IWMI Nile Basin and East Africa sub-regional office

East Africa

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Despite having significant land and water resources, East Africa is one of the world’s most food-insecure regions.  IWMI’s research seeks to find evidence-based strategies and solutions to the agricultural water challenges that contribute to this lack of food security.

The Nile Basin continues to be one of the benchmark basins for IWMI’s broader research.  Over 70% of the people within this region depend on subsistence rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods.  This situation is becoming more problematic with increasingly unpredictable rainfall.  Important issues that need to be addressed include:

  • land degradation
  • erosion
  • low crop yields
  • impacts of climate change
  • unsustainable water use
  • equitable sharing of water resources

Appropriate management and development of land and water resources is crucial to reducing poverty, improving food security and increasing economic growth throughout East Africa.


Aligned with regional development objectives

At a regional level, IWMI’s East Africa research portfolio aims to support the East African Community (EAC) and the objectives of the EAC’s Agriculture and Rural Development Strategy (ARDS), as well as its Food Security Action Plan, through collaboration with national and international partners.  IWMI’s research is aligned to the aims of the EAC ARDS, which are to;

  • improve food security
  • accelerate irrigation development
  • strengthen research, extension and training
  • promote agro-based industries
  • natural resource management
  • access to productive resources

Equally, IWMI works to address challenges in the priority areas identified in the EAC’s Food Security Action Plan, including;

  • provision of an enabling policy, legal and institutional framework,
  • increasing food availability in sufficient quantity and quality,
  • improving access to food,
  • improving stability of food supply and access in the EAC region,
  • enhancing the efficiency of food utilization, nutrition and food safety
  • gender equity
  • community development

In tandem, IWMI’s research portfolio in East Africa is aligned with the objectives of Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) which are to develop policies and programs aimed at deepening co-operation in agricultural research and policy among its member countries for the mutual benefit of all stakeholders in the agricultural sector.


Supporting national development goals

At a national level IWMI collaborates with government Ministries and national agricultural research organizations to support national development priorities. These include the design and implementation of CAADP National Agriculture Investment Plans (NAIPs).  IWMI works closely with a wide array of development partners, civil society organizations, national and international universities, and private sector enterprises. Through collaborative research engagement, IWMI strives to build the capacity of institutions, researchers and students in the Nile Basin and East Africa.

The Nile Basin Development Challenge aims to improve the resilience of rural livelihoods in the Ethiopian highlands through a landscape (watershed) approach to rainwater management.  It comprises five linked projects:

  • Learning about rainwater management systems
  • Integrating technologies, policies and institutions
  • Targeting and scaling out of rainwater management systems
  • Assessing and anticipating the consequences of innovation in rainwater management systems
  • Catalyzing platforms for learning, communication and coordination


Building local capacity

IWMI works to improve education in water management by forging stronger links with universities, and engaging in activities to improve curriculums, conduct collaborative research, and to enhance library and laboratory facilities.

IWMI regularly leads capacity building workshops at various levels, specific to particular projects as well as on broader issues.  Workshop participants include a wide range of participants from local farmers and market traders to academics and national and regional policy makers.

The IWMI East Africa office is hosted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) Addis Campus, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.