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UN chief identifies water management as key to food security


Source: IWA Publishing

Water management is ‘a key element’ in food security, FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) Director-General Jacques Diouf has told a ministerial conference in Libya taking place this week.

Water for agriculture and energy in Africa: the challenges of climate change opened. The event was organised by the FAO (as the chair of UN Water) and Libya’s Arab Jamahiriya government in collaboration with stakeholders including the African Union, the African Ministers’ Council on Water Development, the African Development Bank and the Economic Commission for Africa.

During the three-day conference, ministers from 53 African countries will consider a ‘Blue Revolution’ programme designed to harness Africa’s largely untapped water resources to its development.

The conference aims at setting the scene for moving from talk to action. The $65 billion, 20-year programme will set out the irrigation and hydro-energy investments required in each country.

Sub-Saharan Africa, with the world’s highest rate of undernourishment, is expected to be hard-hit by climate change. The continent needs to triple its food production by 2050 to feed a population that will reach two billion.

This is the first time that thorough and precise individual country investment briefs have been prepared, based on short, medium and long-term assessments and considering investment in water control at a village level, extensive irrigation systems and major river basins, both for agriculture and hydro-electric power generation.

In his speech, Mr Diouf touched on the ongoing global financial, economic and food crises, stressing that ‘reviving agricultural production in poor countries is the only viable and lasting solution to combat hunger. We must therefore invest more in agriculture.’

Delegates to the conference are expected to adopt a joint declaration supporting water development at national, regional and continental levels to fully exploit the potential of Africa’s agriculture and energy sectors to ensure the food security of the continent and meet its increasing food and energy needs.

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