Small-scale farmers can use a variety of techniques to conserve soil moisture and fertility. Three techniques highlighted in this project include: 1) Mulching is used by small-scale farmers that depend on rain-fed agriculture to maintain or increase soil moisture content as well as for increasing soil fertility. 2) The Zai technique is a traditional technique of West Africa consisting of digging holes around the crops to help retain water and nutrients. 3) Mixed species cropping helps to reduce wind damage. It consists of planting taller trees in between legumes and other crops to shelter them from wind. 4) Mucuna crop covering with corn is an adaptation option to increase corn yields by improving soil and reducing the invasion of weeds. Mucuna seeds would have to be distributed to farmers.
Zero-till farming, also known as no-till or conservation tillage farming, is a way of growing crops from year to year without disturbing the soil through tillage. Tillage collapses the pores and tunnels that were constructed by soil animals, and changes the water holding, gas, and nutrient exchange capacities of the soil. Reduced tillage, and especially no-tillage, decreases soil disturbance, increases organic matter content, improves soil structure, buffers soil temperatures, and allows soil to catch and hold more melt and rain water. No-tillage soils are more biologically active and biologically diverse. They have higher nutrient loading capacities, release nutrients gradually and continuously, and have better soil structure than reduced or cultivated soils. These practices help farmers cope with alternating flood and drought conditions. Other farming practices that were also considered by researchers included: terrace farming and agro-forestry.
This framework was formulated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperation in India to facilitate a form of micro-watershed development. A major objective is to drought-proof the land by building water-harvesting structures that would provide drinking as well as irrigation water. The activities undertaken in this programme include soil and moisture conservation measures like construction of check dams, water harvesting structures, desilting of village ponds, treatment of drainage lines/ gullies, land leveling, bunding of farms, treatment of problem soils, agro-forestry, agri- horticulture,silvi-pasture, organic farming, use of bio-fertilizers, value addition and marketing of produce through farmers groups, training & capacity building of staff and beneficiaries etc. Impact evaluation studies both on the ground and through remote sensing techniques have shown that watershed based interventions have led to increase in groundwater recharge,increase in number of wells and water bodies, enhancement of cropping intensity, changes in cropping pattern, and higher yields of crops and reduction in soil losses.
A Water Sharing Agreement developed mechanisms to monitor and equitably distribute water when it became available. Water supply forecasts and water rationing strategies for irrigation and non-irrigation users were formulated. The irrigation districts proposed a water-sharing arrangement to allow all licence holders to receive an equitable portion of whatever water would become available; stakeholders were able to reach consensus regarding how to equitably share the available water during a drought year. The Irrigation Branch of the Alberta government (within Alberta Agriculture and Food), along with the irrigation district, calculated for each farmer how many days of irrigation they were entitled to, taking into account factors such as the total area irrigated and the method of irrigation used.
Community participation is the key to watershed development programs, particularly when an area is at risk of drought and depleting water resources. For instance, a committee called a Watershed Community can be established. Those who participate in the watershed development project would engage in ways such as approving Strategic Plans and Annual Action Plans, as well as carrying out reviews of progress during implementation phase. The Watershed Committee (WC) acts as the executive body of a larger Watershed Association (comprised of self-help and user groups) and carry out the day-today activities of watershed development projects, subject to overall supervision and control of the Watershed Association. The participation of local stakeholders not only ensures the long-term sustainability of watershed development through ownership by local communities, but also empowers the communities to initiate activities on their own and take optimal advantage of watershed benefits.
Insuring crops provides a safety net during crop failures. All villages surveyed in the studied region of India reported having insurance with coverage of 20-25% of households in each case. Among farmers not taking insurance, 3% cited non-availability of insurance, 25% reported that they are not aware of the details of schemes, and 16% felt that the schemes are too expensive.
Diversifying sources of income or types of livelihoods may be necessary during stressful periods where normal agricultural livelihoods do not provide an adequate source of income for households as a result of drought. In normal years, incomes are drawn from cultivation, agricultural labour, dairy, and petty business. Examples of commonly used additional sources of income include: selling seeds, raising pigs, selling dairy products, bee keeping, making stabilized mud blocks, and fruit preservation and processing. Efforts to reduce household expenses during stressful times also include creating kitchen gardens to reduce dependence on the market. Community self-help groups are another way to promote and facilitate training on alternative livelihood strategies.
Using the watershed as the basis for land use decisions supports better water management and more sustainable development of land and water resources. This has the potential to create significant local benefits and enhance the capacity of communities to deal effectively with conditions of drought. Communities are advised to introduce their own water regulations and link them to crop plans; adopt a judicious cropping pattern; and make annual decisions on cropping intensity at the village level to ensure efficient management of water and its equitable distribution for crop growth. The physical infrastructure constructed under the project implementation for soil and water conservation includes four farm ponds and eight drainage lines. These structures contributed to reduce the run off and water retention in the area.
Distress sales involve the sale of jewelry, cattle and land. It is largely observed in small/marginal landholders that resort to sale of assets during stressful times as a result of reduced agricultural yields. Large farmers have safety nets (savings, credit etc), and are able to turn to sale of dairy products or other skilled activities, without having to sell assets.
The project seeks to restore Warouaye Lake, a an agricultural area and is now a residential area. The area is flat and often received short, heavy bursts of rain. The plan for restoration includes shoreline restoration, which will help to reduce the damages caused by flooding, while improving recreational and commercial activities. The restoration was done with cooperation of the surrounding community and included the development of a plan and monitoring processes. Ecological restoration can be a forward-looking process to increase the ecological resilience of an area that can support human settlements and reduce the vulnerability of those settlements to adverse environmental hazards such as flooding. This is particularly important in the context of this project which aimed to reduce flood risk under climate change.