Water: An invaluable resource


World Water Day 2021 is an opportunity to value water beyond its economic value. Water is key to households, food, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment. If we overlook any of these values, we risk mismanaging this finite, irreplaceable resource.

Browse through a list of FAO publications highlighting the Organization’s work to promote coherent approaches to sustainable land and water management.

The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) 2020
This edition presents new estimates on the pervasiveness of water scarcity in irrigated agriculture and of water shortages in rainfed agriculture, as well as on the number of people affected.

Unpacking water tenure for improved food security and sustainable development
This report explores the ‘bundle of rights’ approach to unpack the concept and the practical ramifications of water tenure, for further national consultation on the issue of water tenure security and governance with particular attention to local communities’ access and rights to water.

Water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) and wastewater management to prevent infections and reduce the spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
This brief presents a menu of actions for consideration and refinement in specific country contexts as well as policy options and technical resources to support national action plans.

Smart Irrigation – Smart WASH: solutions in response to the pandemic crisis in Africa
The publication explains how to implement the initiative “Smart irrigation–Smart WASH” through assessing and mapping the degree of vulnerability in African countries while proposing investment directions to enhance water management in vulnerable communities.

Integrated agriculture water management and health – FAO COVID-19 policy brief
This policy brief reviews ongoing challenges and proposes recommendations on an integrated water resources management approach that embraces the value of water in all its forms and recognizes the intrinsic role of water in protecting human, animal and ecosystem health. 

Nature-Positive Agriculture and Natural Resources Management
These three new reports lay out the potential of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) in agriculture to deliver nutrition for people worldwide while restoring nature and the climate – contributing to multiple imperatives of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

Further reading


  • The State of the World's Land and Water Resources for Food and Agriculture (SOLAW) 2021
  • Water governance analysis (water auditing). A methodological guide
  • Guidance on realizing real water savings with crop water productivity interventions
  • Water Productivity, the yield gap and nutrition – The case of Ethiopia
  • Sustainable management and use of fresh-water resources for food security and nutrition in Small Island Development States
  • Resilient Watershed Manager's Handbook
  • Global Forest Resources Assessment study: Managing forests for water

Additional resources

FAO land and water website