Simple interventions embedded in a wider learning environment lead to big gains and systemic changes
Impressive project findings from the use of the two synergistic interventions – Smart Water Management tools and Agricultural Innovation Platforms – published in the special Issue of the International Journal of Water Resources Development reveal big gains accrued from using simple technologies embedded in a wider learning environment. Some of the immediate outcomes reported from project sites in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe pointed to increased crop yields ranging from 28-313 %, income increase of 43-94% in farmer households, 43–60% increase in off-farm income due to less time spent irrigating and 40–85% of farmers reducing their irrigation frequency.
The research for development project titled “Transforming smallholder irrigation into profitable and self-sustaining systems through outscaling in southern Africa (TISA)” is based on the premise that the transition from subsistence- to business-focused farming is essential to maintain infrastructure for sustainable irrigation. To achieve this, it is critical to consider irrigation schemes as complex systems, where simple linear interventions will not result in sustained development, and working exclusively with farmers is insufficient. It is critical to identify the most effective leverage points in these systems to start the process of change at the scheme level and interact with higher political levels to support systemic change.