Dealing with drought

Poverty traps and agricultural transformations

Elin Enfors on ways to unlock poverty traps

Although the reasons for persistently low yields experienced among smallholder farmers in Tanzania are many, one fundamental reason is the frequent lack of water. Efforts to deal with the water scarcity include small-scale solutions such as in situ soil and water conservation, run-off water harvesting and smaller irrigation systems.
In a recently published article in Global Environmental Change, centre researcher Elin Enfors has looked at how these 'small-scale water system innovations' (SWSIs) can improve agricultural productivity and lift farmers out of what has turned out to be a resilient poverty trap. Her conclusion is that they can, but not without conditions.

Prerequisites for successful investments in small-scale water system innovations are solutions that integrate water management with approaches to tackle other farmer level constrains, such as nutrient and pest management, but also with interventions that address surrounding socio-economic  constrains.
"SWSIs have great potential for levering transformative change in SSA, but the potential will not be realized until investments in these technologies are broad-based enough to also deal with other constraints," she concludes.