May 26, 2024

“Addressing Water Scarcity, Climate Crisis, and Global Food Security through Collaboration”

The lack of water is a significant problem that needs urgent attention in today's development. Currently, 24 billion individuals reside in nations facing water scarcity.

Clive Tatenda Makumbe

The lack of water is a significant problem that needs urgent attention in today’s development. Currently, 24 billion individuals reside in nations facing water scarcity. A majority of small-scale farmers are already facing challenges in accessing clean water, nutritious food, and essential services like hygiene and sanitation. Women, indigenous people, migrants, and refugees are especially impacted by this issue.

The demand for this valuable resource is increasing, leading to growing competition conflicts due to the scarcity of water. In the last 20 years, the amount of freshwater available per person has decreased by 20%, and the overall quality and availability of water have been deteriorating rapidly because of long-term mismanagement, excessive use of groundwater, pollution, and the effects of climate change.

To make matters worse, our ecosystems are facing intense and repeated severe weather events, droughts, and floods, which are having a devastating impact on global food security.

Agriculture, the sector with the highest percentage of global freshwater usage at 72%, offers the solutions to this worldwide crisis.

An all-encompassing strategy for an evolving society.

Addressing these complex challenges requires securing enough water resources for agriculture in the most efficient way possible. As the global population grows and urbanization speeds up, the competition for water becomes increasingly important, particularly as the demand for food rises. This competition affects various economic sectors that rely on water.

It is crucial to have efficient governance in place to ensure fair and long-lasting distribution of water resources. This involves embracing a holistic and collaborative strategy that engages everyone involved, from government leaders to local communities. Effective management and ownership of water resources, along with accurate tracking of water usage, are necessary to drive significant change and ensure fair and equal access to water.

Strategic investments and incentives in creative and effective water management techniques are essential. This involves the integration of innovative irrigation and storage technologies, the advancement of wastewater treatment and reuse methods, the implementation of circular economy principles, and the utilization of ecosystem-based solutions to tackle water scarcity.

By effectively managing water, soil, and land resources in a coordinated way, we can optimize human well-being while preserving the integrity and long-term sustainability of crucial ecosystems. Efforts of this nature require both national and regional approaches.

With the increasing water scarcity and more frequent droughts and floods due to climate change, the global community needs to take proactive steps and embrace a comprehensive approach to addressing climate issues that go beyond just water and food. There is a need to expedite and increase the implementation of more specific and comprehensive climate solutions to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

Collaborating with nations to take action in the field.

The FAO, along with its member countries and other collaborators, is dedicated to bringing about these transformations.

The 2023 United Nations Water Conference marked a crucial moment as it brought together world leaders, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and individuals to commit to taking purposeful action to achieve the water-related goals and targets set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Because agriculture accounts for almost 75% of freshwater usage, FAO is uniquely positioned to propose solutions for addressing issues related to water scarcity. Family farmers are significantly impacted by water-related disasters, such as droughts and floods, similarly.

By the “New Water Journey” of the Organization, which focuses on Integrated Water Resources Management for agricultural and food security to promote various SDGs, FAO supports the worldwide Water Action Agenda as established at the 2023 Water Conference.

FAO collaborates with governments and local groups to develop National Water Roadmaps that are driven and owned by the country, to enhance the coordination of water across different sectors at the national level. FAO develops the necessary data sets and technology for countries to make informed decisions.

It collaborates with nations to enhance farmers’ rights and access to water to improve water governance.

Worldwide, irrigated land yields 40 percent of the food supply from only 20 percent of available arable land, but there is still room for further development in this area. To fully realize this potential, FAO is creating a strategy to assess the global irrigation requirements and map out their potential, working in collaboration with implementing countries.

FAO also advocates for specific investments and suitable financial support for water infrastructure and irrigation, collaborating with governments to effectively handle drought risks before they escalate into emergencies.

Even though floods resulted in approximately $20 billion in worldwide damages in 2021, implementing ecosystem-focused strategies such as flood management, agricultural land practices, wetland storage, and soil and water conservation can help mitigate the severity of floods and minimize their effects.

Integrating land and water management can offer numerous advantages. In countries like Sri Lanka and Zambia, FAO is testing the concept of multifunctional paddy fields where fish and shrimp farming is incorporated alongside traditional rice production.

As the leader of WASAG, FAO is uniting governments and other influential figures around the world to exchange ideas and create innovative policies, strategies, and initiatives to transform water scarcity into a chance for food and nutrition security.

“Encouraging cooperation for the sustainable management of water resources: A plea for all involved parties to take action”

Together, we are capable of doing greater things, as each actor plays a unique but interconnected role in making contributions.

Using water resources more efficiently begins with creating alliances. This indicates that governments must work together with international organizations, research institutions, academia, the private sector, and civil society to develop long-lasting solutions for a future with secure access to water and food.

Governments should create policies informed by science and evidence, using data and innovation to enhance water planning and management. Acknowledging the interconnectedness of water, food, and energy, policies should emphasize coordinated planning across sectors and finding a balance between competing yet complementary needs, while also safeguarding the health of our ecosystems.

Farmers must take on the role of promoting sustainable water management and have the necessary tools to do so successfully. Farmers, communities reliant on forests, fishermen, animal breeders, and individuals in the maritime industry are already accustomed to interacting with water regularly. It is sensible and wise to empower and support individuals in discovering and executing water solutions that meet their specific requirements. Nevertheless, this goal can only be reached if they have access to suitable technologies, education, and up-to-date, precise information. They should be actively engaged in every step of the planning and decision-making process.

The private sector must take on the responsibility of managing water resources. This involves actively committing to enhancing water efficiency and minimizing pollution throughout the entire supply chain. Emphasizing water management can improve their standing and financial gains while also protecting against potential threats from water scarcity, floods, and pollution in the future.

In conclusion, all individuals need to recognize the importance of water. We must stop assuming that it will always be available. By making well-informed choices when purchasing products, conserving water, and minimizing pollution, we can all play a part in promoting a positive future for food, humanity, and the environment.