Who we are

The project is working with 12 partners across three countries. The University of Southern Queensland (USQ) will lead the project, while IWMI will coordinate research on the ground and provide support to in-country partners. CSIRO Australia and The National University of Singapore (NUS) will provide additional research support. In Nepal the implementation of interventions will be carried out by the NGO iDE, and the Department of Irrigation (DoI). In West Bengal it will be carried out by the Government University, Uttar Banga Krishi Vishwavidyalaya (UBKV), and the NGO, CDHI. In Bihar implementation will be carried out by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and the NGO, Sakhi Bihar. Implementing partners will also support the research team by collecting field data. The groundwater analysis in Nepal will be carried out by the Groundwater Resources Development Board (GWRDB). In Bangladesh, CSIRO will take the lead, but with research support from local partner Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI).

Words from each partner

University of South Queensland (USQ): USQ is a leading Australian Regional University with a strong focus on research into agriculture and the environment. The project will be led by Erik Schmidt of the Centre for Agricultural Engineering (CAE), a research centre at USQ that has established itself as the national leader in irrigation and water management research, development and training. The CAE currently manages externally funded contract research projects on behalf of more than 15 funding bodies.
The CAE develops solutions for a sustainable and profitable rural sector with research covering sustainable agriculture, energy use, water resources and food security – themes of critical importance to this project. They maintain their position in two key programs focusing on on-farm irrigation, soil and water research and their research in energy and precision farming systems..
USQ were the managing organisation for the CRC Irrigation Futures and the CAE led key programs and projects of this CRC. The CAE engages in applied irrigation research throughout Australia across many industries and cropping systems. CAE staff have participated in a range of international projects in China, Pakistan and Africa. Training programs in irrigation have been presented nationwide to service providers and farmers as well as to delegates from Africa and Asia. A key focus has recently been providing technical support in irrigation to industry groups and development of simple decision support tools for irrigation and energy management.

International Water Management Institute: IWMI’s headquarters are based in Colombo, Sri Lanka and the Centre maintains regional and sub-regional offices throughout Africa and Asia. With a multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary research staff of over 100 IWMI is well placed to make cross comparisons of results and learn from the knowledge and experience generated in different hydro-ecological and socio-cultural environments. IWMI has its regional and country offices in India and Nepal respectively. Over the last 10 years IWMI has implemented, with its partners, a range of research projects in Nepal and India and has built up a considerable knowledge base on water for food related issues. Fraser Sugden who will lead the IWMI team has extensive experience conducting research on land and tenure related issues in Nepal and Bihar, and his team is therefore well placed to supervise the research on this topic and piloting of associated interventions. IWMI maintains good contacts with the governments in both countries and is often approached for advice. IWMI has considerable knowledge and successful working experience in topics relevant to the project such as irrigation resource management, gender and irrigation, climate change adaptation, and groundwater hydrology. Furthermore the project will benefit from IWMI’s triple approach to the uptake of its research results. This includes building uptake strategies into projects, involving regional strategies to continue with uptake after the life of the projects, and aligning corporate information and communications to support uptake strategies.

CSIRO – Sustainable Agriculture Flagship: CSIRO’s National Research Flagships are large-scale multidisciplinary research partnerships that harness world-class expertise to tackle these national priorities. Initiated by CSIRO in 2003, the National Research Flagships program is one of the largest scientific research endeavours ever undertaken in Australia. The Sustainable Agriculture National Research Flagship is one of eleven established by CSIRO and its primary aim is to address the challenges associated with achieving sustainable agriculture through the deployment of multi-disciplinary research teams, and is thus well suited to leading the Bangladesh component of this project. The Flagship provides leadership that catalyses national and international partnerships and dialogue on Australia’s contribution to global food and climate security. The Sustainable Agriculture Flagship has a national and international portfolio of research projects, in partnerships with community, government and industry groups. It brings together researchers from within CSIRO with a wide range of scientific disciplines to tackle economic, environmental and social sustainability of agriculture and forestry.

International Development Enterprises (iDE): iDE is a development organization based from the US, UK, and Canada and has been working continuously in Nepal since 1992. iDE has played a key role in water resource development in Nepal including development of locally manufactured micro irrigation products including drip systems, micro sprinklers, the treadle pump, water storage and other technologies. iDE has facilitated the sales of over 200,000 treadle pumps and 50,000 drip systems in Nepal, and they have played a leading role in developing the multiple use water systems (MUS) approach in Nepal, developing over 250 MUS serving over 50,000 people. In the last few years iDE has played a leading role in testing and designing approaches to utilizing solar PV for water pumping. iDE’s has also played a leading role in Nepal in developing a commercial pocket approach for commercialization of smallholder agriculture that has been widely recognized and adopted by government and donors. iDE works across a variety of subsectors and program areas including the vegetable production, fisheries, essential oil, livestock, coffee and food security subsectors. iDE has extensive experience for smallholder fisheries in Nepal. iDE has been involved in promoting carp poly culture in partnership with Worldfish including the integration of small indigenous species that are consumed whole and are more nutritious. It is a low cost, high-output, highly efficient fisheries system which is highly profitable for smallholders.

Sakhi Bihar: Sakhi Bihar is a national non-profit organisation working in North Bihar, with extensive local knowledge of the study site, Madhubani and surrounding districts. They are well placed to collaborate in this project, with a long running experience working in the field of fisheries, vegetable cultivation, and self-help group creation, particularly amongst rural women from marginal and landless farming communities. They have worked on pond rehabilitation and micro-irrigation projects, and have conducted ground breaking work in promoting fishing collectives run by rural women who take collective leases for ponds. This innovative approach has empowered women and ensures an equitable distribution of income amongst pond users. They are thus well placed in this project to conduct experiments in collective leasing of land for agriculture, as well as establishing new fishing cooperatives, mobilising farmers and creating appropriate institutions for agricultural and fisheries training and the adoption of new technology.

Indian Council for Agricultural Research: The Indian Council for Agricultural Research (ICAR) is the apex national body responsible for conducting, guiding and managing research and knowledge transfer in agriculture in India. Their Research Complex for the Eastern Region in Patna is responsible for the eastern states of India, including West Bengal and Bihar, although for this project they will be focusing their activities on Bihar. They have long established experience in promoting innovations in ground and surface water management and the promotion of new technologies such as solar pumps and efficient and low cost water distribution systems. Their research center in Darbhanga, Bihar, also is a leading expert in promoting and researching the production of aquatic plants in pond ecosystems.

Department of Irrigation, Nepal: The Department of Irrigation (DoI) is the primary Nepalese government organization with a mandate to plan, develop, maintain, operate, manage and monitor irrigation systems in Nepal. They have extensive experience in designing and implementing both large and small scale irrigation interventions across Nepal, and ensuring social and technical sustainability. Their Non-Conventional Irrigation Technologies project has been involved in the piloting of irrigation innovations suitable to the needs of marginal and women farmers. They are thus well placed to contribute to the Nepal component of this research in effectively guiding the rehabilitation of ponds and other surface infrastructure.

Groundwater Resources Development Board, Nepal (GWRDB): The Groundwater Resources Development Board is the leading national body with a mandate to conduct groundwater research and exploration in Nepal, and is responsible for the overall management of groundwater initiatives, both large and small scale. They have extensive experience in groundwater mapping and monitoring, as well as in developing and promoting new models of groundwater which are suitable to marginal farmers, including cooperatively owned tube wells. They will be able to provide valuable technical support to this project in both the establishment of tube wells and the monitoring of their performance, and of groundwater levels.

Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya, India (UBKV): UBKV is a renowned Agricultural University of India established in 2000 with an aim to promote education, research and extension in the field of agriculture, horticultural and agricultural engineering with a special emphasis on the location specific technology generation, up-scaling and transfer of knowledge. The University is associated with different research and development projects on water productivity up-scaling, ground water arsenic problem eradication , sustainable livelihood promotion, protected horticulture, fish rearing and breeding, funded by different national and international funding agencies like ICAR, DST, DBT, CYMMIT etc. They have experience of piloting agricultural interventions and mobilizing farmer groups on the ground, including irrigation interventions, fisheries and collective leasing of land. UBKV’s extensive experience can play a pivotal role in case of maneuvering this project towards sustainable food security through optimum use of water resources. The young and energetic scientists and academicians with a clear focus on the research areas of hill slope hydrology, rainfall-runoff modeling, sustainable agriculture and livelihoods, womens’ empowerment, capacity building, participatory research methods, technology socialization paradigm, high value horticulture, protected horticulture, fishery enterprise development and management had proven their acumen and expertise which ultimately contributes to the overall performance of this project.

Centre for Development of Human Initiatives (CDHI): CDHI is a Non-governmental Organization (NGO) established and led by a professor of Social Psychology with his team of young colleagues back in 1999. Located in the extreme north east of West Bengal, India, CDHI’s vision is a collective initiative of the local marginalized community to challenge poverty and marginalization and set and execute a development agenda using local skills, technologies and natural resources. CDHI is managed by a team of local youths who have graduated into competent professionals to facilitate the process indicated above. CDHI works in the realms of natural resources management, local rural technology, education, gender, livelihoods and decentralized governance. It has catalyzed community managed schools, farmer water cooperatives, mistry (mechanics) cooperatives, community led bio-diversity conservation, conflict mitigation and management and a womens’ federation. They have experience in mobilising farmer groups for the collective lease of land, and are thus well placed to experiment with these models for the farmer groups. CDHI collaborates with state and central governments, international NGOs and Universities, bilateral agencies and local government structures. The organisation is endowed with appropriately skilled professionals – a social scientist and professor of social psychology, management experts, engineers, water technology experts, a gender specialist, design experts, bio-diversity experts and teachers. CDHI has a functional infrastructure and logistics support, with an effective finance and management team. It has its own campus, vehicles, gadgets and tools which can be used for field work and training.

Bangladesh Rice Research Institute (BRRI): BRRI was established in 1970 as an autonomous body and is dedicated to developing new rice technology. It is the leading organization for developing rice technology in the country. The major objectives of the institute are conducting research on all aspects of rice, establishing project areas to demonstrate appropriate agricultural technology and training extension officers and farmers in improved techniques of rice production. During the last four decades, rice production has increased more than 3 times. These outstanding achievements have been possible due to extension of rice production technologies developed by BRRI to the farmers. BRRI has been working in partnership with other organizations both in the country and abroad to face the challenge of increasing rice production with the shrinking total rice area and also with developing technologies for stress environments.

National University of Singapore: The Institute of Water Policy is an academic research center placed within the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. Our research program includes three themes: 1) Demand Management, 2) Impact Assessment, and 3) Improving Access to Water and Sanitation for the Poor. Much of our research involves empirical analysis in developing countries, and much of our work involves household and farm-level surveys. IWP’s researchers have a comparative advantage in preparing and conducting field-level research, with the goal of evaluating the impacts of public policies, donor interventions, and private investments.
IWP already has a programme of research in the Eastern Gangetic Basin and has worked with key project partner, IWMI on several research programmes in the past. This therefore offers a valuable opportunity for collaboration, particularly for socio-economic baseline survey and impact assessment activities. The complete IWP team of Drs. Chindarkar, Chen, and Li brings substantial skill and experience in conducting field-level studies of agricultural resource use, the economics of farm production, and the potential livelihood impacts of alternative policies and interventions. Thus, the team is very well placed to contribute to the IWMI-ACIAR study of agricultural production and livelihoods in selected rural areas of India and Nepal. There are also significant opportunities for capacity building through this partnership. The NUS team will work in close partnership with the NGO partners in each respective country, namely CDHI, iDE and Sakhi. This will facilitate the sharing of skills between organisations in the methods for baseline analysis and impact assessment. The NUS team, along with IWMI, will also train and support local social science students who will be employed as enumerators in the survey, building their capacity and experience in academic research.