World Water Week provides a unique forum for the exchange of views, experiences and practices between the scientific, business, policy and civic communities. It focuses on new thinking and positive action toward water-related challenges and their impact on the world’s environment, health, climate, economic and poverty reduction agendas. Read more >>
World Water Week in Stockholm is the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues. It is organized by SIWI. This year, the theme is Water for Sustainable Growth. It is also the 20th jubilee of the Stockholm Junior Water Prize. In 2015, over 3,000 individuals and close to 300 convening organizations from 130 countries participated in the Week. Continue reading →
Both water and fertilizers play a critcal role in agricultural production – in fact, each depends on the other. Fertilizer’s influence on yield depends on the water available to crops, and water’s impact on yield depends on nutrients’ availability to crops. Continue reading →
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This World Water Week, young Kenyan Environmental Scientist Hudson Shiraku tells Farming First how farmers in Kenya are overcoming water scarcity in a variety of ways. This article is part of our ongoing partnership with Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD)
My hometown Kakamega, is endowed with predictable rains and ever-flowing rivers supplying water all year round. Many people have therefore taken this availability of water for granted and are shocked when they hear of other people suffering for lack of it in other places. One such place is Machakos in Eastern Kenya.
Machakos is one of the areas susceptible to frequent and prolonged droughts. Lack of irrigation facilities, inadequate policies and abject poverty have all subjected residents of some areas in the region to a complete dependency on food assistance. This problem has been further exacerbated by climate variability and climate change, causing more or less precipitation in different regions and more extreme weather events. Cognizant of this challenge, the Biovision Farmer Communication Programme (FCP) has been training farmers on sustainable and effective use of water resources to make farming possible in the face of water scarcity. It promotes different technologies to make this happen. Through the field-based workers, FCP conducts farmer training and demonstrations on how to use certain technologies such as;
Mulching: Mulching uses plant remains such as leaves or grass to cover the soil between rows of cultivated crops. Mulching compliments irrigation by reducing the impact of water on the soil – reducing soil erosion and allowing longer retention of moisture. Mulch improves the condition of the soil since this mulch slowly decomposes, becoming part of the soil organic matter. Mrs. Mutisya, one of the farmers practicing mulching, says that since she started mulching, she now uses a mere quarter of the water she previously used on her kale plantation.
Drip irrigation: Another technology being promoted in the region is a watering system that delivers a slow moving supply of water at a gradual rate directly to the soil at the base of crops (drip irrigation). Also referred to as micro-irrigation or trickle irrigation, it consists of a network of pipes, tubing valves, and emitters. Bottles are also filled with water, a small hole pierced at the top and then inverted and buried at the base of a plant to allow water to seep to its roots gradually. This is an economical use of water, as there is reduced evaporation and deep drainage compared to other types of irrigation such as flood or overhead sprinklers, since water can be more precisely applied to the plant roots. Farmers have also reduced disease prevalence due to this technology.
Drip irrigation technology
Water harvesting: Besides teaching our farmers how to sustainably use their water, we also train them on water harvesting technologies, to avoid water flowing to waste when it rains. We teach farmers the importance of capturing water runoff from the road for agricultural use. Fixing gutters on iron roofs is also important for water harvesting. The benefit of water harvesting is not only to secure and increase crop production in these regions, but also to stop soil erosion and recharge aquifers tapped for irrigation. It also improves soil fertility due to deposition of humus, silt, manure and other organic matter together with harvested water.
Agroforestry: Trees also play a vital role in agriculture. Practicing agroforestry using drought resistant trees species has helped to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy, and sustainable land-use systems. Besides providing shade to the crops, these trees are important sources of fruits, nuts and edible oils which counter global warming and the risk of hunger in the region. Trees in agroforestry practices catch, store and release water. Trees break the force of falling rain – preventing soil erosion and allowing percolation into the ground where it is stored as groundwater.
A multi story garden
Multi-storey gardens: One of our farmers discovered that it is easier to water and maintain plants in a sack. She fills a sack with soil and then uses it as her land. It is easier to water it and accommodates more crops. This technology not only saves on water but also on other resources like fertilizer.
This and other technologies that we promote have since spread to other farmers through our farmer to farmer sharing systems. Farming has been made possible in the wake of water scarcity, and many people are adopting agriculture in the rural areas of Machakos. Thanks to these water saving technologies, farmers have increased crop production and a steady supply of agricultural products all year round. This has in turn cushioned them against the pangs of hunger.
Thanks to a steady supply of water, they have also been able to produce in surplus for the market earning some income. Generally, enabling people to farm has improved the food security situation in the region as there are more farmers than before. Trees have been incorporated in the crop production lots changing the entire picture of a dry area with scorching sun to a better environment.
There are more areas affected by water scarcity and struggling with agriculture. There is need to spread the benefits by these water saving technologies to them. We need to learn from these FCP experiences and replicate them in such areas. Having a database of all these technologies in ready to access and understand formats would help in sharing their benefits.
This World Water Week, iDE will convene a side event on bringing drip irrigation to smallholder farmers, bringing together key stakeholders from the drip industry, NGOs, donor agencies, finance, and scientific institutions to discuss how they can bring –in a concerted effort – suitable and affordable drip irrigation technologies to smallholders. The conveners of the seminar will present on the current landscape of the drip irrigation industry, their perspective on the challenges and solutions mentioned above, and discuss the potential for collaboration across sectors and organizations. Continue reading →
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World Water Week 2013, which took place in Stockholm from 1-6 September, ended with a call to action for the UN to consider water when establishing the Post-2015 Sustainable Development goals.
This year’s event took place during the UN’s International Year of Water Cooperation, adding extra emphasis on the need for all countries, organisations and industries to collaborate to find realistic and effective solutions for global water security.
The closing Stockholm Statement outlined three suggested goals that the UN should consider to for the post-2015 agenda, these included:
– Doubling of global water productivity: Through stronger and smarter incentives for water use and innovative governance, it is possible to globally double the value from each litre of water used.
– A realisation of the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation: The need for global policies to recognise access to safe drinking water as a basic human right.
– Increased resilience to water related disasters: Wise water management, building on ecosystem-based approaches, is a prerequisite for securing resilience. Integrating water resource management at all levels in the planning, building and governing of our societies will save lives, livelihoods and assets.
Water, Agriculture and Sustainable Irrigation
Integrating water management into all levels of society is particularly important for agriculture, as this will help to underline the use of water in farming, which currently uses 70% of the world’s water resources.
This relationship between water and agriculture was highlighted in a recent Guardian Development discussion on how irrigation methods can be made more efficient and sustainable.
The panel included Rajendra Uperty, agriculture office at the Ministry of Agriculture Development in Nepal; Richard Munang, Africa regional climate change coordinator for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Julien Hardelin, agricultural policy analyst for the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Uperty commented that: “Improving irrigation efficiency requires technical solutions at the farm-level, but it is also important to establish long-term strategies and create incentives for farmers and other key stakeholders to value the economic, social and environmental value of water systems.”
The panel then moved on to discuss how farmers in developing countries can gain better access to water and what role corporations can play in ensuring irrigation methods are sustainable and don’t deprive the poorest of vital water resources.
Munang offered an interesting example of how farmers in developing countries are using water sustainably, even in the face of serious water shortages:
“Farmers in Burkina Faso have a pioneered a novel method of conserving water on their farms by digging medium-sized holes called zai (water pockets) in rows across their fields during the dry season. Once each zai fills up with leaves, farmers add manure, attracting termites during the dry months, the termites then create a network of underground tunnels beneath the holes and bring up nutrients from the deeper soils. When the rainy season arrives, rainwater is captures in the zais, which are then sown with seeds.
Since beginning this unusual irrigation method farmers have consistently reported increased yields.”
Despite the success of this method in Burkina Faso Hardelin was keen to point out that there is no “one size fits all” solution, and that successful methods need to be adapted to suit different farming methods and environments.
The discussion came to a close with the panel sharing an initiative they felt would have the most impact for sustainable irrigation over the next ten years.
Herdelin suggested that the sustainability of groundwater resources should be a key priority going forward, as groundwater resources “represent a significant share of total agricultural freshwater withdrawals (above 30%)”.
For more information and all comments from the discussion click here
Water Grand Challenge for Development
One of the biggest outcomes from this year’s World Water Week was the launch of the Water Grand Challenge for Development from USAID and Sida. The programme will see $25 million donated to drive sustainable scientific and technological innovations to improve the use of water around the world, particularly in agriculture.
Dr Rajiv Shah, the administrator of USAID, underlined the relationship between water security and agriculture, saying “water scarcity and its impact on food security affects everyone on the planet. By harnessing the expertise and creativity of the world’s brightest innovators we can tackle this critical challenge with new thinking and partnerships”
World Water Week 2014
The theme for discussions at next years World Water Week will focus on the relationship between water and energy, to find out more about next years event and to watch highlights from World Water Week 2014 visit: http://www.worldwaterweek.org/about