The African Development Bank, in collaboration with the African Union Commission, the African Ministers Council on Water, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the French government holding a conference on 14 March to discuss solutions and financing for boosting water security in Africa, within the context of the Sixth World Water Forum in Marseilles, France, which took place from 12 to 17 March 2012.
The conference brought together African finance and water ministers as well as development partners to discuss ways to enhance support for the development of the water and sanitation sector to ensure water security in Africa.
Special attention was given to the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative, and the African Water Facility, two Africa-led initiatives that are contributing significantly to attaining the 2015 Millennium Development Goals and the African Water Vision 2025.
Their success in mobilizing additional financing stirred water project development in Africa, which has positively impacted the lives of millions of people across the continent. Even so, there is much to be done to reach the Millennium Goal of halving the number of people in Africa without access to clean water and good sanitation.
The conference also provided an opportunity for African governments and development partners to reiterate their support for the two initiatives and to reconfirm their commitments to build water infrastructure and prioritize the provision of basic water and sanitation services targeting those most destitute, particularly in rural areas where the need is greatest.
Water and food security: Feeding 9 Billion people
Agriculture uses 70% of world’s freshwater resources, but leaves 900 Million hungry. To feed 9 Billion people in 2050, we will need to produce more and better while consuming less. Ten decision-makers brings solutions at the World Water Forum.
“Without water, no food”, warned Bruno Le Maire, the French Minister for Agriculture and host of the discussion. Today, feeding one person for one day requires between 3000 to 5000 liters of water. From 2050 onwards, 9 billion people will need food, requiring an increase of 70% of the world food production. Under current conditions, we will lack more and more water and “Africa, with its demographic boom, is on the front line” stressed the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The challenge is huge, solutions are many. “It is necessary to invest in the development of more efficient irrigation systems” said Bruno Le Maire. Drip watering systems are a key feature of the Green Plan launched in Morrocco in 2008. “In Brazil”, declares Katia Abreu, Brazilian Senator in charge of agriculture, “farmers have the legal duty to preserve water resources.” Farmers represent the core of the solution and have to be involved in water governance, recalls Xavier Beulin from the French Federation of Farming Unions.
Global Challenges, Local Solutions
In the age of climate change, the development of seeds resistant to water stress that are also accessible to producers from developing countries turns crucial. The President of the World Food Security Council, Olaniran Yaya insisted: “Let’s pool the solutions and include indigenous knowledge!”. The priority lies now in supporting local and small-sacle production in order to strengthen the resilience of food systems. To this extent, Alexander Müller from FAO underlines the potential of organic farming in increasing production while diversifying output and preserving ecosystems. “It is urgent to invest on research on this topic”, he follows.
Food security will be on the agenda of the G20 meetings in April and May, chaired by Mexico. The country Ambassador, Carlos de Icaza, concluded: “Water needs to be considered as a strategic resource.” Less than 100 days before the Earth Summit in Rio, water and food security draws international attention.