5 Ways to Increase Water and Food Security (Slideshow)

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.

Christina Gomba

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.

Image by Find Your Feet via flickr.

2. Provide those living in rural areas with resources and opportunities to live a healthy and productive life.

U.S. Army Reserve civil affairs teams work in the Horn of Africa

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.

NP Nicaragua73_lo

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.

May Crops

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).

Image by Oakley Originals via flickr.

5. Reduce “scandalous food wastage.”


India - Sights & Culture - Common garbage dump outside a temple


A shocking 30% of the food produced worldwide is never eaten says the UN, and the water used to produce it is simply lost.

Image taken in India by mckaysavage via flickr.

Do you know how much water you use in one day?


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Photo by Diganta Talukdar


Joy Mondary
Joy Mondary5 years ago


Dan Martin
Dan Martin5 years ago

Good info

nicola w.
Jane H5 years ago

We are on tank water & save so much water v. easily..the loo is flushed with laundry handwashing water - only when one person poos ....the kitchen rinse water goes on the herbs...we shower with buckets to catch the preheated water - that goes on the veges too as it is soap free....
It is a shame the saving is NOT reflected in the price as councils and water authorities WORLD WIDE exploit us and give no incentive to SAVE relatively small amounts ...

Nirvana Jaganath
Nirvana Jaganath5 years ago


Hattie F.
Hattie F5 years ago

all of these bad storms that are wiping out these cities yes we need bothto crare for this nation

Brenda Towers
Brenda Towers5 years ago

Learn to appreciate the wonder of water, if you are privileged enough to have it on tap!

Elizabeth M.
Elizabeth M5 years ago

Thank you for a great informational article Kristina.
Without water the Human Race will not survive!!

Samantha Shira
Samantha Shira5 years ago

thanks, wonderful post.

Jane Warren
Jane Warren5 years ago

thnx for tihs

Berny P.
Berny p5 years ago

The UN's calculations and proposals are so out of touch with reality that I wonder why we still support that non-entity!