Monday 5
Dialogue on Climate-resilient Farming Practices, Agroecology and Food Sovereignty
Jean-MArc Touzard, Rachel Bezner Kerr, Hanson Nyantakyi-Frimpong, Laifolo Dakishoni, Sieglinde Snapp
› 11:05 - 18:00 (6h55)
› Murviel-lès-Montpellier
Whose resilience matters? Lessons learned from irrigation development projects in Malawi
Canford Chiroro  1, *@  , Elizabeth Harrison@
1 : University of Sussex  (US)  -  Website
Department of Anthropology, School of Global Studies, University of Sussex, Falmer Brighton, BN1 9SJ, UK -  Royaume-Uni
* : Corresponding author



Promoting small-scale irrigation is increasingly perceived as key to enhancing resilience of agriculture to changing climate variability and climate change. The approaches to agricultural development have been largely technology-driven, with less attention being paid to the social and institutional dimensions that govern water access and use, and the role of politics in shaping livelihood outcomes in the context of experienced changes.



This research focuses on understanding the impacts of, and institutional responses to, water scarcity due to climate change in small-scale irrigation. This area has received relatively limited scholarly attention, particularly in the social sciences. This paper presents on-going research that aims to enhance understanding of the role of power and politics in shaping responses to the effects of climate change among small-scale irrigators. Further, we examine how knowledge about innovations for adaptation to water scarcity is produced, valued, transferred and used. The research is rooted in a perspective that interrogates the concepts of resilience and vulnerability in as far as they help us to understand social responses to adversity and uncertainty, as well as shape measures to promote more responsive agricultural systems that have capability of learning and transformation. In this regard, we problematize and distinguish between ‘household' and ‘community' and ‘systems' resilience to understand the politics and tensions that shape who and what benefits or loses in the context of internal and external interventions. This paper will share comparative reflections from on-going fieldwork in the Shire Valley in Malawi The fieldwork involves an ethnographic study of traditional and induced small-scale irrigation systems.


Findings from the field study in the Shire Valley, for example, show that on one hand the promotion of irrigation with the introduction of the treadle pump has largely ignored the livestock sector. Thus, while crop yields and incomes have increased, livestock productivity has decreased substantially especially as a result of decreasing pastures as land is put under irrigation. New farming practices such as conservation farming, which require that farmers use maize residues as mulch and for enhancing soil fertility, imply that fodder is increasingly scarce for livestock. On the other hand, to protect one of the irrigation schemes from flooding, a protective bund has been constructed parallel to one of the major and problematic rivers. However, constructing the bund on only one side of the river is going to increase the impact of floods on the communities living on the unprotected side of the river. This brings to the fore the question, whose resilience matters in agricultural development interventions. We discuss the implications of our case study to resilience theory and outline a framework for integrating resilience thinking in similar projects.


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