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Initially,  CPWF assumed an unfolding global crisis of water scarcity, a close link between water scarcity and poverty, and an overriding need to produce more food with less water. Through its research, the program found that things are a bit more complicated:

  • Water is usually not physically scarce. While water in lakes, streams and canals can be locally scarce, rainwater is often relatively abundant but under-utilized in agriculture.
  • Poverty is not strongly correlated with water scarcity. Poverty is associated with the position of a country in its development trajectory regardless of water availability.
  • Water productivity is useful as a diagnostic tool but has limited value as a standalone objective.
  • Water is often a good entry point to address development challenges in basins. A research-for-development approach can be effective in addressing such challenges and getting to outcomes.
  • Sustainable intensification of agriculture can improve livelihoods and reduce poverty. Achieving it, however, usually means combining technical, institutional and policy innovations.
  • Benefit sharing mechanisms and multiple use systems are just two of the areas where the CPWF has had success in introducing innovations and achieving outcomes.

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