Public money continues to pour into irrigation infrastructure, as smallholder irrigation is increasingly seen as a necessary adaptation to climate change. Yet there is overwhelming evidence that these investments under-perform due to mediocre yields, poor maintenance, and haphazard governance.
Authorities increasingly delegate irrigation governance to local water user groups, but these structures rarely have the information needed to make decisions related to water allocation and resolve conflicts over water. There is no accountability system in place that can track the productive use of water, and no feedback from which to learn and improve.
Rural Integrated Engineering’s Virtual Irrigation Academy and Chameleon Soil Moisture System is designed to transform the small-scale irrigation sector through three functions: 1) a suite of soil water monitoring tools, 2) a learning system, and 3) a governance system.
The monitoring tools measure soil water, nitrate and salt content using colors as thresholds for action. While the learning system empowers farmers and enhances their experiential and site-specific knowledge gained through generations of farming practice. The digital platform also collects and displays the data so it can be integrated by users who have the ability to govern, implement and manage water use, ensuring fair and equitable distribution of resources. The deployment of transparent governance systems benefits women, who often carry the primary role of irrigation management and it allows them to negotiate on equal terms and receive equitable treatment.
Irrigation helps women farmers in Mozambique weather climate extremes (Alliance for Science)
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