Today, March 22, is United Nations World Water Day. Each of us drinks 1/2 to 1 gallons (2 to 4 liters) of water a day. As the UN points out, we get most of that water from the food we eat: It takes 3,900 gallons (15,000 liters) to produce 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) of beef and about 400 gallons (1,500) liters for the same amount of wheat.
With 7 billion people living on earth today and another 2 billion expected by 2050, water and food resources are, and will be, under pressure. Moreover, global warming has led to environmental changes all over the world with effects on wildlife, rising temperatures, more frequent wildfires and more, notes Oxford University Press’s blog. All of these changes affect and could even endanger food production.
In view of all this, United Nations World Water Day seeks to raise awareness about the importance of freshwater and the need for sustainable management of freshwater resources. This year’s World Water day focuses on water and food security. According to the UN, it takes an average of 792 gallons (3,000 liters) to produce the food needed for just one person a day. Currently 12 percent of the world’s land is used for agriculture and 70 percent of the water from aquifers, streams and lakes for the cultivation of of farmland.
Here are some of the UN‘s proposals to increase water, food and nutrition security.
1. Produce more food of better quality while using less water per unit of output.
Through Find Your Feet, Christina Gomba in Ntcheu, Malwai, has learned to make compost from manure, food waste, maize husks, leaves and other biodegradable materials and to make ridges and contour bunds, in order to conserve soil and water.
2. Provide those living in rural areas with resources and opportunities to live a healthy and productive life.
As the UN notes, incentives and government practices are needed to help support billions of small farmers, herders and fishermen around the world, as they play a huge part in feeding people and in managing environmental resources.
The UN calls for transparency in water management as well as the modernization of irrigation management and an upgrading of the technical capacities of farming.
Image of US army reserve soldiers and residents of Djibouti constructing an agricultural demonstration project to teach residents methods for crop irrigation in drought-prone areas by US Army Africa via flickr.
3. Use clean technologies and irrigation and drainage management that ensure environmental sustainability.
After water is used for domestic, industrial and agricultural purposes, it is of “lower quality,” often due to pesticides and other chemicals used in raising crops and livestock. We need to promote the use of sustainable water management practices and all the more in places that are arid and semi-arid, where irrigation is necessary.
Image showing dry season bean production made possible by the construction of reservoirs to “capture and store rainwater during the … rainy season” in drought-affected Nicaragua by CIAT International Center for Tropical Agriculture via flickr.
4. Contribute in a productive way to the local and national economy, from producer to consumer.
Consumers can also do their part by eating a healthy, sustainable diet that includes fewer water-intensive products (and perhaps some grown in your own backyard).
5. Reduce “scandalous food wastage.”
A shocking 30% of the food produced worldwide is never eaten says the UN, and the water used to produce it is simply lost.
Do you know how much water you use in one day?
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Photo by Diganta Talukdar