WASAG – The Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture

Webinar "Pandemics/Epidemics, Drought and Agriculture: Building back better"

The Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture (WASAG) hosted by the FAO Land and Water Division had its seventh webinar under the title: Pandemics/Epidemics, Drought and Agriculture: Building back better

This webinar was organized by leading institutions on drought management, including the Integrated Drought Management Programme (IDMP), the UNCCD Drought Initiative and the WASAG working group on “Drought Preparedness.” 

COVID-19 does not discriminate, but its impact does. COVID-19 will have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable individuals and groups with precarious labor conditions, economies and those who are unemployed and those not able to work. Ongoing drought effects on the livelihoods and health of the poorest and most vulnerable people make them also the most vulnerable to COVID-19 and its effects on human immune systems, supply chains and economies. The global initiatives to achieve a green recovery offer a defining moment that could either strengthen or weaken current efforts to achieve a drought resilient and sustainable society. 

This webinar discussed the pathways through which drought vulnerable groups have been hit by COVID-19 and left behind during the lockdown. It raised the point that they must not also be left out of the global green recovery. We discussed what are the options and policy recommendations for an inclusive green recovery. We also discussed ways to identify and mitigate the unintended economic and health consequences of the COVID-19 response and how to include drought vulnerable groups in COVID-19 decision-making and management by ensuring targeted messaging reaches all drought vulnerable groups. 

The Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture (WASAG) hosted by the FAO Land and Water Division recently held its seventh webinar under the title: Pandemics/Epidemics, Drought and Agriculture: Building back better [...]


Remi Nono Womdim - Deputy Director, FAO AGPM

Rémi Nono Womdim is the Deputy Director, Plant Production and Protection Division, FAO, Rome. He has over thirty years of experience in various positions at research, development and management levels in national and international organizations and in the private sector environment in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, and Europe. Previously he served as FAO Representative in Cabo Verde, Programme Specialist and Agricultural Officer at AGP in Rome. Prior to joining FAO in 2009, he was Programme Research Manager and Liaison Officer at the World Vegetable Center; Director of Research and Development of an International Seed Company. Earlier in his career, he was Research Associate at the National Agronomic Research Institute in Montfavet, France. He holds a Ph.D. in Life Sciences (Plant Pathology) from the University of Paris XI-Orsay in France.

Dr Ismahane Elouafi - Director General, ICBA

She joined ICBA as Director General in 2012. Prior to that, she had held management positions with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. She also worked as a scientist with several international research organizations, including the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS), and International Maize and Wheat Center (CIMMYT). She holds a Ph.D. in Genetics (Cordoba University, Spain) and has a passion for science, its management, and its integration with policy. She believes that science has to be the basis of decisions and development plans in order to achieve efficiency and alleviate discrimination and poverty. She is a recipient of many international awards, including the Excellence in Science award from the Global Thinkers Forum (2014), and the National Reward Medal by His Majesty Mohamed VI, the King of Morocco (2014). In 2014, Muslim Science ranked Dr. Elouafi among the 20 Most Influential Women in Science in the Islamic World under the Shapers category, and the CEO-Middle East Magazine listed her among the World’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Women in the Science category.

Dr Didier BAZILE - Senior Biodiversity Advisor at the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD)

Dr Didier BAZILE is a senior scientist based at CIRAD, Montpellier France. Agronomist, Didier is an active researcher in agroecology with a focus on agrobiodiversity and plant genetic resources. He received a Ph.D. in Rural Geography (Toulouse, 1998) and was graduated as Director of Research (HdR) (Montpellier, 2014). After different international experiences (Africa, Asia, South America), he joined the CIRAD in 2001 as Principal Scientist where he develops an ecosystem approach for in situ conservation of biodiversity and promotes participatory research. For the International Year of Quinoa in 2013, Didier coordinated the book called “The state-of-the-art report on quinoa around the world in 2013” published by FAO and Cirad. During 2014-2016, he was invited at FAO-HQ to serve as Visiting Expert and Quinoa International Focal Point. During this time, he gave technical assistance to 31 countries experimenting quinoa worldwide. He is the founder and facilitator of the Global Collaborative Network on Quinoa (gcn-quinoa.org) for sharing experiences among 300 researchers from 75 countries. Today, he serves as Cirad Biodiversity Advisor.

Dr Rakesh Kumar Singh - Program Leader Crop Diversification and Genetics section and Principal Scientist (Plant Breeding)

RK Singh, a plant breeder by training, currently working as "Program Leader of Crop Diversification and Genetics" section at The International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) based at Dubai. Before joining ICBA, he worked as lead rice breeder for salinity and problem soils at International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Philippines. He has served as Regional plant breeding coordinator for eastern and southern Africa (Tanzania), Rainfed lowland rice breeder for south East Asia (Philippines) and Principal Scientist in Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in India. He has vast experience of more than 3 decades on breeding for abiotic stress tolerance in plants and instrumental to develop more than 25 improved crop varieties.

Ms Ndeye Ndack Diop - Agricultural officer, AGP, FAO

Ndeye Ndack Diop is an Agricultural Officer in the Seeds and Plant Genetic Resources Team of the Plant Production and Protection Division, i.e. AGP, of FAO. She is responsible for the sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, which in FAO’s terms means crop varietal development and adoption. Typically, her work involves support to countries in evaluating and enhancing, as applicable, their capacities for plant breeding. Prior to joining FAO 3,5 years ago, she worked in the CGIAR centre, CIMMYT, where she supported the integration of efficiency-enhancing biotechnologies and analytics into national crop improvement programmes. She had also worked in advanced laboratories in the United States and France and in the National Agricultural Research and Extension System of her native Senegal. With a PhD in Plant Physiology, her prior research work spanned the areas of Molecular Biology, Genomics and Molecular Breeding.

Ms Tania Santivanez - Agricultural Officer for Europa and Central Asia and Delivery manager of Regional initiative “Natural resources management under a changing climate” FAO

Tania Santivañez has a Master’s Degree in Organic Chemistry at the People’s Friendship University in Russia and post Graduate Degrees on Environmental Management Systems, Ecotoxicology and Environmental Defenders Organization and Social Economy and Fair Trade at the Padre Hurtado University in Chile. Tania has been working at FAO for 20 years now and her key area of expertise is Sustainable and Agri food Systems. For 8 years she acted as Regional agricultural officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, coordinating a Regional program on agrifood system and leading various projects related to sustainable crop production, quinoa food system, seed system, inclusive trade at local and regional level. She was Global Coordinator for the “International year of Quinoa” in 2013, led several projects, initiatives, and contributed to build a global Researchers network to promote quinoa production in the most vulnerable countries. Currently she is Agriculture Officer with FAO's Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia and responsible for sustainable natural resources management under a changing climate initiative.


15:00-15:05 Moderator: Remi Nono Womdim, Deputy Director, FAO AGPM

15:05-15:10 Opening Remarks – Dr Ismahane Elouafi, Director General, ICBA

15:10-15:20 Characterization and sharing of quinoa's biodiversity : its global spreading beyond its origins – Didier BAZILE, CIRAD

15:20-15:30 Germplasm improvement for the saline and dry marginal environments – Rakesh Kumar Singh, ICBA

15:30-15:40 Emerging opportunities in quinoa production - Ndeye Ndack Diop, FAO AGPM

15:40-15:55 Questions and answers

15:55-16:00 Closing remarks - Tania Santivanez, FAO REU

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