Regional Research for Sustainability

Regional Research for Sustainability

From 2014 until the end of 2016, WLE implemented an innovative set of projects in response to a call for more demand-driven and locally led initiatives in support of agricultural intensification at a regional scale. Researchers partnered with local actors to co-design projects that used an ecosystem-based approach to influence investment and decision-making in support of more equitable management of natural resources.

33 projects were implemented in 18 countries with 175 partner organizations in four regions. Some of the key findings and outcomes are highlighted below.

Read about the inception of the program and a reflection from the focal region program coordinator.


In the Ganges River basin, WLE worked to improve the food security, nutrition and livelihoods of farmers in a variety of landscapes, from mountains, to plains, to river deltas. To accomplish this, projects focused on improving the management of agricultural ecosystems in order to improve productivity and the services provided by these variable ecosystems. There was a strong gender focus in the basin, with multiple projects working on women’s access to natural and financial resources, as well as on empowering them to make decisions on agriculture.

Greater Mekong

The Greater Mekong program had a strong focus on water governance and large scale reservoir management. Using a participatory ‘research for development’ approach, the program worked to bring many different actors together to collaboratively address challenges at national and river basin scales. The work was carried out across Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, and China's Yunnan province in four Greater Mekong river basins: the Irrawaddy, the Salween, the Mekong, and the Red. Having procured additional funding, the program will continue to operate until at least the end of 2018. Learn more.

  • MK27 Community Game Vietnam Red River

    Finding Ways to Make a Difference

  • Knowledge brings behavior change

  • Blog Post
    Laos' Nam Xong river (also spelled Nam Song).

    A clearer vision of Laos' Nam Xong

  • Blog Post
    Political and community representatives from Myanmar talk to WLE 2016 Greater Mekong Forum participants

    Managing resources and mitigating conflict in Myanmar

  • Blog Post
    thaibaan mekong

    The art of weaving: community-led research in Viet Nam

Nile and East Africa

A growing population and the increasing use of marginal lands have led to land and ecosystem degradation in many parts of the Blue Nile Basin in East Africa. WLE worked to achieve resilient and equitable growth in the region by promoting an agenda of sustainability for existing and emerging national and regional processes and investments. It focused on improved governance for environmentally and socially sustainable management of infrastructure and ecosystems; healthy landscapes and ecosystem services for productive economies and food security; and capacity enhancement and professional development.


In the rural, northern reaches of the Volta and Niger River basins, WLE worked to guide sustainable investments in land and water management to ensure that farming remains an attractive livelihood, while contributing to the sustainable development and food security of the region. The region is particularly susceptible to the effects of climate change and to demographic pressures that lead to increasing demands on water, food and energy. The focus in the region was on influencing policies and public and private investments for improved management of the region’s ecosystems, with a strong focus on the gendered access to diminishing resources.

  • Blog Post

    Can I feed my family and our cattle?

  • Blog Post

    3 lessons from Ghana on women's access to land and water

  • Dry-season farmingread original article on external website

  • Blog Post

    Farmers film their homegrown solutions