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A Virtual Irrigation Academy to improve Water Productivity in Malawi, Tanzania and South Africa

This project will create a monitoring and social learning system to improve agricultural irrigation water productivity in Malawi, South Africa, and Tanzania.
The Virtual Irrigation Academy (VIA) combines new irrigation monitoring tools with an on-line communication and learning system. The VIA :
? Captures physical data from irrigation schemes in real time, so that project and country leaders can understand the situation and mentor extension workers and farmers.
? Captures dialogue between farmers, extension workers and scientists to analyse how learning occurs.
? Includes training resources: videos on equipment installation and maintenance, data interpretation; it shares success stories with other farmers in the project countries.
The monitoring tools have been designed to fit farmers' mental model and to give an output that is linked to action. Colours illustrate information on soil water suction, nitrate concentration and salinity levels. These colours represent action thresholds, and not numbers with complicated units.
Each country will form 'learning coalitions' comprising farmers, extension workers, a district irrigation officer, and research and project staff. Each coalition will be located around an irrigation scheme, and will build their own case studies based on experiential learning. The learning coalition will expand to neighbouring irrigation communities, using the VIA as the major resource.
A sister project, LWR/2016/137: Transforming irrigation into profitable and self-sustaining systems in southern Africa, combines the tools and VIA with agricultural innovation platforms to overcome market and water supply problems in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.