Creating and facilitating stakeholder collaboration for accelerating farmer-led irrigation development: The Smart Water for Agriculture (SWA) project is a new initiative coordinated by SNV Kenya trying to strengthen and improve water use and management among irrigating Kenyan farmers in 6 counties. Running from 2016-2019 it looks at all levels and along the full irrigated agriculture value-chain.
Discussing irrigation and irrigated agriculture people tend to think of – government build and often managed – irrigation schemes. These schemes are often not without problems in terms of management and sustainability. But in Kenya as well as in other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa thousands if not millions of farmer have taken own initiatives and invested in developing irrigation, individually or in groups. These efforts have often gone un-noticed in official statistics. Support and technologies provided by the government, NGO and private sector projects is not always effective in reaching these farmers as interventions do not match the complex realities faced by the farmers. To make such support more effective, interactive innovation development approaches are needed where farmers and technology users play an important role in field-testing, redesign, and final selection of new water use and management technologies and practices.
Development of irrigated agriculture is a complex process. It involves stakeholders such as farmer, their organizations, government agencies, banks for credit, traders for marketing, NGOs for technical support, and suppliers of irrigation hardware and other inputs. In the reality of Kenya these actors rarely coordinate their efforts. At the ground one actor often does not know what the other is doing. Efforts often overlap or even contradict each other seriously slowing down development. The SWA project therefore promotes interaction, joint learning and coordination and cooperation among stakeholders involved in the development of farmer-led irrigation as well as more effective interactive innovation development with an important role for technology users. To this end SWA will help facilitate so-called Irrigation Acceleration Platforms in each county where the project operates as well as the national level.
The Smart Water for Agriculture Irrigation Acceleration Platform Guidelines publication gives guidelines on how to initiate, develop and sustain Irrigation Acceleration Platforms (IAPs). They are for hosts and facilitators of IAPs as well as organizations interested in playing an active role in an IAP. Many others involved in promoting inclusive innovation processes and stakeholder collaboration in agricultural development may find them of interest too. These guidelines are based on several streams of experiences in Kenya as well as elsewhere. First of all, it builds on the work and lessons learnt in facilitating agricultural innovation. It also draws from experiences in participatory approaches to support farmer-led irrigation development. Finally, insights and methods and tools recommended in literature on multi stakeholder collaboration in general have been integrated in these guidelines.
For more information, to understand better some of the main concepts and ideas on which IAPs are based and reasons for setting them up. Read more from the full document: IAP Guidelines