The World Water Day 2012 is celebrating on 22 March 2012. The Theme of this year is “Water and Food Security” and is coordinated by FAO.
We are 7 billion people to feed on the planet and we will be 9 billion by 2050. 70% more food will be needed, and up to 100% in developing countries. To feed everybody, we need to secure water in sufficient quantity and adequate quality. We will also need to produce more food with less water, reduce food wastage and losses, and move towards more sustainable diets.
Water is key for food security. Draughts, like in the Sahel, can cause food shortage and famines and generate food emergencies.
In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirmed the right of everyone to adequate food. On 28 July 2010, the UN General Assembly declared access to clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right.
Large quantities of water are needed to produce food. We need 1,500 liters of water to produce 1 kg of wheat and 15,000 liters to produce 1 kg of beef. Producing feed crops for livestock, milk and other dairy products require large quantities of water. The water footprint of animal products is high. With rapid urbanization and increasing of incomes, diets are shifting, with an increase in meat consumption.
Inland fisheries and aquaculture a requiring important water.
Climate change has an impact on water resources. Severe reductions in annual rainfall will reduce the water availability and quality. We can also have more frequent and severe draughts, excessive rainfall and floods that can destroy crops and put food production at risk.
Water scarcity already affects almost all continents and more than 40% of people of our planet. Currently, 1, 6 billion of people are living in countries/regions with absolute water scarcity and by 2025, 2/3 of the world’s population could be living under water stressed conditions.
The competition for water is increasing.
Water pollution is a significant cause of reduced water availability for various uses and can have serious impacts on the environment and on human wellbeing.
We need to put in place a sustainable intensification of crop production, to produce more with less water.
We need to be more prepared to climate change. Both draught and flood risks management requires an improved approach to water storage. Physical infrastructures such as pools, dams, retaining ridges, etc. are options to improve storage. We need to develop the climate-smart agriculture.
We need to protect the water resources and to conserve the ecosystems that sustain their availability and their quality. A good and well-maintained soil can capture much of the rainwater and avoid surface runoff that causes erosion and the loss of soil nutrients. The conservation agriculture (minimum mechanical soil disturbance; permanent organic soil cover; diversification of crop species grown in sequences and/or associations) is an approach to managing agro-ecosystems for improved and sustained productivity and food security while preserving the environment.
Forest reduce the effects of floods and draughts, prevent soil erosion, desertification. Forest capture and regulate water and assure high-quality water supply for domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecological needs. Transpiration from forests contributes to sustaining rainfall, including supporting agriculture.
We need to use wastewater from cities as source of water and nutrients for agriculture.
A 50% reduction of food losses and waste at the world level would save 1,350 km3 of water a year.
Additional information is in the leaflet: ftp://ext-ftp.fao.org/NR/Data/UPLOAD/wwd12/WWD2012_EN_COMPLETE_OPT.pdf