WASAG – The Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture

The Government of Flanders and FAO strengthens collaboration in dealing with Water Scarcity in Agriculture

Carnelia Megbleto, FAO's new intern funded by the Flanders Trainee Programme

Water scarcity challenges persist in many countries due to the pressures of a growing world population and climate change, posing a threat to food security and nutrition. In response, the Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture (WASAG), which was established as a partnership in 2017 and is hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), brings together partners committed to collaborate towards innovative solutions to this pressing challenge and build resilient food systems.

Several countries and partners support the objectives of WASAG in their own way, building gradually a committed community that addresses water scarcity from various facets such as drought preparedness, dryland agriculture, financial mechanisms, farmer-led irrigation development, nature-based solutions, nutrition, migration, sustainable agricultural water use, saline agriculture, unconventional sources of water, etc. Solutions include advocacy, policy support, knowledge products, guidelines, capacity development and so forth. In addition to the guidance provided through FAO’s Committee on Agriculture (COAG), countries will now have the prime responsibility to direct the work of WASAG through a General Assembly which will take place every second year, starting 2024.

Countries from diverse regions of the world, including both longstanding partners and newcomers to the Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture (WASAG) community continue to play important roles in advancing the objectives of WASAG. While some countries have been integral to WASAG’s mission since its start, others are now joining the global effort, each contributing to the cause in their own unique and valuable ways. 

This year, the Flanders Trainee Programme has joined this collective effort by sponsoring, Ms. Carnelia Megbleto, a graduate from Ghent University, in Belgium, who joined the WASAG support team of the Land and Water Division at FAO in September 2023. It builds on the existing broader cooperation with FAO which spans over a period of more than ten years supporting, among others, initiatives aimed at addressing food security and nutrition, in the context of climate change and at building resilient food systems through international cooperation.

In Southern Africa, specifically in Malawi, where agricultural livelihoods are particularly vulnerable to climate-related issues, the Government of Flanders and FAO have worked hand in hand to support the Ministry of Agriculture to implement strategies that enhance food security and build resilience against the impacts of climate change.  As an example, the Government of Flanders has supported the production of various crops that are resistant to the frequently recurring droughts and their marketing.  This initiative fits well with FAO’s AWSAMe (Addressing Water Scarcity in Agriculture and the environment), a Value Adding Impact Area (VAIA), supporting the FAO Strategic Framework for 2022-2023. Through AWSAMe, FAO is promoting drought resilient and nutritious crops with the potential to contribute to improved biodiversity, among other things. There is an opportunity to build on this initiative, integrating the Malawian experience and using FAO’s capacity for outreach to maximize the benefits of valorizing such crops. This is especially the case for indigenous and forgotten crops which need to be promoted for their wider adoption by vulnerable communities that are affected by recurring droughts in other countries worldwide.

Water scarcity, food security and climate change are all connected issues that require a holistic approach. By investing in the development and support of young talents within organizations like FAO, the Government of Flanders reaffirms its dedication to finding innovative solutions in addressing one of the world’s most pressing problems.

In this context where collaboration and cooperation are essential, the Government of Flanders and FAO stand as examples of how international partnerships are important and can yield meaningful results in tackling global challenges. It is proof to the belief that when countries and organizations come together, they have the potential to effect positive change on a global scale. The Government of Flanders’ continued commitment to these efforts serves as a symbol of hope and a reminder that, even when we encounter complex global challenges, we can make progress by working together, staying committed, and being creative.

Share this page