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The "Smart ICT for Weather and Water information and Advice to Smallholders in Africa" project

FieldLook Ethiopia is launced as part of the The "Smart ICT for Weather and Water information and Advice to Smallholders in Africa" project.This project is co funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and is executed by International Water Management Institute (IWMI), eLEAF BV (The Netherlands) (former WaterWatch BV (The Netherlands), Basfood BV (The Netherlands)), DLV Plant BV (The Netherlands).

Visit http://www.smartict-africa.com/EN/ for more information about the Smart ICT project.

The project aims at lowering the information access barrier in rural Africa. Ethiopia is one of the selected beneficiary countries in the implementation of pilot projects, alongside Mali, Egypt and Sudan.

As part of the Project, October 15 2012 to April 15 2013 have been identified as pilot period for Ethiopia, in which smallholder farmers, irrigation advisors, water user associations and irrigation boards (in selected areas) have free online access to actual weekly updated semi-real-time information.

Overall, the project has the following specific objectives:

1. To develop, test and pilot innovative approaches and technologies to provide relevant information and affordable advice in a timely manner to end users;

2. To develop capacity of different stakeholders to make use of the information and advice for better decision making, negotiation and accountability;

3. To define priorities for information provision and identify early successes in timely and affordable transfer of information and advice;

4. To develop interest of agri-industry and other service providers in supporting further expansion and continued services.

Project brief: Smart ICT for Weather and Water information and Advice to Smallholders in Africa

Climate change, water scarcity and food security are becoming increasingly important topics for the growing population of Africa. Due to a general lack of the development and the use of water resources in the semi-arid and arid zones, water is generally the most limiting constraint and scarce input for agriculture. The challenge is to produce more food with less water while improving the livelihoods of millions of farmers. While weather is being affected at global levels, local solutions must be adopted in which rural people's water security is enhanced through new technologies and strengthened institutional governance arrangements. Early warning of the availability of rainfall and irrigation water is key to all farming systems, particularly in semi-arid settings.

Smart and affordable technologies need to be adapted to customize farm management for farmers with limited water resources. Farmers will become more water secure and more resilient to external weather related shocks by adapted water management practices. The proposed study, and the improved access to and use of information that will follow from this, will contribute to the concept of "more crop per drop" as it aims to produce more yield while reducing water consumption, and will use the water as efficiently as possible.

The three year project "Smart ICT for Weather and Water Information and Advice to Smallholders in Africa" aims at lowering the information access barrier in providing local farmers and Water Users Associations (WUAs) with real-time information for decision-making regarding irrigation, nutrient applications, crop protection measures and more, that are derived from up-to-date satellite measurements. This will be done by developing and testing a computer and cell phone based information system that rapidly transfers weather, water and crop related information (derived from satellite imagery) to a range of stakeholders, and to assess the impact of that on agricultural production and institutional strengthening.

The main development objective of the Project is to "promote innovative approaches and ICT-based technologies for weather, water and crop-related information and advice to relevant end-users in Africa for informed decision making and enhanced negotiation capacity with water and farm related service providers".