FAO roles in Water and Food security

Read: Regional/Cross-continental process: Priority for Action on 6th WWF
70% of world fresh water withdrawal is used for agriculture. Agricultural water use has helped meet rapidly rising demand for food and has contributed to the growth of farm portability and poverty reduction as well as rural development and environmental protection. With an increasing water scarcity, our role is to enhance agricultural performance while promoting sustainability of water use for food production

Increasing water scarcity is a key threat to food security and socio-economic development in the Asia Pacific. Countries and river basins need to develop systemic responses for coping with water scarcity in and related to agriculture. FAO has been preparing, adapting, and will test and disseminate a water scarcity comprehensive framework, to assist member countries with this complex task. The framework includes and number of tools which will be promoted for the preparation and implementation of agricultural and integrated water management programmes. Advocacy and regional cooperation will develop, advocate and support regional initiatives, policies, investment, and monitoring for revitalizing the region's irrigation and agricultural water management and enhancing water and food security.


Irrigated agriculture plays a key role in food production. We work with governments, water managers, engineers and farmers to modernize their irrigation systems so that they are more productive and less damaging for the environment. For many rural people, water is often the primary production factor that needs to be secured. FAO promotes easily affordable agricultural water management solutions that increase rural income and food security.

Water resources

Tremendous progress in food production in recent years has made it possible to provide better quality food to more people than ever before.Too often, however, this is achieved at the expense of water resources and of the health of the ecosystems they sustain.To address this challenge, FAO is supporting intensification models that are clean and resource-efficient, raising the productivity of water across the domestic, industrial and agricultural uses.

Water governance

FAO supports programs that improve the governance of water for more efficient, transparent and equitable use of water for agriculture.It addresses competition for water between sectors through the water-food-energy nexus approach, building upon multi-sectoral policy dialogue and conflict resolution work.For example, our program on groundwater governance focuses on delivering policy and institutional guidelines designed at local, national and transboundary levels. We aim to promote best practices in groundwater governance as a way to achieve sustainable management of groundwater resources.

Climate change and variability

Climate change will lead to more frequent and intense weather extreme events like droughts and floods, with devastating impacts on food production systems. Sound water management is essential for building societal resilience against such increased risks.


FAO’s work focuses on:

Promotion of pro-active drought and flood risk management policies
Capacity building on early warning and regular information on threats
Support to increased water storage to buffer climate variability and change

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Land and Water Division, Natural Resources and Environment, Food and Agriculture Organization Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Bangkok Thailand 10200

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