Agriculture and Ecosystems Blog

Improved natural resource management for livelihoods, food security and the natural environment


Photo: Chris Potter on Flickr

Water Funds: Priming the corporate pump?

What are we to make of the proliferation of water funds round the world dedicated to maintaining the watersheds that keep rivers flowing, aquifers charged and taps full? Should we embrace the engagement of some of the world’s most famous water guzzlers?

Between 1990 and 2010 Latin America has lost over 1 million of km2 of tropical forest, becoming the second largest deforestation hotspot in the world, only preceded by Southeast Asia.  Photo: CIFOR

Can we meet future global food demand without causing any further environmental damage?

Researchers from the Technical University of Madrid, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and Harvard University have just published a paper in PLOS ONE which jointly assesses issues of future global food security and environmental outcomes. The study describes different future agricultural production pathways in one of the most important food baskets of the world: Latin America.

Jane Kabugi and her farm

Africa’s first Water Fund

The Tana-Nairobi Water Fund is a public-private scheme uniting big business, utilities, conservation groups, government, researchers and farmers. It aims to increase farm productivity upstream, while improving water supply and cutting costs of hydropower and clean water for users downstream, and is designed to generate US$21.5 million in long-term benefits to Kenyan citizens, including farmers and businesses.

Farmers in Ada Foah, Ghana harvest carrots grown using groundwater irrigation. Photo: Nana Kofi Acquah

Tapping into Africa’s groundwater potential

A recent study indicates that the total area under irrigation from groundwater resources in Africa can safely be expanded 20 times or more beyond current levels, but not everywhere. Farmers have already tapped into Africa’s groundwater, but mostly in the northern and southern regions. There is potential to sustainably increase the use of groundwater elsewhere in Africa, and in particular for small-scale farming.


Snapshot: Tackling pollution in the Ganges

New Snapshot Series: Partially treated sewage and industrial effluent is pumped into irrigation channels in Jajmau, a suburb of the Indian city of Kanpur. What isn’t used by farmers eventually flows into the Ganges, one of the country’s most polluted rivers.

Fishermen in Luxor, Egypt. Photo: EmsiProduction on Flickr

Putting a price on wetlands

If tomorrow, all of East Africa’s wetlands disappeared, what costs would governments incur? While it is nearly impossible to place a quantitative value on wetlands, a new project is exploring methods of valuation of wetlands in the Nile Basin.

Farmers cultivate land next to a reservoir. Photo: Matthew McCartney

Built or natural infrastructure: a false dichotomy

In the face of climate change managing water resources is becoming more difficult. In an effort to manage increased water variability, there is a competing discourse on the need for more built infrastructure (e.g. dams, canals and levees) to store and regulate water in order to support social and economic development and facilitate adaptation to climate change.

Sarah Karungari is a Kimunye Community Forestry Association member working on a beehive project. Photo: Fred Pearce

Poachers turned gamekeepers

Something interesting is happening in Kenya – something that, if successful, could reverberate through Africa and transform the continent’s landscape management. Formerly all-powerful state agencies are handing over day-to-day control of key resources like forests, rivers and wildlife to local communities.