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UF Faculty Engage in the Water and Livelihoods Initiative in the Middle East and North Africa ,

Dr. Sandra Russo, UF Water Institute Faculty Advisory Committee member, and Dr. Greg Kiker, UF Water Affiliate Faculty member, recently returned from a workshop in Jordan with the Middle East and North Africa Water and Livelihoods Initiative.

Managed by the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), the Water and Livelihoods Initiative (WLI) strives to improve livelihoods through sustainable water and land management.

"We take research other organizations are doing and link it with biophysical and social science research to improve livelihoods in the region," said Russo.

Recently, enough information was gathered for Kiker to introduce the region to various kinds of models and how biophysical data and social data work together to show projections. Cost-benefit analysis has also been created to show the impacts of various water technologies that have been developed.

"We want to get the data, projection and modeling to policy makers to show them the impact they could have," said Russo.

Russo has been a part of this project for nine years and now serves on the executive board of the project as the representative of the American universities.

Her experience with WLI has allowed her to involve various other UF faculty members including Cathy Culverson, UF/IFAS Global, Kirby Barrick, Agricultural Education and Communication, Adegbola Adesogan, Animal Science, Samira Daroub, Soil and Water Sciences, Greg Kiker, Agricultural and Biological Engineering, and various students.

However, for various reasons interest from UF faculty over the years has fluctuated.

"It is hard for people to see the connection between the Middle East and Florida; but, one of their main areas of production is irrigated agriculture, and we certainly do a lot of irrigated agriculture here," said Russo. "Our technologies are severely needed in this area."

If you would like to learn how you can get involved with the WLI or learn more about the project, please visit: http://wli.icarda.org/.