Global Water Partnership is gearing up for its annual meeting with its Partners. This year the theme is “Water Security as a Catalyst for Achieving Food Security.” The topic is timely and relevant, given the terrible drought in Eastern Africa threatening millions of people with hunger, and even famine. At the same, time heavy monsoon rains are once again threatening crop losses in countries such as Pakistan which is still struggling to recover from the effects of last year’s devastating flood. GWP’s Executive Secretary, Dr. Ania Grobicki, explains how and why food security has come to the fore at our annual (Consulting Partners) meeting:
More than a billion people are hungry today. The world community is far from meeting the first Millenium Development Goal, to halve the number of hungry people by 2015. Since 2008, the number of hungry people among us has actually grown. We know that water security is essential to food security. Yet there are many who have not woken up to this simple truth.
For years, decision-makers in the agricultural sector have taken water for granted as an input. The need to protect food crops from the extremes of floods and drought is self-evidently becoming more urgent than ever before. Pro-active and longer-term solutions are needed to reduce the risks.
At the same time, this puts the spotlight on protecting water resources from unsustainable withdrawals for agricultural purposes. There are many other demands for water, in areas where water is becoming chronically scarce.
Now water-related disasters have alerted many people to the reality that better water management (through an integrated approach) is the only way to ensure food security in the long term as well as in the short term. We find that not only agricultural institutions, but also disaster management agencies are keen to work with GWP, in order to implement integrated solutions on the ground for both water and food security for vulnerable people. How can we step up our efforts to meet the challenge? Answering this question is the main focus of the 2011 Consulting Partners meeting.
The regional presentations on the first day will be an opportunity to learn about solutions and ways forward for food security, and integrated land and water management, from a number of GWP regional and country partnerships. On Day 2, GWP’s strategic allies in food, agriculture, climate, and disaster management will give presentations. The workshop sessions after that will provide time to work on the draft GWP operational strategy on water and food security, to identify and agree further collaborative action with these allies. The organizations represented are FAO, ICID, IFAD, WMO, IWMI, CPWF (the Challenge Program on Water and Food), Alterra, the International Land Coalition, IFRC (the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies), and ISDR (the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction).
Our hope is that there will be much learning as successful solutions are shared, and also to identify specific areas of cooperation with new partners that will result in a “step change” on the ground.