Livestock use of water in Nile Basin: Huge opportunities to use water resources more effectively

Principal investigators undertaking research on livestock use of water in the Nile River Basin met at ILRI in Ethiopia on 11 and 12 November 2009.

Representatives from Sudan’s Agricultural Economics and Policy Research Center, Makerere University in Kampala, and the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research shared experiences of promising technologies and policy innovations that can enable millions of poor livestock keepers and farmers to enhance food production and livelihoods and reverse land degradation throughout vast Nile region.

Ethiopia, Sudan, and Uganda are very different countries but together they exemplify the major and diverse cropping and livestock keeping practices found in the Nile region. Rainfed crop and livestock production are dominant, but irrigation is locally important.

In all cases, the researchers concluded that there are huge opportunities to use water resources more effectively and productive for agricultural production. The key appears to be integrated inter-institutional collaboration with coherent policy aimed at increasing livestock water productivity through use of water efficient animal feeds, water conservation, adoption of state-of-the-art and available animal science knowledge.

Application of off-the-shelf science based outputs potentially enables environmentally sustainable increases in food production, improved domestic water, and better livelihoods. Much of the water required to achieve these benefits can come from rainfall that currently does not enter the Nile’s lakes and water course and does not sustain the natural environment. In other words, this is water for which there is often relatively little competition among diverse water users.

The researchers are synthesizing results from investigation undertaken in the basin.

It was supported by the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (www.waterandfood.org).

Report by Don Peden, ILRI

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