5 Minute Inspiration: How making water cheaper produces more milk and food

by 08th Aug 2018
Milk being tested at a community milk collection hub in the West Bank Milk being tested at a community milk collection hub in the West Bank

In the West Bank and Gaza, CARE helped farmers raise milk production by 10% and reduced the cost of water by 80%. To achieve this it wasn’t enough to look at just a farmer’s skills or livestock techniques. We had to look at the whole market system and use rigorous research to guide the programmes. In the West Bank and Gaza, although the market system faces threats every day, it’s still the best bet for sustainable change. Here is what we achieved and how we did it.

 What did we accomplish?

  • Made water cheaper: The project worked with communities to build or rehabilitate water systems, and resulted in water prices that were 80% lower than before the project started.
  • Created more food: Milk production rose by 10%, and in some communities, olive production rose by as much as 50%, largely because of improved techniques and systems that made water more available.
  • Made it easier to raise livestock: The production of fodder for animals nearly doubled, and the cost of feeding an animal dropped by 20%.
  • Reduced food waste: The project trained farmers to use better milking equipment, and reduced the amount of milk wasted by 57%.
  • Improved access to services and information: The cost of extension services was cut in half, and yearly vet visits to farmers more than doubled. That leads to healthier cows, and more milk.

How did we get there?

  • Do our homework: The project conducted extensive research on the local market and community challenges, not just at the beginning of the project, but along the way, to make sure they were doing the right activities.
  • Get buy in from the community: The project got community groups, businesses, the Ministry of Agriculture, and others to help design the project and make choices along the way. The Ministry of Agriculture said this project was more aligned with government strategies than anything they had ever seen.
  • Strengthen networks: The project worked with 17 community based organisations and 3 farmers’ cooperatives to build stronger business skills and more collective bargaining power so farmers could take advantage of other market opportunities.
  • Absorb risks for the poorest people: The project designed all of its trainings around experimental, hands on Farmers’ Field School approaches. That means farmers can try out new techniques and approaches without having to take risks on their own animals to see what works for them.
  • Look at the whole market: The project focused on opportunities that would be accessible for women, had local market demand, and had local suppliers and experts who could support producers after they set up businesses.
  • Build infrastructure: In addition to water points, the project helped rebuild agricultural roads so people could access markets, fields, and veterinary services. That critical infrastructure gives people chances to connect and build social networks as well.

The Rawasi project worked from 2013 to 2016 to strengthen livestock holders’ livelihoods in the West Bank and Gaza, ultimately reaching 12,000 people. The project was funded by the Austrian Development Corporation. CARE partnered with the International Center for Agriculture Research in Dry Areas and the Palestinian Agriculture Relief Committee.

Want to learn more?

Take a look at the project evaluation.

Note: The photo used to illustrate this blog is not directly from the project described.

Emily Janoch

Emily Janoch is Senior Technical Advisor on Knowledge Management for the CARE USA Food and Nutrition Security team focusing on ways to better learn from and share practical experience on eradicating poverty through empowering women and girls. She focuses on learning from programming and using that learning to improve impact.

With four years of on-the-ground experience in West Africa, 10 years of development experience, and academic publications on community engagement and the human element in food security in Africa, Emily is especially interested in community-led development. She has experience in food security, nutrition, health, governance, and gender programming, and has a BA in International Studies from the University of Chicago, and a Masters' in Public Policy in International and Global Affairs from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Email: ejanoch@care.org