The Consortium Research Programme 5 on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) envisions a world in which agriculture thrives alongside vibrant ecosystems, and those engaged in agriculture live in good health, and enjoy food and nutritional security. The programme, which is made up of five Strategic Research Portfolios (SRPs) and two cross-cutting themes, is led by CGIAR’s International Water Management Institute (IWMI) based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It combines the resources of 14 CGIAR and numerous external partners to provide an integrated approach to natural resource management (NRM) research, and to the delivery of its outputs.

The research program’s five Strategic Research Portfolios (SRPs) are:

  • Irrigation: researchers will explore new strategies for increasing its use in Africa, whereas the focus in South Asia will be to develop greater efficiency through integrated governance and technical approaches
  • Rainfed agricultural systems which account for 90% of African agriculture can benefit from the use of supplementary irrigation plus improved supply chains, markets and finance. The researchers will aim to find out how this can be achieved as there is huge scope for improvement in African rainfed agriculture to meet future demands for food from a rapidly expanding population
  • River basins management research will look at how intensifying agricultural production can be attained without harmful offsite impacts to environment and downstream water users
  • Resource reuse and recovery: understanding how we can turn waste water and sewerage into valuable resources for farm use, whilst the cash generated can be ploughed back into sanitation.
  • Information research will bring together natural resource data from diverse sources to reduce uncertainties and improve decision making on water, land and ecosystem investments at different scales and establish systems for monitoring intervention impacts on development outcomes.

In addition to the five SRPs, WLE has also established two crosscutting themes that will influence and enhance the research carried out:

  • Ecosystem services and resilience
  • Gender, poverty and institutions

The program will work to provide farmers and pastoralists with production systems that are better adapted to environmental change across eight regions that are centered on large river basins. These are Mekong, Indus and Ganges, Amu Darya and Syr Darya, Tigris and Eupharates, Volta and Niger, Nile, Limpopo and Zambezi and Andes basins, targeting an estimated 300 million people over the next 10 to 20 years. 

The success of this initiative will be through closer collaboration across the CGIAR and through partnerships with universities, national research institutes and global organizations. Efforts will also be directed towards developing partnerships with the private sector within the agricultural and environmental services. 

The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) leads the program’s strategic research portfolio on strengthening Decision Analysis and Information Systems, which aims to improve evidence-based decision making at different scales on increasing agricultural productivity while protecting the environment.

Read more on the Decision Analysis and Information Systems flagship.


World Agroforestry Centre;

Dr. Keith Shepherd,  K.Shepherd(at)