Learning talk: Water – What Works in Developing Countries?

19 October 2023

  • Event type IEU talk
  • Participation
    By invitation only
  • Date 19 October 2023
  • Location Hybrid


On 19 October 2023, the IEU held a learning talk on water sector interventions. This learning talk reported on the findings of a systematic review on interventions that aim to enhance adaptive capacity and mitigation co-benefits in the coastal and terrestrial water sectors.

First, the panelists introduced the evidence gap map and systematic review findings, which provide comprehensive evidence that can guide project developers and policymakers in making informed decisions, particularly regarding climate adaptation and mitigation co-benefits. The panelists underlined that these findings offer evidence-based insights that can facilitate the programming of water-sector interventions in developing countries and deepen our understanding of what works in water-sector interventions.  

Following the panelists' interventions, a moderated discussion took place. The discussants touched upon how the findings intersect with current programming and debates within the water sector. Additionally, they discussed to which extent the effect sizes for key significant interventions (such as water-efficient irrigation systems and ecosystem-based watershed management) corroborate or challenge existing knowledge within the sector. Lastly, the discussants deliberated on the ways in which the findings can be enhanced and extended, including by looking at a nexus of water and other sectors.

Discussion highlights

  • 'There is a need for innovative solutions. There is a need to look at how sectors are interconnected. And this study helps us understand where the gaps are and shows us where we could do things differently.' - Bapon Fakhruddin
  • 'We need to invest more in finding evidence, especially on coastal interventions and those that have co-benefits in mitigation and adaptation.' - Beom-Sik Yoo

Learning outcomes

  • Water-efficient irrigation systems and ecosystem-based watershed management improve crop yields.
  • All water intervention types (6) included in the meta-analysis can improve income (at the 90% significance level).
  • While the effects of interventions on intermediate outcomes (yields, income) are clear, more evidence is needed to confirm the effects on final outcomes (food security, dietary diversity).


Jennifer Pampolina, Communications & Uptake Associate, GCF-IEU and Martin Prowse, Evaluation Specialist, GCF-IEU


Beom-Sik Yoo, Senior Advisor (Asia/Oceania), Ramsar Convention and Bapon Fakhruddin, Water Resources Management Senior Specialist GCF-DMA


Genta Konci, Evaluation Specialist, GCF-IEU