Joint FAO-Arab League : climate change poses serious risk to water availability

 

Photo credit: FAO

A farmer harvesting water from a well for his goats and sheep.

Water use innovations crucial to face climate change in Arab countries

Joint FAO-Arab League event hears climate change poses serious risk to water availability

Arab states must continue to seek innovations to overcome water scarcity in the face of climate change, said UN Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General José Graziano da Silva at an event co-hosted by the Arab League on the sidelines of FAO’s biennial Conference.

In the Near East and North Africa region, the per capita renewable water availability is around 600 cubic metres per person per year – only 10 percent of the world average – and drops to just 100 cubic metres in some countries.

The Director-General praised Near East and North African countries’ progress, despite the challenges, in areas such as desalination, water harvesting, drip irrigation and treating wastewater.

“It is fundamental to promote ways for agriculture, and food production in general, to use less water, and use it more efficiently,” he said. “Population growth and the impacts of climate change will put more pressure on water availability in the near future. Climate change, in particular, poses very serious risks.”

Farmers and rural households should be at the center of strategies to address water scarcity, Graziano da Silva said. “Not only to encourage them to adopt more efficient farming technologies, but also to secure access to drinking water for poor rural households. This is vital for food security and improved nutrition.”

Read the full article: FAO

Over-abstraction of groundwater

 

Photo credit: CGIAR

 A well in Tunisia.

Groundwater over-abstraction in the MENA region: 5 problems and some solutions

Written by

In the Haouaria Plain of Northern Tunisia, a too familiar scene unfolds: a farmer stands near the edge of a wide hand-dug well, distraught. Groundwater levels continue to drop every year, increasing salinity and reducing the amount of crops that can be cultivated. Precipitation does not replenish the shallow aquifer like it used to. Groundwater depletion is a vexing phenomenon threatening sustainable economic and social development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Controlling and managing over-abstraction has become a clear challenge for policy-makers, managers and academics in the region.

Can innovative policies and regulations be used to reverse the current trend of groundwater depletion? This complex problem requires a systematic far-reaching approach that builds on existing knowledge and practices within and beyond the region. Implemented by IWMI and national partners in Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, and the UAE, a three-year USAID-funded project studied the uses, limitations and potential of policy tools and stakeholder dialogue to curb groundwater over-abstraction. The project has found that the current regulation and management tools in the MENA region suffer from five “wicked” problems that prevent them from properly addressing groundwater issues.

1. Scattered web of groundwater users

The main problem affecting groundwater resources in the MENA region is the myriad and scattered number of groundwater users.

Read the full article: CGIAR

Crop irrigation with untreated wastewater

 

Photo credit: IWMI

Basudev Mondal irrigates a farm near the busy EM Bypass road of Calcutta, India growing brinjal or egg plant. Photo: Chhandak Pradhan / IWMI

Crop irrigation with untreated wastewater

A major health and environmental menace

The use of wastewater to irrigate crops is far more widespread than previously estimated, according to a new study, exposing hundreds of millions of people to health risks and posing a major environmental hazard.

Study results, based on on advanced modeling methods, show that 65% of all irrigated areas within 40 kilometers downstream from urban centers – amounting to about 35.9 million hectares (Mha) worldwide – are affected by wastewater flows to a large degree. Of this total area, 29.3 Mha are in countries where wastewater treatment is very limited, exposing 885 million urban consumers as well as farmers and food vendors to serious health risks.

Five countries – China, India, Pakistan, Mexico and Iran – account for most of this cropland. The new findings supersede a widely cited 2004 estimate, based on case studies in some 70 countries and expert opinion, which had put the cropland area irrigated with wastewater at a maximum of 20 million hectares.

Read the full article: IWMI

Solar irrigation pumps in Ethiopia

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A farmers in Lemo woreda with his newly installed solar irrigation pump (photo credit: IWMI/ Petra Schmitter). – https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4266/34754722623_a0b5fa5688_z.jpg

 

Expanding use of solar irrigation pumps in Ethiopia

In the first phase of the Africa RISING project in the Ethiopian highlands, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) investigated technologies that could improve farmers’ access and use of the available water in their surroundings for better agricultural production and productivity. Water scarcity and lack of technologies for accessing and managing available water are major constraints to farming in Ethiopia.

Starting in August 2015, IWMI introduced and tested the effectiveness of water lifting technologies such as solar-powered irrigation pumps that help farmers’ easily access water from near their farms. The solar pump-based irrigation was tested in the Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region. Farmers from the Upper Gana and Jawe kebeles used these pumps to irrigate fodder (oats and vetch mixed cropping) for their animals and fruits and vegetables farms in the dry seasons.

An assessment showed that most of the farmers used the pumps to lift water for domestic purposes and agriculture across seasons. They claimed improved production and productivity; saved labour and time and improved access to clean water.

To expand these benefits to more farmers, IWMI, the Solar Development PLC (the main supplier of solar pumps in Ethiopia) and partners are working together to accelerate wider adoption of the technology as a key goal of the second phase (2017-2021) of the Africa RISING project.

Read the full article: Africa Rising

Community rights around large dams.

 

Photo credit: IIED – LAND-L

Global Water Initiative animations

In February 2017, the Global Water Initiative (GWI) West Africa released an animation explaining how policymakers can work with local communities to protect the rights of people affected by large dams in West Africa.

The animation is the first in a series of three animations looking at community rights around large dams. It is available in English and French, and can be viewed at the IIED website.

The second animation in the collection looks at revenue sharing from dams and will be released next week – watch this space!

For further information on GWI contact Jamie Skinner (jamie.skinner@iied.org), principal researcher, IIED’s Natural Resources research group.

 

Anne Schulthess

International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

80-86 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8NH

Pinpointing untapped irrigation potential

Photo credit: IWMI

Irrigation and agricultural development in rural areas of Limpopo Province, South Africa.
Photo: Graeme Williams / IWMI

A baseline for revitalization of smallholder schemes in South Africa

Ambitious efforts are underway in Africa to promote the spread of smallholder irrigation. This work is critical for achieving sustainable intensification of agriculture and for enhancing its resilience in the face of more frequent and severe droughts.

As part of its concerted support for such efforts, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) has published a new study – titled Smallholder irrigation schemes in the Limpopo Province, South Africa (Working Paper 174) – which sheds light on the underutilization of these schemes in former “homeland” areas of a key agricultural province. Working in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (LDARD), a team of researchers lead by IWMI principal researcher Barbara van Koppen conducted a survey of 76 public smallholder irrigation schemes. Their purpose was to establish a baseline understanding of key features of these schemes, including smallholders’ perceptions about their limitations.

Read the full article: IWMI

Smallholder irrigation

 

http://www.iwmi.cgiar.org/2017/06/iwmi-working-paper-174-smallholder-irrigation-schemes-in-the-limpopo-province-south-africa/

IWMI Working Paper – 174: Smallholder irrigation schemes in the Limpopo Province, South Africa.

A survey of 76 public smallholder irrigation schemes in the Limpopo Province was jointly conducted by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), South Africa, and the Limpopo Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (LDARD), as part of the ‘Revitalization of Smallholder Irrigation in South Africa’ project. About one-third of those schemes was fully utilized; one-third partially utilized; and one-third not utilized in the winter of 2015; however, no single socioeconomic, physical, agronomic and marketing variable could explain these differences in utilization. Sale, mostly for informal markets, appeared the most important goal. Dilapidated infrastructure was the most important constraint cited by the farmers. The study recommends ways to overcome the build-neglect-rebuild syndrome, and to learn lessons from informal irrigation, which covers an area three to four times as large as public irrigation schemes in the province.

 

van Koppen, Barbara; Nhamo, Luxon; Cai, Xueliang; Gabriel, M. J.; Sekgala, M.; Shikwambana, S.; Tshikolomo, K.; Nevhutanda, S.; Matlala, B.; Manyama, D. 2017. Smallholder irrigation schemes in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. Colombo, Sri Lanka: International Water Management Institute (IWMI) 36p. (IWMI

Gender and individual irrigation technologies

 

 

Gender and water technologies use for irrigation and multiple purposes in Ethiopia

A new report by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) outlines the results of a study on gender and individual irrigation technologies in two Africa RISING Project sites in Ethiopia, Bale (Illu Sambitu Kebele) and Lemo (Jawe and Upper Gana Kebeles).

Based on a survey of 79 farmers (38 men and 41 women) across four types of water lifting technologies, the study explored the intra-household gender dynamics in Africa RISING pilots of water lifting technologies (rope and washer pump, tractor and drip, and solar pumps). The technologies are installed near farmer households to produce irrigated fodder, vegetables (carrot and cabbage) and fruits (avocado) in the dry season, and to serve multiple other purposes. Diesel pump users already producing dry season vegetables in the sites were included in the study.

The study found that farmers use the water lifting technologies for multiple purposes across seasons with improved water quality enhancing use for domestic purposes. While the project targets both women and men farmers, women still have lower access to most resources, particularly information. Men were found to mostly control the use of the technologies especially for irrigation, though both women and men perceive the level of control over the technologies differently. Nearly all respondents indicated that the technologies ease work both on-farm for irrigation and for domestic and livestock watering roles.

Women and men respondents ranked double cropping as the highest benefit of the technologies, followed by domestic uses and livestock watering, though men also considered social status improvement as a benefit. Most respondents said there is equal sharing of benefit within the household, though there is indication that men have more control over income from the technologies. Women primarily make decisions on use of the income from the technologies only for food and small household purchases. In addition to benefits at household level, respondents consider the technologies as beneficial to community, because they provide easy access to water for domestic purposes.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE: Africa-Rising

The increasing use of groundwater for irrigation poses a major threat to global food security

 

Photo credit: SciDevNet

Copyright: Panos

Groundwater overuse rising, could hit food prices

Speed read

  • The world has been increasingly extracting groundwater to support agriculture
  • Most of these go to rice, wheat, cotton, corn, sugar and soybean crops
  • Water use efficiency needs to be improved as also monitoring and regulation

The increasing use of groundwater for irrigation poses a major threat to global food security and could lead to unaffordable prices of staple foods. From 2000 to 2010, the amount of non-renewable groundwater used for irrigation increased by a quarter, according to an article published in Nature on March 30. During the same period China had doubled its groundwater use.

The article finds that 11 per cent of groundwater extraction for irrigation is linked to agricultural trade.

“In some regions, for example in Central California or North-West India, there is not enough precipitation or surface water available to grow crops like maize or rice and so farmers also use water from the underground to irrigate,” the article says.

“When a country imports US maize grown with this non-renewable water, it virtually imports non-renewable groundwater.”

Carole Dalin,  Institute for Sustainable Resources at University College, London

The article focused on cases where underground reservoirs or aquifers, are overused. “When a country imports US maize grown with this non-renewable water, it virtually imports non-renewable groundwater,” Carole Dalin, lead author and senior research fellow at the Institute for Sustainable Resources at University College, London, tells SciDev.Net.

Crops such as rice, wheat, cotton, maize, sugar crops and soybeans are most reliant on this unsustainable water use, according to the article. It lists countries in the Middle East and North Africa as well as China, India, Mexico, Pakistan and the US as most at risk.

Read the full article: SciDevNet

Possibilities to eliminate the issues relating to wastewater.

 

Photo credit: AZO Cleantech

Caution, no drinking water. Only 0.3 % of the water on the Earth�s surface is suited for use as drinking water. KIT scientists study possibilities of improving wastewater use. (Photo: KIT)

KIT Researchers Propose New Ways to Utilize Wastewater

Written by AZoCleantech

A team of researchers from the “Water-Energy Group” of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are studying possibilities to eliminate the issues relating to wastewater.

Wastewater is considered to be of no use. Washing water is said to an average temperature of 30 °C. Toilet water can be used not only for producing fertilizers or biogas but also as valuable resources that otherwise is dumped in the sewer system unused. What is worse is that annually, over 2 million people die from diarrheal diseases because of the wrong use of wastewater.

Although water covers around 72% of the Earth’s surface, only 0.3% can be utilized as drinking water.

Read the full article: AZO Cleantech

With that in mind, wastewater is no waste. It contains thermal energy, chemical energy in the form of carbon compounds, and valuable plant nutrients. Now, we have to develop processes for the use of these resources.

Helmut Lehn, Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)

Wastewater, once treated, can help meet the needs for freshwater as well as energy and agriculture.

 

Photo credit: UN News Centre

A wastewater treatment facility in Manila, the Philippines. Photo: Danilo Pinzon / World Bank

Wastewater should be recognized as a valuable resource, UN says on World Water Day

In a world where the demand for water continues to grow and the resource is finite, a new United Nations report argues that wastewater, discarded into the environment every day, once treated, can help meet the needs for freshwater as well as for raw materials for energy and agriculture.

Needless to mention, treating wastewater and removing pollutants can also remarkably reduce the impact on the environment as well as on health.

“Improved wastewater management is as much about reducing pollution at the source, as removing contaminants from wastewater flows, reusing reclaimed water and recovering useful by-products [as it is about increasing] social acceptance of the use of wastewater,” noted Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Director-General in her foreword to the World Water Development Report 2017 – Wastewater: An untapped resource.

The report, launched today in Durban, South Africa, on the occasion of World Water Day, also highlights that improved management of wastewater is essential in achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

“It’s all about carefully managing and recycling the water that runs through our homes, factories, farms and cities,” said Guy Ryder, the Director-General of the UN International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Chair of UN-Water, urging for reducing and safely reusing more wastewater.

“Everyone can do their bit to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal target to halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase safe water reuse by 2030.”

Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG6) has specific targets on halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally (target 6.3) as well as supporting countries in wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies (target 6.a).

Read the full article: UN News Centre

Agricultural water productivity for sustainable development

 

Photo credit: IWMI

Sprinkler irrigation used in Eastern Highlands on the Mozambique border to irrigate farms. Photo: David Brazier / IWMI

The “biography” of a bold idea

Adoption of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has added new impetus to the far-reaching concept of agricultural water productivity. This is the idea that raising farm outputs or their value relative to the amount of water used in agriculture, by far the world’s biggest water consumer, is critical to address water scarcity.

SDG 6 (“ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”) includes a target (6.4) to “substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors.” For the first time, efficient water use has gained a prominent place on the international development agenda.

fulani-farmer-abdullah-ahjedis-daughter-demonstrating-how-she-takes-readings-from-rain-guage
Fulani farmer Abdullah Ahjedi’s daughter demonstrating how she takes readings from rain guage. Photo: Thor Windham-Wright / IWMI – http://g9jzk5cmc71uxhvd44wsj7zyx.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/fulani-farmer-abdullah-ahjedis-daughter-demonstrating-how-she-takes-readings-from-rain-guage.jpg

Bringing the idea to life

To help realize and track progress toward this target, researchers working with World Bank support have prepared a report that traces the theory and practice of improved water productivity in agriculture. They argue that future progress depends on making good use of past research.

Resulting from a study carried out by the Bank’s Water and Agriculture Global Practices, the new report (titled Beyond more crop per drop: Evolving thinking on agricultural water productivity) is a co-publication with the International Water Management Institute (IWMI). The authors describe the origins of the water productivity concept (chronicling its evolution in IWMI’s work over two decades), the development of methods to measure it, efforts to put the concept to use through applied research and lessons learned.

Read the full article: IWMI