In Cambodia, this irrigation canal near Tonlé Sap waters the surrounding rice fields, contributing to the country’s food supply.  The USAID-funded Sustainable Water Partnership (SWP) is helping Cambodians achieve water security through its Tonlé Sap Basin Activity.  Photo credit: Thomas DeCian for Winrock International

Eric Viala on Strengthening Water Security to Improve Economic and Environmental Sustainability

Did you know that more than 2 billion people—or nearly one out of every four people on the planet—deal with high water stress in their lives, according to the U.N.? The impacts on everyday life are considerable. Water insecurity weakens public health, slows economic growth, and too often diminishes young people’s academic and economic potential.

With competition for limited water resources set to intensify in the coming years, what role can sustainable water resource management techniques play in bolstering the resilience and economic growth prospects of water-stressed communities?

To answer that question, Global Waters Radio recently spoke with water expert and engineer Eric Viala, who shares examples from Africa’s Sahel region to Cambodia about the powerful ways that strengthened water security contributes to environmental sustainability and improves communities’ resilience in the face of natural disasters. Eric also discusses best practices and lessons learned from his recent tenure directing USAID’s Sustainable Water Partnership, and shares his excitement about his current role directing a new USAID-supported water security and resilience initiative to promote sustainable water- and land-use practices in Burkina Faso and Niger.

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Global Waters Radio is a podcast series produced by the Water Team at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The series offers listeners insights from USAID officials, development partners, thought leaders and experts from across the water sector as they discuss current USAID water programming and cutting-edge research from around the world. Have a topic you would like to see covered in a future Global Waters Radio podcast? Please contact us at, and follow us on Twitter @USAIDWater.

Publication Date
Author credits
Eric Viala
Russell Sticklor
12 minutes 24 seconds
Population Focus