Since its launch in 2002, the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) has matured into a comprehensive global research effort on water and food. CPWF research has included over 100 research-for-development projects and involved more than 400 partners. Our work is carried out in river basins that are home to more than 1.5 billion people – half of whom are amongst the poorest people on Earth. A decade of CPWF work and experience has demonstrated the following:
1) Sustainable intensification that is pro-poor can be best achieved by smallholders taking advantage of scarce dry season water to access high value market chains while improving natural resource management.
2) To achieve equitable sharing of the full range of benefits from water resources, policies should be promoted that encourage collaborative behavior, dialogue and sharing of benefits and risks.
3) New institutional arrangements are necessary that cross sectors and national boundaries, foster equitable and sustained development, improve resource governance, and support productive and resilient technical solutions.
CPWF’s research-for-development approach brings together a broad range of scientists, development specialists, policy makers and communities to address the challenges of food security, poverty and water scarcity. We place strong emphasis on the continuum of research and development (see our five core principles). CPWF focuses on well-defined development challenges in specific areas, for example a river basin or an eco-region, or a specific group, such as poor women in rural areas.
The link between research and development is further strengthened by CPWF’s theory-of-change, which demands commitment on the part of researchers to produce relevant results that are of use to partners and key stakeholders. Researchers have to clarify exactly how they expect their work to change people’s knowledge, attitudes and skills and how this will trigger innovation processes. The kind of innovations that researchers are aiming for range from the people-to-people spread of technology to institutional and policy changes.
The future of the CPWF
In 2011, the CPWF Board was merged with the Board of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in preparation for the the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE), which began operations in 2012. This new program combines the resources of 14 CGIAR centers and numerous partners to provide an integrated approach to natural resource management research, and to the delivery of its outputs. The program focuses on the three critical issues of water scarcity, land degradation and ecosystem services, as well as sustainable natural resource management. It will also make substantial contributions to improved food security, poverty alleviation and improved natural resource management.