Neil Palmer/IWMI.

Engagement Strategies

Dialogue, Communication and Uptake

The scale, pace and complexity of global changes – including population growth and food demand, shifting patterns of poverty, and climate change – require transformations of agricultural systems supported by engaged and forward-thinking research. While innovative research is a necessity, it is not sufficient to address these global issues.

WLE takes a research-for-development approach. In research for development, the entire research process serves as the basis for strategic engagement with decision makers.

Engagement strategies aim to involve decision makers, development actors and other change agents and to influence their knowledge, attitude and skills. Engaging decision makers from the outset allows them to contribute to defining the problem, setting priorities, and designing and implementing solutions.

Lessons on Engagement

WLE’s approach to policy engagement has been honed through a number of successful projects and interactions with regional and global processes and conventions. While each case is contextual, some broader lessons have been identified:

  • Having a strong presence with respected, local researchers who are engaged in national development processes leads to increased opportunities for research to be used.
  • Developing relationships with key ministries that are engaged in the policy debate allows for supporting their needs with demand-driven, evidence-based research.
  • Partnering with regional, national and local organizations and groups has proven to be an effective strategy: For example, in the AgWater Management Solutions project, ambassadors were used to gain entry into key policy processes.

IWMI-TATA Partnership:

Engaging in policy dialogue for large-scale change

Under the IWMI-Tata Water Policy Research Program, senior IWMI researchers are actively involved in local development programs and boards where research results can be directly applied.  

In India, the rapidly expanding use of solar irrigation pumps will reduce demand on central power generating capacity and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Without carefully designed programs, however, the pumps could threaten groundwater sustainability. The IWMI-Tata Water Policy Program, supported by WLE, has recommended policy reforms that enable farmers to sell back surplus solar power – a solar ‘cash crop’ that motivates farmers to use water efficiently and minimize the pumping of scarce water. [Learn more]