One of the keys to environmental management is to understand the impact and interaction of people with natural resources as a means to improve human welfare and the consequent environmental sustainability for future generations. In terms of water management one of the on-going challenges is to assess what impact interventions in agriculture, and in particularly different irrigation strategies, will have on livelihoods and water resources in the landscape. Whilst global and national policy provide the overall vision of desired outcomes for environmental management, agricultural development and water use strategies they are often presented with local challenges to embed these policies in the reality on the ground, with different stakeholder groups. The concept that government agencies, advocacy organizations, and private citizens should work together to identify mutually acceptable solutions to environmental and water resource issues is increasing in prominence. Participatory spatial engagement techniques linked to geographic information systems (commonly termed participatory GIS (PGIS)) offers one solution to facilitate such stakeholder dialogues in an efficient and consultative manner. In the context of agricultural water management multi-scale PGIS techniques have recently been piloted as part of the 'Agricultural Water Management Solutions' project to investigate the current use and dependencies of water by small-holder farmers a watershed in Tanzania. The piloted approach then developed PGIS scenarios describing the effects on livelihoods and water resources in the watershed when introducing different management technologies. These relatively rapid PGIS multi-scale methods show promise for assessing current and possible future agriculture water management technologies in terms of their bio-physical and socio-economic impacts at the watershed scale. The paper discusses the development of the methodology in the context of improved water management decision making.
- Participatory GIS
- Water resource management