Our Impact

Our vision is to achieve water security that supports gender equality and poverty reduction, and our goal is to achieve this through research that influences policy, supports the identification of solutions to development challenges and brings a range of social, economic and ecosystem benefits to communities living within shared landscapes.

We seek to achieve impact through developing practical solutions at different scales, through shaping the nature of policy content and implementation, and through contributing more broadly to the global public good of open access knowledge resources on water and development issues, particularly as these become more significant under the Sustainable Development Goals agenda.

Below are some of the significant impacts our work has achieved in the past five years.

A balancing act-Achieving poverty reduction while conserving wetlands

To support Wetland International (WI) implement four Demonstration Projects under its Wetlands and Poverty Reduction Project, IWMI conducted a ‘state of knowledge’ study on mediating the trade-offs often inherent in balancing wetlands conservation with poverty reduction. This combined seven case studies using past and ongoing projects with a literature review and an online forum to engage wetland practitioners, academics, policy makers and donors. The case studies were evaluated using a framework developed by IWMI for analyzing the sustainable integration of conservation and poverty reduction, by combining elements of the Sustainable Livelihoods and the Institutional Analysis and Development frameworks

The resulting externally peer-reviewed “Good Practices and Lessons Learned in Integrating Ecosystem Conservation and Poverty Reduction Objectives in Wetlands” is used by a range of individuals and organizations including students and educators at the Wetland Alliance for Training, Education and Research in KwaZulu–Natal, South Africa; the Water, Engineering and Development Centre at Loughborough University, UK, and UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water Education.

The subsequent evaluation by IWMI of WI’s four Demo Projects at the end of their term, resulted in peer-reviewed journal article that synthesized findings from the earlier case studies with those from the Demo Projects, and presented an analytical refined framework. Since balancing ecosystem conservation with its use in poverty reduction is central to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands’s concept of Wise Use, IWMI’s research also provided key inputs into the Ramsar Wetlands and Poverty Reduction Resolution X.28 which was passed at the Conference of the Contracting Parties in 2008.


>> Lessons and Good Practices Study for linking wetland management & poverty reduction
>> Exploring relationships between conservation and poverty reduction in wetland ecosystems: lessons from 10 integrated wetland conservation and poverty reduction initiatives

Dialoguing on farmers’ vulnerability to climate change on the radio in Nepal

What constitutes and what are the causes of farmers’ vulnerability to climate change? Who is to answer these questions? Policy-makers, scientists, experts – or those at risk?

These are some of the issues that were debated in a series of deliberative dialogues initiated by IWMI in 2014 in Nepal. IWMI worked with local research, civil society and media partners, namely South Asia Institute of Advanced Studies (SIAS), Nepal Madhesh Foundation (NEMAF) and Panos South Asia (PSA) respectively to organise these dialogues, some of which were recorded and transmitted on local community FM radios.


The dialogues gathered a group of 12 men and women farmers from Dhanusa District, Tarai-Madhesh, who interacted with civil society organizations, politicians and government officials from district and national level agencies working in agriculture, irrigation, education and women’s development. To kick off the discussion between these different parties, IWMI showed a documentary that compiled 12 videos directed by farmers themselves in Dhanusa District in 2013 on various aspects of their vulnerability.

Using the dialogues as primary research material, IWMI’s study evidenced the gap between farmers’ and policymakers’ framings of vulnerability and how these are constructed. It calls for using storylines and narratives on what ‘is’ rather than top-down arguments on what ‘should be’ to facilitate dialogue and governance processes.

As a follow-up, a meeting was held with representatives from Panos South Asia, IWMI, the Department of Irrigation, the political class (ex-Minister for Environment, Science and Technology) and the media (including the publisher and editor of Nepal’s leading daily newspaper in English). The meeting led to specific recommendations, including to organize a training for young journalists on increasing their capacity to increase the coverage of issues related to agriculture and farmers and publish a magazine dedicated to farmers.


Read more:

Participatory videos in Nepal: Voicing women’s perceptions on climate change

Farmers use TV and radio shows to share stories about climate change in Nepal – CCAFS Annual Report 2014

Infographic on women and climate change in the Ganges river basin

Ganges women bear the brunt of climate change

Assisting Resettled Communities in the Mekong Basin to Identify Livelihood Alternatives

One of the main socioeconomic impacts resulting from the construction of hydropower dams in the Mekong Basin is the loss of livelihoods of the many communities residing in riparian communities in the Basin. These communities often find that they cannot continue with their original livelihood activities as they often lose access to cultivable land, grazing spaces for cattle and fishing grounds. Finding suitable alternate livelihood options that are also sustainable over the long-term is therefore critical.

Under the CPWF/WLE Mekong 1 project which ran from 2010-2014, we conducted research on how to improve the livelihoods of communities impacted by hydropower dams while taking into consideration gender aspects. In addition to this, we used participatory methods and livelihoods surveys to identify innovative livelihood options and conducting pilot projects looking into ways of diversifying their livelihood portfolios.

In collaboration with our project partners, we piloted promising livelihood options – for example the cultivation of a short growth duration cassava variety in the drawdown area of the Yali reservoir (in Vietnam) in two locations (Sa Binh and Yali communes). The new cassava variety proved to be suitable to cultivate in the reservoir drawdown area to avoid flood risk and also provided higher income due to higher yields and starch content. Based on the results of the pilot the district and commune authorities are considering options for up-scaling.

This outcome was reported in the Annual Report of the Water land Ecosystems Program in 2013 as a Story of Change, and can be found here. http://www.wle-ar2013.org/Report/09_RESETTLED_COMMUNITIES_CAPITALIZE_ON_NEW_OPPORTUNITIES.pdf


Linking the Private Sector with Public Policy

Private sector actors can play an important role in shaping water governance within the broader context of agriculture, the environment and socioeconomic development. Private investment strategies that are better aligned with government policies can make important contributions to the sustainable development of a country.

The project “Private sector characterization in the Mekong”, funded by the CGIAR Program Water, Land and Ecosystem running from 2014-2016, aims to examine this in Lao PDR and Cambodia. Through this project, we provide a systematic overview of the patterns of foreign direct investment in six resource sectors and how they contribute to the government’s national policies to promote economic growth, reduce poverty, and protect the environment.

t-4The attached map shows our finding that the investment policy has not been effective in motivating private investments in the poor and poorest districts of Laos (indicated in red) which are instead found in the more economically advantaged districts (indicated in yellow or green).

We present evidence-based empirical analysis regarding private investment in the resource sector and highlight the need to develop more holistic monitoring and evaluation systems of FDI while linking the sectoral ministries’ monitoring units with the government’s investment promotion policy strategy. The project encourages constructive engagement between national government policy and private sector investment strategies, thereby contributing to more informed, inclusive and accountable water governance.

The National Economic Research Institute under the Ministry of Planning and Investment in Lao PDR is currently using our research findings as their inputs for the new National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP), in addition to the Investment Promotion Department in Lao PDR which is applying this in drafting a new investment law.

Multiple Use Water Services for Rural and Peri-urban Communities

In the early 2000s, as a result of the support provided by the Challenge Program on Water and Food, partnerships were created between researchers, implementers, and policy makers from both the irrigation and domestic sub-sectors, around an innovative project referred to as ‘Multiple Use Water Services’, also known as MUS. IWMI, through researchers in Theme Governance Gender and Poverty was the lead partner of a consortium of five partners.
Multiple use water services’ (MUS) takes communities’ holistic water wisdom as a starting point in participatory planning of water infrastructure services by NGOs, local government and line agencies. MUS meets multiple water needs through multi-purpose infrastructure and through using and re-using multiple water sources. By taking into account all of the water needs and available water, this approach therefore creates opportunities to make cost-effective and sustainable investments which can create more varied and wider set of benefits, than single-use systems could create.

Today, the MUS Group consists of 14 core members and over 700 members, and is a lean network that supports exchange, learning, and advocacy on MUS. The number of professionals that have become aware and apply MUS principles continues to expand. In 2012, the Rockefeller Foundation conducted a scoping study on MUS with IWMI, Winrock International, the Pacific Institute and John Hopkins University and further supported a MUS Round Table held in Bellagio, Italy as well as a seminar on the topic at Stockholm Water Week. In 2014, over 460 people from 68 countries participated in an e-conference on MUS organized by the Rural Water Supply Network.

In Nepal, USAID and DFID support MUS implementation and research, in collaboration with IDE and the Nepalese government, and the Farmer Managed Irrigation Systems Promotion Trust. The success seen by the MUS concept in Nepal has resulted in the creation of a national MUS network.
Read more at www.musgroup.net/


Your feedback

Please provide your comments using the form below.

[contact-form to=’j.paris@cgiar.org’ subject=’Feedback from ‘Our Impact’ on ThemeGP page’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Institute’ type=’text’/][contact-field label=’Comment’ type=’textarea’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]