The unsustainable exploitation of natural resources has made the threat of desertification very real for vast areas of Latin America. The consequences include weakened land productivity and economic plight and thus, heightened poverty rates. The 'Integrated water resource management by the implementation of improved agro-forestry concepts in arid and semi-arid areas in Latin America' (WAFLA) project sought to redress this compound situation through a multidisciplinary approach to implementing sustainable resources management with an international scope. The EU-funded project worked to combine an integrated water resource management (IWRM) and agroforestry approach as the way to enhancing the region's sustainable development. The project's overall objective was to coordinate current activities in research, technological innovation, and social and policy development so as to create synergies for the promotion of IWRM and improved agroforestry systems. Achieving this was fundamental for identifying, proposing and implementing real solutions to the problem of degradation. Evaluation criteria were standardised, several types of indicators and benchmarks of land degradation were identified, socioeconomic and legislative limitations were defined and then best practices were selected. Other activities included evaluating alternative crops, examining traditional agroforestry practices and developing a market information system (MIS). The latter was proposed for two products in particular, cashews and prosopis. WAFLA worked to establish cooperation among institutions and identified relevant agroforestry networks for potential future collaborations. Instrumental to these efforts was the mapping of current research for a more consolidated approach and for making recommendations for future research and development (R&D) practices. Project partners organised workshops, seminars and a final conference. They also produced guidelines for stakeholders and decision-makers and prepared policy briefs. The project successfully formulated proposals of realistic means for enhancing productivity through a viable ecosystem approach. WAFLA's focus on reversing damaging water management practices has the potential to improve irrigation schemes, increase crop production and offer long-term economic opportunities for the region.