Neil Palmer/CIAT.

Decision Analysis and Information Systems

Informed decisions, optimal outcomes

Governments and others looking to make smart investments in agriculture are often faced with one central challenge: a lack of reliable information on which to base decisions. In developing countries in particular, data on some of the most basic factors such as demography or farm production do not exist, and what is available is often fragmented across disciplines or is not accessible to decision makers. In addition variables that are difficult to measure tend to be omitted, which leads to sub-optimal solutions, such as increased productivity at the expense of environmental and social degradation.

Decision Analysis and Information Systems is a cross-cutting research theme that aims to improve the quality of decisions on agro-ecosystem research and development by addressing the common lack of data. The theme promotes a wider use of decision analysis, risk assessment methods and targeted information systems among both researchers and decision makers.

Women work in an irrigated field.
Hamish John Appleby/IWMI.

Tools to direct efforts and investments

Making informed decisions that consider both advantages and trade-offs is a complex challenge. Investment decisions may affect agricultural productivity, the environment, livelihoods and more, and decision makers have to navigate the competing interests of many different stakeholders. The sustainable intensification of agriculture requires information systems that integrate water, land and ecosystems and improved capacity for decision analysis.

Targeting Agricultural Water Management Interventions (TAGMI)

This free, online decision-support tool, called "Targeting Agriculture Water Management Interventions," or TAGMI, is designed to improve agricultural investment decisions in the Volta and Limpopo river basins of Africa. It can support development and investments by determining where particular water management interventions, such as irrigation equipment, small reservoirs or conservation measures, are the most likely to be successful. [Read more]

Sri Lanka Water Resources Information System

The Sri Lanka Water Resources Information System is aiding government officials, researchers and development agencies in managing water resources and ecosystems in Sri Lanka. The online system provides maps and data on water availability, quality and use, and is an archive of more than 700 downloadable water-related scientific papers. [Read more]

Africa Soil Information Service

The Africa Soil Information Service is providing practical, timely and cost-effective soil health surveillance services that can help map soil conditions, set a baseline for monitoring changes, develop global standards and methodologies and provide options for improved soil and land management in Africa. This service provides continent-wide digital soil maps and decision-support applications for sub-Saharan Africa, using new types of soil analysis and statistical methods. [Read more]

Effective plans come from informed decision makers

Improving decision quality will help better target research, improve investments, avoid waste and negative effects, create greater commitment to action and improve ways of measuring success. Once the research theme has successfully developed a number of key information systems and platforms, organizations in developing countries will be identified that could serve as training centers, helping to build capacity for making effective decisions related to planning, monitoring and evaluation of development interventions.

A man tests an electrical pump on his farm.
Hamish John Appleby/IWMI.