Water Options for Smallholder


   Figure 1: Areas of physical and economical water scarcity at a basin level in 2007 (in IWMI, 2008)


Since water plays a key role in agricultural production, the unavailability of water and the lack of access to water are major constraints to rural agricultural livelihoods in Asia. Evidences have shown that there is a strong link between access to water and rural livelihoods among the poor. The lack of access to water may be caused by multiple factors such as physical water shortage, inadequate infrastructures due to economics, and lack of services. Furthermore, the challenges of other competing inter-sectoral water demands, degradation of water quality, and water shocks due to climate change all add to the increasing level water stress or scarcity. However, Asian rural communities have been transforming rapidly through economic growth and urbanization, hence, well-targeted water control interventions need to be supported by interventions from other sectors as well in order to be effective.


FAO’s water-related field program in the Asia Pacific region has a focus on water interventions that benefit the livelihoods of smallholder farmers by enhancing food and water security. The field program consists of both country-based field projects and regionally-based normative projects supported by field case studies. Realizing the need for institutional capacity development in the member countries, there is also a strong emphasis in building national capacity in many of these field projects. These field projects are implemented to increase water availability, water access, and water productivity through integrated water resources management and infrastructure investment, develop institutional capacities in multiple levels, and address water vulnerabilities. Proper water accounting is also an important component of project development. Agricultural and environmental sustainability are paramount in project implementation while promoting multiple use water systems. Interactions among water, energy, and food are becoming increasingly significant and complex, therefore, FAO is working toward a comprehensive water, energy, and food nexus approach to natural resources and irrigation management in its field projects.


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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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