Valuing Water

Valuing Water

Every year, 22 March has been set aside to mark World Water Day. The 2021 edition titled “Valuing Water” was celebrated in a virtual event globally including South Africa.

Since its establishment in 2017, the Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture (WASAG) hosted by FAO’s Land and Water Division, through its network of Partners, has continued to address issues related to water scarcity in agriculture in a changing climate. In 2019, WASAG celebrated the World Water Day during its First International Forum on Water Scarcity in Agriculture, which took place in Praia, Cabo Verde. Last year, the WASAG celebrations of World Water Day 2020, which focused water and climate change, were quickly moved online. These celebrations showcased FAO and WASAG partners ’active support to countries to adopt climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies as well as improved agriculture water management practices for achieving local and global food security. With agriculture being responsible for around 70 percent of water withdrawals, addressing water scarcity in agriculture – which is the core mission of WASAG – is more than key to valuing water.

During the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, WASAG continues to advocate on the value of water and the need to grow more nutritious food per drop of water. This is done by engaging policy makers, researchers, scientists and government representatives in agriculture and other sectors. The 2020 WASAG Webinar Series offered the opportunity for Partners and Stakeholders to build capacity, cooperate on work programmes, and develop new and improved solutions to water scarcity challenges. To date, ten webinars have been organized by WASAG, with 2870 participants representing 135 countries or regions, proving a good response to a recognised need, which resulted in the success of this initiative. The webinars covered topics such as women and water scarcity, saline agriculture, bridging financing gaps for agriculture under climate change, collaboration on promoting quinoa, water and nutrition, pandemic/epidemics, drought and agriculture, sustainable agriculture water use and scaling up water and agriculture practices for rice intensification. More webinars are planned for 2021. They will further highlight the valuing water and identify new paths of working and addressing pressing issues related to water scarcity in agriculture and promoting integrated approaches such as for sustainable dryland agriculture.


The new WASAG Strategy for 2021-2024 focuses on four key actions areas, including development of initiatives to address water scarcity, innovation and data, research and training, and awareness raising. Since the value of water varies depending on the climatic regime, from arid to humid regions, as well as on the demand and supply, resulting in surplus or shortfalls, WASAG aims to tailor its response to countries and specific needs in the new strategy, with provision for regional hubs and country chapters as relevant. Climate change and the increasing world population all call for innovative approaches in maximising the value of water for food and nutrition security.

On this year’s World Water Day, we celebrate the work of our Partner and Stakeholders, the commitment and dedication of our working groups and the leadership of our Steering Committee. We continue to rely on the Partners and welcome new Partners who join WASAG in strengthening the momentum towards new collaborative innovative ways to turn water scarcity in agriculture into an opportunity for sustainable food security despite climate change. These are firm steps towards achieving WASAG’s vision of a world whose food systems are secure and resilient to increasing water scarcity in a changing climate. Addressing water scarcity in agriculture is thus crucial in valuing water and to WASAG’s vision

During February 2021, South Africa experienced persistent heavy rainfalls mainly due to tropical cyclone Eloise that improved levels of South Africa’s largest water system tremendously, with key dams in the Integrated Vaal River System (IVRS) that filled up rapidly.
The Vaal Dam, one of the major dams in the IVRS, was only 75% full on the 27 January and was 101.5% full on the 9th of February after reaching 100% the previous day. A year ago, the same time in 2020, the dam was only 57% full.The full article is for subscribed members only. To view the full article please subscribe. It’s FREE!Log In Register

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