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
Photo credit: CGIAR
A well in Tunisia.
Groundwater over-abstraction in the MENA region: 5 problems and some solutions
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
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
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
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), principal researcher, IIED’s Natural Resources research group.
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
80-86 Gray’s Inn Road, London, WC1X 8NH
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
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