"Much of the past debate regarding various water-scarce regions focused on the absence of water rather than the opportunities linked to the presence of water," says lead author Johan Rockstrm from the Stockholm Environment Institute and the Stockholm Resilience Centre. "We have applied the latest global hydrological modeling and climate scenarios to analyse down to the local village scale, how much water farmers actually can access. Normally this leads to a very gloomy result as only blue water resources for irrigation are considered. We have included the rainfall that infiltrates in the soil, which forms the basis for all food production in rainfed agricultural systems. We also highlight an enormous untapped potential due to massive unproductive losses of blue and green water."
Unhidden resources leads to stronger resilience
The study presents evidence that a better use of green water can form the basis for a new green revolution. It may also provide the basis for building resilience towards more frequent and intense floods, droughts and dry spells under human-induced climate change.
"We show that investments in current technologies and improved green water use can promote more robust, climate-resilient farming systems, which provide more stable food supplies," says Holger Hoff, researcher at the Potsdam-Institute for Climate Impact Research. Many countries which are classified as chronically blue water-short, have enough blue-plus-green water to produce a standard diet for their populations. Kenya, for example, has plenty of unused or not well-managed green water to benefit from. "Not even by 2050 and under climate change will the country become water-short if both blue and green water will be managed well," says Hoff.
Good options exist, but not without sacrifice
The aim of the research was to analyze the capacity of different countries to meet current and future water requirements for food producti
|Contact: Maria Erlandsson|
Swedish Research Council