Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN)

Basin Development Challenges ready to go
28 April 2009

Acknowledgements: FANRPAN acknowledges CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food as the source of this article:

The CPWF has launched Phase 2 operations with a mix of rigorous planning and a renewed enthusiasm to make a real impact to the world. Over the past months, a clear map of actions was developed through multiple consultations with our partners. Now approved by the CPWF Board, we are ready to work further with stakeholders and partners at the basin-level.

Although our areas of action are more focused, plentiful opportunities remain for the CPWF's diverse research and development partners to unite for groundbreaking work. In fact, the Phase 2 agenda and processes were designed to maintain diversity among participants. Several donors are already on board, at a level that permits us to go ahead with finalizing research plans and contracting. We now seek commitment from our other Phase 1 donors and, as always, from new ones.


External reviews of the program and internal team reflections made clear the need to focus clearly. That is, to focus on fewer river basins and on clearly defined challenges in each basin to which the CPWF can respond successfully with its proven formula of obtaining innovative research through broad partnerships. A major element is to strengthen development impact, even beyond the successes of relevance for end users achieved in Phase 1. Basin Development Challenges were founded firstly by identifying what most 'needs doing' in the selected basins and, secondly, on where CPWF can be most effective considering the strengths of its Phase 1 results and the experiences of its research and development partners that it can mobilize. This process started some 18 months ago when basin coordinators, interacting with theme leaders and the management team, proposed what they saw as the greatest challenges in each of their basins to which CPWF could respond. Their views were based on several years of working together, and acknowledged the Program's original priorities devised by the theme advisory groups at the CPWF's inception.

As a vital step, a dozen key informants in each basin were consulted through in-person individual interviews; afterwards they also contributed their ideas from first principles. The coincidence of views was remarkable. The revised documents went through further review in November at the CPWF's IFWF2 in Addis Ababa.

Basin Development Challenges
Primary set

Andes: To improve rural livelihoods, increase water availability, and reduce water-related conflict through benefit-sharing in selected basins

Ganges: To improve rural livelihoods in the delta through integrated, diversified cropping and aquaculture, and through better use of flood- or salt-affected areas

Limpopo: To improve rural livelihoods and their resilience through better management of rainwater

Mekong: To reduce poverty and foster development through management of water for multiple uses in large and small reservoirs

Nile: To improve rural livelihoods and their resilience through a landscape approach to rainwater management

Volta: To improve rural livelihoods and their resilience through better management of rainwater, including management of small reservoirs

Secondary set

Andes: Strategies for Andean communities to adapt to global change.

Ganges: The integrated management of groundwater.

Mekong: The sustainable management of upland agricultural water.

Nile: Multiple use of agricultural wastewater in the Delta

Consultative workshops in the basins

Within each BDC, the six to 12 research questions that emerged from the consultations have been grouped by management into a coherent set of three to five mutually supportive projects. The intention is that different groups or consortia of partners, many already having their own networks, will handle each project, so as to benefit from diversity of ideas.

CPWF has designed workshops so that many institutions and people contribute to better understanding of the development challenges and of eth research that is needed, and develop the research program together, particularly through the technique of participatory impact pathway analysis that CPWF has been developing in phase 1. This major step is designed to ensure a continuing consultative process, so as to keep up-to-date in terms of the research designed and to ensure buy-in.

Workshops will take place in the Nile and Mekong basins in May 2009; work has already started in the Andes system (building on existing workshops). Research in these three basins will be underway late in 2009. Workshops in the Volta, Ganges and Limpopo will follow later in 2009, and research there will be contracted early in 2010.

Stakeholder consultations and BDC logistics

The next step is to seek key stakeholder advice on how best to confront the practicalities of working solutions to the respective Basin Development Challenges. In most basins this will be carried out by holding a stakeholder consultation workshop in which participants will develop a vision of BDC success. They will then identify the required changes in stakeholder behaviour and the research-and-development strategies most likely to help bring these changes about.

The outcome sought from these workshops requires the scientific and developmental expertise of stakeholders interested in both demand and supply perspectives. The CPWF will encourage rigorous participant discussions considering a full spectrum of options on how to package the services drawn from a variety of sources. Following the workshop the CPWF will select the most promising opportunities, and identify the appropriate contracting method for each.

The CPWF use ‘impact pathways’ to develop project descriptions and to identify research providers. Various contracting mechanisms will be used including open competition, restricted competition and commissioning.

Once the contracting process has been accomplished, the research teams will be invited to a BDC Inception Workshop. These workshops will focus on the development and agreement by all teams on an overall BDC impact pathway for the BDC. These pathways will clearly describe projects’ respective contributions, and coordinate and focus project workplans on achieving impact. While maximum budget figures will be shared as part of the initial contracting process, the break down into budget line items will commence as an element of the project workplans. These documents will become part of the contract documents, and it is expected that contracts will be signed shortly after the inception workshop to enable projects to commence work.

Each BDC will have a coordination project or unit, lead by a Basin Impact Leader, whose job it is to ensure coherent, focused research. This will be achieved in part by periodic participatory adjustment to the impact pathways and workplans based on data-driven reflection, where the data comes from M&E, including social research.

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