The Water and Land Resource Centre Project

Ewaso Ng'iro river in Kenya. Photo: Isabelle Providoli

Traditional land use systems and lifestyles in East Africa and the Horn of Africa are increasingly under pressure. Competing claims on diminishing natural resources from a growing number of different actors pose a severe threat to sustainability.

Accordingly, there is an urgent need for judicious planning and decision-making. That, in turn, requires accurate and up-to-date information as well as innovation – especially when it comes to food production and efficient and equitable use of water.

Generating and sharing knowledge

The Water and Land Resource Centre (WLRC) project aimed to promote sustainable water and land management and governance, secure environmental services, and deal more effectively with conflicts over water and land in national and transnational river basins in Ethiopia and Kenya.

For these purposes, the project focused on three areas of activities:

  1. Increasing knowledge generation about water and land management and governance
  2. Making co-produced knowledge available and establishing dialogue
  3. Creating awareness and strategic partnerships

The evidence-based knowledge provided by WLRC is now being used in devolved negotiation, planning, implementation, and conflict resolution processes.

Data, information, and tailor-made solutions

CDE and its regional partners in Ethiopia and Kenya established hydro-meteorological observatories that

  • feed rich data into open-access repositories,
  • produce tailor-made information products for various stakeholder groups, and
  • implement innovative and transformative land and water management activities.

With knowledge products that are adapted to the different local contexts, the project reached out to local community members, policymakers, and professionals at all governance levels from the subnational to the national, regional, transboundary, and international.

Meteorological and hydro-sedimentological monitoring at different observatory watersheds in Ethiopia. Photos: Tatenda Lemann

Capacity building

Another important pillar of the WLRC project has been constant awareness creation and capacity development among key stakeholders across different scales and sectors. The project invested heavily in capacity building for multiple stakeholders and succeeded in building a solid research base supporting water and land management and governance in both countries.

Learning watersheds in Ethiopia

In the Abbay (Blue Nile) basin in Ethiopia, project activities focused on land degradation and soil erosion. The project established six learning watersheds that serve as interactive learning platforms. Learning is based on research-supported participatory integrated watershed development activities. The learning watersheds bring together researchers, development actors, and local communities, with a view to enhancing livelihoods and improving environmental quality in a holistic way.

Lessons learned from these activities have been scaled up for interventions elsewhere in Ethiopia and in other suitable locations in the Eastern Nile basin.

Rehabilitation of degraded lands through gully treatment and area closure, Ethiopia. Photos: Gete Zeleke

Water Resource Users Associations in Kenya

In Kenya, the project activities focused on water scarcity in the semi-arid and arid areas of the Ewaso Ng’iro north basin. In these areas, population growth and new, water-intensive land uses are making it increasingly difficult to manage land and water sustainably. Water Resource Users Associations (WRUAs) were established to coordinate the various interests of smallholders, pastoralists, commercial horticulture, large landowners, and other water users. The WRUAs jointly plan, regulate, and monitor water use throughout the Ewaso Ng’iro north basin in a basin-wide forum.

Real-time hydrological and climate data as well as qualitative data on socio-economic development from the WLRC observatories enable the WRUAs to negotiate water use, prevent conflict, and develop more sustainable solutions.

Real-time water discharge data enable more effective negotiation of water use in Kenya. Photo: Matthias Fries

“Hotspots of Water Scarcity and Conflicts in the Ewaso Ng’iro North Basin”

This report presents an innovative and participatory approach to identifying hotspots of water scarcity and conflicts. The approach combines spatially disaggregated baselines with a participatory assessment involving expert and contextual knowledge, and complements the current state assessment of hotspots. It anticipates the impact of future developments under three scenarios: namely peripheral, agrarian and industrial transformations.

Hotspots of Water Scarcity and Conflicts in the Ewaso Ng’iro North Basin (PDF, 4.2 MB)