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How could ICTs be used to help communities better adapt to climate change? (4 answers)

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Are there any examples from the work that people are doing that illustrate this? What are the drawbacks besides the obvious bandwidth issues? Any successes that could be replicated in other communities?

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Jun 13, 2012
The Morocco Economic Competitiveness program has developed a tool for providing irrigation advice to farmers that enables them to irrigate their crops with the precise amounts of water needed on a specific day. We estimate that this service will help farmers (and the irrigation districts) reduce water consumption by as much as 30%. This is espeically important in Morocco where climate change is projected to reduce overall water availability by 10 to 20% over the coming decades.

Here is a more detailed description of how the system was designed and how it operates during the current pilot phase.

Irrigation Advisory Service via sms text messages

The main objective of the agriculture and water component of the USAID funded MEC (Morocco Economic Competitiveness) program is to enhance the productivity of irrigation water in two target regions of the country, Doukkala and Oriental. 
ORMVAM (Office Regional de Mise en Valeur Agricole de la Moulouya) is the organization responsible for managing the irrigation network using water from the Moulouya River and the Mohammed V dam reservoir, over an irrigation area of about 60,000 hectares in the Oriental region. 
Until recent years ORMVAM delivered water to farmers using tours-d’eau (water days) scheduled every three weeks or so depending on the season.
The standard water allocation was six hours per hectare, (equivalent to 648 cubic meters). Farmers use all the water they get to flood their crop fields on every water day.
As part of the Plan Maroc Vert, the Government of Morocco has invested considerable resources in the ORMVAM zone of operations to set of over one thousand water storage basins to provide regular source of water for drip irrigation for an area of about 12,000 hectares.
The basins allow farmers to store water delivered on water days and irrigate their fields with the volume and at the time most appropriate for the crops. 
Generous Government subsidies cover 80 percent of the cost of setting up a drip irrigation system, and for farms smaller than 5 hectares the subsidy can reach 100 percent.
The gains in water efficiency with drip irrigation over gravity flood irrigation are well known and recognized by farmers and water authorities. Nevertheless, farmers need to know how much water to irrigate with the new drip irrigation systems. 
Based on average monthly rain and temperature patterns in a region, the companies who set up the drip irrigation system give general recommendations for the main crops, such as citrus orchards in the Moulouya irrigated perimeters. A common advice, for example, is: 45 minutes in March and April; 60 minutes in May and June; and 90 minutes in July, August, September, and October. No irrigation during the rainy winter season, November through February.
Crop water requirements, however, change from one day to the next depending on weather conditions. Some of those variations can be substantial over shorts periods of time. 
For the past several decades scientist in agronomy around the world have conducted experiments to determine how crop water requirements for each type of crop vary in relation to changes in weather conditions. 
Evapotranspiration (ET) coefficients have been calculated for standard perennial crops such as grasses or alfalfa based on observations on temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, solar radiation, and time of year. Crop specific coefficients (Kc’s) are then determined experimentally in relation to the standardized ET coefficients. 
For most annual crops, water requirements also vary in accordance with the vegetative stage of the crop (early stage, growing, production, and maturity). Irrigation water needs for a particular crop thus depends on weather conditions but also on when it was planted.
The computations required to estimate daily crop water irrigation needs are beyond the capabilities of most individual farmers in the Moulouya irrigated perimeters. However, the USAID MEC project in cooperation with the ORMVAM have set up a daily sms mobile phone text message service to advise farmers with drip irrigation on the water dosage to deliver to their crops.
To begin, USAID MEC funded three automated weather stations to complement the only manual weather station that ORMVAM operated. Weather conditions can differ greatly from one place to another depending on proximity to the mountains and the Mediterranean coastline. Recorded rainfall in particular can be very localized.
Early morning, every day, weather recordings for the previous day are downloaded from the automated weather stations. A program computes the Evapo-transpiration (ET) coefficient for each weather station using the Penman-Monteith series of equations, widely recognized by agronomist as the international standard. 
Crop- specific coefficients are then computed for each individual crop using the adjustment factors recommended by the FAO and CIMIS (California Irrigation Management Information System).
A database of farmers who have subscribed to the service contains information on their field crops, planting dates, type of irrigation, and pump output. An Excel spreadsheet program computes the irrigation water needs for each particular farm and crop and redacts a text sms message to be sent to the farmer’s mobile phone.
The message reads, in French, something like “Thursday April 5 Good morning in Berkane yesterday maximum temperature was 20 and minimum 9 degrees and rainfall was 0.0 mm for Citrus orchards apply 25 cubic meter per hectare or 50 minutes if pump output 30 m3/hour/hectare. ORMVAM/MEC”
MEC and ORMVAM developed and tried a pilot system for several months with a small group of farmers to identify multiple problems that developed along the way, especially in the collection of weather data and transmission of sms text messages. The program has been recently expanded to 300 farmer subscribers, in time for the start of the high irrigation season.
This pilot irrigation advisory service is still evolving as more feedback is received from subscribing farmers. An early problem encountered was the difficulty farmers had in converting recommended cubic meters per hectare into actionable decisions, as it involved multiplication by the number of hectares and division by the pump output, and additions to the initial water meter reading to arrive at the final stop reading.
To address this problem occasional training sessions and farm visits are needed to help farmers estimate the hourly pump outflow with and without water meters. The sms message often needs to be accompanied by person to person contact to explain implementation procedures.
Farmer receptivity to the sms irrigation advice has been positive and the service operator now has farmers requesting becoming subscribers. Nonetheless, farmers point out adjusting pumping time each day is more complicated than following the current same-time-every-day practice. 
The main benefit to farmers from following the sms irrigation advice is the reduction in pumping costs, which can amount to nearly one dirham (12 cents) per cubic meter. The cost of water paid to ORMVAM is only 0.35 dirham (4 cents). Possible improvement in crop yields from drip irrigation following sms recommendations is an additional incentive. 
Unfortunately, farmers cannot transfer cubic meters of water saved to other farmers who might be willing to pay for extra water. MEC has estimated the value-added from additional water at 6-7 dirhams/m3. Offering opportunity to transfer water saved would offer farmers a real incentive to save water. 
Over the next couple of months ORMVAM and MEC will monitor a group of farmers receiving sms irrigation advice to determine whether irrigation water consumption behavior differs from farmers not getting text messages.
A comparison of water consumption following the sms daily dosages in contrast to consumption using standard recommended practice over the period January 1st to Agust 3rd, 2011 in a typical citrus orchard revealed that up to 2,000 cubic meters per hectare can be saved over one year, i.e., standard practice consumes 30 percent more irrigation water that is actually required. But this is a hypothetical rather than empirical comparison.
The ORMVA for Doukkala, the second target region where MEC operates, has expressed interest in replicating the experience with ORMVAM in the Oriental region. USAID MEC has funded three automated weather stations to complement two others already in place in the ORMVA-D irrigated perimeters. USAID/MEC, in cooperation with ORMVA-D and a JICA irrigation project, are in the process of identifying groups of drip irrigation farmers who could take advantage of this new irrigation advisory service.
At this time, MEC is exploring ways to further cutomize the sms messages to take inot account other factors that influence crop water needs on a day-by-day or site-by-site basis. We are also planning an Arabic service and possibly a voice-based service also using sms. Scaling up from a pilot project that reaches several hundred farmers to one that cna reach thousands of farmers will require more sophisticated message handling and transmission capacity but MEC has engaged Souktel (an sms provider based in Palestine) to address these issues.

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    Mar 30, 2010
    Carmen.... ICT has a big development in African countries, specially becouse the GPRS technology development. GSM, SMS, GPRS mobile TV and mobile Internet is now a way to inform people about multiple topics like peace, weather alerts and to provide and collect information about risk and environmental impact. Also the possibility to contact people all around the world and to have answers and support is a big change. Sites like Infospring and Frameweb, that can be accessed in Africa, as well than in the Americas, Asia and the rest of the world are providing information and help.

    Nice idea
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      Apr 1, 2010
      [Submitted on behalf of Ben Smith from Stockholm Environment Institute, Oxford]
      Hi Carmen,

      I agree with Alvaro on the potential in Africa - and I also think that the trend will increasingly be towards internet access via mobile phones, so any ICT development for adaptation will have to cater to that. In terms of adaptation I see ICTs as having huge potential to facilitate sharing of good practice and learning if this is done in the right way. There should also be opportunity for better monitoring of projects and of funds; i.e people being able to report via SMS/online what the barriers are in their project or if there seem to be funds going missing. . .

      Participatory Learning and Action have a special issue on Web2.0 for Development(http://www.planotes.org/pla_backissues/59.html) which might be interesting to you. SMS uprising (http://www.fahamubooks.org/book/?GCOI=90638100577370) is a short book on how mobile phones in Africa are increasingly being used for social activism.
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    Aug 29, 2011
    I think the ICT is very helpfull infact the accessibility of the web like FRAME web are very useful to s especially here in Tanzania.Infact we re learning a lot about the environment at large. The ICT should be developed to such a way that even development projets concerning environment will be open so that people will discuss about them.


    I like the idea
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    Jun 13, 2012
    The Morocco Economic Competitiveness program has developed a tool for providing irrigation advice to farmers that enables them to irrigate their crops with the precise amounts of water needed on a specific day. We estimate that this service will help farmers (and the irrigation districts) reduce water consumption by as much as 30%. This is espeically important in Morocco where climate change is projected to reduce overall water availability by 10 to 20% over the coming decades.

    Here is a more detailed description of how the system was designed and how it operates during the current pilot phase.

    Irrigation Advisory Service via sms text messages

    The main objective of the agriculture and water component of the USAID funded MEC (Morocco Economic Competitiveness) program is to enhance the productivity of irrigation water in two target regions of the country, Doukkala and Oriental. 
    ORMVAM (Office Regional de Mise en Valeur Agricole de la Moulouya) is the organization responsible for managing the irrigation network using water from the Moulouya River and the Mohammed V dam reservoir, over an irrigation area of about 60,000 hectares in the Oriental region. 
    Until recent years ORMVAM delivered water to farmers using tours-d’eau (water days) scheduled every three weeks or so depending on the season.
    The standard water allocation was six hours per hectare, (equivalent to 648 cubic meters). Farmers use all the water they get to flood their crop fields on every water day.
    As part of the Plan Maroc Vert, the Government of Morocco has invested considerable resources in the ORMVAM zone of operations to set of over one thousand water storage basins to provide regular source of water for drip irrigation for an area of about 12,000 hectares.
    The basins allow farmers to store water delivered on water days and irrigate their fields with the volume and at the time most appropriate for the crops. 
    Generous Government subsidies cover 80 percent of the cost of setting up a drip irrigation system, and for farms smaller than 5 hectares the subsidy can reach 100 percent.
    The gains in water efficiency with drip irrigation over gravity flood irrigation are well known and recognized by farmers and water authorities. Nevertheless, farmers need to know how much water to irrigate with the new drip irrigation systems. 
    Based on average monthly rain and temperature patterns in a region, the companies who set up the drip irrigation system give general recommendations for the main crops, such as citrus orchards in the Moulouya irrigated perimeters. A common advice, for example, is: 45 minutes in March and April; 60 minutes in May and June; and 90 minutes in July, August, September, and October. No irrigation during the rainy winter season, November through February.
    Crop water requirements, however, change from one day to the next depending on weather conditions. Some of those variations can be substantial over shorts periods of time. 
    For the past several decades scientist in agronomy around the world have conducted experiments to determine how crop water requirements for each type of crop vary in relation to changes in weather conditions. 
    Evapotranspiration (ET) coefficients have been calculated for standard perennial crops such as grasses or alfalfa based on observations on temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, solar radiation, and time of year. Crop specific coefficients (Kc’s) are then determined experimentally in relation to the standardized ET coefficients. 
    For most annual crops, water requirements also vary in accordance with the vegetative stage of the crop (early stage, growing, production, and maturity). Irrigation water needs for a particular crop thus depends on weather conditions but also on when it was planted.
    The computations required to estimate daily crop water irrigation needs are beyond the capabilities of most individual farmers in the Moulouya irrigated perimeters. However, the USAID MEC project in cooperation with the ORMVAM have set up a daily sms mobile phone text message service to advise farmers with drip irrigation on the water dosage to deliver to their crops.
    To begin, USAID MEC funded three automated weather stations to complement the only manual weather station that ORMVAM operated. Weather conditions can differ greatly from one place to another depending on proximity to the mountains and the Mediterranean coastline. Recorded rainfall in particular can be very localized.
    Early morning, every day, weather recordings for the previous day are downloaded from the automated weather stations. A program computes the Evapo-transpiration (ET) coefficient for each weather station using the Penman-Monteith series of equations, widely recognized by agronomist as the international standard. 
    Crop- specific coefficients are then computed for each individual crop using the adjustment factors recommended by the FAO and CIMIS (California Irrigation Management Information System).
    A database of farmers who have subscribed to the service contains information on their field crops, planting dates, type of irrigation, and pump output. An Excel spreadsheet program computes the irrigation water needs for each particular farm and crop and redacts a text sms message to be sent to the farmer’s mobile phone.
    The message reads, in French, something like “Thursday April 5 Good morning in Berkane yesterday maximum temperature was 20 and minimum 9 degrees and rainfall was 0.0 mm for Citrus orchards apply 25 cubic meter per hectare or 50 minutes if pump output 30 m3/hour/hectare. ORMVAM/MEC”
    MEC and ORMVAM developed and tried a pilot system for several months with a small group of farmers to identify multiple problems that developed along the way, especially in the collection of weather data and transmission of sms text messages. The program has been recently expanded to 300 farmer subscribers, in time for the start of the high irrigation season.
    This pilot irrigation advisory service is still evolving as more feedback is received from subscribing farmers. An early problem encountered was the difficulty farmers had in converting recommended cubic meters per hectare into actionable decisions, as it involved multiplication by the number of hectares and division by the pump output, and additions to the initial water meter reading to arrive at the final stop reading.
    To address this problem occasional training sessions and farm visits are needed to help farmers estimate the hourly pump outflow with and without water meters. The sms message often needs to be accompanied by person to person contact to explain implementation procedures.
    Farmer receptivity to the sms irrigation advice has been positive and the service operator now has farmers requesting becoming subscribers. Nonetheless, farmers point out adjusting pumping time each day is more complicated than following the current same-time-every-day practice. 
    The main benefit to farmers from following the sms irrigation advice is the reduction in pumping costs, which can amount to nearly one dirham (12 cents) per cubic meter. The cost of water paid to ORMVAM is only 0.35 dirham (4 cents). Possible improvement in crop yields from drip irrigation following sms recommendations is an additional incentive. 
    Unfortunately, farmers cannot transfer cubic meters of water saved to other farmers who might be willing to pay for extra water. MEC has estimated the value-added from additional water at 6-7 dirhams/m3. Offering opportunity to transfer water saved would offer farmers a real incentive to save water. 
    Over the next couple of months ORMVAM and MEC will monitor a group of farmers receiving sms irrigation advice to determine whether irrigation water consumption behavior differs from farmers not getting text messages.
    A comparison of water consumption following the sms daily dosages in contrast to consumption using standard recommended practice over the period January 1st to Agust 3rd, 2011 in a typical citrus orchard revealed that up to 2,000 cubic meters per hectare can be saved over one year, i.e., standard practice consumes 30 percent more irrigation water that is actually required. But this is a hypothetical rather than empirical comparison.
    The ORMVA for Doukkala, the second target region where MEC operates, has expressed interest in replicating the experience with ORMVAM in the Oriental region. USAID MEC has funded three automated weather stations to complement two others already in place in the ORMVA-D irrigated perimeters. USAID/MEC, in cooperation with ORMVA-D and a JICA irrigation project, are in the process of identifying groups of drip irrigation farmers who could take advantage of this new irrigation advisory service.
    At this time, MEC is exploring ways to further cutomize the sms messages to take inot account other factors that influence crop water needs on a day-by-day or site-by-site basis. We are also planning an Arabic service and possibly a voice-based service also using sms. Scaling up from a pilot project that reaches several hundred farmers to one that cna reach thousands of farmers will require more sophisticated message handling and transmission capacity but MEC has engaged Souktel (an sms provider based in Palestine) to address these issues.

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Date CreatedTuesday, March 23, 2010 11:19 AM
Date ModifiedTuesday, March 23, 2010 11:19 AM
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