Natural Resources Assessment and Management

ICBA works on the assessment of water, land, crops and cropping systems in marginal environments, as well as analyzing and making recommendations for land resource management and restoration of degraded land. In collaboration with different stakeholders, ICBA is designing applied research on land management issues in marginal environments. 

As the global population number increases, especially that in arid and semi-arid regions, the amount of water available per person declines and water scarcity becomes a greater-than-ever constraint to increased food production. In many regions, this situation is further exacerbated by the changing environments due to prolonged droughts and declining precipitation levels that have led to the decline in the quantity and quality of available fresh water resources. 

Many water and soil resources-scarce regions, including the Middle East and North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia, are struggling to increase their agricultural productivity to meet their populations' growing demand for food. These regions not only use more than 70 to 80% of their fresh water resources for irrigation, but have increasingly been expanding the use of ancient fossil water aquifers, marginal low-quality waters (mineral water, municipal water) as well as saline water resources. The majority of this usage has been on an ad-hoc, unplanned basis, which in many cases has led to increased salinization of arable lands. This negatively affected the local natural and agro-ecosystems, and intensified the vulnerability of the people who depend on these resources for their livelihoods. 

ICBA's work focuses on assessing and developing integrated production systems that enable communities living in marginal environments to produce more food, fuel, forage and fiber through practices that manage available resources in a sustainable way. 

ICBA works to empower smallholder farmers by increasing their productivity. Work is directed towards assisting in assessing and managing agriculture, water, land, and climate change. ICBA also assesses opportunities for adding value to market chains.

The underlining principle guiding our work is:  

  • Water security can be achieved by adopting production systems that consume less water. 
  • Food and nutrition security can be achieved by diversifying and intensifying production systems, innovative use of poor quality water, efficient irrigation, and an integrated soil management approach.
  • Smallholder farms have proven their critical role in food resilience. Hence, it is important to build the capacity of those smallholder farms.

The main focus areas for applied research and development under this thematic area are: