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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.
Three ways to harvest water in Brazil’s sertão
For centuries, people living in Brazil’s semi-arid region have struggled with a lack of water. But over the last decades, thanks to support from IFAD and other development actors, these communities are squeezing a few more drops of water from Mother Nature.