Rising incomes and population are already contributing to water scarcity, land degradation and the loss of biodiversity and ecosystemservices. While this may be humanity’s greatest challenge, it can also be turned into opportunities. This will require us to think differently about agriculture, water, land and ecosystems; to look at these related issues from differentperspectives and in ways that may first seem unusual or even unrealistic, and to focus our efforts on investments that generatePositive economic, social and environmental change.
WLE brings the research experience and partners to think differently about global agricultural challenges:What if salinised lands could be turned back into production?What if waste and used water could have a second life for agriculture?What if famers in Africa could farm all year around?What if water could be stored after floods and used during droughts?WLE emphasizes the need to rethink agricultural development in the context of growing resource constraints and rising risks of abrupt changes and tipping points affecting water, land and ecosystems. An ecosystems approach allows the program to view agricultural development from a perspective that considers external drivers of change and a range of different management objectives.
WLE draws on the strengths of its partners to address complex global development issues by calling on diverse skills and knowledge beyond the ability of any one organization to amass on its own. Solutions are grounded in partners and generate change atdifferentscales: thinkingbeyond the farmlevel and integratingworkat national, regional and global levels. WLE willalso leverage and marshal the unique capacities and purposes of partners to ensure that the needs of different stakeholders are addressed.
A landmark 2003 study on the impact of crop improvement research from 1965 to 1998 painted a counterfactual scenario of what the global food system would be like without CGIAR research. It concluded that:-Developing countries would be producing 7-8 percent less food.-Their cultivated area would be 11-13 million hectares greater at the expense primary forests and other fragile environments.-Their per capita food consumption would be 5 percent lower, on average.-Some 13-15 million more children would be malnourished.The study also noted that for every US$1 dollar invested in CGIAR research, US $9 worth of additional food is produced in developing countries.WLE will deliver research outputs that lead to measurable development impacts by (i) putting people first; (ii) integrating sustainability within development through practical solutions; (iii) focusing on multifunctional landscapes and how agricultural systems fit within a broader system and (iv) better valuing different services that nature provides and understanding trade-offs and uncertainties brought on by new external drivers such as large-scale investments, fuel and food price fluctuations and climate change.
These goals focus on achieving the sustainable intensification of agriculture – meeting the world’s needs for food without a substantial enlargement of agriculture’s ecological footprint; improving the sharing of benefits and risks (hazards, shocks and disasters) among various users engaged in agriculture;influencing the global agenda on the water-food and energy nexus to foster balanced investments and promoting institutional arrangements to support poverty reduction and sustainable natural resource management.
In sub-Saharan Africa productivity in rain-fed landscapes is improved while ecosystem functions are maintained. Improved water storage in the Eastern Gangetic Plains will reduce crop losses by 50%. Improving water allocation, food security and poverty reduction in these major river basins – Mekong, Indus, Andes, Volta – and better international cooperation.WLE will achieve development impacts by producing action-oriented research of 3 main kinds:- Policy reform and decision-support systems – WLE will develop models, water accounting, land and ecosystem accounting, information systems and ways to improve the use of information to inform policy and management decisions. - Process instruments – a range of methods, tools and platforms to support changes in how decisions are made for more equitable sharing of benefits from water and natural resource management. - Improved understanding – adaptation of technologies and approaches to manage soil and water resources at the farm, community and landscape level to specific biophysical and socioeconomic conditions.
Using water as an entry point, WLE seeks to inform global debates on the trade-offs between the water, energy, food and environment sectors. It aims to provide options for alternative water management and governance options that will help reduce these trade-offs. It focuses on providing farmers and rural communities, policy and decision-makers better information to reduce vulnerability, increase resilience and development impacts.
Ten WLE target basins and regions are: the Andes, Limpopo, Zambezi, Volta, Niger, Nile, Indus and Ganges, Mekong, Amu Darya and Syr Darya, and Tigris and Euphrates.As the map above shows, current WLE investments are in some of the poorest regions of the world where there are pressing water-related problems. For instance, it works in sub-Saharan Africa where there are high levels of food insecurity and rainfall variability. Many of its activities in Southeast Asia focus on addressing water, food and energy-related issues, where hydropower needs to be balanced with other development needs such as agriculture and fisheries.
WLE emphasizes the need to rethink agricultural development in the context of growing resource constraints and rising risks of abrupt changes and tipping points affecting water, land and ecosystems. An ecosystems approach allows the program to view agricultural development from a perspective that considers external drivers of change and a range of different management objectives. For instance, sustainable intensification within WLE recognizes the competing demands on land and water arising from urbanization, population growth, demographic changes (e.g. the feminization of agriculture, migration, etc.) and climate change.WLE promotes ecosystem values and resilience by: Understanding the drivers of ecosystem service provision and how ecosystem services can be harnessed to improve the lives of the poor. Developing tools to accurately value ecosystem services and enhance such values. Identifying incentives and policies to ensure the continued provision of these services. Developing options for production systems and farmers to become more resilient to shocks and better adapt to environmental change. Using a ‘resilience lens’ to consider the long-term impacts of interventions at multiple scales.
WLE recognizes that there is a family of interlinked disciplines and activities that are key to the research for development process. We see communications, information management, knowledge sharing and communications for development as integral to the research process, rather than as serving solely support functions. They ensure that knowledge and information can be used by different stakeholders to support their own decision-making. WLE generates outcome-oriented research for maximum impact on the ground.With a focus on information systems, the program aggregates social, biophysical and environmental data to generate knowledge and global insights, enabling it to provide a diverse picture of development processes worldwide, as well as pressing environmental issues and problems such as water scarcity, natural services and land degradation..
Specific approaches to mainstream gender include:• Ensuring that all research and associated work is pro-poor and benefits both men and women;• Ensuring that, where appropriate, data are gender-disaggregated and analyzed from the perspective of gender and other factors thatrelate to equity issues;• Examining the extent to which male and female farmers have different adoption rates and identifying gender-specific barriers thatmay work against adoption;• Remediation of gender bias in agricultural research;• Improving women’s access to and involvement in the management of major resources, including land, water, infrastructure and otherpublic services;• Developing gender-sensitive policies for land and water management.
Major initial funders include development partners (e.g. AusAid, SDC, DGIS, SIDA) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The WLE program includes five strategic research portfolios (SRPs) working in basins and regions in an integrated fashion to bring about change. System-level SRPs are:Irrigation Rainfed Resource, reuse and recovery. These will focus on interventions to bring about direct impacts at the field and landscape level. Other SRPs are:River basins Information systems. These ensure that wider challenges related to managing a range of resources are taken into account and provide policy-makers with options and decision-support systems to understand the implications of different choices. Overarching these 5 SRP’s and implicitly embedded within them, are elements of research into ecosystem services and resilience and gender, poverty and institutions.
Enhancing Success of irrigation in sub-Saharan Africa Revitalizing public irrigation systemsWater management in the Eastern Gangetic BasinManaging salt-water balance in Indus and Central Asian irrigation systemsPeri-urban Agricultural Water Management.
WLE intervention: examine and pilot novel technologies, innovative business models and policy options to help governments invest in smallholder irrigation schemes without comprising the natural resource base.An estimated 70% of the 400 million poor inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa, vulnerable to drought, live in rural areas and earn their livelihoods by raising crops and livestock. Yet less than 5% of land in Africa is irrigated, mostly in just three countries (Madagascar, South Africa and Sudan) and on commercial farms. A switch to irrigated agriculture could have huge implications for smallholder farmers, who would have the potential to triple their food production by pumping their own water. This would introduce the stability they need to maintain a sedentary lifestyle, allowing them to earn a reliable income, feed their families and educate their children. We have the technological innovation to achieve this and through the development of innovative investment and business models that ensure better targeting of interventions we can ensure that this slumbering giant will be awakened. A first set of impacts: On the ground policy and investment changes in Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia, West Bengal and Madhya Pradesh Online tools for policymakers and investors Data and products for development agencies and national policymakers.
Sustainable intensification of rainfed landscapesRecapitalizing soils and reducing degradation of landscapesDiverse and resilient farming systemsEnhancing access to water and land for pastoralistsImproved agricultural water management.
WLE intervention: assessment of land degradation, techniques and business models to increase the economic value of degraded lands, and develop sustainable approaches to managing soil fertility and conservation. The activity will foster the development of innovative new technologies for land restoration. It will deliver incentives for community-wide adoption of measures to combat degradation, such as prohibiting the burning of crop residues.Many rainfed agricultural systems have become increasingly degraded over the past several decades, which has affected both their productivity and their ability to deliver ecosystem services. Land degradation has a variety of causes, including extreme weather conditions, such as drought, overgrazing, urbanization, forest conversion and over-cultivation. According to FAO, morethan 65% of Africa’s population is affected by land degradation. Nearly 3.3 % of agricultural GDP in sub-Saharan Africa is lost each year due to soil and nutrient loss. Land degradation is reversible but challenging. It requires addressing the context and changing theconditions that led to the degradation in the first place. It may also involve convincing farmers and governments to invest in degraded lands, rather than to simply move onto more productive lands.Salinity: turningsalinised lands into profitable production systemsThe general approach to managing salinity has been one of accepting it as an inevitable consequence of irrigated agriculture. Today, 34 million hectares are impacted by salinity, representing 11% of the total area equipped for irrigation. This represents an estimated potential production loss of USD 42.7 billion annually. We believe that salinity can be sustainably managed through novel technical and institutional interventions and innovative business models. It is financially viable and ecologically sustainable to bring these lands back into production.WLE will work in the semi-arid regions of Central and South Asia to show that food productivity can be improved through abandoned irrigated lands being brought under production. We will provide the scientific knowledge, bio-physical interventions, policy tools and investment recommendations to transform these salinized lands into profitable production systems.
Business opportunities for resource recovery and reuseSafe wastewater and excreta reuse
WLE intervention: new business models ranging from fecal sludge composting and energy generation to agro-waste valorization and wastewater reuse, as well as focus on improving safe reuse guidelines and sanitation safety plans.Humans generate millions of tons of organic waste including excreta every day. This waste is rich in water, nutrients and organic compounds yet it is not being managed in a way that permits us to derive value from its reuse, whilst millions of farmers continue to struggle with depleted soils or water scarcity. Today, most waste ends in landfills or pollutes the environment. WLE will study business cases ranging from fecal sludge composting and energy generation to agro-waste valorization and wastewater reuse, across peri-urban Africa, the Middle East and North Africa, South America and Asia to develop viable business models and investment plans in 10 defined locations to increase RRR from organic and liquid waste in ways that support ecosystem services, system resilience and food production.Promising business models could benefit up to 25 million smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, respectively, supporting better food security for 150 and 250 million consumers in both regions, enabling a cost reduction in waste management which could help to serve additional 12 and 22 million households respectively.
Managing water-resource variability and re-thinking storage in basinsResource allocation and sharing for the benefit of allWater and energy for foodWater data and accounting in basins.
WLE intervention: examine prospective development areas, water resources assessments, cost-benefit analyses and incentivesfor farmers to become involved in flood harvesting and land tenure arrangements; study and recommend potential policy and institutional options to support groundwater development especially during drought periods;engage the private sector in developing low-cost irrigation for areas where groundwater resources are untapped. The Eastern Gangetic Plains are home to 500 million of the world’s poorest people. The region is marked by extreme poverty, low agricultural productivity and high food insecurity. It is also prone to frequent and devastating floods. Yet, it is supported by one of the most prolific aquifers in the world. By sustainably managing the aquifers, it is possible to capture flood waters, improve access to groundwater during periods of droughts and relieve flood-prone areas. Thanks to the availability of groundwater throughout the year, agricultural productivity can be increased.Another interesting example is the Andes: benefit-sharing mechanisms resulting in restored ecosystems supporting intensified small-scale farming and improved water and food security for cities.This activity will result in a portfolio of options for water storage and guidelines for managing the variability of water resources under a range of environmental, social and technical circumstances, based on studies carried out in three river basins. Benefits include increased and more reliable water supply for crop production from captured flood waters in selected basins in Asia and the associated estimated increase in irrigated area (in the order of 1 million ha), with over $1 billion of annual income to small farmers. In addition, it will result in improved national food security in selected countries through reducing crop losses by some 50%due to the alleviation the damage caused by floods and droughts.
‘Decision analysis’ or forecasting interventions impacts on development outcomes Agro-ecosystem health metrics and monitoring to support intervention decisions
WLE intervention: Review existing indicators and monitoring systems for agriculture, poverty and the environment; develop new global information and knowledge facility for agrobiodiversity conservation and usage including standardised protocols for soil health monitoring and more generally for agro-ecosystem health surveillance; build the capacity of national organisations and development aid agencies on measurement systems to support intervention decisions.There is increasing availability of data on the status and trends in agro-ecosystem health and the livelihoods that they support. However, it is hard to choose the right data combination and metrics and address uncertainties to effectively support intervention decisions.There is a need to designnew data systems that can forecast scenarios and their related development impacts, and better inform decisions
WLE’s unique program approach is not contained within any single element but rather in how they are combined and prioritized, including: Integrating across sectors, disciplines and scales; Harnessing the knowledge, experience and reach of its 11 strategic partners and hundreds of regional and local partners; Leveraging and marshaling the unique capacities and purposes of partners to ensure that the needs of different stakeholders are addressed; Recognizing that learning and communication are integral parts of the research process and will help move research results to impacts on the ground; Engaging in policy processes at national, regional and global levels and providing evidence based information to influence the decision-making processes. Gender and poverty: Understanding how decisions impact gender relations and the poor. For example land use decisions made by men or local authorities can have unforeseen impacts on women's workloads. Research will explore how to mitigate potential negative impacts.
WLE Investment Plan
The CGIAR Research Program onWater, Land and Ecosystems (WLE)An investment opportunity for 2013–15 • Led by IWMI
The challengeschange . . . climatic, demographic, economic
The critical issue facing humanity:• The world is already short of water, land is being degraded and we are losing ‘ecosystem services’• Can we feed 9 billion people in 2050 and produce 70% more food . . . without destroying the environment?
Yes we can, but only while• Managing water, land and ecosystems so human beings and the environment prosper• Increasing agricultural production and alleviating poverty while protecting nature
Big problems demand innovativesolutions . . .The CGIAR Research Program on Water, Landand Ecosystems (WLE): reuniting agricultureand nature for poverty reduction
WLE is greater than the sum ofits parts:• Eleven CGIAR centers• Hundreds of local partners• Examples in the Volta basin include the Volta Basin Authority, CIRAD, SEI, iDE and many others
$1 of CGIAR research =$9 worth of additional food produced in developing countries
Our vision:A world in which agriculture thrives withinvibrant ecosystems, where communities havehigher incomes, improved food security andthe ability to continuously improve their lives
WLE’s three main goals are to improve• Food security and the livelihoods of farmers• The sharing of benefits and risks among users of ecosystem services• Institutional arrangements across sectors
Over a decade and a half, WLE willcontribute to• Improving food security of 15 million smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa• Enhancing food security and income for about 20 million people in the Eastern Gangetic Plains• Minimizing health risks from wastewater and excreta- based fertilizer for tens of millions of consumers in Africa and Asia• Reducing poverty in river basins like the Mekong, Indus, Andes and Volta by improving water allocation
5. Information and decision-makingAgricultural interventions andinvestments rely on solidinformation in forecastingeconomic, environmental andsocial impacts
Water, Land and Ecosystems . . .• Integrates across sectors, disciplines and scales• 11 strategic partners and hundreds of local partners• Addresses the needs of different stakeholders• Moves research results to impacts on the ground• Engages in policy processes at all levels• Influences decision-making with evidence• Understands how decisions affect gender and poverty