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Pathways to Lasting Impact for Rural Dryland Communities in the Developing World: Dryland Systems 2014 Annual Report

In 2014, Dryland Systems helped shape thinking and practice on agricultural livelihood systems to drive and deliver innovative interventions with real development impact in rural dryland communities of the developing world.

Pathways to Lasting Impact for Rural Dryland Communities in the Developing World: Dryland Systems 2014 Annual Report highlights the program’s main contributions to reducing poverty, improving food and nutrition security, and ensuring sustainable natural resources management in the world’s rural dry areas.

In 2014, Dryland Systems helped shape thinking and practice on agricultural livelihood systems to drive and deliver innovative interventions with real development impact in the ground.

"Rural dryland communities in the developing world  have suffered a history of neglect, sustainable  development… The Dryland Systems program aims to overturn this neglect and shape the drylands discourse by producing a robust body of scientific knowledge that includes technological, policy and institutional innovations to  address major dryland challenges.” Richard Thomas, Program Director.

Our research work focused on identifying and leveraging key drivers to bring about improvements to dryland agricultural livelihood systems at local, national, and global scales. Our 227 partners and 45-innovation platforms allowed us to engage directly with the beneficiaries of our research to ensure our work was relevant and our findings shaped demand-driven development.

These initiatives were strengthened by gender-responsive research, as we worked to mainstream gender across all our activities.

We were the first CGIAR Research Program to develop a Youth Strategy, setting a precedent that may direct serious attention to this critical stakeholder group.

Our newly launched Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning (MEL) platform ensures better result-based management, reporting, coordination, risk and performance monitoring and evaluation, as well as knowledge sharing and learning across the program. Other CGIAR Research Programs and regional partners have already adopted our MEL platform for similar purposes.

Here are a few highlights from our 2014 Annual Report:

  • 25 databases giving unrestricted online access to spatial data were established with great responses from international institutions, partners and research users. Over 15,000 people in 119 countries accessed Dryland Systems databases through the open-access Geoinformatics Portal, requesting and downloading data to use for a number of purposes.
  • 352,000 men and 117,348 woman farmers were part of field-trials to apply and adopt sustainable natural resources management practices in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
  • Huge scientific knowledge contributions were made to systems research for dealing with global challenges such as climate change, land degradation and food security, and driving development in world’s rural drylands; we exceeded our target and published 125 articles, including 72 in ISI journals.
  • For example, about 62 million ha (20%) of the world’s irrigated lands (are affected by salt-degradation. A new study on the economics of salt-induced land degradation and restoration identified successful methods for draining saline land and reversing soil degradation.
  • Comprehensive, multidimensional gender-responsive livelihood data for more than 3,000 household farms across Dryland Systems research sites are now available for development workers to use. Research teams in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, India, and the Fergana Valley in Central Asia used these data to identify constraints to agricultural productivity and opportunities to build natural and human capital in terms of resilience and adaptation to climate change.
  • In order to boost the resilience of Kenyan pastoralists, program scientists and partners developed an innovative index-based livestock insurance that pays out when satellite data show that forage is insufficient.
  • New, improved crop varieties boosted production and incomes in drylands – 620+ tonnes of quality seeds produced. Our research on improved wheat crop systems in Nigeria convinced the government to adopt policies in support of domestic production that will guarantee higher incomes for Nigerian farmers and greater food security.
  • In several countries in North and West Africa, program established village-based seed enterprises to integrate community-based seed production systems into inclusive food value chains and open up opportunities for women and young people to set up their own agro-entrepreneurial activities.
  • In India and Pakistan, our research teams worked with local communities to improve health and wellbeing by promoting a number of water harvesting practices through various communications materials, including 67,000 manuals and brochures in English, Urdu, and local languages, training videos, farmer days, radio, and TV programs.
  • A new Climate Change and Drought Atlas for Jordan contains 339 maps that show how the climate has changed in Jordan over the past decades, how it is likely to change in the future, and what policymakers and communities can do to adapt to widespread water scarcity and more droughts that are anticipated over the coming years.

To read more about these and other 2014 achievements, please go to our online Annual Report 2014 site or download the full document (pdf) here.

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