Water as a Development Issue

Future water availability for global food production: The potential of green water for increasing resilience to global change

Johan Rokstrom, et. al

While past strategies for agricultural water management have focused on irrigation (use of "blue" water or water that has been sourced from surface or groundwater resources), this paper demonstrates the dominance of "green" water in food production (that water from precipitation that is stored in the root zone of the soil and evaporated, transpired or incorporated by plants). A global, yet spatially disaggregated, green-blue analysis of water availability and requirement, indicates that many countries currently assessed as severely water short are able to produce enough food for their populations if green water is considered and is managed well. For 2050, the scenario indicates that 59% of the world population will face blue water shortage, and 36% will face green and blue water shortage. Even under climate change, good options to build water resilience exist without further expansion of cropland, particularly through management of local green water resources that reduces risks for dry spells and agricultural droughts.

 From IWRM back to integrated water resources management

Mark Giordano and Tushaar Shah

Integrated water resources management provides a set of ideas to help us manage water more holistically. However, these ideas have been formalized over time in what has now become, in capitals, Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), with specific prescriptive principles whose implementation is often supported by donor funding and international advocacy. IWRM has now become an end in itself, in some cases undermining functioning water management systems, in others setting back needed water reform agendas, and in yet others becoming a tool to mask other agendas. Critically, the current monopoly of IWRM in global water management discourse is shutting out alternative thinking on pragmatic solutions to existing water problems. This paper explains these issues and uses examples of transboundary water governance in general, groundwater management in India and rural–urban water transfer in China to show that there are (sometimes antithetical) alternatives to IWRM which are being successfully used to solve major water problems. The main message is that we should simply get on with pragmatic politics and solutions to the world's many individual water challenges.

Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage to Prevent Diarrheal Disease in Developing Countries

Thomas Clasen

Household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS), such as boiling, filtering, or chlorinating water at home, have been shown to be effective in improving the microbiological quality of drinking water. However, estimates of their protective effect against diarrhea, a major killer, have varied widely. While results may be exaggerated because of reporting bias, this heterogeneity is consistent with other environmental interventions that are implemented with varying levels of coverage and uptake in settings where the source of exposure represents one of many transmission pathways. Evidence suggests that the effectiveness of HWTS can be optimized by ensuring that the method is microbiologically effective; (2) making it accessible to an exposed population; and (3) securing their consistent and long-term use.

Take a fluid approach to build fresh water resilience
Fred Boltz

This Devex essay, part of the #waterwindow series describes how humans have built up and often inhabit areas where flooding is a regular occurrence. We continue to farm in regions prone to drought, and, at great effort and expense, attempt to divert water to places it is not meant to go, or away from areas to which it naturally flows. These artificial solutions create vulnerabilities that are being rapidly exposed as water supplies grow more scarce. Humanitarian aid is essential to lessen the impact of and support recovery from such events. Yet this approach will only get so far: a slow return to normal, followed by exposure to bigger and more frequently recurring events A 21st century approach to water and to development is one that builds resilience. This means that we look for ways in which people at risk could actually thrive under recurrent water challenges — to anticipate, mitigate and rise above floods. A "Water Window Challenge," backed by a $10 million commitment from the Z Zurich Foundation. It delivers results for both communities and a business partner by awarding up to $1 million in grants for teams offering innovative solutions to issues affecting flood prone communities.

The Flood Resilience chair group

UNESCO-IHE: Institute for Water Education

The Flood Resilience chair group (FRG) is a multi-disciplinary research group with an established national and international reputation in (urban) flood resilience. Rooted in Dutch and European funded research projects and with strong ties to Delft University of Technology, FRG has recently extended its focus into a global perspective, including the developing countries mainly in Asia.
FRG is involved in a number of national and international research projects. In the majority of these studies learning (education and capacity building) and research are developed together with local, regional, and national actors. This is an important feature of FRG as it aims to actively participate in the design and implementation of integrated (drought and) flood risk management strategies while conducting research.