Research in this theme provides new insights into the allocation, use, and preservation of natural resources, without which food security is unattainable. Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, has the potential to boost agricultural productivity by at least 50 percent if it can move from an almost entirely rainfed agricultural system to one that properly engages the power of irrigation. Over the past year, IFPRI researchers have evaluated the potential and pitfalls of dam-based large-scale and small-scale irrigation using agronomic, hydrologic, and economic factors to identify profitable irrigation expansion in Africa.
Given that the rural poor in developing countries depend largely on natural resources for their livelihoods, they need sustainable land management practices to boost yields without degrading land or other resources. This is especially true in dry areas, where land degradation and desertification pose a serious threat. By influencing the profitability of sustainable land management practices, social, economic, and policy factors strongly affect whether poor people adopt such practices. As a result, if policymakers wish to increase adoption rates, they need to understand such factors and the relationships between them in a particular area. IFPRI researchers and partners recommended that information relevant to sustainable land management be collected through existing methods—such as censuses and household surveys—that already gather geographically referenced socioeconomic data. The various types of data can then be linked using geographic information systems in order to identify cause-and-effect patterns and summarize complex interactions between people and their environment. This knowledge can provide valuable input into policies designed to increase adoption of effective sustainable land management practices.
CAPRi, the CGIAR Systemwide Program on Collective Action and Property Rights, saw one of its major initiatives draw to a close this year after six years of research, with an edited volume of findings, lessons learned, and policy recommendations from nine case studies. The book, Collective Action and Property Rights for Poverty Reduction: Insights from Africa and Asia, will be released in 2011. CAPRi also finalized a new sourcebook of materials—including short articles, illustrations, and posters—that summarizes 15 years of research. The sourcebook was used to conduct a well-attended training session in El Salvador called Collective Action, Property Rights, and Institutional Arrangements: Lessons for Territorial Management. In addition, a new CAPRi research theme that explores the links between natural resource management and violent conflict got underway with a workshop in Cambodia that brought together a diverse group of experts from throughout the CGIAR and other organizations.
Other focal areas under the Natural Resource Policies theme include: