World Water Day: Taking action to tackle the global water crisis in Jordan, Nepal and Pakistan
We live on a blue planet covered in vast oceans, but did you know that only 3 percent of total global water is available as fresh water? World Water Day is a stark reminder of how precious fresh water is, especially considering that the annual amount of available freshwater resources per person has declined by more than 20 percent in the past two decades.
Agriculture is the world’s largest user of fresh water and rainwater, accounting for more than 70 percent of global withdrawals. Yet, sustainable agriculture offers a solution: improved water use efficiency – through better management practices, innovative technologies, effective regulatory measures, and more.
Jordan, Nepal and Pakistan have made valuing water a national priority, and they are taking steps to improve the way water is collected and used in agriculture. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is leading three Green Climate Fund (GCF) projects in these countries to increase water use efficiency in food production and to boost rural communities’ access to water resources.
Finding solutions to address water scarcity in Jordan
Water scarcity threatens agricultural productivity and livelihoods in Jordan, a country which is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Improving the way water is managed is key to building climate resilience and ensuring food security, which is why the Green Climate fund approved the first project for the country, worth $33.2 million, during the twenty-eight meeting of the Board (16-18 March 2021).
Around 210 000 people – almost half of them women – will benefit from innovative solutions, from harvesting rooftop rainwater to using reclaimed water. Improving water management will boost agricultural productivity and promote sustainable farming practices – a win-win for people and the environment.
Protecting the water flows in Nepal’s Churia hills
The major river systems that flow through Nepal’s Churia region play a crucial role in maintaining local ecosystems and ensuring access to fresh water for communities living downstream. Smallholder farmers rely on this water source to produce food, but decades of unsustainable agricultural practices have led to forest degradation, increased flooding and soil erosion – problems that are exacerbated by climate change.
In an effort to protect its precious water resources, the government is working with FAO on a $40 million project that will help maintain and restore the region’s landscapes and help 3.2 million people adapt to the impacts of climate change.
Water flows for food security in Pakistan
Water, people and agriculture are deeply connected in Pakistan’s Indus Basin – an area that is home to more than 90 million rural people and holds the world's largest contiguous irrigation system. Agriculture is a vital source of income and food security for people living in the area, but it also puts pressure on freshwater resources.
Vulnerable smallholder farmers bear the brunt of climate change as prolonged periods of drought, increasing temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns put an additional strain on limited water resources. Both the food security and livelihoods of farmers in the Indus Basin are at risk as water becomes increasingly scarce. FAO is currently working with the country to respond to the crisis through a GCF project worth $47 million that will improve water management and sustainable agricultural production in this food-producing region.
“Improving the way we manage our water resources is at the heart of climate action,” says Nadine Valat, FAO’s GCF Team Leader. “These projects are designed to balance water use for food production with water use for well-being and human health; they focus on building rural people’s resilience to climate change by ensuring that precious water resources are managed in a way that is sustainable in the long term.”
FAO and GCF have established a strong partnership which catalyses climate action on a global scale. With a growing portfolio worth about $878 million, FAO is accelerating its efforts to help countries mobilize the resources and expertise needed to respond to the climate crisis, and invest in low-emission development pathways that advance the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A greener future is at hand if we work together, but only if we value that which gives life: water.