UN Agriculture Agency Urges Water Scarcity to be Addressed Immediately

Dec. 14, 2020

The UN Agriculture Agency released a new report addressing water scarcity.

The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) 2020, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) flagship report was released.

The report noted that available freshwater resources have declined globally by more than 20% per person over the past two decades.  

“With this report, FAO is sending a strong message: Water shortages and scarcity in agriculture must be addressed immediately and boldly if our pledge to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is to be taken seriously,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu in the report. 

According to the UN Agriculture Agency, there must be more investment in water-harvesting and conservation in rain fed areas to rehabilitate and modernize sustainable irrigation systems in irrigated areas. 

For instance, adopting drought-tolerant crop varieties and improving water management tools could ensure equitable and sustainable access, said the report.  

The report maintains that achieving the internationally agreed SDG pledges, including the zero hunger, is still achievable.

Approximately 11% of the world’s rain fed cropland faces frequent drought and about 14% of pasture land, revealed the report. 

Other key points of the report include:

  • Total water withdrawals per capita are highest in Central Asia
  • In least developed countries, 74% of rural people do not have access to safe drinking water
  • 91 countries have national rural drinking water plans but only nine have implementation funds. 
  • Around 41% of global irrigation impacts the environmental flow requirements that are essential for life-supporting ecosystems

More than 60% of irrigated cropland is water stressed and 11 countries, which are all in Northern Africa and Asia, need to adopt: water accounting, clear allocation, and modern technologies.  

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