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Living with water scarcity -- world must act now

less water ?increasing water productivity ?can reduce future demand for water, thus easing competition for water and environmental degradation. A 35% increase in water productivity could reduce additional crop water needs from 80% to 20% by 2050. "While getting more crop, fish, meat and milk per drop is important for the environment, getting more value and nutrition per drop of water is a key for poverty reduction" says Molden.

Improving access to water, and using it better are essential in the fight against poverty. Actions that target livelihood gains of smallholder farmers by securing water access through water rights and investments in water storage and delivery infrastructure are essential ingredients. The value obtained per drop of water can be improved by pro-poor water technologies, and investments in roads and markets. Multiple use systems ?operated for domestic use, crop production, aquaculture, agroforestry and livestock ?can improve water productivity and reduce poverty.

The Assessment finds that the greatest potential is found in those rainfed areas of the world that are home to the highest number of poor people. A little additional water can go a long way in these areas. "Upgrading these rainfed lands through better water management holds the greatest potential to increase productivity, and decrease poverty," says Johan Rockstrom of Stockholm Environment Institute and author of the Assessment chapter on managing rainfed agriculture. Since climate change is expected to hit these areas hard, better water systems will be a key to helping people cope with dry spells.

Poverty, hunger, gender inequality, and environmental degradation continue to afflict developing countries not because of technical failings but because of political and institutional failings. There is need for drastic reform in the water sector. Governments must lead the reform process, but ironically state institutions themselves are in greatest need
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Source:International Water Management Institute


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