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Frequently asked questions about the CA

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1. Who is involved in the CA?

2. What is unique in the CA?

3. What are the outputs?

4. How can I get in touch with the CA secretariat?

1. Who is involved in the CA?

More than 90 international & national research institutes, as well as local, regional, national and international organizations active in water, agriculture, and environment are participating to the CA through specific research & development projects.

For further information:

See the full list of partners

See the research projects

2. What is unique in the CA?

The Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture is an assessment program along the lines of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and the newly forming International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD).

The CA complements other assessment initiatives such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) and the World Water Assessment Program. But it is also unique in two ways.

  • First, where the MA based its work on an extensive review and synthesis of literature, the CA focuses its efforts on gap-filling research to bridge the divide between the need to produce more food for growing populations and the imperative to do this in a sustainable manner.
  • Second, the CA focuses on the key issue of water and food that is not adequately addressed in the other assessments. The CA brings together a broad group of researchers and other stakeholders in rural development – to bring their experience and ideas to the table, to debate and review the CA’s scientific work and move towards consensus, where possible, on a series of key policy relevant recommendations. Furthermore, the CA has catalyzed thinking and public debate on critical issues around water at key international development meetings and events (see Annex 1).

While the CA is global in scope its focus is on developing countries where water for food issues are critical. In addition to the global synthesis reports, the Assessment process aims at producing special assessment reports for South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. These will tap into the main CA assessment process that is designed to create a learning environment, and to disseminate as the assessment is being created.

3. What are the outputs?

The CA has two distinct phases – the first being the development of gap-filling research projects and the second being the elaboration of a synthesis assessment report on fourteen distinct topics within water management for agriculture. Many of the projects are currently in their final stages, and the synthesis assessment book is scheduled to be completed in the first half of 2006.

Promotion of Collaboration and Partnerships: At present there are 30 active projects ongoing and 17 completed projects with partnerships from over 150 institutes around the world consisting of CG Centers, ARIs, NARES, NGOs, and water managers from a variety of disciplines and perspectives including interest in ecology, irrigation, rainfed agriculture, livestock, fisheries, and community involvement. Research covers the 10 central CA questions, plus cross-cutting issues of gender, poverty, environment and health. This growing partnership is now well placed to synthesize results into an assessment.

Active Steering Committee: The CA Steering Committee (SC) drawn from CG Centers, FAO, NGOs and Water Ministries is engaged in structuring the CA including the development of research questions, outputs and activities. They have played an active role in the competitive grant scheme by identifying the gaps in research. Overall, the SC has formed into a team, actively managing the process of the CA.

Members of theSteering Committee of the Comprehensive Assessment are: David Molden (IWMI), Mark Rosegrant (IFPRI), Patrick Dugan (WorldFish), Theib Oweis (ICARDA), Suhas Wani (ICRISAT), Bas Bouman (IRRI), Johan Rockström (Stockholm Environment Institute, formerly from IHE/UNESCO), Jean-Marc Faurès (FAO), Gina Castillo (Novib-Oxfam – Netherlands), and Eiman Karar (South African Department of Water Affairs).

Assessment Research Outputs: To date, over 70 written outputs have been produced by assessment participants including providing and research backing to the assessment (see

  • A Water Productivity book was published in August 2003, the first in a series of CABI books. In addition, the CA supported two books on Water-wise Rice Production, and the IFPRI-IWMI publication on Global Water Outlook to 2025. 8 other CA CABI books are in progress, including on Groundwater, water pricing, water laws, etc.
  • Nine CA Research Reports on a wide range of issues such as integrated Land and Water Management, Environmental Water Requirements, Yellow River Basin, Virtual Water Trade Evolution of Irrigation, Macro Policies and Investment Priorities for Irrigated Agriculture, Impacts of Irrigation on Inland Fisheries etc.
  • 31 journal articles and refereed research reports with many more in progress.
  • Many proceedings papers and working papers.
  • Many more written outputs based on CA results are forthcoming, on topics of water, food and environment, benefits and costs of watershed programs, bright spots’ analysis and case studies, and analysis of pro-poor low-cost water management methods.

Capacity Building:The CA supports capacity build-up of all involved in the process through hands-on experience and knowledge sharing. Additionally, the CA has supported 11 PhD, 16 MSc students and 4 intern students focusing on water, food, and environment issues.

4. How can I get in touch with the CA secretariat?

The CA secretariat sits at IWMI in Colombo, Sri Lanka. You can reach us by email: or by telephone +94 11 2787404, contact point David Molden (all relevant questions) or Domitille Vallee (specifically related to the Synthesis process).