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Participatory geographic information systems for agricultural water management scenario development: A Tanzanian case study

The paper discusses the development of a participatory GIS (PGIS) methodology to improve water management decision-making by facilitating stakeholder dialogues in an efficient and consultative manner.

Jennie Barron, Steve Cinderby, Victor Kongo, Annemarieke de Bruin / Published on 17 December 2010

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Cinderby, S., A. De Bruin, B. Mbilinyi, V. Kongo and J. Barron (2011). Participatory geographic information systems for agricultural water management scenario development: A Tanzanian case study. Physics and Chemistry of the Earth, Parts A/B/C, 36:14-15, 1093-1102 (11th WaterNet/WARFSA/GWP-SA Symposium: IWRM for National and Regional Integration through Science, Policy and Practice, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, 27-28 October 2010).

One of the keys to environmental management is to understand the impact and interaction of people with natural resources as a means to improve human welfare and the consequent environmental sustainability for future generations. In terms of water management one of the on-going challenges is to assess what impact interventions in agriculture, and in particularly different irrigation strategies, will have on livelihoods and water resources in the landscape.

Whilst global and national policy provide the overall vision of desired outcomes for environmental management, agricultural development and water use strategies, they often face local challenges with different stakeholder groups. The concept that government agencies, advocacy organizations, and private citizens should work together to identify mutually acceptable solutions to environmental and water resource issues is increasing in prominence, and PGIS offers one way to do sor.

In the context of agricultural water management multi-scale PGIS techniques have recently been piloted as part of the ‘Agricultural Water Management Solutions’ project to investigate the current use and dependencies of water by small-holder farmers a watershed in Tanzania. The piloted approach then developed PGIS scenarios describing the effects on livelihoods and water resources in the watershed when introducing different management technologies.

These relatively rapid PGIS multi-scale methods show promise for assessing current and possible future agriculture water management technologies in terms of their bio-physical and socio-economic impacts at the watershed scale.

This paper was presented at the11th WaterNet/WARFSA/GWP-SA Symposium in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, 27-28 October 2010; papers from that event were subsequently published in a special journal issue.

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