The cost of land degradation in Tunisia is estimated at about TND 80 million (USD 40 million). The competition for land between the many de facto users and users with traditional entitlements contributes to severe degradation. Tunisian policymakers work with our researchers to assess and analyze legislation on land management. A working group that includes representatives of the ministries involved is looking at the social and institutional bottlenecks in solving management conflicts to develop a new pastoral code for common rangelands.

Tunisian policy makers are not only listening to what scientists and local stakeholders have to say; they are embracing whole new ways of doing things collectively. The working group is spearheading the process of defining a shared vision and plan of action for managing common rangelands.

Better policies and institutions
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Teaming up for sustainable silvopasture systems in South Asia

In Jaisalmer, Jodhpur and Barmer – three districts in the western part of Rajasthan – scientists invited community stakeholders to discuss the results of research on sustainable management of community silvo-pasture systems. The knowledge provided by the community helped fill gaps and align research with local priorities and needs.

In parallel, consultations between researchers and communities considered how to improve and advance equitable by-laws and institutional arrangements for sustainably developing and managing silvo-pastures. Scientists teamed up with Gramin Vikas Vigyan Samiti (GRAVIS), a grassroots organization, to organize village development committees to test management strategies for common silvo-pastures.

The integrated systems research, involving close collaboration with rural dryland communities, has significantly increased biomass productivity and reduced land degradation. Communities, especially those of smallholder farmers, are benefiting from more water, food, and income. Community-led solutions developed as a result of integrated systems research are the new model for ensuring sustainable natural resource management in millions of hectares across this vast dry region, where some of the world’s poorest live.

GRAVIS has started to scale out this model to 20 other places in western Rajasthan that face similar challenges of scarce water and fodder, and degraded land. Collectively devised institutions are as important as biophysical measures for improving productivity and managing common property resources in a sustainable way.

Better policies and institutions
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Shaping policies for managing the Mount Marsabit ecosystem, Kenya

Mount Marsabit, a green oasis surrounded by desert, is an ecosystem of vital importance for thousands of people, including pastoralists and agro-pastoralists. Our study of institutions and governance in the Mount Marsabit ecosystem recommends a nested institutional structure for managing natural resources.

The nested institutions would interface with existing structures and tap into traditional governance systems. The study, by furthering understanding of critical governance issues, is helping to change local mindsets and practices. More inclusive decision-making processes are taking the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable members of communities into account.

Local stakeholders interacting with the Dryland Systems research team subsequently decided to set up a forum – encompassing all stakeholders – to consider how to manage natural resources in the Mount Marsabit ecosystem. The forum will consider both biophysical and socio-economic issues.

Stories of success
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Strengthened capacity

Our capacity development targets individuals and organizations that can contribute to developing dryland agricultural livelihoods. We focus on three aspects of capacity development: first, building knowledge, skills, and capacities; second, partnering with those who can maximize the effect of our capacity development effort; and third, ensuring that the capacity development we do is sustainable.

Strengthened capacity
Strengthened capacity
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Developing capacity to innovate

One of the ways we develop capacity is by explaining what we do. An exhibition booth and presentations by Dryland Systems described our work in innovation platforms at a side event, Capacity to Innovate, at the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) 3rd Scientific Conference, 9–12 March 2015, Mexico, Combating desertification, land degradation, and drought for poverty reduction and sustainable development – the contribution of science, technology, traditional knowledge and practices.

Strengthened capacity
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Strengthening knowledge, skills, and capacities in agricultural livelihoods systems research

ICARDA and Dryland Systems presented a training course, Integrated, Gendered Systems Modelling Research Approach to Dryland Systems: From Concepts to Practices and Implementation, in Cairo, Egypt, 23 August–3 September. The course widened participants’ interdisciplinary perspectives, and built their capacity for analyzing feedback loops in agricultural livelihoods systems, taking into account gender and other social roles and dimensions. The hands-on course provided trainees with the knowledge and skills to implement what they learned and to train others. Participants received learning materials that they can re-use for training in their institutes or for further self-learning and development.

Strengthened capacity
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Building capacity through champions

People like Javana Ram Patel, a pastoralist who took the risk of adopting a new practice, are critical to the success of the Sustainable Intensification of Silvo-pasture Systems project, a collaborative effort between scientists at the Central Arid Zone Research Institute (CAZRI), the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), and the Indian Government.

The scientists showed that silvo-pasture, a mix of drought-resistant shrubs and trees, can produce more forage than traditional pasture across arid and semiarid areas in India. Silvo-pasture creates beneficial microenvironments that hold moisture and keep producing forage for livestock when other pastures dry up.

Javana, a champion for silvo-pasture, works with scientists and offers his land for demonstrations. Early adopters like Javana lead by example, influencing others by showcasing the benefits of improved practices and showing that investing in new practices pays dividends.

Aside from producing more forage and saving livestock from starvation, the improved agronomic practices affect the entire agricultural livelihoods system, with significant impacts on people’s livelihoods such as less poverty, better incomes, and increased resilience and adaptation to climate change.

Strengthened capacity
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Ensuring sustainability, Ethiopia, Tanzania

Learning by doing raises awareness and develops commitment. In Tanzania and Ethiopia, Dryland Systems scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) worked with government staff to produce national maps of the routes pastoralists take to move their animals from place to place. Through their involvement in producing the maps, government staff and other stakeholders in both countries learned a lot more about issues, such as the conflicts stock movements can cause between land owners and pastoralists, and the implications for trade across national borders.

In Tanzania, the map of livestock routes is already being used by national planners in land use and development planning departments. Government staff are working to produce more maps and to find ways to maintain livestock routes while balancing the needs of pastoralists and farmers whose land the routes pass through. The private sector is using the map to choose the best locations for abattoirs, veterinary clinics, and other services for pastoralists.

Ethiopia hosted an international meeting for countries to share information and experiences on livestock routes. Sharing information encouraged participants to plan further activities, such as developing national strategies to improve and protect livestock routes.

Helping people develop knowledge and enabling them to learn new skills ultimately leads to sustainable agricultural livelihoods. In this case, the knowledge and skills – of livestock routes and strategies to protect, service, and balance the needs of those affected by the routes – that have been gained will improve livestock production, increase incomes for pastoralists and agropastoralists, reduce conflicts over land use and animal movements, and stimulate the livestock trade both within and among countries.

Stories of success

Our research targets the needs of smallholder farmers, agro-pastoralists, pastoralists, and livestock producers. We work with women farmers and young people in search of opportunities to improve their agricultural livelihoods in rural drylands of the developing world. These stories of success are testimony to the progress made in 2015.

Less
poverty
Better food and nutrition security and health
More sustainable natural resources and ecosystems
Better prepared for climate change
More empowered women and youth
Better policies and institutions
Strengthened
capacity
Less
poverty
Better food and nutrition security and health
More sustainable natural resources and ecosystems
Better prepared for climate change
More empowered women and youth
Better policies and institutions
Strengthened capacity
Research work by region
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West African Sahel and Dry Savannas

  • We calibrated Nutrient Monitoring (farm-NUTMON) with Data-Envelopment-Analysis Programming (DEAP) and Integrated Analysis Tool (IAT) models with household-farm data in West Africa. We calibrated crop simulation packages – Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) and Decision-Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) – for main crops in West Africa (Nigeria, Niger, and Burkina Faso) to capture technological options for scenarios of climate change. The databases and calibrated models interface with the Integrated Analysis Tool (IAT) model for assessing the behavior of rainfed mixed crop-livestock systems.
  • We customized the Land Use Dynamics Simulator (LUDAS), a spatially explicit agent-based system, for rainfed mixed crop-livestock systems in West Africa. The model is being calibrated as decision-support tool for Burkina Faso. We calibrated the Landscape-level Sustainable Land Management Planning Tool (LAMPT) for catchments in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Togo to support sustainable land management planning.
  • We classified smallholder livelihoods according to social and ecological conditions, and assets in rainfed systems in Mali and Burkina Faso.
  • We mapped the drivers of soil erosion across Sub-Saharan Africa to determine where measures to prevent erosion would be most cost-effective.
  • We established that fertilizing with crop and animal residues proved economically and ecologically efficient across Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Our work with farmers, millers, and bakers led the Nigerian government to pledge to triple the area of new high yielding, heat-tolerant wheat varieties introduced by ICARDA to 300,000 hectares in 2017.
Research work by region
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East and Southern Africa

  • We calibrated crop simulation packages – Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) and/or Decision-Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) – for main crops in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe to identify technological options for scenarios of climate change. The databases and calibrated models are linked to the Integrated Analysis Tool (IAT) model for assessing the behavior of rainfed mixed crop-livestock systems.
  • We produced a manual on the influence diagrams method for participatory analysis from a systems perspective. The manual is illustrated with case studies of natural resources management in Ethiopia and Malawi.
  • We classified smallholder livelihoods according to social and ecological conditions, and assets in rainfed systems in Malawi.
  • In Zimbabwe, multipurpose crops, buffering shrubs and trees, and micro fertilization, which we introduced, raised crop yields and protected soils.
  • Index-Based Livestock Insurance (IBLI) schemes scaled up in Kenya and Ethiopia insured pastoralists against the scarcity of forage during droughts. The Government of Kenya launched the Kenya Livestock Insurance Programme, which offers limited livestock insurance to pastoralists in Northern Kenya.
  • Our collaborative research on producing maps of routes pastoralists use to move livestock built local management capacities in Ethiopia and Tanzania.
Research work by region
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North Africa and West Asia

  • Our holistic systems approach, taking account of both biophysical and socio-economic factors, provided a comprehensive inventory of research to assess soil and water conservation in Tunisia.
  • We classified smallholder livelihoods according to social and ecological conditions, and assets in irrigated systems in Morocco.
  • We prototyped a Dynamic Agricultural Household Bio-economic Simulation Model (DAHBSIM) that is being calibrated and validated in the Meknes region, Morocco.
  • Raised-bed and cutback-furrow irrigation technologies boosted water productivity and energy efficiency in irrigated systems in the Nile Delta.
  • In rainfed and agro-pastoral systems, zero-till, hill slope soil and water conservation, and supplemental and deficit irrigation boosted agricultural production and incomes.
  • We found that cactus production can be complementary to the intensification of traditional or staple crops.
Research work by region
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Central Asia

  • Furthering understanding of what works where, we documented over 100 sustainable land management practices in the four main agro-ecosystems in Central Asia, rainfed and irrigated agriculture, mountains, and rangelands.
  • Addressing marginal land and water, land degradation, and poverty, we introduced 16 alternative forage crops; environmentally resilient, nutritious quinoa; drought and salt-resistant licorice; and mung bean for double cropping.
  • We provided robust scientific evidence that investing USD 11 billion in land rehabilitation over the next 30 years will prevent losses of almost USD 50 billion.
  • We provided information on technologies that added value to the regional Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Program for the Aral Sea Basin (CAMP4ASB) launched by the World Bank.
  • We set up an automatic weather station in Khorezm, Uzbekistan, that provided data for estimating evapotranspiration for scheduling irrigation, raising yields by 17% and water productivity by 37%.
  • We classified smallholder livelihoods according to social and ecological conditions, and assets in irrigated systems in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and agro-pastoral systems in Uzbekistan.
  • Our agro-geoinformatic assessments of cropping patterns and productivity of rainfed, agropastoral, and irrigated agro-ecosystems identified hotspots of land degradation in Central Asia where investment of limited resources for sustainable land management would deliver most benefits.
  • Our assessment of seed systems in Central Asia and Afghanistan showed that village-based seed enterprises raise incomes and empower women.
  • Raised-bed and cutback-furrow irrigation raised water productivity and energy efficiency in irrigated systems in Central Asia.
  • A Rural Women’s Learning Alliance in Uzbekistan is leading local community efforts to cope with the negative effects of climate change and land degradation.
  • Our innovation platform involving advanced agricultural institutions, national agricultural research systems (NARS), policy makers, the private sector, and banking services discussed improving access to credit, markets, and productive inputs, and facilitating dissemination of technical knowledge and advice for reducing post-harvest loss.
Research work by region
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South Asia

  • On-farm demonstrations and farmer field days in Chakwal, Punjab Province, Pakistan, showcased the value of cacti as a livelihoods game-changer resilient to climate change and depleted natural resources. Cacti provide nutritious green forage, fruit for sale, cactus seed oil for cosmetic companies, and boost food security.
  • We calibrated crop simulation packages – Agricultural Production Systems Simulator (APSIM) and Decision-Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer (DSSAT) – for main crops in India to determine technological options for scenarios of climate change. The databases and calibrated models link to the Integrated Analysis Tool (IAT) model for assessing the behavior of mixed crop-livestock rainfed systems.
  • We classified smallholder livelihoods according to social and ecological conditions, and assets in rainfed systems in India.
  • Traditional micro-ponds proved useful in improving water-use efficiency and stabilizing water sources in arid rainfed systems in India.
  • Fertilizing with crop and animal residues proved economically and ecologically efficient across South Asia.
  • High value, low biomass crops, such as medicinal plants, drought-resilient trees, and cactus, which are complementary to traditional or staple crops, raise productivity.
  • Community-based innovation platforms are re-greening silvo-pastoral systems in western Rajasthan, and native, high value medicinal plants, such as Convolvulus pluricaulis (used in the Ayurvedic preparation shankhpushpi), are strengthening value chains.
Research work by region
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Agricultural Livelihood Systems

Research work by region
West African Sahel and Dry Savannas
East and Southern Africa
North Africa and West Asia
Central Asia
South Asia
West African Sahel
and Dry Savannas
East and
Southern Africa
North Africa
and West Asia
Central
Asia
South
Asia
Publications, communication and knowledge sharing
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Video - "Drylands: The Opportunities You Never Imagined"

Ahead of the 21st Session of Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held in Paris in December 2015, Dryland Systems produced an animated video to provide policy-makers, donors and private sector actors with a snapshot of climate-smart agriculture investment opportunities in drylands of the developing world.

This video invites you to think about the undeniable challenges faced today in the drylands of the developing world, including poverty, desertification, conflict, and migration. On the other hand, it challenges the viewer to overturn commonly held myths about drylands. It invites you to think about the valuable dryland assets and opportunities that can help the world tackle some of the greatest challenges it currently faces, such as climate change, global food and nutrition security, and inclusive and sustainable development.

The 5-minute video depicts the importance of drylands in terms of these global issues, and shines the spotlight on specific investment opportunities that remain largely untapped by both the public and private sectors.

Publications, communication and knowledge sharing
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Widening digital reach

Our revamped website experienced a 735% increase in the number of users compared to 2014, a 319% increase in the number of pages viewed, and a 388% increase in the number of sessions. Our blog stories, coupled with our new approach to social media, are increasing the number of our followers and engagement. Facebook and Twitter drive 93.7% of our website traffic. This wider digital reach is leading to better understanding of our research and greater application of our research findings to identify practical and innovative solutions to development challenges in drylands and beyond.

Publications, communication and knowledge sharing
567
publications
in 2015
Video - "Drylands:
The Opportunities You
Never Imagined"
Widening
digital
reach
Partnerships, donors, finances and people
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Our partners

Our partners play key roles in defining the drylands development agenda, in upstream and downstream research, in mainstreaming integrated agricultural systems research, and in ensuring that our research outputs and findings are effectively used by next and end users. Dryland Systems partnerships are the vital link between research and development.

Partnerships, donors, finances and people
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Our donors

Thanks to the support and contributions of our valued CGIAR Fund Donors and of bilateral donors who share our commitment to eradicating poverty, hunger, and malnutrition, Dryland Systems is advancing the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in dry areas. We are extremely grateful to all our donors for making our work possible as we strive to be more efficient, collaborative, and impact-oriented so that together we can truly transform the lives of impoverished rural dryland communities.

CGIAR Fund Donors

  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Netherlands
  • Sudan
  • Switzerland

Bilateral Donors

  • African Development Bank (AfDB)
  • Agricultural Research Center of Egypt (ARC)
  • Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (AFESD)
  • Asian Development Bank (ADB)
  • Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID)
  • Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)
  • Austrian Development Agency (ADA)
  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • UK Department for International Development (DFID)
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
  • Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS), Government of The Netherlands
  • DuPont Pioneer
  • European Union (EU)
  • Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
  • Government of India
  • Government of Iran
  • Government of Russia
  • French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA)
  • International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
  • Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED)
  • McKnight Foundation
  • Office Chérifen des Phosphates (OCP)
  • OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID)
  • United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Partnerships, donors, finances and people
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Our people

People are at the heart of Dryland Systems. The program is governed by a diverse range of members from developing and developed country institutions, such as national agricultural research and extension services (NARES), the private sector, civil society, CGIAR, farmers’ organizations, bilateral and multilateral donors, and international organizations. Most importantly, the program has a wide upstream and downstream reach that includes participants and institutions with a key role in defining the drylands development agenda.

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Financial summary

Dryland Systems expenditure in 2015 was USD 42 million. The expenditures were met from Windows 1 and 2 (16%), Window 3 and bilateral sources (80%), and from the center’s and partners’ own sources (4%). Windows 1 and 2 funds were reduced in the final Financing Plan to USD 6.9 million.

Partnerships, donors, finances and people
Our
partners
Our
donors
Our
people
Financial
summary
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Credits

Written by: Tana Lala-Pritchard (Dryland Systems) and Scriptoria

Dryland Systems Editorial Team: Richard Thomas, Enrico Bonaiuti, Quang Bao Le, Marah Al Malalha, and Ejona Bakalli

Coordination: Tana Lala-Pritchard

Web design and development: Scriptoria and Hadiya Razouk

Correct citation: CGIAR Research Program on Dryland Systems. 2015. Annual Report 2015: Towards sustainable livelihoods in drylands. Amman, Jordan.

Photo credits:
CCAFS / Cecilia Schubert
CGIAR
CGIAR / P. Casier
CIAT / Georgina Smith
CIAT / Neil Palmer
CIAT / S. Malyon
CIFOR / Olivier Girard
CIMMYT / M. DeFreese
Dryland Systems
ICARDA
ICRAF
ICRISAT
ICRISAT / B. Sreera
ILRI / Camille Hanotte
ILRI / George Wamwere-Njoroge
ILRI / Stevie Mann
IWMI / David Brazier
UNDP in Uzbekistan

This publication is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – NonCommercial-NoDerivs3.0 Unported License. Articles appearing in this publication may be freely quoted and reproduced provided the source is acknowledged. No use of this publication may be made for resale or other commercial purposes.

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