Letter From The Water Office

What Role Does Water Play in Food Security? A Major One!

As we celebrate this year’s World Water Day theme, food security, we certainly can’t ignore the critical role water plays in agriculture and the degree to which these two sectors of USAID’s work are increasingly integrated.

With 70 percent of the freshwater available for human use going to agriculture, one of our primary objectives at USAID is to promote strategies to improve nutrition and stabilize food supplies and markets in regions that have been hit hardest by drought and other extreme weather conditions due to climate change. Never has it been more important or challenging to maximize outputs while minimizing reliance on the very limited water resources available in much of the developing world.

In this special edition of Global Waters, we explore some of the innovations that are being developed and implemented to achieve our food security goals with water. From the simple engineering principles of drip irrigation to the sophisticated use of satellites in remote water sensing, we’re seeing exciting innovations in accessing and utilizing water that are proving successful in ways no one could have imagined before. For instance, one of the programs highlighted in our cover story, Fishing with 3G Nets, involves the training of fishermen in remote areas of Brazil to use cellular technologies to track weather conditions, fish stocks, and market prices of the day’s catch. This is the kind of game changing technology that USAID seeks to replicate in other parts of the world.

Similar innovations can be seen in the development of new drought resistant crops and farming techniques the Bureau of Food Security (BFS) is embracing to help farmers and pastoralists in drought-stricken regions limit and better manage their water use for maximum output. Our interview with BFS’ Greg Gottlieb and Moffatt Ngugi provides insights into some of those techniques and how they are being applied both in development and relief efforts.

We’re on the threshold of an exciting time in which development and technology can work hand-in-hand to help populations in remote regions not only survive, but thrive. It will take time to cultivate the many ideas we’re currently exploring, but knowing that we’re on the cusp of developing innovations and technologies that can ultimately move us from challenges to solutions is tremendously good news on the water front.

The Water Office

Last updated: September 20, 2013

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