Water efficiency, productivity and sustainability in the NENA regions (WEPS-NENA)

Water efficiency / productivity framework


In the arid and semi-arid areas of the world water limits agricultural production and the efficient use of the limited water resources becomes the focal point of efforts aimed at improving farmers’ livelihoods. A concept termed water productivity (WP) has been coined to quantify such efforts, and is defined as the ratio of crop yield (biophysical WP) or income (economic WP) to consumed water (evapotranspiration, ET).

Despite the fact that high-quality soil resources are also quite limited in NENA, water scarcity has become so widespread that improving water use efficiency and water productivity constitutes a challenge that must be tackled with urgency. Several factors such as increased water demand, periodic droughts, and the threats of desertification and climate change, all contribute to the perception of dwindling water resources in the NENA region, and to bring water scarcity to the top of the political agenda.


Water efficiency is the ratio formed when dividing the amount of water consumed in a specific use by the amount of water allocated or delivered to that use. In an irrigated setting with no rainfall, water efficiency is considered to represent irrigation efficiency.

Water productivity is the measure of output (biomass, crop yield or revenue) divided by some measure of water applied or consumed in production (Kijne et al., 2003; Molden et al., 2010). Different measures can be used for water productivity.

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