From 23 to 25 November 2021, the NWO program Urbanising Delta of the World (UDW) held a UDW final virtual conference with the theme “Breaking Barriers” (Fig. 1). The idea of the theme is to cut across barriers between academic disciplines and to bridge barriers between cultural contexts, and countries with whom there were previously fewer research ties. The conference highlighted the findings of the UDW projects and presented inspiring contributions from delta stakeholders and policymakers as well as illustrations of conducting delta research (click for conference teaser).
Figure 1. Breaking barriers, the UDW final conference (source: UDW website).
The WATERAPPS and WATERAPPscale also participated in the UDW final conference by presenting the project results. Dr. Uthpal Kumar shared his Ph.D. findings on Tuesday, 23 November 2021 with a presentation entitle Co-production of climate services – how transdisciplinary research approach supports farmers' decision-making in the Bengal Delta. He concluded that climate information service (CIS) that was built through actors’ collaboration, capacity building of farmers, and extension officers at farmer field schools leads to better understanding, accessibility, and uptake of CIS in agriculture decision-making. Through iterative interactions and capacity-building activities with 7-day, 14-day, and seasonal forecasts information, farmers become village weather experts involved in the Waterapps Weather Schools in Khulna, Bangladesh. Dr. Kumar said that ‘Farmers Weather School’ is a social innovation of the Waterapps project which is now upscaling in five districts around Bangladesh. He also proudly said that one of the extension officers won “Bangabandhu National Agriculture Award 1424” from the Bangladesh government for his devoted work with farming communities in Batiaghata, Khulna. Based on the presentation, a cartoon was drawn by Ms. Mary Annpepers from the US (Fig. 2).
Figure 2. The cartoon drawn by Ms. Mary-Ann Pepers based on the presentation of Dr. Uthpal Kumar during UDW’s Final Conference, Breaking Barriers: Urbanising Deltas of the World - Thematic Session 1 - Contextualised Knowledge.
On the second day, Wednesday 24 November 2021, Dr. Spyros Paparrizos presented the WATERAPPS project on co-designing weather and climate information services for smallholder farmers in the global south e.g., in Ghana and Bangladesh, and the lessons that we learned following the completion of the WATERAPS project. The outcomes of the project indicate that the smallholder farmers value tailored climate and weather information services as a contribution to their livelihood and how it enhances water and food security. The FarmerSupport app, which combines indigenous farmers’ forecasts with scientific weather forecasts and is built with the design criteria for co-designing participatory climate information services, has increased the resilience and adaptive capacity of smallholder farmers and unlocked their agriculture potential.
Lastly, the UDW also interviewed the WATERAPPS Principal Investigator (PI), Dr. Erik van Slobbe from Wageningen University and Research, and Prof. Dilip Kumar Datta from Khulna University. Erik said that farming is always about dealing with uncertainties along with other issues like land rights. The project addresses this challenge by improving water information services for and with farmers in Ghana and Bangladesh. Here, we use mobile phone technology combined with weather forecasting models and local weather knowledge in an attempt to develop tailored water information to improve water and food security. Prof. Dilip also stated that in the WATERAPPS research, farmers initiated “weather clubs“, which are informal arrangements of farmers and agricultural officers to share information and learn to better adapt in response to weather and climate forecasts. This will be an important adaptation strategy coping with climate variability and change, said Dilip. The full results, messages, and innovative approaches from the Breaking Barriers can be seen in the UDW Magazine.