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Living with water scarcity -- world must act now

. Agricultural practices are changing, but not fast enough.

The Assessment shows that with wise policies and investments in irrigation, upgrading rainfed agriculture, and trade it is possible over the next 50 years to limit future growth in water withdrawals to 13% and cultivated land expansion to 9%. But, further complicating the situation are effects of climate change, and the increased use of biofuels, and the necessary actions to address these.

"The bottom line is that water scarcity is with us to stay, and we have to learn to live with it. This will require making some hard choices now instead of deferring them until later," says Molden.

It starts at home. Jan Lundqvist of the Stockholm International Water Institute points out that "reducing losses in the food chain and being careful with our diets can lead to significant water savings. Combined with other good agricultural production practices, water use could stabilize at present levels." In developed countries, people eat more than what is healthy and 30% to 40% of food is lost between farmers fields to our forks. In developed countries, much of this loss is between the shop and our plates, and could be avoided if we are more careful.

The way forward. The Comprehensive Assessment challenges all of us ?not just policy makers and investors ?to think differently about water and food. Instead of viewing water for food as different and competing from water for environment, we need to consider agriculture as an ecosystem producing multiple services for people and sustain biodiversity, and we need to protect the natural resource base on which it depends. We need to be more proactive in our policies and reform processes, crafting water institutions to meet local needs. And we need to place the means of getting out of poverty into the hands of poor people by focusing on water as a means to raise their own food and gain more income.

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Source:International Water Management Institute


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