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Multiple use of Water (MUS)

Multiple use of water systems (MUS) can provide the more vulnerable users with low cost services for domestic water, water for agriculture (irrigation, rain fed), homestead, garden, water for cattle, habitats for fish and other aquatic resources and rural enterprise water supplies. 

The same infrastructure may be used for these services as well as for hydroelectric power and, in some cases, to aid inland waterway navigation.

Multiple use systems consider also support important cultural values and functions that are essential for local well-being and livelihoods and might provide ecological benefits which include flood control, groundwater recharge, water harvesting, water purification and biodiversity conservation. Diversification of water sources and of productive activities is instrumental in increasing local community resilience and management to global shocks and risks that may result from climate or market crisis.

Multiple Uses of Water Services (MUS) is, often de facto and sometimes by design, a characteristic of irrigation systems worldwide. Less than 1 out of 10 systems are single use.

Aiming at promoting more MDGs per Drop, FAO is investing on MUS to:

  • raise the general awareness on MUS by networking with key UN partners, key groups and  water professionals.
  • develop tools and methodologies for auditing and modernizing MUS in irrigation systems: a special module of the MASSCOTE approach is currently developed
  • obtain full recognition in the policy arena of the multi-benefits of MUS and the necessity to develop new investments with more multi-sectoral approaches.

In 2008 a MUS Consortium was created at the occasion of the World Water Forum 5th in Istanbul. This consortium was coordinated by FAO and gather mainly the MUS Group and the INWEPF, plus additional key partners such GWP, UNSGAP.

The MUS Group is a network of institutional partners and individuals aiming at sharing knowledge and raising awareness on the advantages that Multiple Uses of water can bring to rural users and in particular rural poor in addressing several key MDGs, such as food supply, domestic water, environment, etc..

FAO liaised with the MUS Group in 2008 during the preparation of the World Water Forum where MUS was one of the main topic of discussion coordinated by FAO. FAO became a core member of the MUS Group early 2009 and is providing financial support to the secretariat of the Group.

The MUS group members meet annually once or twice, FAO-Rome was selected to host the mid-2009 meeting attended by 16 participants during two days in August. Among many points dicussed during that meeting:

Indicators of MUS

  • Liaison with UN Water
  • MUS in partner’s program
  • MUS in the Phase 2 Challenge Program
  • FAO-MUS Group publication