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The State of Food and Agriculture 2020

Overcoming water challenges in agriculture

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​FAO. 2020. The State of Food and Agriculture 2020. Overcoming water challenges in agriculture. Rome.

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    Brochure, flyer, fact-sheet
    Water Productivity Baseline Survey - Main Findings from Palestine 2022
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    Water scarcity is a major challenge in many countries, and in Palestine in particular, thereby threatening agricultural production, food security, and the livelihood of rural communities. With the multiplying effect of climate change, it is anticipated that the problem of water shortage in Palestine will increase in the future, especially because of the increasing demand for water resources and the lack of sovereignty on natural resources. During the seventies to nineties of the last century, the agricultural sector was the main user of freshwater resources and the contribution of this sector to GDP was around 30 percent. Unfortunately, it dropped to around 7.36 percent in 2018, due to the several political, technical and financial obstacles. Against this backdrop, Palestine needs to focus on increasing agricultural production with progressive less water availability, i.e., increasing Water Productivity. This flyer summarizes the background, mthodology, results and key recommendations of the water Productivity baseline study and farmer survey assessment done in Palestine under the Water Efficiency, Productivity and Sustainability regional project.
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    Book (series)
    Negotiated territorial development in a multi-stakeholders participatory Resource Planning approach: an initial sustainable framework for the Near east Region 2016
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    Throughout the Near East, land and water shortages, land degradation, out of date land tenure systems and food insecurity are compounded by asymmetries in gender roles and power, by severe imbalances in the political-military structures within and between countries, by flagrant deficiencies in land and water management and control systems, and by the incessant increases in demand driven by high rates of population growth and urbanization. This interplay of forces and dynamics form a complex hydr o socio-political web that governs the allocation land and water and who benefits from their availability and their ultimate sustainability. The current allocation arrangements of the region's three major river basins - the Nile, the Euphrates-Tigris and the Jordan - are nascent sources of tension, and potential sources of conflict and violence. Political instability that characterizes the Near East continues to intensify scarcity, suppresses growth and engenders poverty and is being increasingl y exacerbated by the impending consequences of climate change. The Middle East is one of the most water poor and water stressed regions of the globe. While the region is home to 5.1% of the people of the world, it has about only 1% of the world renewable fresh water. Today's annual per capita availability of fresh water in the region is only one seventh of its 1960 level, falling from 3,300 cubic metres per person in 1960 to less than 500 cubic metres in 2015. This is the lowest per capita wat er availability in the world. The current land tenure systems are failing to address long-standing problems that include smallholder farmers, landless households and most marginalized groups such as women continue to compete for shrinking natural recourses, while pastoralists are losing control of their traditional grazing areas. Use, management and access to land and water are becoming extremely sensitive matters as the number of users grows. Governments and local actors have often perceived these major issues differently. This requires effort to be made to ensure a participatory approach to decision-making that effectively involves all the local actors concerned in an equitable and balanced manner. About 90% of the land area in this Region is subject to land degradation in different forms and over 45% of land suitable to farming is exposed to various types of land degradation which include soil nutrient depletion, salinity and wind and water erosion. Per capita arable land availa bility in the region is among the lowest in the world where many countries in the region show levels that are exceptionally low (on average less than 0.123 hectares per person) and the range varies between 0.01 hectares per person (Oman, Qatar, Palestine, Kuwait and Bahrain) to 0.34 hectares in the Sudan in 2015. Arable land as a percentage of land area in the region is very low ranging between 0.1% in Oman to 18.4% in Tunisia in 2013. Most of the countries in the region show shares below 10%. O nly Morocco, Tunisia, and Iraq sow percentages above 10%. Irrigated land areas in the region also represent a small share of total arable land areas. In many of the countries in the region these shares are way below the world average. Only Iran (17.4%) and the UAE (12.5%) show high relative shares in the period 2011-2015. The Region’s critical shortage of water and cultivable land, including the increasing pressure on these resources and their degradation makes their efficient management a pa ramount task. It will be necessary in this regard to promote the engagement of all concerned stakeholders in planning and managing land, water and agrobiodiversity. Actual physical scarcity of land and water, even in the Middle East region, is not the only key issue. Conditions of economic scarcity seem to be equally pressing; there is perhaps enough land and water to meet society's need, but there are few incentives for wise, efficient and egalitarian use of these critical resources. Climate change will impinge on this region’s fragile water balances, suitable land for cultivation, grazing land and food production capacities and will exacerbate the problems and issues of food security. Measures, policies, strategies and institutional capacities to mitigate the impending catastrophic consequences of climate change and to improve the societies’ resilience and adaptation to its consequences are needed now. The sooner the regulatory and institutional setups are put in place the easier the task to deal with climate and other risks. It is necessary and vital to rise up to this challenge by enlisting the stakeholders in the initiatives to promote sustainability and efficiency of land and water use and the management of food security issues. An active engagement of concerned stakeholders in planning and managing water, land and agrobiodiversity necessitates first and foremost the engagement of and participation of particularly women and girls and marginalized groups in all wate r and food aspects as they constitute the main agricultural labour force and the most deprived segments of society. Gender and the water and land nexus in the Arab region is an area where there is still relative little information. There is little systematic knowledge about the many means by which women and men manage water and land in the region. Evidence shows that while women in Egypt have a significant role to play in water use in the process of food production by controlling and managi ng water flows in the fields and supervising workers during irrigation, they rarely own the land they cultivate. Rural women in Yemen spend huge amounts of time collecting and transporting water, often up and down steep slopes and coordinate water allocation and distribution for the various needs of the family and the household but they are rarely involved in decision making and management councils that govern land and water uses. Women everywhere in the Middle East evaluate water quantity and q uality and prioritize water for drinking and health and sanitation purposes but they rarely share equally in the benefits of their labor or in the ownership of the land and water resources. This is why an integrated water and land management system anchored on a genuine participation of stakeholders will be crucial in determining whether the Arab world achieves the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and aspirations for reducing poverty and enhancing shared prosperity. Water and land are the c ommon currency which links nearly every SDG, and it will be a critical determinant of success. Abundant water supplies and cultivable land are vital for the production of food and will be essential to attaining SDG 2 on food security; clean and safe drinking water and sanitation systems are necessary for health as called for in SDGs 3 and 6; and water is needed for powering industries and creating the new jobs identified in SDGs 7 and 8. None of this is achievable without adequate and safe water and sufficient suitable land to nourish the planet’s life-sustaining ecosystem services identified in SDGs 13, 14 and 15.
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    Book (stand-alone)
    Enabling institutional environments conducive to livelihood improvement and adapted investments in sustainable land and water uses
    SOLAW21 Technical background report
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    This report reviews the main global trends in land and water uses, policies and investments that have taken place over the last decade and identifies the institutional arrangements that have been the most conducive to sustainable and equitable use of these resources. The report focuses particularly on family farmers, who have limited access to key resources (land, water, credit and infrastructure). It pays special attention to their common challenges and needs, but also to their diverse conditions. It provides evidence-based information on the institutional conditions needed to ensure inclusive land and water programmes, and to upscale such programmes at local levels. It is based on a systematic review of official documents and academic papers and on detailed case studies, often grounded in the authors’ own significant knowledge. The report is organized in three main parts. The first section begins with a review of the main global trends affecting land and water uses over the last decade, and links them to the public policies and types of private investment that encouraged such trends. The main structural drivers of growing pressures on water resources and land availability are discussed, including population growth, diet changes, climate change, urbanization and biofuel development. The report discusses the direct effects of these drivers, including water scarcity, increased global competition for land use and the degradation of existing resources, on land and water availability. It then examines the main types of private investments and public policies that drive these trends: large-scale land acquisition, reassertion of large-scale infrastructure programmes for surface water irrigation, public subsidies and private initiatives that stimulate access to groundwater. The second section of the report focuses on the impacts of global changes, policies and investments on farmers’ livelihoods and water use. It reviews the numerous beneficial impacts of irrigation on poverty reduction emphasizing that they are highly contextual and unequally shared across social groups. It documents the widening gap between irrigated and rainfed areas, and the risks of a medium-term crisis for agricultural economies that are based on groundwater irrigation. It emphasizes that existing policies are poorly tailored to farmers’ needs. Lastly, the section documents the complex relationship between migration and increased pressures on land and water. The third section of the report charts the way forward for more sustainable and equitable management of land and water. It takes stock of policies inspired by the principles of integrated water resources management (IWRM).

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