United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Major Group: NGOs

Statement by FAO on Water and Investment
arch 2005
The agricultural sector requires water to produce the food needed to feed the world's growing
population, while it is also true the sector needs to improve its water use efficiency in order
to meet future water demands from agriculture as well as other water using sectors.
FAO has been conducting various activities to improve the water use efficiency in its
Member countries through normative work on issues such as crop water productivity,
generating "more crop per drop"; small-scale cost-effective rainwater harvesting technology;
low-cost irrigation methodology and irrigation modernization, including advises on the
policy and institutional arrangements for water resources management in developing
countries. Organizing local farming communities is key and at the field programme, for
example, FAO has been implementing Farmer Field Schools for farmers and local people to
solve their water and soil problems by themselves. This gives the ownership and opportunity
to farmers to consider better water management practices and to build their capacity to
improve water use efficiency.
The SG's paper provides key elements for the actions to be taken to improve water use
efficiency, but generating the necessary investment for those actions remains a challenge.
The investment in the agricultural sector has been decreasing in the last decade, both
nationally and internationally. With an overall share of 70% of all uses, improving water use
efficiency in agriculture holds a large part of the keys to sustainable water resources
management, and this requires that we rethink the need for investment in agricultural water
use, to target those areas mentioned in the SG's paper.
In addition to the above, farmers' awareness on the scarcity of water is imperative to improve
the water use efficiency in the agriculture. Of course this awareness would be created if water
use or irrigation practices are better linked to markets. Farmers are sensitive to market
demands in using the limited water resources for the crop production - therefore developing
agricultural markets and access to markets is crucial also for water management.
However, as the Delegation of Jamaica mentioned in the session yesterday, even raising
public awareness needs financial resources for developing countries to take action. The
investment in this area might be limited, but a high return on investment would be realized if
the farmers and local communities are well informed of water scarcity and the need for
efficient water use. Using participatory water valuation approaches would be instrumental to
this goal, generating awareness on the economic, social and environmental values of water
resources, while at the same time offering a mechanism to facilitate local water management
and conflict resolution.
Finally, FAO wants to highlight the important inter-linkages between water for agriculture
and ecosystems in rural water management, as were discussed at the FAO/Netherlands
Conference on Water for Food and Ecosystems, presented by our Colleagues from the
Netherlands on Monday.
In conclusion, FAO continues to mobilize the resources to support the countries to take
actions on better water management. At the same time, we think it would be important for the
IPM to make a policy recommendation to CSD-13 to ensure that investment issues related to
water in the agricultural sector are properly reflected in discussions on water.