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Research project BMZChinyanja

(previously GTZChinyanja)

For almost two decades the research and aid organization WorldFish endeavors to support smallholders in Malawi and Zambia to introduce the Integration of Aquaculture into Diversified Food production Systems (IADFS). However, implication of an increased application of this production system, especially, on the water balance of a wider catchment area are unknown. For this reason the international research project GTZChinynja was launched. The central approach of this project is to employ a multi-agent system (MAS) representing the interplay between various types of farming activities with the water balance of the farmland region.

The research team assumes adaption strategies to climate change impact such as increasingly irregular rainfall pattern. On the other hand a cumulative application of IADFS may have impact on the water balance of the respective sub catchments on the long run, and occasionally entailing local conflicts over water resources. Respective observation have been made in a number of sample sites during field visits. Data have been collected from various sources including satellite imagery, GPS survey, census data, questionnaires, interviews, workshops and field measurements. The multidisciplinary team operates on four sub topics: farming system, socio-economic research, GIS and agent-based modeling (ABM). The ABM will have a central function, however, GIS serves as a preprocessor and structuring data for modeling with agents. Spatially explicit agent-based simulation will be conducted in order to examine the impact of farmers' activities on the sub watersheds.

Along whit the development of the MAS a participatory process with farmers and involved organizations such as fish farming clubs was initiated. A role playing game (RPG) was developed and tested by stakeholders from NG and NGO during a workshop. Moreover, a series of 250 interviews will gain more detailed insights of farming practice, adaption strategies and assumptions for the transition from purely rain-fed farm types to irrigation and fish-farming types.

Based upon recently gained empirical data and the Artificial Chingale MAS simulation may be run to test scenarios both of climate change impact as well as altering farming practise schemes. One of the aspired outputs will be a spatially-explicit representation of diversified water use including downstream effects and possible sources of water conflicts, that may help organizations such as water managers, fishery and agraric organisations to plan a well-managed and balanced support for coping with the effects of climate impacts and the diversified development of farming systems.

USF is responsible for designing the MAS, and together with seeconsult perparing, conducting and analysing the participatory process with representatives of relevant organisations and farmers. Moreover, USF is responsible for capacity building in terms of teaching agent-based methodology to end users of the system and representatives of universities and colleges.