Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute


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The 2016 Annual Report is published by the Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Global Institute at the University of Nebraska.


From rural Nebraska to rural Tanzania, the Water for Food Global Institute is working to achieve greater food security with less pressure on the planet’s scarce water resources, fueling change through conversations, collaborations and on-the-ground impacts. Leveraging Leadership, Partnerships and Resources for Global Impact The Water for Food Global Institute is a vehicle for collaboration, operating through a network of constituent parts that leverages the leadership, resources and rich history of experience and expertise at the University of Nebraska. In addition to our core group of staff, governed by a board of directors and with guidance from internal and external advisory bodies, WFI draws on its Faculty Fellows, a group of 84 faculty members from across all four campuses and disciplines of the University of Nebraska; Global Fellows, a group of 18 affiliated faculty and researchers external to the University of Nebraska whose geographic locations strengthen the institute’s global influence; and our growing roster of postdoctoral researchers, students and interns. Within Nebraska, WFI carries out its programs with the strong support of the Nebraska Water Center and its Water Sciences Laboratory, which became part of WFI in 2012. Mandated by the U.S. Congress in 1964 as one of 54 national water centers, NWC is a vital resource in advancing WFI’s public health and ecosystems research. Rooted in Nebraska, one of the world’s best natural laboratories for irrigation, groundwater and freshwater ecosystems, but with a network of talented partners throughout the globe, WFI makes the most of its resources to help advance water and food security around the world. Turning Research into Results WFI has a presence now in some of the most water and food compromised regions of the world, thanks to cutting-edge satellite-based technology used by University of Nebraska researchers to create agricultural and water monitoring tools. In partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, we are working to close water and agricultural productivity gaps through the development of a global public database that will help farmers improve yields, and at the same time help monitor drought and drive an early warning system. We are pursuing similar goals in India with the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, one of the largest and most influential agricultural organizations in the world. (Read more on page 17.) We are advancing our understanding of Nebraska’s groundwater through participation in an important study addressing the agricultural sustainability of the High Plains Aquifer through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, we are improving groundwater management for agricultural production by developing the inaugural Nebraska Water Productivity Report and sharing the local lessons of the state’s Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) in the form of recorded interviews that can be accessed anywhere in the world. (Read more on page 24.) With the international aid organization World Vision International and Valmont Industries, we are working to enhance high productivity agriculture in a center pivot project in Tanzania that has the potential to transform the lives of smallholder farmers, while helping the country feed its people for generations. Our collaboration in India with Jain Irrigation Systems will help us develop salt and drought resistant crop varieties, advance the education of Jain scientists and expand the use of geospatial technology to improve irrigation water management. Farm fields are not separate from the ecosystems in which they exist or the people around them. As such, we are working in a number of ways to study and protect freshwater and agricultural ecosystems and public health - from chronicling the movement of water in the Platte River Basin to mapping watershed effects on chronic disease. In this area, we are working closely with the Nebraska Water Center, and the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center on projects within Nebraska and the Midwest to countries in Africa and the Middle East. Fueling Change Through Conversations Conversations are at the heart of the work we do. If the world’s water and food production specialists operated in isolation, we might never reach our mutual goal of global food security without detrimentally impacting the life-giving water resources we all depend on. Whether informal or instructional, WFI works to engage its wide range of stakeholders in meaningful discussions that lead to changes in knowledge and behavior. The 2016 Water for Food Global Conference served as a catalyst for international collaboration. Throughout the three-day conference, conversations among WFI leaders, partners and participants fostered ideas to advance water and food security in the coming years and decades. The theme of this year’s conference was quite fitting in this regard: “Catalytic Collaborations: Building Public-Private Partnerships for Water and Food Security.” (Read more on page 37.) In May, WFI hosted its second annual research forum featuring presentations by graduate and undergraduate students. The students shared the results of their water and food security-related research projects with NU faculty, staff, students and the broader community. Communications took place in person, in print and online. WFI staff and Faculty Fellows co-authored reports, articles and blogs. Our social media audience grew substantially this year, with many stakeholders commenting on WFI posts, photos and videos. Our conference room hosted visiting delegates from Argentina, China, India, the Czech Republic, Brazil and many other countries. And, our leadership team led more than 50 presentations, workshops and meetings with partners at conferences and research projects throughout the country and in key international locations. Through these events and communications, WFI reaches out to the world to find partners and support education to initiate real change.