As we come to the end of 2020, we reflect on an unprecedented year in many ways — with a new set of challenges, but also some unexpected opportunities. With the help of our board, staff, faculty fellows, students and partners, we saw measurable progress in our mission to improve water and food security, despite moving most of our work remote. Here are just a few highlights:
- DWFI recently secured a $1 million grant from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to expand and promote the sustainability and resilience of smallholder irrigation in sub- Saharan Africa. The three-year project will identify and promote opportunities for inclusive and sustainable provision of irrigation water services to smallholders.
- The University of Nebraska received a $5 million gift from Dr. Anne Hubbard and the Claire M. Hubbard Foundation to create a new program addressing some of Nebraska’s most pressing public health issues associated with water and climate. The Water, Climate and Health Program is based in the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health. The program brings together experts from DWFI and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources to conduct research and disseminate information on environmental issues related to these interconnected sectors.
- Work continues on ground truthing the Parallel 41 Flux Network to monitor and measure crop water needs. The network is a series of eddy covariance flux towers across the central United States, made possible with funding from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) through the Irrigation Innovation Consortium (IIC), of which DWFI is a founding member.
- In August, Governor Ricketts signed Nebraska’s 2021 state budget bill, which designates $500,000 annually to DWFI for water research in the state. This state funding will help advance the institute’s work in Nebraska – from drought and flood prediction and mitigation, to water quality improvement and innovative technology development that will maximize agricultural production while sustaining our valuable water resources.
- We pivoted our annual in-person global conference originally planned for October 2020 into a successful global webinar series this fall that drew more than 600 participants from more than 70 counties and 30 U.S. states.
We have our many partners — within the University, locally and around the globe — to thank for our continued success in a trying year and hope to reconnect with many of you in person in 2021 or beyond.