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A precious resource under stress

Water stress is the risk with the most potential impact on the livelihoods of poor rural communities. More than a billion people live in water-scarce regions, and as many as 3.5 billion could face water scarcity by 2025. Growing populations, expanding cities, climate change and unsustainable resource management all increase water stress on rural communities.

Flooding, landslides and salt water intrusion into freshwater systems are worsened by increased climate variability and shocks. Degradation of ecosystems also affects the three core dimensions of water resource management: quantity, quality and disaster risk management.

More efficient and effective water use

Investing in policies and local institutions can lead to better governance and management of land and water resources, thereby increasing water security for rural women and men.

Better conflict resolution mechanisms and local land and water allocation systems can secure equal access and user rights for various groups. Investments in infrastructure and technology can increase water availability and lead to more efficient use.

Conservation management of catchment areas and aquifers also help achieve sustainable access to water for the rural poor.

Enhancing water security for the most vulnerable

IFAD works closely with rural communities, traders, retailers and local governments to improve the allocation and management of water resources.

In recent decades, IFAD has worked with governments to move policies and legislation toward a more integrated and participatory approach to water resource management.

IFAD also works to improve local allocation and management of land and water resources to empower poor rural people to participate in managing the  resources on which they depend.

This has included promoting broad-based water user associations and multiple use-systems. IFAD has invested in water infrastructure and more efficient technologies for agriculture, post-harvesting handling and processing, and domestic water supply.

Spotlight

Assets for life: Small, but innovative, investments in water infrastructures, transform livelihoods in Mozambique

Mapai is one of the driest districts of Mozambique, with an arid and semi-arid tropical climate where water for consumption, cattle and agriculture is the major challenge for the people living there.

Projects

Haiti

Small Irrigation and Market Access Development Project in the Nippes and Goavienne Region 
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Madagascar

Support Programme for the Rural Microenterprise Poles and Regional Economies (PROSPERER)
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Niger

Family Farming Development Programme in the Diffa Region
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Related news

Investing in the blue economy to accelerate sustainable development in Africa

May 2019 - NEWS
The President of IFAD, Gilbert F. Houngbo, will be in Maputo, Mozambique for the Growing Blue Conference where he will speak to the need for greater investment in sustainable development for rural people whose livelihoods depend on aquatic resources including small-scale fisheries, aquaculture and coastal environments.

Development of Kenya’s aquaculture sector could reduce rural poverty and tackle chronic malnutrition and food insecurity

June 2018 - NEWS
More than 35,000 rural households in Kenya will soon be eating better and earning more money thanks to a new financial agreement signed today by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Republic of Kenya in support of the country’s aquaculture sector. 

New opportunity for Angolan smallholder farmers to boost food security and be more resilient to climate change

May 2018 - NEWS
A new financial agreement, signed today between the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Angola, will boost food and nutrition security among some 8,000 Angolan rural households in Benguela, Cunene and Huila provinces.

Related publications

Research Series Issue 31 - Impact of modern irrigation on household production and welfare outcomes

October 2018
Investments in irrigation systems have been shown to substantially improve farmers’ productivity, and thus alleviate poverty. This study provides an example of such an investment: the Participatory Small-Scale Irrigation Development Programme. 

The Water Advantage: Seeking sustainable solutions for water stress

March 2018
Among ecosystems services, freshwater is one of the most fundamental for life. For smallholders, water means the difference between a decent life and poverty, hunger and malnutrition. 

The Marine Advantage: Empowering coastal communities, safeguarding marine ecosystems

November 2017

Agriculture and fisheries, the backbone of food security and nutrition for coastal communities and globally, are under threat.