The Smallholder Systems Innovations (SSI) research focuses on the semi-arid areas of sub-Saharan Africa, where 95% of all agricultural land is used for rain-fed agriculture. The finished SSI-I project (2003-2009) focused on the on-farm improvements. Following from that, SSI-II investigates the circumstances under which they can create synergies with other environmental goals, and how these can be institutionalized.
Due to an increasing population, the area of land under cultivation is expanding rapidly, which has a significant impact on the environment and livelihoods: forests are cleared, erosion is increasing, and people are forced to move to less favourable places. As a result, soil fertility decreases and crop yields decline (Enfors and Gordon, 2007).
SSI-II covers the multidisciplinary fields of farming systems research, agronomy, ecology, hydrology, institutional analysis and knowledge science. It will focus on the conditions for upscaling innovations as well as their subsequent socio-economic and biophysical impact, and how this knowledge can inform policies and be used to improve current water and agricultural institutions.
The main objective is to increase the understanding and developing solutions for the challenges river basin organizations are facing in allocating the often limited water resources in semi-arid agro-ecosystems.
UNESCO-IHE is coordinating the activities of the SSI-II project in both South Africa and Tanzania. Three PhD students registered at UNESCO-IHE are conducting their research in these areas.
The research in the Pangani basin is done in close collaboration with the Pangani Basin Water Office (PBWO); as part of Komakech's research, he organized several catchment committee meetings in areas where PBWO was not very active. As a result of the meetings, the PBWO has started setting up catchment fora in these areas. The SSI-2 programme has benefited greatly from this cooperation, having access to investigate these cases, and PBWO has benefited from the SSI-2 research, spearheading the catchment forum process in the Kikuletwa catchment. Two papers have been drafted regarding this process.
The research by Kemerink has generated a lot of interest and a documentary of one of her cases is under development (funded from other sources).
Kiptala has made good contacts with TANESCO (Tanzanian Energy Company), which is in charge of operating the hydropower dams in the Pangani basin. TANESCO is very interested in the research and potential for improving the operation of the hydropower dams. Close collaboration is expected. Kiptala is co-supervised by Dr Kimaro from UDSM.
At the annual WaterNet symposium, several presentations were made from the SSI-2 project by all three researchers.
Komakech was invited to South Africa for a meeting to present his case at the CTA annual seminar - Closing the knowledge gap: Integrated Water Management for Sustainable Agriculture - which was held in Johannesburg, South Africa on 22-26 November 2010.