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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.


How an innovative 'sand' dam is causing a rush for water in Somalia

In the sub-regions of Maaroodi-Jeex and Awdal, in the arid and semi-arid region of Somaliland, an innovative water management solution is helping small farmers stay in business despite the changing weather patterns.




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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Ruwanmu Small-Scale Irrigation Project
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Related news

Development experts to discuss impacts of climate change on water resources in Pakistan at one-day seminar

marzo 2018 - NEWS
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Pakistan will convene a one-day seminar in Islamabad today to exchange knowledge on innovative climate change adaptation and mitigation practices that rural communities...

El Presidente del FIDA ha sido nombrado Presidente de ONU-Agua

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Gilbert F. Houngbo, Presidente del Fondo Internacional de Desarrollo Agrícola (FIDA), ha sido nombrado Presidente de ONU-Agua por António Guterres, Secretario General de las Naciones Unidas. ONU-Agua es el mecanismo de coordinación sobre el agua y el saneamiento.

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The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of Djibouti today signed a financial agreement to address the serious impact of water scarcity facing Djibouti's rural people.

Related publications

The Water Advantage: Seeking sustainable solutions for water stress

marzo 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

noviembre 2017
Agriculture and fisheries, the backbone of food security and nutrition for coastal communities and globally, are under threat. Climate change and environmental
degradation in coastal areas, including Small Island Developing States, are already affecting the natural resource base on which smallholders depend for their food
security and livelihoods. Future projections outline an increasingly urgent need to help communities adapt to these changes and protect these fragile resources.

Scaling up note on agricultural water management

noviembre 2015
El agua tiene una importancia fundamental para el desarrollo humano, el medio ambiente y la economía. El acceso al agua y la seguridad hídrica son primordiales para mejorar la seguridad alimentaria, los ingresos y los medios de vida de las comunidades rurales. La falta de acceso seguro a los recursos hídricos es una gran limitación para millones de agricultores pobres, principalmente los que habitan en zonas de secano, pero también aquellos que realizan una agricultura de regadío. El cambio climático y los cambios que ocasiona en los patrones de las precipitaciones representan una amenaza para muchos otros
agricultores, quienes se encuentran en riesgo de perder la seguridad hídrica y caer nuevamente en la trampa de la pobreza. Por lo tanto, es preciso insistir en la necesidad de fortalecer la capacidad de las comunidades para adoptar y difundir las tecnologías de gestión del agua para uso agrícola.

Water contact

For questions please contact Mawira Chitima,

Lead Technical Specialist - Water and Rural Infrastructure,