Summary of the Action Group
The Planning for Drought (P4D) action group is one of the ten demand-driven Action Groups of the Africa-EU Innovation Alliance for Water and Climate (AfriAlliance) formed among a network of researchers working in semi-arid regions of Africa. The activities of the P4D, led by the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS), University of Ghana is based on key research findings on water management for vulnerable communities in the Upper West Region of Ghana. The focus of P4D is to promote dry season farming in semi-arid Ghana by enhancing the capacities of vulnerable farmers and local agriculture stakeholders (extension officers, input dealers and marketers). The objectives of the group will be achieved through participatory planning processes intended at enhancing farmer capabilities in efficiently managing water resources, especially during drought and dry spells. The working group also aims to share experiences and knowledge gained with other stakeholders within and outside of the Upper West region.
Background to the P4D Project
Most farming communities in northern Ghana experience one regular farming season due to the region’s unimodal rainfall pattern. Climate change is an additional challenge that is having impacts on rainfall amounts and duration, contributing to water stress and affecting agricultural productivity of smallholder farmers in the region. As a result, there are minimal farming activities for more than seven months of the year, leading to the migration of majority of the active labour force to urban centres in search of alternative livelihoods. Household members left behind, e.g. children and the elderly become more vulnerable to food insecurity and poverty.
There is the potential for farming communities to utilize available water resources in the region, including the Black Volta (a main water source) and smaller dams or dugouts for farming during the dry season. Despite numerous programmes to support these ventures, this potential has been challenged by a number of factors. These include; the inability of communities close to water resources to draw water to their farms due to the lack of resources and appropriate irrigation technology; increasing conflicts (between farming communities and water management agencies) over pollution and siltation of river bodies by those drawing water in defiance of regulations; weak or non-existent irrigation farmer groups/associations limiting access capital and technical support from private and public sectors in support of dry season farming; inadequate weather information as well as poor maintenance of existing irrigation facilities such as small dams and dugouts.
Noting these challenges, the P4D aims to address the “Rural and Agriculture setting” theme by embarking on activities under the following sub-themes;
- Introduce climate smart agriculture practices to smallholder farmers to improve their agricultural practices (e.g., when to plant crops, soil conservation, crop selection, groundwater exploitation, pesticide prevention, etc.)
- Propose improved irrigation techniques in farming areas to enhance sustainable farmland management.
- Introduce strategies to improve farm level water management (e.g. drip irrigation systems that improve water use, recycling wastewater for agriculture, and strategies for efficient use of scarce water resources)
- Develop better information tools and channels coupled with more timely communication to farmers on weather forecasts, crop varieties, etc. to enable enhanced farm planning.
- Develop innovative partner matching mechanisms to connect innovators (AfriAlliance partners inclusive) to farmers and vice versa.
Project Aims, Objectives and Activities
The activities of the P4D Action Group revolves around the following aims in order to achieve its overall objective of promoting dry season farming in semi-arid Ghana by enhancing the capacities of vulnerable farmers and local agriculture stakeholders:
- Aim 1: To train farmers on modern agriculture technologies including agronomic, climate smart and water management practices.
- Aim 2: To enhance/build the capacity of water management stakeholders (farmers, extension officers, and traditional authority) to adequately plan for dry season agriculture in semi-arid Ghana.
- Aim 3: To build and strengthen communication channels among the key stakeholders (farmers, researchers, practitioners, and communities) to promote effective climate change adaptation practices in semi-arid Ghana.
- Aim 4: To facilitate/support the creation of local level irrigation platforms to enhance networking and enable access to agriculture inputs for dry season farming.
The objectives of the P4D Action group include;
- Objective 1: To train 20 farmer groups leaders as community extension volunteers on climate smart techniques and irrigation management practices for dry season farming (this includes access and maintenance of irrigation inputs and facilities). This will be carried out between 3 to 6 months (January-March 2019) in partnership with the District Assembly’s Department of agriculture (DoA) and Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA) at the regional level.
Objective 2: To facilitate the creation of farmer-expert advisories for dry season farming for two farming periods within 2 years (November 2018-October 2020) These advisories will include key highlights on expectations for dry season farming (weather/drought forecast, land preparation, seeds and fertilizer access, contact information of extension agents and input dealers and available schemes).
Objective 3: To assist in the formalization of 20 existing farmer associations and strengthen their activities in two areas (Nandom and Lawra Districts, Upper West region) and facilitate the creation of a district level agriculture water users’ platform in each district within 12 months (January to December, 2019) of project commencement. This will be done in partnership with GIDA and DoA.
Objective 4: To facilitate strong linkages between farmer associations and agriculture/irrigation schemes, capital resources and technical support provided by NGOs, private sector and government agencies within and outside the districts within 6 to 18 months of the project.
Objective 5: To use local communication channels and innovative strategies for sharing advisories (Advisories are reference material which provide information on resilient agricultural practices to farmers for dry season farming in the region) and other information with 10 communities along the Black Volta in each districts within the period of the project. These communication channels and their potential to reach a wider range of stakeholders will be explored.
Activities and outputs
The P4D working group will carry out the following activities and outputs to achieve the aims and objectives using a bottom-up and participatory approach:
Activity 1: Research/review of Climate Smart Water Management Practices in Semi-arid Ghana and across Africa.
Output: Share available findings on current water management practices, the factors enabling or hindering adoption and institutional capacities for implementation. Produce policy briefs for dissemination to policy makers and relevant institutions in Ghana and other countries. Findings from the research will be shared with farmers during the capacity building workshops as well as policy makers using policy briefs.
Activity 2: Three (3) Capacity-building Workshops Targeting farmers and Technical Officers from NGOs, Private Sector and Government Agencies involved in Dry Season Agriculture
Output: Participants will be guided through a participatory scenario planning process to produce farmer-expert farm advisories for reference during dry season farming period. Farmers will also be trained on climate smart practices and linked to agencies that are capable of providing technical and agriculture schemes support. 2 planning and 1 evaluation workshops on modern water management strategies and irrigation facility maintenance would also be carried out for agriculture extension agents and community extension volunteers who often lack the appropriate technical knowledge to assist 20 farmer groups. This will be carried out before the beginning of each dry season and will involve 40 farmer group leaders and 20 agriculture technical officers.
Activity 3: Strengthening of Farmer Groups and Establishment of District agriculture Water Users’ Platform
Output: The Ghana Irrigation Development Authority (GIDA) will be partnered with to train farmers using the 2017 Legislation passed by Parliament of Ghana on guidelines for the formation of water user or irrigation groups in the country. This will be carried out with the participation of other stakeholders including District Planning Office, Department of Agriculture (DoA), 4 agriculture related NGOs in the districts.
Activity 4: Demonstration Field Visits
Output: The extension office of the Department of Agriculture in the districts will lead a field visit to different irrigation demonstration farms to train the 40 farmer leaders (2 from 20 groups) on various water management and irrigation techniques. They are expected to train their various group members with a composition of about 15 to 20 farmers in each group.
Activity 5: Communication of Advisories
Output: The P4D working group will leverage on the Climate Advisory Resource Centers (CARCs) provided to the two districts under the ASSAR project to share advisory information with farmers. Other communication channels such as radio and community forums will also be used.
It is expected that by the end of the project period, the following impacts would have been achieved:
- Formalized and strengthened farmer groups that will enable internal and external resource mobilization by farmers to access efficient irrigation facilities which can serve multiple farms.
- Farmers and farmer groups will have better knowledge of available opportunities provided by the local government and NGO structures that support agriculture and dry season farming in the districts.
- An all-inclusive agriculture water governance structure at the community level would be constituted. This governance structure would include all stakeholders who make decisions around agriculture water management and use. This will include leaders of farmers, women, youth and disabled groups, vegetable farmers associations, traditional authority, Department of Agriculture and the District Assembly.
- Farmers and agriculture officers will be well prepared for each year’s dry spells and adequately plan for farming activities during these harsh periods.
- The project will ensure 30% of women farmer groups would be strengthened and recognized as key stakeholders within the agriculture water users platforms in the districts. This will help reduce the vulnerability and marginalization of women farmers in the districts.
- Initiate policy dialogue on favourable initiatives to boost water resource management in Ghana.
The Planning for Drought (P4D) Action Group is made up of 10 members from five institutions in Ghana, Mali and the United Kingdom. These include the Institute for Environment and Sanitation Studies (IESS), University for Development Studies, Ghana Irrigation Development Authority, International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), Mali and the University of East Anglia. IESS is the Ghana research team on the Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR) project, which was carried out over five years (ended in November 2018) and was a consortium of seven countries funded by the UK Government Department for International Development DfID) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada. See http://www.assar.uct.ac.za for more information on the overall project. For additional details on activities in Ghana, see http://cariaaghanaupdates.blogspot.com/
The project will run from October 2018 – June 2020 under the auspices of the Africa-EU Innovation Alliance for Water and Climate (AfriAlliance) with funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme.