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How water aids disaster-proof global food systems

Covid-19 has cast a long shadow over the global dialogue around food and nutrition security and has brought the relationship between public health, poverty, and hunger into the focus of attention.

In addition to the pandemic, other threats to food and nutrition security are also great, from climate change and biodiversity loss to trade wars. However, there is one threat that poses more than any other threat and must be placed at the top of the international development agenda because it affects all aspects of food systems around the world: water risks.

sub-Saharan Africa

Access to or excess water supply can determine the success or failure of food production and consumption systems. For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, 50 million people live in areas where severe droughts have disastrous effects on farmland. As climate change usually manifests itself as an increase in floods and droughts, unless drastic actions are taken to reduce water risks on the African continent and the world, the situation may worsen.

climate change

However, although climate change is an important factor in increasing water risks, poor water resources management can also have a significant impact on food security. Investing in natural and engineering water management and infrastructure can provide important protection for future food crises and increase production under normal conditions. Many countries are ready to invest in better ways to better manage water resources and consolidate their reserves, including the United States, which has allocated $100 billion to upgrade water infrastructure to enhance resilience and create jobs.


In Ethiopia, which is no stranger to water risks, the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) aims to improve regional energy supply while managing flood and drought risks and improving irrigation. By more accurately monitoring flows and reserves, the government will be able to determine shortages as needed and better direct water supply. This is the key to building a more resilient food system.


One solution is the Multipurpose Water Supply Service (MUS) project, which allows local communities to become the driving force in water use decisions. For example, in South Africa, the MUS project is fostering new forms of co-management of water resources to distribute water in ways that allow households to irrigate, cook, drink, and wash.

The way we use engineering “gray” infrastructure (such as dams) or nature-based “green” infrastructure (such as wetlands or groundwater) to store water is also important. In fact, comprehensive solutions are needed to deal with the growing global water storage gap that severely hinders sustainable development and resilience.

Innovation is needed to sustainably provide water services that reflect the current and future water needs of households, sectors, and industries. The government must work with research partners and the private sector to provide financial solutions for the development and deployment of sustainable water.

with information from: https://www.cnbcafrica.com/2021/count-on-water-to-disaster-proof-global-food-systems/

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