About Us

IWMI’s mission is to provide water solutions
for sustainable, climate-resilient development..

IWMI is a research-for-development (R4D) organization, with offices in 13 countries and a global network of scientists operating in more than 30 countries. For over three decades, our research results have led to changes in water management that have contributed to social and economic development.

IWMI’s Vision reflected in its Strategy 2019-2023, is ‘a water-secure world’. IWMI targets water and land management challenges faced by poor communities in developing countries, and through this contributes towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of reducing poverty and hunger and maintaining a sustainable environment.

Farmers cultivating lettuce, while another farmer digs a small canal (marwa) with a donkey, Egypt. Photo: cc: Hamish John Appleby/IWMI

Based on evidence and knowledge drawn from our science, innovative technologies and testing of business models, IWMI works with governments, farmers, water managers, development partners and businesses to solve water problems and scale up solutions. Together with our partners, we combine research with data to build and enhance knowledge, information services and products, strengthen capacity, convene dialogue and deliver actionable policy analysis to support the implementation of solutions for water management.

IWMI’s value proposition is unique. It rests on our track record of more than 30 years of rigorous, solutions-oriented water management research, built on long term partnerships at local, country and regional levels, a sustained field presence across Africa and Asia, and recognized through the award of the prestigious Stockholm Water Prize in 2012.

IWMI is a Research Center of CGIAR, the global research partnership for a food-secure future. The 2019-2021 CGIAR System Business Plan calls for innovation to transform the global system to address the world’s urgent challenges. In its commitment to this shared ambition, IWMI leads the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), which, with other CGIAR Centers and partners develops, disseminates and catalyzes solutions for sustainable and resilient land and water management.

IWMI works through collaborative research with many partners in the North and South, and targets policymakers, development agencies, individual farmers and private sector organizations.

Read more about IWMI’s achievements as it celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015.

CGIAR

CGIAR is a global research partnership for a food-secure future. CGIAR science is dedicated to reducing poverty, enhancing food and nutrition security, and improving natural resources and ecosystem services. Its research is carried out by 15 CGIAR Centers in close collaboration with hundreds of partners, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia, development organizations and the private sector.

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WLE

The CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) is a global research-for-development program connecting partners to deliver sustainable agriculture solutions that enhance our natural resources – and the lives of people that rely on them. WLE brings together 11 CGIAR centers, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the RUAF Global Partnership, and national, regional and international partners to deliver solutions that change agriculture from a driver of environmental degradation to part of the solution. WLE is led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and partners as part of CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future.

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Our Strategy (2019-2023)

Innovative Water Solutions for Sustainable Development

IWMI’s forward looking strategy for 2019-2023 responds directly to the demand for innovative, scientifically tested water management solutions for sustainable development.

With offices in 13 countries and a global network of scientist operating in more than 30 countries, our research at field to basin and regional scales our strategy focuses on science for a transformative agenda. With this in mind we will address three high priority water challenges.

To improve food security will sustainably managing water resources and ecosystems.
To adapt to and mitigate climate change while building resilience to water related disasters and disruption.
To reduce poverty and advance inclusion with equality as agriculture transforms, energy transitions and urbanization intensifies.

Mark Smith
Director General

Rachael McDonnell
Deputy Director General – Research for Development

Oyture Anarbekov
Country Manager – Uzbekistan

Olufunke Cofie
Country Representative – Ghana, Regional Representative – West Africa

Amgad Elmahdi
Country Representative – Egypt, Regional Representative – MENA

Mohsin Hafeez
Country Representative – Pakistan, Regional Representative – Central Asia

Inga Jacobs-Mata
Country Representative – South Africa, Regional Representative – Southern Africa

Manohara Khadka
Country Representative – Nepal

Simon Langan
Director of Digital Innovation and Country Manager, Sri Lanka

Abdulkarim Seid
Country Representative – Ethiopia, Regional Representative – East Africa

Alok Sikka
Country Representative - India

Pay Drechsel
Senior Fellow/Advisor - Research Quality Assurance

Alan Nicol
Strategic Program Director – Water, Growth and Inclusion

Syon Niyogi
Corporate Services Director

Stefan Uhlenbrook
Program Director, CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), Strategic Program Director (IWMI) – Water, Food and Ecosystems

Julie van der Bliek
Director, Partnership and Knowledge Management

Our Partners

IWMI thanks all its partners for their support and contribution to its research work and we look forward to strengthened partnerships and many more collaborations in the future.

OUR FULL LIST OF PARTNERS

Economics and equity

At IWMI, researching underlying economic and social trends helps us understand why people migrate. They also explain the impact of remittances and loss of agricultural labor, as well as consequences of migration on gender roles and food and water security. For instance, communities with higher levels of income inequality, or relative deprivation, may experience greater levels of out-migration compared to consistently low-income communities. In addition, migration changes intra-household gender-labor composition, which can change the access of smallholders to water resources, affecting the functioning of community-based institutions and consequently household and local food security. IWMI also focuses on circular economy, a strategy to recover and reuse waste, to boost food security and understand how interventions can encourage refugee and host communities to retain scarce resources.

This focus area contributes to the following One CGIAR impact areas:

Nutrition, health and food security Poverty reduction, livelihoods and jobs Gender equality, youth and inclusion

Urban & rural transformation

As agricultural opportunities fluctuate in rural areas, migration, particularly to urban areas, is an adaptation technique to secure incomes and alternative livelihoods. Income generated by migrants is often sent back to family as remittances to support communities at home. At IWMI, we assess linkages between rural and urban areas, as well as the role of agricultural knowledge systems and food and water security. We recognize there are complex push and pull factors such as individual aspirations, economic opportunity, social norms, climate variability and government policies which drive migration and affect rural communities, particularly youth. Our work follows a ‘positive migration’ philosophy, framing migration as an adaptation technique and socio-economic choice (in many cases) rather than a problem to be solved, and focuses on establishing safer, more regular migration by supporting changes to migration governance in sending regions.

This focus area contributes to the following One CGIAR impact areas:

Nutrition, health and food security Poverty reduction, livelihoods and jobs Gender equality, youth and inclusion Climate adaptation and mitigation

Covid-19 disruption & adaptation

Covid-19 has caused a rupture in migration logistics and exposed inequities in the migration system, yet drivers of movement remain. Government lockdowns and closed borders due to the pandemic curtailed movement for migrants, posing complex problems for migrant hosting and origin countries. There have been significant economic shocks, with a sharp decline in unemployment for migrants and an inability to send money home through remittances to support family. Some migrants face social stigma for returning home without an income, particularly if families relied on loans to support their journeys. Consequences have been severe for informal migrants who lack government protection in their host countries. Migrants, particularly those living in crowded, lower-income neighborhoods, have been experiencing stigmatization related to the spread of Covid-19. We look at the impacts of Covid-19 on migration governance and rural areas across seven countries, development planning in Ghana, migration challenges in Southeast Asia, and community-based disaster management and resilience building in South Africa.

This focus area contributes to the following One CGIAR impact areas:

Nutrition, health and food security Poverty reduction, livelihoods and jobs Gender equality, youth and inclusion

Water, climate change and agrarian stress

Migration, water and climate stress are inextricably linked to rural development. Water stress and climate variability can act as a driver of fragility, intensifying pre-existing political, social, economic and environmental challenges. Initiatives designed to address migration-related challenges must tackle inequalities and the exclusion of women, youth and marginalized groups; governance opportunities to better manage water and natural resources and technology and innovations to help communities escape socio-ecological precarity and thrive despite climate challenges. IWMI intends to build climate resilience by implementing projects which tackle gender-power inequalities in the face of dynamic, economic-social-ecological challenges. Our work brings together affected communities, institutional stakeholders and social actors to manage water in response to climate variability and agrarian stress, striving to address complex physical and social variables.

This focus area contributes to the following One CGIAR impact areas:

Nutrition, health and food security Poverty reduction, livelihoods and jobs Gender equality, youth and inclusion Climate adaptation and mitigation

Gender, intersectionality and social inclusion

It is critical to center gender and intersectional identities when unpacking migration phenomena. Gender as a social construct guides social norms and relations, including the decision-making processes and mechanisms leading to migration. We recognize that the intersections between race, age, class, sex, caste and region shape the migrant experience.

IWMI strives to offer transformative approaches and solutions for women, youth and marginalized groups, regarding them as equal partners in our work rather than passive end-users.  For example, within communities that experience male out migration, socio-political systems are restructured to make women, youth and other groups active agents in their own agri-food transformation. Migration patterns contribute to the feminization of agriculture, and women may experience a greater burden of responsibility coupled with an increased ability to access and control resources and policies to build sustainable livelihoods. Acknowledging social complexities helps researchers and communities understand migration trends and address structural power imbalances to build a more equitable world.

This focus area contributes to the following One CGIAR impact areas:

Nutrition, health and food security Poverty reduction, livelihoods and jobs Gender equality, youth and inclusion

Innovation bundles

Farmer-led irrigation development is about much more than installing a pump in a field. It requires access to financing, labor, energy, and input and output markets, so that investments in irrigation translate into sustainable returns. IWMI uses a systemic approach to understand the farming system as well as the factors in the enabling environment that prevent women, men and youth from engaging in and benefitting equitably from farmer-led irrigation. We partner with farmers and the public and private sectors to test contextually relevant innovation bundles that combine irrigation technology such as solar pumps with financing mechanisms like pay-as-you-own or pay-as-you-go, agricultural inputs and agronomic techniques. We also look at ways to improve on-farm water management and nutrient use efficiency and reduce evapotranspiration through digital advances and agricultural extension. We integrate the scaling of innovation bundles into agricultural value chains to enhance the impacts on farmers’ irrigation investments, incomes and livelihoods.

This focus area contributes to the following One CGIAR impact areas:

Nutrition, health and food security Poverty reduction, livelihoods and jobs Gender equality, youth and inclusion Environmental health and biodiversity Climate adaptation and mitigation

Gender and social inclusion

The barriers facing women and men in accessing irrigation technologies are not the same. Neither are the benefits. Social, cultural and religious norms influence inter- and intra-household power relations. These, in turn, affect access to resources such as land, credit, information and training. IWMI carries out cross-dimensional analysis of gender and social inclusion in policy, financing, livelihood assets and access, institutional approaches and interventions as well as gender-based technology preferences. For example, we work with farmers, financial institutions and the private sector to address gender-based constraints in credit scoring and enhance women’s purchasing power. But benefitting from farmer-led irrigation does not stop at accessing and adopting technologies; enabling women and resource-poor farmers to participate in input and output markets is equally important to ensure that investments in irrigation result in improved nutrition and economic empowerment. Other ways we enhance gender and social inclusion include tackling agency issues around financial management and literacy, livelihood diversity and social capital as well as access to infrastructure, extension services and market linkages.

This focus area contributes to the following One CGIAR impact areas:

Poverty reduction, livelihoods and jobs Gender equality, youth and inclusion

Environmental sustainability

Population pressure and increasing water competition in a changing climate require us to take stock of the availability and use of water across scales. Water availability not only influences farmers’ commercial prospects but also irrigation-related enterprises and agri-businesses. Greater water scarcity could jeopardize irrigation and agricultural markets while excessive water use can lead to declining ecosystems, water quality and soil health. IWMI advises development partners and the public and private sectors on all aspects of water resource availability and use through a variety of advanced modeling and remote-sensing products and tools, including Water Accounting+solar irrigation mapping and internet of things. These are complemented by multi-criteria analysis to evaluate the potential of irrigation expansion, taking into consideration environmental flows. With our private sector partners, we are leveraging converging technologies, such as sensors on solar pumps that capture usage data, to encourage better resource management and governance.

This focus area contributes to the following One CGIAR impact areas:

Environmental health and biodiversity Climate adaptation and mitigation

Adaptive scaling and partnerships

The ability of farmers to engage in or expand irrigation depends on the prevailing socioeconomic, ecological and political contexts, which are often complex, non-linear and changeable. Overcoming systemic barriers to farmer-led irrigation development while taking advantage of existing opportunities requires scaling processes to be adaptive. This means diverse actors feed off, adapt to, support, cooperate, compete and interact with each other, forming different multi-actor networks and engaging in collective action to undertake various functions in the scaling ecosystem. IWMI works with farmers and public and private sector partners to co-design and pilot contextually relevant innovation bundles and their scaling pathways or strategies, influence policies and accelerate the transition to scale of innovations with demonstrated early impact.

This focus area contributes to the following One CGIAR impact areas:

Nutrition, health and food security Poverty reduction, livelihoods and jobs Gender equality, youth and inclusion Environmental health and biodiversity Climate adaptation and mitigation

Financing ecosystem

A lack of affordable credit, particularly for women and resource-poor farmers, is one of the main barriers to expanding farmer-led irrigation in low- and middle-income countries. But credit alone is not enough. Financing for irrigation equipment must be embedded in a wider financing ecosystem that bundles credit with inputs and services, market information and access, and technology such as digital payment. In several countries, irrigation equipment suppliers are stepping in to provide financing directly to farmers. In doing so, they increase their own risk. To address this issue, IWMI works with farmers, private companies, finance institutions and development partners such as the World Bank Group to analyze whether credit-scoring tools are inclusive. We also help to identify gaps in the financing ecosystem and de-risk the private sector from testing innovative end-user financing mechanisms that take into account farming system typologies, financial and social capital and crop seasonality.

This focus area contributes to the following One CGIAR impact areas:

Poverty reduction, livelihoods and jobs Gender equality, youth and inclusion

Human capacity development and knowledge exchange

Scaling farmer-led irrigation requires strengthening human capacity and knowledge exchange among all actors and stakeholders involved. IWMI takes an action research approach, working with national and international research institutions, governments, extension agents and public and private organizations to co-develop the scaling ecosystem and strengthen capacity to drive scaling networks and collective action. We support the development of or reinforce national multi-stakeholder dialogues with the aim of sharing scaling experiences and realizing win-win collaboration, interactive learning and capacity development. Other modalities for capacity development include hackathons, innovation research grants for bachelor’s and master’s students, private sector scaling grants and innovation internships with private companies. These all serve to stimulate local and contextually relevant innovation, close the research-private sector divide and enhance job readiness among young professionals.

This focus area contributes to the following One CGIAR impact areas:

Nutrition, health and food security Poverty reduction, livelihoods and jobs Gender equality, youth and inclusion Environmental health and biodiversity Climate adaptation and mitigation

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