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More Crop Per Drop

More Crop Per Drop


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781843391128
Publisher: IWA Publishing
Publication date: 08/21/2007
Pages: 300
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.75(d)

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IWMI Research: Context and Setting

Meredith A. Giordano


With increasing scarcity and competition for water at various scales, there is a growing public and policy demand for value-added information to better understand and address the issue of water scarcity and its food, livelihood and environmental implications. IWMI - in its quest to become a global knowledge center on water, food and the environment - generates and disseminates a wide variety of knowledge products, ranging from research reports to policy briefs for the international research, policy and donor communities. Besides these project-based outputs, IWMI also prepares synthesis volumes that review and summarize broader research programs and issues. Such synthesis work not only enhances the accessibility of IWMI's research results to a wider audience but also acts as a ready reference for research and policy purposes. Further, a comprehensive examination of IWMI's past works also provides an opportunity to reflect on the evolution and direction of the Institute's research focus over time and serves, therefore, as a basis for periodic reorientation of its research agenda and thematic priorities.

The present volume is one among such synthesis works, covering IWMI's research during 1996-04. It is a sequel to a similar volume by Merrey (1997) that covered IWMI's research during 1984-95 and documented well the major shift in the Institute's research focus from irrigation management at system level to water management at the basin scale. The present volume describes the evolution of IWMI's research agenda since that time and the further expansion of its mandate to encompass not only water but also land management issues and their larger implications for food, livelihoods and environment. This volume aims to provide an accessible, yet an in-depth and informative synthesis of the Institute's research on the key issues within what we refer to as the 'water-food-environment nexus'. Furthermore, since the volume covers a period that coincides with the development and application of a new research paradigm on water productivity (popularly known as 'more crop per drop') the thematic areas covered in the different chapters treat the topic as an analytical method as well as a means for dealing with water and related problems from a basin perspective.

The present chapter introduces the volume by setting the stage with a brief overview of the global water challenge and provides the rationale for a more integrated approach to research on water, food and environmental issues. Within this context, the chapter introduces IWMI's mission and the manner in which it has organized its research over the past decade to address this complex subject in an effective and meaningful way. Finally, this chapter provides an outline of the volume as a whole in order to inform the readers of the key topics and issues covered.


Water experts have been engaged in a 'water crisis' discourse for several decades now with policymakers and the general public more recently taking greater interest in the topic. There is a growing consensus over the emergence of a water crisis both at the regional and global levels. However, opinions diverge on the nature of this crisis. The literature offers several perspectives. For some, the crisis relates to physical water scarcity. Numerous water scarcity indices have been developed over the past 15 years to define water scarcity (e.g., Falkenmark 1986; Ohlsson 1999). These indices have been used to identify countries or regions at the greatest risk of water stress (Raskin et al. 1997; Montaigne 2002) and, extrapolating from that, for conflict (e.g., Klare 2001). Concerns over growing water scarcity have also prompted some to question whether there will be sufficient water for food production requirements as water demands from the industrial and urban sectors expand. For others, the crisis relates essentially to the lack of access to the resource. The World Health Organization, for example, estimates that 1.1 billion people are currently without access to improved water supply sources and, more than 2.4 billion people lack adequate sanitation (WHO 2003). Similarly, reliable and affordable access to water for food production is out of reach for many of the world's 900 million rural poor (Rijsberman 2004). For these cases, the problem is not so much related to the nonavailability of the resource per se, but rather to the lack of political will and financial resources to make water available for the consumptive and productive needs of the poor and unserved communities. Here, water scarcity involves equity considerations with economic and political economy dimensions.

An environmental water crisis is yet another manifestation of unsustainable water extraction and use, whose socioeconomic implications are as large as its ecological consequences. It is caused by declining quantity and quality of water available for ecological systems covering the spectrum from upstream forests to downstream wetlands and with critical significance for the livelihoods of the poor. Water-starved ecosystems are clearly an outcome of intensive water withdrawals for irrigation and urban purposes, increasing pollution, and improper land use practices. It is estimated, for example, that half of the world's wetlands have been lost to agricultural development (UNWWDR 2003), and the construction of dams has led to the destruction of 25 million kilometers of riverine systems (Cosgrove and Rijsberman 2000). Finally, taking all these issues into account, many argue that the true source of the crisis is not the physical scarcity per se but the lack of proper management of the water and land resources both at local and global levels (e.g., Cosgrove and Rijsberman 2000; World Bank 2003; Rogers and Hall 2003). It is based on such a diagnosis that various international fora - from the 1992 Dublin Conference to the 2003 Third World Water Forum - manifestly identify policy and institutional reforms for effective water governance as the highest priorities for action.


The true nature of the water crisis, however defined, and its causes and consequences are clearly complex. The challenges involve sufficient supplies of water for food production, improved access to productive land and water resources for the world's poor, and minimizing the trade-offs between agriculture and the environment. In short, we refer to this complex set of issues as the water-food-environment nexus. Identifying appropriate solutions to the challenges requires both a detailed understanding of this nexus as well as an assessment of possible response mechanisms, both technical and institutional, and their related impacts across multiple scales and sectors.

For many regions of the world, increasing water productivity (or 'more crop per drop') of irrigated and rain-fed systems, rather than allocating more water, holds the greatest potential to improve food security and reduce poverty with the least environmental cost. For example, research suggests that improving water productivity by 40% on rain-fed and irrigated lands can reduce the need for additional withdrawals for irrigation to zero over the next 25 years. While the irrigation systems in Europe, the US, China and Brazil are already operating at high water productivity levels, there is great scope for achieving productivity and related livelihood gains in other regions, particularly in Africa and Asia (Molden and de Fraiture 2004; Cai and Rosegrant 2003; Rockström et al. 2003). However, simultaneously tackling issues of food production, poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability requires a broader definition of water productivity than that implied by the slogan 'more crop per drop' with its focus on crop yields alone. Water productivity needs to be understood in the widest possible sense so as to account for the full range of benefits from water use, including crop yields, land and soil fertility, fishery outputs and ecosystem services as well as the associated social benefits such as improved health and nutrition. Furthermore, its implications must be understood not just at the farm and field levels but also at basin scales and across sectors. Simply stated, the challenge is to catalyze effective and efficient improvements in water productivity at the basin scale in a way that simultaneously achieves food security, poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability goals.


For nearly 20 years, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), formerly the International Irrigation Management Institute (IIMI), has worked with its partners in developing countries to improve the management of water and land resources for agriculture through better technologies, policies, institutions and management. A member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) since 1992, IWMI endeavors to bring together researchers and practitioners to identify practical solutions to water-related problems in agriculture. Initially focused on irrigation, the Institute has since broadened its mandate to examine the management of both water and land, two closely connected resources, with the vision of increasing food security and improving the health and livelihoods of the world's poor while protecting the surrounding environment.

Since the mid-1990s, IWMI's research has focused primarily on opportunities to improve the productivity ('more crop per drop') of water for agriculture at the basin scale. As such, the key research question for the Institute has been: "How can we grow more food and sustain rural livelihoods with less water in a manner that is socially acceptable and environmentally sustainable?" To respond to this question, IWMI's research agenda over the past decade was organized around five thematic areas, namely:

(1) Integrated Water Resources Management.

(2) Smallholder Land and Water Management.

(3) Sustainable Groundwater Management.

(4) Water Resources Institutions and Policies.

(5) Water, Health and Environment.

In addition to these five themes, since 2000 IWMI has also led a 6-year, multi-institute initiative called the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture (CA, for short). The CA takes stock of how water for agriculture has been managed over the last 50 years and the impact of the past policies and practices on food and environmental security. This volume includes a summary and synthesis of the past research in the five thematic areas noted above as well as the emerging results from the CA.


The volume is planned essentially as an analytical summary and a critical synthesis of research at IWMI over the past decade under its evolving research paradigm of 'more crop per drop'. As this period coincided with a broadened mandate for IWMI, i.e., from 'irrigation management' to 'land and water management', the research work synthesized in this volume covers the full range of issues falling on the larger canvas of the water-food-environment nexus.

The volume is organized around nine chapters. In the chapter that immediately follows this introduction, Frank Rijsberman provides a critical review of the 'more crop per drop' research paradigm and its implications for IWMI's current and future research. He presents the evolution of the paradigm, including its influence and limitations, and how the lessons learned from a decade of research on the topic are now influencing IWMI's newly revised research agenda. Within this context, Rijsberman provides the rationale for rethinking the 'more crop per drop' research paradigm and the associated refinement of IWMI's research agenda. The next five chapters present the review and synthesis of research under the aforementioned five core thematic areas and the CA.

In chapter 3, Hammond Murray-Rust and Hugh Turral review and summarize the research work under the theme Integrated Water Resources Management. Having discussed the logic and rationale for selecting river basins rather than individual irrigation systems as a unit of analysis, the authors describe the approaches and methodologies that IWMI has developed and applied for basin-level evaluation of water scarcity, water productivity, water accounting and related performance indicators. The chapter also presents a series of case studies in river basins throughout Asia and Africa. Chapter 4, contributed by Frits Penning de Vries and Deborah Bossio, describes the integration of land management into IWMI's research agenda and summarizes the related research on the land-water interface with particular focus on the livelihoods of smallholders and the economic and environmental sustainability of degraded lands and catchments. Using case studies from Asia and Africa, the chapter presents results on the livelihood and ecological effects, both on- and off-site, of improving water access and productivity among smallholders, promoting catchment conservation and reversing land degradation.

Chapter 5, contributed by Tushaar Shah, reviews the research under the theme of Sustainable Groundwater Management. Using a unique framework of groundwater socio-ecology, the author presents results on a wide variety of issues ranging from the welfare and productivity effects of groundwater irrigation to the conjunctive use and recharge options for resource management. The chapter also presents multi-country experiences with water and energy pricing, direct regulations and water-saving technologies. Field results of IWMI research on groundwater issues focusing on India, China, Mexico and South Africa are also provided. Chapter 6 by Madar Samad summarizes the research under the theme of Water Resources Institutions and Policies. It provides a concise review of research in five broad areas: institutional reforms in the irrigation sector; institutional analysis for river-basin management; water-poverty linkages; gender issues in irrigation; and economic issues, particularly water pricing and investment strategies. It presents not only their conceptual, analytical and methodological aspects but also the empirical insights from their applications in the context of several countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Chapter 7, contributed by Felix Amerasinghe, provides a review and summary of research under the theme Water, Health and Environment. Against a brief note on the evolution of research in the water-health-environment interface at IWMI, this chapter synthesizes the research in five key areas: the health impacts of the irrigation-malaria nexus, the health and livelihood effects of wastewater-based agriculture, the extent and impacts of multiple water use, the economic and ecological effects of using basin catchments and wetlands and the health hazards of farm pesticides. This chapter presents field-based results both from IWMI projects and other works -from a wide variety of countries in Asia and Africa. In chapter 8, David Molden provides the initial results from the ambitious multi-organizational research initiative of the CA. This chapter provides a synthetic overview of results in terms of some key research questions such as the magnitude of water needed to meet food demand; the benefits, costs and impacts of irrigation; the options for improving water productivity in both irrigated and rain-fed agriculture; and the institutional and policy options for balancing food and environmental water needs. Chapter 9 concludes the volume by bringing forth the major insights of research under different themes, highlighting some of the key outcomes and impacts of IWMI research on local water policies and programs as well as on global water research and policy debates.

As can be seen from the outline above, the volume describes new tools, approaches and methodologies and also illustrates their practical application both from a global perspective as well as in the local and regional contexts of Asia, Africa and, to some extent, Latin America. Since this volume brings together all major research of IWMI over the period 1996-04, including an almost exhaustive list of citations, in one single set of pages, it is expected to be valuable as research and reference material, as a policy tool and as a general source of information. Ultimately, it is hoped that by disseminating the major findings and key policy insights among the research, donor and policy communities, this volume will not only provide a capstone for IWMI's last 10 years of work but will also foster a new way of looking at the water issues within the broader development context of improving food production, rural livelihoods and human and environmental health.


Excerpted from "'More Crop Per Drop': Revisiting A Research Paradigm"
by .
Copyright © 2006 IWMI [International Water Management Institute. Sri Lanka (Headquarters.
Excerpted by permission of IWA Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

List of Tables, vi,
List of Figures, vii,
List of Boxes, vii,
Foreword, ix,
Acknowledgements, xi,
Acronyms and Symbols, xii,
Chapter 1 IWMI Research: Context and Setting Meredith A. Giordano, 1,
Chapter 2 'More Crop per Drop': Realigning a Research Paradigm Frank R. Rijsberman, 8,
Chapter 3 Integrated Water Resources Management Hammond Murray-Rust and Hugh Turral, 22,
Chapter 4 Smallholder Land and Water Management Frits Penning de Vries and Deborah Bossio, 56,
Chapter 5 Sustainable Groundwater Management Tushaar Shah, 84,
Chapter 6 Water Resources Institutions and Policy Madar Samad, 118,
Chapter 7 Water, Health and Environment Felix P. Amerasinghe, 145,
Chapter 8 Water Management for Agriculture David Molden, 178,
Chapter 9 A Decade of Water Research at IWMI: Insights and Impacts R. Maria Saleth and Meredith A. Giordano, 196,
References, 225,
Annex A Donors, 258,
Annex B Collaborators and Partners, 260,
Subject Index, 263,

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