The first of two special issues related to outputs from the Basin Focal Project has been published in the Water International Journal.
This Special Issue has papers from nine of these basins: the Andes system of basins in South America; the Limpopo, the Niger, the Nile, and the Volta in Africa; the Karkheh in Iran; and the Ganges, the Indus, the Mekong, and the Yellow in Asia.
Analysis shows that while it is convenient to visualize a global water and food crisis in which increasing demand for food and water results in increasing poverty, food insecurity and conflict, the reality is far more nuanced and revolves around the politics of equitable and sustainable development of resources.
First, it is important to realize that water and food systems interact strongly with development processes so that the outcome of changes in one depend also on conditions in the other. In this way, development is influenced strongly by the conditions of water and food systems. Conversely, the status of pre-existing development greatly influences the livelihood impacts of changes in water and agriculture.
Second, while water scarcity is a convenient focus for attention, the reality is far more complex than ‘less water means more poverty’. Evidence from river basins reveals that while water scarcity is a serious issue on some basins, it is not the only, or even the major water-related constraint to development. Other factors include the sharing of resources; vulnerability to hazard and ability to construct and support highly productive systems.
The second special issue will focus on cross-cutting issues. This will be published in a book which will come out in 2011.