AMGRAF: increasing the capability of households and communities to improve their own lives

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Dr Elisabeth Oughton (Newcastle University) presented aspects of the work of the UPGro project: AMGRAF – Adaptive Management of Groundwater in Africa, with a focus on the work in Ethiopia.

It is working from the bottom up to develop and promote the uptake of community management of shallow groundwater management. The researchers looked carefully at the different roles of men and women because women have can potentially benefit a lot from better water technologies and management.

However, this approach needs to be owned by the water users, be scalable and relate the government structure for water. Governance approach was focused on semi structured interviews with key participants, to build mutual understanding of roles and responsibilities.

In Ethiopia, there are currently strong formal institutions for surface irrigation from federal to local (kebele) level but not for shallow groundwater.

Understanding power was central to understanding poverty. Capabilities are those things on which we draw to live a full life, so how can capabilities be enhanced from the individual and household level, up through the levels of governance to national government.

Overall, Elizabeth made it very clear that managing groundwater needs to be focused on the needs of the most vulnerable, and the importance of good governance informed by sound science.