Who we are
The continued overuse of water combined with the ever worsening degradation of agro-ecosystems, present a serious challenge to farm households in rural communities that predominantly depend on land productivity for their livelihoods. The situation is further exasperated by increasing population, agricultural, industrial, and urban growth. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and managed by the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), the Middle East Water and Livelihoods Initiative (WLI) aims to improve the livelihoods of rural households and communities in seven countries.
The countries which include Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Yemen face serious challenges resulting from water scarcity, land degradation, water quality deterioration, food insecurity and health problems. The Initiative, primarily targets specific benchmark sites in each country that typify the full spectrum of livelihood and watershed constraints. The sites also represent the three main agro-ecological systems in the region namely irrigated, rainfed, and rangeland. Research technologies and strategies developed in the benchmark sites can thus be disseminated in the region by ‘scaling-out’ the lessons learned and the results obtained at the benchmark sites.
One of the main strengths of WLI is its emphasis on the use of existing data, social capital, research linkages, partnerships and proven methodologies and technologies in the Middle East thereby ensuring the sustainability of the impacts achieved. The initiative thus highly promotes self-reliance by building on local knowledge and enhancing the capacity of national and regional implementing partners.
This is done by drawing from a wide multi-disciplinary pool of expertise from ICARDA, International Water Management Institute (IWMI), four U.S. universities (University of Florida, Texas A&M, University of California at Davis and Colorado State University), and three Regional Universities (American University in Cairo, American University of Beirut, and the University of Jordan). Key stakeholders at the benchmark sites include National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS), farmers, extension agents, and student researchers (MA and PhD levels) from the region and the United States.