The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) is a non-profit, scientific research organisation that focuses on the sustainable use of water and land resources in developing countries. Launched in 2000, the IWMI–Tata Water Policy Research Programme (ITP) is a collaborative programme of IWMI, Colombo and Sir Ratan Tata Trust (SRTT ), Mumbai — one of the oldest philanthropic institutions in India. The objective of ITP is to help policy makers at the central, state and local levels address their water challenges — in areas such as sustainable groundwater management, water scarcity, and rural poverty — by translating research findings into practical policy recommendations.
The ITP received the coveted 'Water for Life' UN-Water Best Practices Award on March 21, 2014. The award recognises exceptional practices that have the potential to ensure sustainable management of water resources and contribute to the 'achievement of internationally agreed goals and targets.' ITP won the award for its groundbreaking work linking energy use, food production and water availability in Indian agriculture
"We are greatly honoured by this prestigious award," said Tushaar Shah, leader of ITP and a senior fellow at IWMI, who accepted the award in Tokyo on behalf of the research team. "Many, many partners and several hundred student interns have helped us along the way, but our focus has always been to support India's smallholder farmers and preserve our precious natural resources."
Commenting on the award the jury said, "In the past, a lack of communication and research in relation to water management in Indian agriculture has led to a paradoxical situation where farmers in regions with rapidly depleting groundwater get free or a highly subsidized power supply, while farmers in regions with abundant groundwater resources tend to economize on irrigation due to expensive diesel. As a result, water-scarce areas in India end up exporting 'virtual water' to water-abundant areas in the country. Examples such as this can be attributed to the fact that, while there is a lot of potentially useful scientific research being conducted in India, it often does not reach the policymakers. Thus, ITP tried to fill the gap between research and policy action by simultaneously engaging with scientists and policymakers."
The ITP intends to develop fresh viewpoints and realistic solutions acquired from the storehouse of research conducted in India on water resources management. ITP has also been successful in harnessing the energies of a large group of people in exploring the 'real time' developments in the field of water management.
Moving forward, the programme is all set to embrace complex water resources management challenges to provide solutions for a 'water secure world' apart from capacity building of young researchers and practitioners.