Natural Resources
     and Environment

News, Publications & Announcements - Water Resources

September 2013
Reduce your foodwaste footprint
Animation

The waste of a staggering 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year is not only causing major economic losses but also wreaking significant harm on the natural resources that humanity relies upon to feed itself

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  
September 2013
Food Wastage Footprint: Impacts on Natural Resources
Summary Report

This is the first study to analyze the impacts of global food wastage from an environmental perspective, looking specifically at its consequences for the climate, water and land use, and biodiversity. Among its key findings: Each year, food that is produced but not eaten guzzles up a volume of water equivalent to the annual flow of Russia's Volga River and is responsible for adding 3.3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases to the planet's atmosphere.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  
September 2013
Food waste harms climate, water, land and biodiversity – new FAO report
Direct economic costs of $750 billion annually – Better policies required, and “success stories” need to be scaled up and replicated

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  
July 2013
Paving the way for national drought policies
Issues in the spotlight - July 2013

Drought affects more people than any other type of natural disaster, and it is also the costliest. Droughts are certainly not new, but their increasing frequency and severity throughout the world over the past decades has heightened impacts and lifted their dimension from local to global. The resulting massive famines and migration, conflicts and unrest, and food price hikes spell well beyond drought affected areas to become global concerns. These shifts mean that we have to approach drought in a new way.In March 2013, the first-ever High-Level Meeting on National Drought Policy was held in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss what is needed in this new environment and how scientists, experts, and policy makers can work together to strengthen the political will and build technical and managerial capacities for establishing national drought policies.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  
July 2013
Accenting the 'culture' in agriculture
Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems

Imagine a food basket filled with cereals from a Saharan oasis, potatoes from 4 000 metres up the Peruvian Andes or from a remote Chilean archipelago, and rice from steep terraced hillsides in China or the Philippines. All these foods come from Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems(GIAHS). These are food systems that have evolved over millennia in harsh and remote landscapes – and in extreme climates – thanks to the knowledge of indigenous people. FAO has identified some 200 of these systems around the world, hailing them for their contributions over the millennia and supporting them to make sure this knowledge is passed on to future generations.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Genetic Resources & Biodiversity  
April 2013
STATE OF THE WORLD'S LAND AND WATER RESOURCES FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
Managing systems at risk.

By 2050, food production is projected to increase by about 70 percent globally and nearly 100 percent in developing countries. This incremental demand for food, together with demand from other competing uses, will place unprecedented pressure on many agricultural production systems across the world. These 'systems at risk' are facing growing competition for land and water resources and they are often constrained by unsustainable agricultural practices. They therefore require particular attention and specific remedial action. The first ever State of the World's Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture is now available electronically in English, with other language versions to follow soon. A major objective of this publication is to build awareness of the status of land and water resources, and inform on related opportunities and challenges.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  
April 2013
Water Security & the Global Water Agenda
A UN-Water Analytical Brief

This Brief offers a working definition of water security developed from contributions made by the broad range of organizations, agencies, programmes and institutions that form UN-Water. Through this Brief, UN-Water aims to capture the constantly evolving dimensions of water-related issues, offering a holistic outlook on challenges under the umbrella of water security. It highlights the main challenges to be addressed, the role water security plays in policy agendas, and possible options for addressing water security challenges.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
March 2013
UN lays foundations for more drought resilient societies
Meeting urges disaster risk reduction instead of crisis management

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  
March 2013
United Nations launches concerted push for effective drought policies
Need to focus on building resilience and reducing risks

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  
August 2012
Recurring droughts highlight need to better manage water resources, safeguard food security
New FAO framework launched

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July 2012
Integrated land, water and energy management video interviews

During the recent Committee on Agriculture held at FAO Headquarters in May 2012, FAO Water Officer Jean-Marc Faures and Energy Officer Olivier Dubois discussed the challenges facing these sectors today and explained how better integration of the work in these three sectors is key to meeting the food security needs of our planet’s growing population.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Bioenergy  
June 2012
NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT NEWSLETTER
June 2012- Number 12

In the June issue of the Natural Resources and Environment newsletter, we examine the importance of the newly established Global Soil Partnership. Soil specialists, international organization staff, the donor community and academics discuss what such collaboration can achieve. We note the events of World Water Day, highlighting water and food security. Moreover, a new web site, Sustainability Pathways, focuses on greening the economy with agriculture and related ecosystem services.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  
June 2012
Towards the future we want
End hunger and make the transition to sustainable agricultural and food systems

Much work has been done since 1992 to move the world closer to a common and sustainable future, but 20 years down the road we have yet to deliver on this fundamental principle – too many people in this world are still not living a healthy and productive life while the world grows in ways that are not always in harmony with nature. FAO seeks to stimulate consensus on the changes needed at, global, regional and national levels to eradicate hunger, support the transition to sustainable food consumption and production systems and ensure greater fairness in food management. It calls for this consensus to be translated into a deep and sustainable commitment to act. And it appeals to all stakeholders represented at Rio+20 to adopt with urgency a new resolve to work together in a genuine spirit of cooperation and partnership to implement the steps needed and hold themselves accountable for achieving the first principle of Rio 1992.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  -Bioenergy  
June 2012
No sustainable development without eradication of hunger and extreme poverty
Joint statement by FAO, IFAD, WFP and Bioversity on Rio+20 Summit

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  -Bioenergy  -Genetic Resources & Biodiversity  
May 2012
Data portal aims to help unlock food production bottlenecks
FAO and IIASA launch online Global Agro-ecological Zones Interactive Data Portal

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Geo-Information  -Water Resources  
May 2012
Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems International Forum in 2013 to be held in Japan
FAO welcomed proposal of the Ishikawa prefecture in Japan to host the meeting in 2013

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  
March 2012
Success in hunger fight hinges on better use of water
On World Water Day, UN community says better management of finite water resources is key to feeding the world

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February 2012
Natural Resources and Environment newsletter
January/February 2012 • Number 11

In this issue of the NR Newsletter, we welcome 2012 as the UN-declared International Year of Energy for All, an opportunity to concentrate global attention on the challenges facing both developed and developing countries when addressing access to and efficient use of sustainable energy sources. We also take a look at an interesting land tenure project that aims to bring advanced technology land registration systems to developing countries, through low-cost open-source software. And finally, we review lessons learned and major achievements of a successful transboundary water management project in the Nile Basin.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Tenure  -Water Resources  -Bioenergy  
February 2012
COLLABORATION BETWEEN FAO, THE GOVERNMENT OF ITALY AND THE NILE BASIN COUNTRIES

Since 1996, FAO and the Government of Italy have been collaborating on an ambitious project along the basin of the world’s longest river. The “Information products for the Nile Basin Water Resource Management” was the sum total of three consecutive projects carried out with ten countries in the Nile Basin. In October 2011, the project officially concluded and was handed over to the Nile Basin Initiative, an intergovernmental organization created in 1999 and headquartered in Entebbe, Uganda. A video about the successes and lessons learned during the Nile basin project is also available on-line.

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January 2012
Video interviews from the Nile Basin project ceremony

A video about the successes and lessons learned during the Nile basin project is available on-line. The twelve-minute video includes interviews about this important transboundary water project with Minister Plenipotentiary Pier Francesco Zazo, Chief UTC, Directorate General for Development Cooperation, Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Wael Khairy, Executive Director of the Nile Basin Initiative Secretariat, Alexander Müller, Assistant Director-General of FAO’s Natural Resources Management and Environment Department and Pasquale Steduto, Deputy Director of FAO’s Land and Water Division.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
November 2011
Scarcity and degradation of land and water: growing threat to food security
New FAO report profiles the state of the natural resource base upon which world food production depends

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  
November 2011
STATE OF LAND AND WATER RESOURCES

The State of Land and Water Resources (SOLAW) is FAO's first flagship publication onthe global status of land and water resources. It is an 'advocacy' report, to be published every 3 to 5 years, and targeted at senior level decision makers in agriculture as well as in other sectors. SOLAW is aimed at sensitizing its target audience on the status of land resources at global and regional levels and FAO's viewpoint on appropriate recommendations for policy formulation. SOLAW focuses on these key dimensions of analysis: (i) quantity, quality of land and water resources (ii) the rate of use and sustainable management of these resources in the context of relevant socio-economic driving factors and concerns, including food security and poverty, and climate change.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  
November 2011
Agriculture key to addressing future water and energy needs
But holistic policy approaches, integrated planning, more attention to smallholder farmers needed

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
October 2011
FAO-Italy project seeks to head off future problems in the Nile Basin
New information on agricultural water use will support better planning, prevent future food insecurity

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
August 2011
Water is key to food security
Q&A with FAO Assistant Director-General for Natural Resources, Alexander Mueller

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August 2011
NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT NEWSLETTER
July/August 2011 • Number 08

In this issue, we look at a new publication entitled “Payments for ecosystem services and food security”. This document was produced as part of preparatory process for FAO’s participation in the Rio+20 event to be held in 2012. We also look ahead to World Water Week to be held 21-27 August in Stockholm, Sweden, where FAO will participate in a seminar anticipating the theme of 2012’s World Water Day – Water and Food Security. Finally, with the Thirteenth Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture held at FAO Headquarters in July, we introduce some of the key areas where preserving biodiversity is essential to achieving food security.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  -Genetic Resources & Biodiversity  
June 2011
Natural Resources and Environment Newsletter
June 2011 • Number 07

In this issue, we discuss the Global Bioenergy Partnership and the important work it is undertaking – in collaboration with governments and international organizations - to establish sustainability indicators for bioenergy projects. We also report on the Food for the Cities Initiative, an integrative approach to coordinating FAO’s activities in urban and peri-urban areas and sharing best practices with other international and civil society organizations. Finally, we introduce the new water report: Climate change, water and food security.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Tenure  -Water Resources  -Bioenergy  
June 2011
Climate change, water and food security
FAO Water Reports 36

In assessing the anticipated impacts of climate change on agriculture and agricultural water management, it is clear that water availability (from rainfall, watercourses and aquifers) will be a critical factor. Substantial adaptation will be needed to ensure adequate supply and efficient utilization of what will, in many instances, be a declining resource.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  -Climate Change  
June 2011
Climate change: major impacts on water for farming
New FAO survey sums up current scientific understanding of impacts, highlights knowledge gaps and areas for attention

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  -Climate Change  
May 2011
NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT NEWSLETTER
May 2011 - Number 06

In this issue, we look plans underway for the launch of a new Global Soil Partnership, an ambitious attempt to support a global effort to work on common issues related to soil management. We also examine a regional project focused on assisting four Andean countries - Bolivia, Colombia, Peru and Ecuador – with issues of climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in the agricultural sector. Finally, we invite you to participate in an online conference addressing issues related to policies and practices of water allocation in Asia, with a special focus on agriculture.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Tenure  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  
May 2011
PAYMENTS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF THE GREEN ECONOMY
Stakeholders Consultation From Payment of Environmental Externalities to Remuneration of Positive Externalities in the Agriculture and Food Sector. FAO, Rome, 27-28 September 2010

The concept of a green economy has lately gained currency as the world has been searching for solution to multiple global changes, especially in the midst of the global economic crisis in 2008. The UN Joint Crisis Initiative 4 on the Green Economy, led by UNEP, is currently investigating this concept and a Green Economy Report, covering all sectors’ contributions to the green economy is being prepared. The United Nations General Assembly has selected the “green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty alleviation” as one of the main themes of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) to be held in Rio, Brazil in 2012.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  
April 2011
NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT NEWSLETTER
April 2011 - Number 05

This month, we invite you to participate in the e-consultation on Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible governance of tenure of land and other natural resources. Following a lengthy regional consultation process, additional input is being requested prior to the drafting of the Zero Draft Guidelines. FAO Headquarters marked World Water Day 2011, examining the urgent need for safe water supplies for the world’s rapidly growing urban populations. Finally, we proudly announce the Chinese-language version of a disaster preparedness project web site, outlining the findings of a two-year project that took place in China’s Juye County. The site is now fully available in English and Chinese.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Tenure  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  
April 2011
Asia Water – Study on Sustainable Water Resource Use Online Conference
18 April – 15 July 2011

The conference is an integral part of the 'Analysis of Sustainable Water Resource Use in Asia' project which focuses specifically on issues related to policies and practices of water allocation, with a special focus on agriculture. The objective of the conference is to identify the issues and challenges related to water allocation, and to explore the agricultural responses at all scales. From 18 April to 15 July 2011, the online conference will address various topics, which will be introduced by several expert discussion papers. Interested participants can register online to take part in the online conference.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
March 2011
Innovations in water management needed to sustain cities
On World Water Day, FAO stresses need to ensure adequate water supplies to swelling urban populations

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March 2011
Natural Resources and Environment Newsletter
March 2011 - Number 04

This month, we will be marking the annual World Water Day celebration on 22 March. This year’s theme is Water for the cities: Responding to urban challenges. In this issue, we look at some of the challenges posed to water resources by rapid migration and we consider one possible solution for improving the use of these resources. In this issue, we are pleased to welcome a new Executive Secretary to the Commission for Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and we also invite you to participate in a moderated e-consultation on Sustainability Assessment of the Food Chain, running through 25 March. The input gathered from this e-consultation will feed into the preparatory process for the Rio+20 Conference planned for next year.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  -Genetic Resources & Biodiversity  
March 2011
World Water Day 2011
Water for Cities: Responding to urban challenges. 22 March 2011

World Water Day has been celebrated on 22 March each year since 1993. The purpose of the day is to focus international attention on the importance of freshwater and the need for sustainable management of freshwater resources. The theme of this year’s World Water Day is Water for the cities: Responding to urban challenges.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
February 2011
E-consultation in preparation for Rio+20: Sustainability Assessment of the Food Chain

We are pleased to invite you to participate into a moderated electronic stakeholders' consultation on “Sustainability Assessment of the Food Chain” from 21 February to 25 March 2011. The aim is to seek views and share knowledge on a sustainability framework that includes core sustainability issues and a common set of performance indicators, based on the food chain sector practices. The outcome of this exercise will consist of voluntary international guidelines for food producers and retailers. To participate, just visit our website, log-on and join us in the discussions.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  -Genetic Resources & Biodiversity  
February 2011
Aquacrop launches new version and new plug-in

Two new versions of AquaCrop, the FAO crop-model to simulate yield response to water of several herbaceous crops, are now availiable for download and installation. The new and improved standalone version of AquaCrop (Version 3.1+) and the new AquaCrop 3.1+ plug-in program which can be used in applications, such as GIS environments, where iterative runs are required.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
January 2011
FAO@Rio+20 web site

Preparations are underway for 2012’s event marking twenty years since the Rio de Janeiro-hosted United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, commonly known as the Earth Summit. The newly launched FAO@Rio+20 web site will be updated throughout 2011 as preparations are underway with FAO’s detailed programme of work, studies and various initiatives related to the event.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  -Bioenergy  -Genetic Resources & Biodiversity  
January 2011
Water management for urban and peri-urban horticulture

As cities grow, so does their demand for water, both for drinking and for use in urban economic activities, including horticulture. Over the past 20 years, access to water has improved and demand increased in many cities and slums. As a result, water resources have become increasingly scarce in the urban environment. This information note and fact sheet highlight some of the challenges fruit and vegetable growers face in urban areas and proposes possible solutions, including wastewater reuse and the harvesting of rainwater.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
December 2010
FAO Water Bulletin
Trade deals can help, but investment in domestic production remains crucial

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December 2010
FAO Water Bulletin
Issue 1

The first issue of the FAO Water Bulletin is now online. This issue examines examines water management needs for urban and peri-urban horticulture, a new project on groundwater governance and highlights upcoming events and meetings related to water.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
October 2010
Groundwater use for irrigation - a global inventory

Irrigation is the most important water use sector accounting for about 70% of the global freshwater withdrawals and 90% of consumptive water uses. While the extent of irrigation and related water uses are reported in statistical databases or estimated by model simulations, information on the source of irrigation water is scarce and very scattered. This article presents a new global inventory on the extent of areas irrigated with groundwater, surface water or non-conventional sources, and determines the related consumptive water uses.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
October 2010
Disambiguation of water use statistics

Water statistics at all levels are crucial for sustainable development and management. They shape policy, decision-making, and act as a proxy for development. Integrated Water Resources Management plans around basic information on water resources and use. Unfortunately, the nomenclature surrounding water information is often confusing and gives rise to different interpretations and thus confusion. When discussing the way in which renewable water resources are utilized, the terms water use, withdrawal, consumption, abstraction, extraction, utilization, supply and demand are often used without clearly stating what is meant. This note attempts to shed light on how the AQUASTAT programme defines these terms, although readers should be aware that these definitions are not globally standardized. Harmonization efforts within the UN system are ongoing.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
September 2010
A Conceptual Framework for Progressing Towards Sustainability in the Agriculture and Food Sector

Sustainability is a broadly used term that is said to encompass three dimensions of the environment, economics and social sustainability. Although sustainable development is often presented within the theory of systems analysis, at present, there are no tools that provide a practical approach to assessing sustainability outcomes. This paper identified issues, targets and performance indicators for sustainability. It represents an initial effort by FAO and ISEAL to define a universally agreed framework for sustainability which is intended to be further elaborated through the Rio+20 consultative process.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  -Genetic Resources & Biodiversity  
September 2010
The Wealth of Waste
The economics of wastewater use in agriculture. FAO Water Reports 35

The use of reclaimed water in agriculture is an option that is increasingly being investigated and taken up in regions with water scarcity, growing urban populations and growing demand for irrigation water. This report presents an economic framework for the assessment of the use of reclaimed water in agriculture, as part of a comprehensive planning process in water resource allocation strategies to provide for a more economically efficient and sustainable water utilization.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
September 2010
The safe use of wastewater in agriculture offers multiple benefits
Reduced costs for farmers and cities and improved water quality

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September 2010
AQUASTAT Water-related investment envelopes and project portfolios for Africa

One of the main outcomes of the Ministerial Conference on water for agriculture and energy in Africa: the challenges of climate change (Sirte, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, December 2008) was the production of national investment briefs for all African countries with estimated investment needs in water for agriculture and energy based on a review and updating of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and other investment projections at both country and river basin levels. These briefs are now available electronically.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
September 2010
Guidelines on spate irrigation
FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 65

Spate irrigation is an ancient practice by which floodwater is diverted from its river bed and channelled to basins where it is used to irrigate crops and feed drinking-water ponds, serve forest and grazing land and recharge local aquifers. It has evolved over the centuries and provided rural populations in arid and semi-arid regions with an ingenious way to cope with the aridity of their climate. Today, spate irrigation covers more than 3 million hectares across the world. Although its extent is relatively minor compared to other types of irrigation, it represents a unique option for the management of scarce water resources in support of agricultural production and rural livelihoods in many arid regions.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
July 2010
CROPWAT 8.0 software update

An updated version of CROPWAT 8.0 is now available for download. CROPWAT 8.0 for Windows is a computer program for the calculation of crop water requirements and irrigation requirements based on soil, climate and crop data.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
May 2010
AQUACROP Training Workshop
Bloemfontein, South Africa

An AQUACROP training workshop was held 1-5 March 2010 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. The workshop brought together 35 participants from Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
April 2010
Natural Resources and Environment Newsletter
April 2010 - Number 01

Welcome to the first issue of the Natural Resources and Environment Newsletter. Each month, we will be bringing you information about important issues and events, new publications and projects, and interviews with experts on various issues related to bioenergy, climate change, genetic resources and biodiversity, land resources, land tenure and water resources.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  -Climate Change  
April 2010
Water and cereals in drylands

As food and water needs continue to rise, it is becoming increasingly difficult to supply more water to farmers. The supply of easily accessible freshwater resources is limited both locally and globally. In arid and semiarid regions, in densely populated countries and in most of the industrialized world, competition for water resources has set in. In major food-producing regions, scarcity of water is spreading due to climate change and increased climate variability. In light of demographic and economic projections, the freshwater resources not yet committed are a strategic asset for development, food security, the health of the aquatic environment and, in some cases, national security.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
March 2010
Launch of the State of Land and Water web site

Preparation is underway for the June 2011 release of the first issue of the State of Land and Water (SOLAW) Flagship publication. The flagship publication will report on and analyze the global status of land and water resources. A new SOLAW website has been launched to highlight news and information related to the ongoing preparation work.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  
March 2010
Enduring Farms: Climate change, smallholders and traditional farming communities
Environment & Development Series 6

The threat of global climate change has caused concern among scientists as crop growth could be severely affected by changes in key climatic variables and agricultural production and food security could be affected both globally and locally. However, farmers living in harsh environments in the regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America are constantly coping with extreme weather events and climatic variability. This has led them to develop and/or inherit complex farming systems that have the potential to bring solutions to many uncertainties facing humanity in an era of climate change. These systems have been managed in ingenious ways, allowing small farming families to meet their subsistence needs in the midst of environmental variability, and without depending much on modern agricultural technologies.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  
February 2010
Tools of recovery in Haiti
FAO clears blocked irrigation canals in earthquake-hit Léogâne

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February 2010
Aquacrop Version 3.1

The latest version of Aquacrop is now available for download at the FAO-Water website. Aquacrop is the FAO crop-model to simulate yield response to water of several herbaceous crops. Also featured is a new section on a series of Worldwide Aquacrop Workshops: “Capacity Development for Farm Management Strategies to Improve Crop-Water Productivity using AquaCrop”.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
February 2010
Coping with water scarcity
Expert consultation

FAO Water invited more than 30 experts from different countries, institutions and professional background, to assist in an improved design of a water scarcity programme. The consultation was designed to address a specific set of technical and policy questions that ensured a great focus during the 3-day meeting. The experts were asked to provide recommendations on the range of technical and policy options that FAO should promote as an agriculture response to water scarcity in member countries. From an agreed concept of water scarcity to a way to conceptualize it in a manner that would be meaningful for decision making and policy development, from criteria to establish priorities for action in response to water scarcity in agriculture to the technical response options that are available, the experts went through these issues both in plenary sections as well in highly dynamic working groups.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
February 2010
WORLD WATER DAY 2010
22 March 2010

UN-Water has selected the theme of water quality to mark World Water Day on 22 March 2010. The theme of water quality will be addressed alongside the more common development issue of water quantity throughout all World Water Day activities. Worldwide water quality has been declining, mainly due to human activities. Population growth, rapid urbanization, the discharge of new pathogens and chemicals from industry, and invasive species all impact directly on water quality. Furthermore, climate change may pose additional threats. The World Water Day campaign seeks to raise awareness about water quality challenges and to raise its profile among governments, organizations, communities and individuals. World Water Day, an initiative that grew out of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, has been celebrated each year since 1993.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
January 2010
Haiti’s post-earthquake rehabilitation begins with farmers
Priority is spring planting season as thousands flee, food prices rise

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  
December 2009
Revitalizing Asia's Irrigation to sustainably meet tomorrow's food needs

One and a half billion more people will live in Asia by 2050, as the region’s population swells to five billion. With land for agricultural and irrigation expansion limited in most parts of the continent, Asian countries urgently need to boost productivity from existing farmlands. Asia contains 70 percent of the world’s 277 million hectares of irrigated land. Making these existing irrigation systems work more effciently and, where possible, investing in new irrigation infrastructure, will be critical for meeting future food demands. This will not be an easy task, as Asia’s natural water resources are already stretched and climate change is likely to bring greater variability in rainfall and runoff, generating uncertainty.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  
December 2009
Communication in agriculture – Le Monde interview

Communicating from a network point to another, assessing soil moisture, training technicians and farmers – clearly, information plays an increasingly important role in the management of large irrigation schemes. Jean-Marc Faures, water resource management expert with FAO’s Land and Water Division explains the key role of communication in efforts to improve agriculture.

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November 2009
FAO Summit boosts agriculture to end hunger
Step forward to hunger-free world

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  -Climate Change  -Bioenergy  
November 2009
World Summit on Food Security begins
Webcasting from FAO

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November 2009
Renewed commitment to end hunger
Summit declaration vows better governance, increased investment and proactive climate change strategy

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November 2009
FAO and IDB in $1 billion agreement
Investment will spur agriculture in poor countries

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November 2009
FAO Head starts hunger strike
Will be joined by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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November 2009
World Summit on Food Security opens Monday
Over 60 heads of State and Government are planning to attend

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October 2009
The water variable
Producing enough food in a climate insecure world

This paper serves as an input for the thematic, regional and political processes of the 5th World Water Forum and focuses on the challenges related to water, climate change and food security. Recent publications related to the anticipated impacts of climate change on water and agriculture are comprehensive, but a global analysis of specific impacts remains limited. The paper summarizes recent food production and food security trends and provides an overview of how climate change, through impacts on global hydrology, could impact food production, and consequently food security, in some key farming systems. However, as climate change is but one of many drivers of agriculture, climate change impacts need to be appreciated in relation to specific farming systems in order to identify appropriate adaptation measures. The paper highlights key drivers and presents possible responses, emphasizing that the scope of policy response will need to be broad if water institutions are to be effective in coping with climate change.

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October 2009
Lake Chad facing humanitarian disaster
Shrinking water resources are threatening people and livelihoods - FAO calls for urgent interventions

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October 2009
On horizon 2050 - billions needed for agriculture
Diouf opens High-Level Forum on food’s future

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October 2009
On horizon 2050 - billions needed for agriculture
High-level forum to weigh investment needs

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September 2009
Irrigation in the Middle East region in figures. AQUASTAT Survey -2008
FAO Water Reports 34

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September 2009
WORLD SUMMIT ON FOOD SECURITY

The global food insecurity situation has worsened and continues to represent a serious threat for humanity. With food prices remaining stubbornly high in developing countries, the number of people suffering from hunger has been growing relentlessly in recent years. The global economic crisis is aggravating the situation by affecting jobs and deepening poverty. FAO estimates that the number of hungry people could increase by a further 100 million in 2009 and pass the one billion mark. A World Summit on Food Security is scheduled for 16-18 November 2009 to address these issues and to agree on key actions to tackle this crisis. The Summit web site contains all information related to the upcoming Summit and the events leading up to it.

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July 2009
FAO initiates debate on declaration for World Summit on Food Security
Calls for eradication of hunger by 2025 and for more investment in agriculture

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July 2009
Saudi Arabia to fund FAO World Food Security Summit
November meeting to discuss eradication of hunger

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April 2009
Water at FAO.
Information note

The agriculture sector faces a complex challenge: producing more food of better quality while using less water per unit of output; providing rural people with resources and opportunities to live a healthy and productive life; applying clean technologies that ensure environmental sustainability; and contributing in a productive way to the local and national economy. FAO’s water programme is shaped along the lines dictated by these new challenges, in order to better respond to the needs of its member countries.

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March 2009
AquaCrop
FAO crop-model to simulate yield response to water

AquaCrop, the FAO crop-model to simulate yield response to water of several herbaceous crops, is now available for download. It is designed to balance simplicity, accuracy and robustness, and is particularly suited to address conditions where water is a key limiting factor in crop production.AquaCrop is a companion tool for a wide range of users and applications including yield prediction under climate change scenarios.

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January 2009
Moving closer to a global plan of action for water
International meeting to prepare for next World Water Forum

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December 2008
Africa to develop its water resources for agriculture, energy
Water key to eradicating hunger and poverty

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December 2008
Irrigation key for Africa’s food security – Diouf
Urges Global “Early Reaction Fund” for countries in crisis

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November 2008
Scoping agriculture-wetland interactions Towards a sustainable multiple-response strategy
FAO Water report #33

Enhancing sustainable agriculture-wetland interactions to maintain wetland ecosystems and foster their multiple services as food provision, water regulation and biodiversity, is an inherently complex and challenging task. Increasing demands for food and fuel, as well as rising food prices, continue to drive the agricultural intensification and transformation of wetland ecosystems – frequently at the loss of biodiversity and other ecosystem services. This new FAO Water Report provides a framework and assessment (based on 90 cases) of how socio-economic and political drivers and pressures continue to shape this agricultural intensification and lead to transformations of the state of the wetland ecosystem and the services it has to offer. The report argues that sustainable agriculture-wetland interactions require multi-response strategies that are targeted at: diversifying agricultural services and livelihoods; exploitation of multiple (rather than single) ecosystem services, and; policy, management and technical measures. How the presented framework can aid the formulation of such sustainable multi-response strategies is illustrated by its detailed application in five diverse cases.

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October 2008
International Watercourses/River Basins including Law, Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Simulation Training Exercises
Teacher's Manual

Creating a comfortable environment for the study of international water law and conflict resolution in which participants can explore their behaviours is critical. This new FAO Water Teachers Manual features exercises and activities that can help make this possible; the manual addresses issue like trust, encourages learning and improves performance and interaction between group members. The initiative which led to the development of these training materials grew out of discussions with the Development Law Service, Legal Office, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on the occasion of the Program for the Regional Workshop on International Water Law and Negotiation Skills for Sharing Transboundary Resources in Bujumbura, Burundi in the Spring of 2006.

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September 2008
Aquastat Water Resource Analysis
Interactive maps

This new interface enables you to make easy and quick comparisons of population and water indicators via Aquastat animated maps. AQUASTAT is FAO's global information system on water and agriculture developed by the Land and Water Division. It collects, analyses and disseminates data and information by country and by region. Its aim is to provide users interested in global, regional and national analyses with comprehensive information related to water resources and agricultural water management across the world, with emphasis on countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean.

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September 2008
FAO project: Rehabilitating irrigation in Afghanistan

The Rehabilitating irrigation in Afghanistan project rehabilitates hundreds of irrigation canals from small to large categories throughout the country. This results in the supply of water to vast tracts of land, thereby recovering prior water losses and resulting in a direct impact on improved/increased crops, which promotes peoples livelihood while simultaneously minimising water users’ disputes on water allocations and distribution. Due to the long conflict, Afghanistan has not produced hydro-meteorological records since 1978. As a result, the project is currently installing hundreds of hydrological stations countrywide to ensure proper planning for water resources management and infrastructure development. The capacity building of hundreds of national staff has also contributed to the promotion of their technical knowledge. Many locals are now gradually assuming their responsibilities. A photo gallery documenting the Afghanistan project is also available.

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June 2008
Water and the Rural Poor
Interventions for improving livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa

A joint FAO- International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) Report. The primary goal of this report is to contribute to the development of strategies to reduce rural poverty in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) through investments in the agricultural water sector. An estimated 75 percent of the world’s poorest people – 880 million women, children and men – live in rural areas, and the majority of them depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods (World Bank, 2007a). One-quarter of these rural poor live in SSA, where agricultural output has not kept pace with population growth in recent decades and where yields on land have been stagnant or declining, causing reductions in agricultural income and in per capita food production. Efforts to reduce or eradicate poverty in the region will not be successful without substantial gains in agricultural income. The present report relies strongly on the view that agriculture in SSA is the most promising option for broad-based poverty reduction in rural areas, and sets the role of water improvements in a wider context of overall reforms and investments in agriculture. Several commentators have noted the high cost of developing irrigation projects in SSA, while others have described the high cost of ...

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April 2008
Irrigation Management Transfer
Worldwide efforts and results. FAO Water Reports 32

Agriculture is by far the largest user of the world’s water, soil and biodiversity. Today, it finds itself at the centre of the debate on how to conserve the world’s environments. It accounts for 70 percent of the total water withdrawals of the globe, a percentage that is close to 85 percent when considering only the developing countries. As the world’s welfare improves, demands from other water subsectors are increasing. Domestic water supply, industry and manufacturing, and the environment itself, are now in direct competition with the agriculture sector for increasingly scarce water resources. Thus, competition for water resources can only lead to the agriculture sector having to review, and adjust accordingly, its share of water. The international community is increasingly scrutinizing and monitoring water consumption patterns in agriculture and its corresponding water-use allocation and efficiencies. The approximately 1 260 million ha under rainfed agriculture (corresponding to 80 percent of the world’s total cultivated land) supply 60 percent of the world’s food; while the 277 million ha under irrigation (the remaining 20 percent of land under cultivation) contribute the other 40 percent of the food supplies. On average, crop yields per hectare under irrigated agriculture are 2.3 times higher than those ...

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January 2008
Remediation of arsenic for agriculture sustainability, food security and health in Bangladesh
Working paper

Arsenic in groundwater is a major health concern in Asia and the risks from using shallow tube wells for drinking-water are well-known. At present, twelve countries in the Asian region have reported high arsenic levels in part of their groundwater resources. Bangladesh has the highest percentage of contaminated shallow tube wells (~20 percent) and an estimated 30 million people are dependent on those wells for domestic purposes. The problem originates in arsenic-rich bedrock of the Brahmaputra river basin that filters drinking water pumped to the surface through millions of tube wells. Since an initial investigation on arsenic accumulation in rice undertaken by FAO with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2001, further scientific studies in the last couple of years have reported potential risks from arsenic from dietary exposures. The most well-known concern is arsenic entering the food chain, affecting food safety. This poses a potential dietary risk to human health in addition to the risk from drinking contaminated groundwater. Less well-known but potentially more serious is the risk of arsenic to crop production. Continuous build up of arsenic in the soil from arsenic-contaminated irrigation water reduces crop yields in the long term. As part of the ...

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January 2008
Water monitoring: Mapping existing global systems & initiatives - Background Document - August 2006
Prepared by FAO on behalf of the UN-Water Task Force on Monitoring

The long-term sustainability of water is in doubt in many regions of the world. Currently, humans use about half the water that is readily available. Water use has been growing at more than twice the population rate, and a number of regions are already chronically short of water. Both water quantity and water quality are becoming dominant issues in many countries. Problems relate to poor water allocation and pricing, inefficient use, and lack of adequate integrated management. The major withdrawals of water are for agriculture, industry, and domestic consumption. Most of the water used by industries and municipalities is often returned to watercourses degraded in quality. Irrigation agriculture, responsible for nearly 40% of world food production, uses about 70% of total water withdrawals (90% in the dry tropics). Groundwater, which supplies one third of the world’s population, is increasingly being used for irrigation. Water tables are being lowered in many areas making it more expensive to access. Every day, diarrhoeal diseases from easily preventable causes claim the lives of approximately 5000 young children throughout the world. Sufficient and better quality drinking water and basic sanitation can cut this toll dramatically, and simple, low-cost household water treatment has the potential to save ...

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December 2007
Arsenic threat in rice
Reducing arsenic levels in rice through improved irrigation practices

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December 2007
Climate change causing species disappearance in mountain areas
Fresh water, animal and plant species threatened

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November 2007
Paying farmers to protect the environment?Paying farmers to protect the environment?
FAO publishes The State of Food and Agriculture 2007

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November 2007
Modern water rights - Theory and practice
FAO Legislative Study 92

Throughout history the fugitive nature of water has posed conceptual and practical challenges to lawmakers. The vital importance of water to human activity is such that most societies and cultures have sought to establish legal rules over its use and allocation. But its fluidity and constant renewal as part of the hydrologic cycle has necessarily limited the appropriateness of traditional legal approaches to natural resources such as the concept of ownership. Consequently in most jurisdictions legal rights to use water - water rights - have traditionally been linked to land tenure rights and in particular to land ownership rights. More specifically such rights have been conferred on the owners of land with direct physical access to a stream, river or other natural water source. Very often the only way to sell the right to use water was to sell the associated land right. Driven mainly by increased pressure on water resources, but also by other factors that are discussed in this paper, a number of countries have recently undertaken substantive water law reforms. In some places such reforms are part of a process that began a hundred or more years ago. Elsewhere they represent a radical re-ordering of the status quo. A ...

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October 2007
Groundwater in international law
Compilation of treaties and other legal instruments FAO Legislative Study 86

A joint publication of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Despite the social, economic, environmental and political importance of groundwater, international law has paid relatively little attention to this resource. Groundwater represents about ninety-seven percent of the fresh water resources available, excluding the water locked in the polar ice. It serves the basic needs of more than one-half of the world's population and it is often the only source of water in arid and semi-arid countries. Improvements in pumping technology and growth in industry, agriculture, and global population are leading to ever increasing levels of use of this resource, and to growing reliance on it. Largely as a result of these phenomena, groundwater resources and the social, economic and environmental systems dependent on them have, over the last fifty years, come under pressure from over-abstraction and pollution, seriously threatening their sustainability. International law has so far only rarely taken account of groundwater. While surface water treaties abound, groundwater is either nominally included in the scope of these instruments, mainly if it is "related" to surface waters, or it is not mentioned at all. Only few legal instruments ...

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September 2007
Modernizing irrigation management – the MASSCOTE approach
FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 63

The performance of many canal irrigation delivery systems is unsatisfactory in terms of: (i) water resources management; (ii) service to irrigated agriculture; and (iii) cost-effectiveness of infrastructure management. In recent years, participatory approaches and management transfer reforms have been promoted as part of the solution for more cost-effective and sustainable irrigation services. Large agency-managed systems have been turned over partially or completely to various types of management bodies. However, the results have usually been disappointing. Common findings have been: (i) the new management bodies are not up to the task; and (ii) these bodies have inherited dilapidated systems and severe financial constraints. This FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper presents a step-by-step methodology for water engineering professionals, managers and practitioners involved in the modernization of medium-scale to large-scale canal irrigation systems from the perspective of improving performance of conjunctive water supplies for multiple stakeholders. While the focus is on canal operation, the scope concerns the modernization of management. The approach consists of a series of steps for diagnosing performance and mapping the way forward in order to improve the service to users and the cost-effectiveness of canal operation techniques. This paper presents a proposed comprehensive methodology for analysing canal operation modernization, which is based ...

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May 2007
Guidelines and computer programs for the planning and design of land drainage systems
FAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 62

Drainage of agricultural land is one of the most critical water management tools for the sustainability of productive cropping systems, as frequently this sustainability is extremely dependent on the control of waterlogging and soil salinization in the rootzone of most crops. On some agricultural lands, the natural drainage is sufficient to maintain high productivity. However, many others require improvements in surface and subsurface drainage in order to optimize land productivity, while maintaining the quality of soil resources. As time passes, drainage requirements may change because of changes in the general socio-economic conditions, such as input and output prices, and more intensive crop rotations. In rainfed and irrigated areas of the temperate zones (where waterlogging is the dominant problem in lands lacking natural drainage), proper drainage has improved soil aeration and land and rural road trafficability. Moreover, it has facilitated the lengthening of the potential crop growth period. In the irrigated lands of the arid and semi-arid regions (where salinity problems dominate), in addition to the benefits described above, subsurface drainage has been essential for controlling soil salinity and reducing the incidence of erratic crop yields. In the semi-humid and humid tropical regions, drainage development has been less than in the agroclimate ...

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March 2007
FAO urges action to cope with increasing water scarcity
Improving agricultural practices key

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March 2007
Access to water, pastoral resource management and pastoralists’ livelihoods: Lessons learned from water development in selected areas of Eastern Africa (Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia)
Livelihood Support Programme Working Paper Number 26

Water development in pastoral dry lands of Africa has always been a priority for humanitarian and development agencies and for governments. However, over the last decades, experts have raised an increasing concern about its numerous adverse effects, including: environmental degradation and induced displacements involving conflicts and exclusions; enclosures and conflicting appropriation of the new water resources and the surrounding grazing areas; and an exclusion of vulnerable groups from their access to water that were previously managed as common property. This paper builds upon an initial paper which explored the interface between land and water rights “Land and water – the rights interface. LSP Working Paper 10”. It is complemented by the regional analysis publication “Land and water rights in the Sahel: Tenure challenges of improving access to water for agriculture. LSP Working Paper 25”.

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February 2007
Making every drop count
FAO heads UN water initiative

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