Programme goal

To understand the trajectory and drivers of change occurring in land and water resources stressed regions with respect to water availability, water quality, land degradation, food security and provision of environmental services for and by the agricultural systems; and identify appropriate practical/ policy strategies to achieve environmental sustainability and human wellbeing.


Since the middle of the 20th century, dramatic increases inpopulations and large-scale urbanisation has created new demands forand impacts on agrarian landscapes and water resources, as hasindustrialisation in recent decades. While there have been significantdevelopmental gains as a consequence for many groups, the goals ofmeeting basic water needs, including equitable access to andsustainable use of water resources, as well as ensuring food security,by maintaining productivity in traditional agrarian, peri-urban aswell as urban settings remain distant in many regions.

The Land, Water and Livelihoods Programme aims to understand the direction and drivers of change in water availability and quality, land use and food security. We seek to investigate the hydrological, socio-economic and institutional processes underpinning them, especially in water-stressed regions, both urban and rural, as well as agrarian contexts, in order to generate workable solutions. We are particularly interested in understanding how climate change might further complicate land and water management and governance. We seek to make our work participatory and inclusive of stakeholders in all stages of research from problem framing, to conducting research and dissemination of results.

Our research involves a variety of data collection and analyses tools drawing from the natural and social sciences including household surveys, participatory rural appraisals (PRA), oral history, interviews, lab analyses, field surveys, hydrology and water quality field instrumentation, simulation modeling, satellite image processing, etc.

Issues addressed

  • Water scarcity: decline in quantity and quality of water for human wellbeing, sustaining economic activities and ecosystem functioning (dry season river flows and groundwater depletion)
  • Changes in agricultural practices
  • Diversion to high-value uses (cash crops, industry and urban drinking water)
  • Climate variability and change
  • Land degradation: reduction in net cultivable area increasing pressure on land for more intense uses
  • Salinity and waterlogging in large irrigation schemes
  • Land-use management of areas prone to water and wind erosion (arid, semi-arid, high rainfall and steep slopes)
  • Climate change impacts: increased wind draft, reduced rainy days, high rainfall intensities