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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.


IFAD-funded water system helps Kenyan students stay safe

Last month, we brought you the story of the Mukurwe-ini Technical Training Institute, a school in Kenya’s Nyeri county whose new roof water harvesting system was improving the lives of the students, staff and nearby residents. In recent days, with Kenya now affected by COVID-19, we reached out to Patrick Muchemi, principal of the Institute.



Small Irrigation and Market Access Development Project in the Nippes and Goavienne Region 
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Support Programme for the Rural Microenterprise Poles and Regional Economies (PROSPERER)
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Family Farming Development Programme in the Diffa Region
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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.