asked questions (FAQs) on the
The first is to grow more food with less water. This means decreasing water use in agriculture to meet environmental goals and other human needs, yet at the same time growing enough food, and improving the livelihoods of the poor.
The second goal is to change the nature of collaborative research, ensuring that more research partners located in the south are involved.
Research institutes in the developing world will work closely with local communities, community-based organizations, universities, and government agencies to implement research that impacts positively on the world’s poor.
If we are to rise to the huge challenge posed by the growing global water crisis we need to increase the total volume of research focused around the Water-Food-Environment nexus.
The Consultative Group on Internatinoal Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and its partners bring together an immense pool of resources, knowledge, and technologies capable of achieving this.
But to maximise impacts in the developing world, new modes of collaboration with partners in the south are needed.
The Challenge Program will facilitate north-south and south-south collaboration,
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tapping pools of knowledge to ensure that important innovations happening in one place can be transferred elsewhere – particularly to Africa or in the smaller countries of the Mekong River Basin.
Above right: a food garden plot where the farmer is using his own micro irrigation
How can we achieve ‘more crop per drop?’
This could involve working with the institutions that determine national and regional policies on water.
Or it could involve working with farmers who could benefit from small-scale irrigation technology that uses water economically.
As well as new technologies, we can also breed new varieties of crop that drink less water, or encourage farmers to use new agronomic methods such as ‘no tillage’.
Incentives can also help to encourage water management institutions to increase efficiency.
Farmers need incentives to adopt new technologies and practices to make the most of the water they use.
Laws, regulations and organisations should also be defined to encourage water management from a basin perspective.
Who is going to benefit from the Challenge Program?
The primary beneficiaries of the Challenge Program will be the rural poor in the developing world.
Achieving ‘more crop per drop,’ will boost food production, reduce malnourishment, and help improve livelihoods in a manner that is both environmentally sustainable and socially acceptable.
Also, by ensuring there is enough water for nature, increases in agricultural water productivity can reverse environmental degradation and maintain the freshwater ecosystems that many river basins and local economies rely on for survival.
To ensure this research reaches local communities the Challenge Program will work through NGOs with proven outreach programs that reach vulnerable and marginalised communities.
The Challenge Program has nine designated benchmark river basins where local organisations and scientists have been given coordinating responsibilities to ensure locally-relevant research and extension systems are implemented, and impact positively on poor communities.
Above: farmers cleaning irrigation canals
What are some of the main issues that need to be addressed?
The water crisis we are facing is already beginning to rear its head in many countries – through depleted groundwater aquifers, dried-up rivers and wetlands, and frequent water shortages.
Over-exploitation of freshwater resources is also threatening the vitality of freshwater ecosystems in the developing world, many of which support local communities and economies.
Worldwide, there are many examples of basins where the exploitation of freshwater is reaching unsustainable levels.
In central Asia, for example, irrigated cotton uses nearly the entire flow of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers.
In China the Yellow River did not reach the sea for 7 months in 1997 due to increases in upstream water use.
How much funding has the Challenge Program attracted, and how will this be spent?
In all, we expect to attract 80-120 million US dollars for the first six years.
Commitments to date total between 55 and 60 million US dollars. As well as western countries, there will be in-kind contributions from the south – particularly middle-income countries, which are asked to provide matching funds.
At least two-thirds of total funding will be organised as open, competitive grant financing.
This formula is designed to open the field to many new partners – and to allocate at least 33 percent of funding for each project to National Agricultural Research and Extension Organizations (NARES).
Fifty proposals have so far been selected for development.
How will the impact of the Challenge Program be monitored?
We are currently developing a monitoring framework.
We are first trying to understand what the current conditions are, and then build on this to develop a monitoring and evaluation framework.
We will capture both the current conditions and progress towards our goals in an Integrated Data and Information System (IDIS) which is currently under development.
At the baseline conference we will hold an ‘indicator’ workshop with international partners to try and agree on what useful indicators we can use.
What are the consequences of not acting to contain the water crisis?
The consequences of our complacency could be severe.
There is a real threat that if steps are not taken to contain this crisis, we could see serious reductions in food production, and skyrocketing food prices.
The water crisis scenario would also lead to a breakdown in domestic water service for hundreds of million of people, and severe environmental degradation and loss of freshwater ecosystems – leading to the collapse of many local communities and economies.
Failure to adopt water-saving technology improvements and policy reforms could also make demand for non-irrigation water grow even faster than we projected, further worsening water scarcity.
(text from http://www.waterforfood.org/newsroom/)
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