ILSSI aims to enhance land and agricultural water management at the farm level to increase benefits to farmers and more broadly. We train farmers, cooperatives, and extension workers to encourage investments in suitable technologies and practices for irrigated production. Topics are wide-ranging: water-lifting technologies (e.g. solar-powered pumps), irrigation scheduling, climate-smart water and soil management, irrigated forage production, and smallholder financial management and irrigated production as a business. We have also worked with local organizations to integrate nutrition messaging into irrigation investments.
Monitoring and planning for sustainable water resource use
ILSSI works to support water and natural resource planning and monitoring from plot to watershed scale, and from basin to regional levels, as well as across multiple uses and sectors. We offer short-term training for individuals and institutions on our Integrated Decision Support System and open-access analytical models. Training courses are hosted by local institutions, tailored to their needs and demands, and utilize local data and cases. Past trainees include basin authorities, irrigation agencies, donors and non-government organizations, companies in the water sector as well as research institutions and national universities. We have more recently designed trainings for specific commodities and crops as well as across regions. The regular provision of the courses and follow-up mentoring help to harmonize planning and analytical tools within regions and basins. Since 2014, ILSSI has provided IDSS trainings 13 times in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Tanzania, educating a total of 874 participants (733 men and 141 women).
Supporting future scientists and evidence-based decision making
ILSSI contributes to the growing cohort of scientists that will provide evidence for policy, planning, and decisions in the future. Our partners and researchers work with graduate students at national universities to enhance field studies, data collection and analysis as well as presentation and publication of research. As sustainable water management is inter-sectoral, our students cover topics such as economics, nutrition, gender, water productivity, governance, and fodder and forages.
Fostering capacity between research and the private sector
ILSSI seeks to encourage a systems approach to irrigation that can promote innovation. ILSSI offers Innovation Scholarships to students, based on a competitive and participatory process. Supported students are embedded into the activities and operations of private sector companies, through various forms of action research, data collection, and internships. This approach emphasizes innovation systems, private-public sector collaboration and systematic transformation for scaling solutions.
Strengthening gender and nutritional responsiveness of irrigation
ILSSI supports improved planning and project design by development partner institutions and organizations working in farmer-led small scale irrigation. We particularly target the integration of gender and nutrition for more equitable and food-secure outcomes. Our evidence-based guidelines and tools can be used for building awareness, knowledge, and skills within organizations and projects.
Integrating sectors and markets through dialogues
ILSSI facilitates engagement between public, research and private actors across the irrigation, agriculture, and finance sectors toward stronger systemic linkages in irrigated value chains. Thin and frontier markets are often characterized by low trust and insufficient information flows between actors, which increases risks for private companies. ILSS convenes multi-stakeholder dialogues to provide a focused space for networking, exchanging information and provoking innovation on water and climate challenges. The dialogues convened in Ghana, Ethiopia and Mali are strengthening capacity within the overall market system. For private sector actors, the dialogues are opening up opportunities for collaboration and mobilization of resources, which can accelerate commercialization in farmer led irrigation development.