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Water Knowledge Hub on Irrigation Service Reform

Re-inventing Irrigation and Agricultural Water Governance in Asia

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Over 60 percent of the world’s irrigated area is in Asia, and approximately two thirds is devoted to cereal grain production, rice and to a lesser extent, wheat. This irrigated area has expanded rapidly over the past 50 years, through the construction of canals and storage dams and the exploitation of groundwater. The rapid growth of irrigated agriculture fostered growth and changed the economies of Asia.

 
 
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Today, many Asian countries are facing physical water scarcity and as their economies develop and grow, emerging issues include water availability, competition between different users and the human and environmental health hazards which arise from urbanization and development activities.

Over the past few months, the world has also been hit by both food and energy crises. As a consequence, prices for many staple foods have risen by up to 100%. The causes of water scarcity are essentially identical to those of the food crisis. There are serious factors that indicate water supplies are close to exhaustion in some countries.

Food security largely depends on irrigation and good water governance. Potential solutions to the current crisis include more water storage, improved management of irrigation systems and increasing water productivity (e.g., more kg of crop per 1,000 liters of water) in irrigated and rainfed farming systems. All of these will require investment in knowledge, infrastructure and human capacity. Therefore, Human development and environmental security in the region cannot be achieved if the irrigation sector does not adopt forward –looking strategies. To achieve this, the irrigation sector and its actors need to adopt effective policies, strategies and practices to improve performance, and instruments to monitor and evaluate the results of change.
 
IWMI and FAO are working together on a regional program to re-invent irrigation and agricultural water governance in the Asia Pacific region. The knowledge generated through this partnership will be shared with the water knowledge hub network. This initiative builds on the FAO regional Irrigation Modernization Program and the IWMI-led knowledge synthesis and global research initiatives such as the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture, as well as the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food, and the groundwater governance program.
 
The water knowledge hub on Irrigation Service Reform led by IWMI and FAO would support action at different levels through knowledge sharing, capacity building and project implementation with a view to furthering the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS)
 
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