Spotlight series: International Water Management Institute (IWMI)

4th July 2014

In the first of our new Eldis “Spotlight series”, and to celebrate World Water Day, we highlight the work of the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

With its long history of irrigation management, first carried out by its ancient kings, Sri Lanka now seems the obvious home for the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). But, when the Institute was initially forming India, Pakistan and the Philippines were all considered as host countries.

The Institute, which was launched in 1984, is one of the 15 institutes that make up the CGIAR strategic partnership of agricultural research centres. James Clarke, IWMI’s Director of Communications and Marketing, based in the Colombo headquarters, told us a little more about IMWI’s mission and the challenges they face.

IWMI’s work focuses mainly on Asia and Africa, and along the themes of cities, ecosystems, water in agriculture, water and communities and water policy: “The bottom line is how can we manage water equitably so that the needs of the poorest are looked after in an environmentally friendly manner and so that we don’t wreck the ecosystems that underpin agriculture in the first place?” explains Clarke.

He says the Institute’s multi-disciplinary, impact-focused, approach is what helps it to stand out from other organisations: “It is taking that holistic view... The job of our researchers is not simply to be research scientists; they also engage with local politicians, other water professionals, and communities – whatever level we think that we can bring about policy change... we probably target policy makers in the broader sense but in order to do that you’re also working with other target groups.” The media, United Nations and donor organisations are also important audiences IWMI looks to persuade and influence in order to bring about change.

Research spotlight

If you want to get to know IWMI’s research better visit their organisation profile. For a quick introduction Clark suggests the following three documents would be a good place to start: