Water, Land and Ecosystems

Aim of the programme

The Research Programme on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) is led by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and partners, and supported by CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future.

RUAF co-leads WLE’s research theme on Rural-Urban Linkages (RUL). The RUL Research Flagship, seeks to address challenges of urbanisation, improving the resilience of city food systems and sanitation services and waste management.

Why is this programme important?

Urbanisation means new economic and livelihood opportunities but also increasingly centralised consumption needs. Peri-urban areas, are hotspots for farming system transformation and intensification in view of urban demands. At the same time, hungry and thirsty cities are putting increasing pressure on water and land resources posing increased vulnerability to disruptions in safe and nutritious food availability and supply, especially in areas affected by climate change.

Feeding urban populations in a sustainable way requires understanding how to improve the resilience of city region food systems, while simultaneously addressing risks and challenges to human health and the environment from food waste, excreta and wastewater.

Programme activities

RUL addresses these interlinked challenges from a landscapes and territorial perspective. It addresses challenges related to urbanising landscapes and develops activities on governance, food value chains, assessment and monitoring of city region food systems (CRFS), and closing water and nutrient loops by reusing organic waste and wastewater.


WLE is a global programme. RUAF and partners work in a number of cities, including Antananarivo, Colombo, Nairobi, and Quito, supporting other programmes like WASH and CRFS.


Project activities and results supported by WLE are:


WLE runs from 2017 to 2021.


WLE combines the resources of 11 CGIAR centres, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the RUAF Global Partnership, and numerous national, regional and international partners. RUAF work with cities and city networks like CITYFOOD and the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact.

Contact person

Pay Drechsel,
René van Veenhuizen,

More information
Thrive Blog:

Interesting reads

Resilient and participatory: How Quito’s setting the standard on urban food systems

Strengthening city-region food systems during and beyond COVID-19