Food security is essential for human survival, peace and stability. It hinges on water as a prerequisite. Tackling food and nutrition security across the globe under uncertain future climate scenarios, especially water access, is a defining challenge of this century. In addition, often the challenges are systemic, linked to the food value chains, from the field to the fork, making advances complex. Addressing equity across populations in access to good water and heathy food is central.

This Focus Area supports work to enhance the mechanisms that promote access to sustainable water, in particular groundwater, for smallholders in developing countries, which could significantly enhance their livelihoods and fulfill their dietary needs. Especially sub-Saharan Africa has a good potential for enhancing food security through the targeted and strategic development of groundwater resources. Using climate-smart energy sources, like solar energy, provides a win-win for local male and female farmers if the enabling environment is supported, like access to fertile land, credit, drilling and pump technology, agricultural inputs, and supporting policies. Improving poor farmers livelihoods with a one-step improvement in these factors can be the make or break for thriving families and communities.

The Focus Area also addresses larger-scale issues of sustainable food systems, from a global water perspective, e.g., through the assessment and incorporation of virtual water into trade policies and inter-regional water for food cooperation initiatives.

Expertise and experience in Water and Food

WCI has built a critical knowledge base and expertise around the assessment of the groundwater potential for irrigated agriculture in developing countries, identifying bottlenecks and limits to development from a resource and environment perspective. Providing guidance and policy advice related to optimizing and unlocking this potential, while reducing footprints from energy and water use has been a key activity area for WCI.

WCI has made global assessments of the downfall of groundwater-dependent agrarian economies around the globe, and devising potential solutions that rely on more global and holistic views of planetary boundaries for water in a One Water approach.