SWFF Innovator, Water Governance Institute (WGI), was recently featured in the International Water Resources Association’s (IWRA’s) “Smart Water Management (SWM) Case Study Report,” published in collaboration with K-water.
WGI is a Uganda-based innovator which works to promote commercial aquaponics farming among smallholder households and farms for water-use efficiency, food security and livelihood improvements. Its innovative Aquaponics systems maximize efficiency by allowing for integrated fish and crop farming, closing the water recycling/ reuse loop between farming enterprise, and providing much needed nutritional supplements and alternative incomes to Ugandan citizens and farmers living in rural, urban or peri-urban household settings.
In spite of these challenges, WGI has a proven track record of continual innovation and progress, promising hope for future evolution.
The SWM report highlights the many successes of WGI’s Aquaponics innovation. To date, 100 local small-scale farmers have adopted Aquaponics, generating 11.2 tons of produce (8.5 tons fish and 2.7 tons of a variety of horticultural crops) from 1.3 hectares of land over a 2½ year period, demonstrating increased productivity per unit area. Part of the produce was consumed domestically and the surplus sold, generating a total monetary value of US$16,600 fish and US$3,450 crops. Aquaponics also recycled 7,300,000 liters of water, saving it for other food value-chain processes.
The IWRA SWM Report showcases 10 SWM case studies from around the world, and 9 upcoming SWM projects from both developed and developing countries, to demonstrate the potential for SWM in both developed and developing countries. It provides an in depth look at how these SWM projects were implemented, the enabling factors and potential barriers faced, and how SWM can assist with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
Based on cross case analysis, the report looks at the potential for SWM replication and scalability, and provides policy recommendations to assist decision-makers with supporting future SWM implementation.
WGI is interested in improving its project through adding additional SWM applications, particularly real-time data. This improvement would reduce the amount of work farmers must do to ensure good water quality and its supply/ circulation in the systems, since sensors can control water supply and flows. Real-time data would also improve crop yields and water-use efficiency, food security and livelihood improvements.
The introduction of real-time data technology will require the introduction of solar energy, as existing energy options are not fully reliable. While this is an exciting and promising prospect, it does come with potential barriers. Such barriers include: limited availability and resources to cover the cost of required technology for automation, difficulty in establishing linkages with suitable technology sources, lack of financial support for demonstration and training of farmers in smart agriculture and water-use efficiency and difficulty in securing a dependable and affordable source of good quality fish feeds and fish fingerlings.
In spite of these challenges, WGI has a proven track record of continual innovation and progress, promising hope for future evolution. IWRA is hopeful that its strategies and policy recommendations (included within the report) will lead the way in supporting the continued successful implementation of SWM in the future by innovators like WGI, in both developed and developing regions.
Portions of this article appeared in the full “Smart Water Management Case Study Report” here.
USAID, Sweden through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Governments of The Netherlands and South Africa invested $35 million in Securing Water for Food (SWFF) to promote science and technology solutions that enable the production of more food with less water and/or make more water available for food production, processing, and distribution.