World Water Day 2012: Food & Security


At Waterkeeper Alliance, we celebrate water every day. Swimmable, fishable, drinkable water is a basic human right for which we all strive. Whether you’re joining P.Diddy for a sunset cruise on his yacht or picking up litter off your local beach, we hope you choose to celebrate World Water Day this March 22nd by remembering how important clean water is to our existence.

This year’s World Water Day theme is “Food and Security.” The term food security refers to the availability of food and one’s access to it. Why is water a key to food security? Most of the water that we ‘drink’ is in the food that we consume. Food production accounts for 70% of all water use, more than the amount needed for domestic and industrial use combined. If you consider countries with better access to water, you will notice that those same countries tend to have lower levels of undernourishment. 

All human activities have a water footprint, because they all use water. It takes about 1500 liters of water to produce 1 kg of wheat, but it takes 10 times that to produce 1 kg of beef. One only needs to look to the world’s growing population to determine how the global demand for food is evolving. Increased competition for water resources often results in loss of access to water for the poor and other at risk groups. Without access to water, small farmers, fishers, and herders cannot make a living. Drought is ranked as the single most common cause of severe food shortages in developing countries.

Water pollution is a major cause of reduced water availability and can have serious impacts on human health. Pollution can stem from various sources, such as inappropriate industrial and agricultural practices. Agriculture is one of the most important sectors in the economies of most nations. Conservation agriculture methods can improve the efficiency of input, increase farm income, improve or sustain crop yields, and protect and revitalize soil, biodiversity, and the natural resource base. The overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides can lead to contamination of watersheds. Well maintained soil can capture more rainwater and avoid surface runoff.

Everyone is capable of addressing this critical issue by learning what steps they can take to help preserve our freshwater resources. Learn how much water is used to make the foods we eat every day and consume less water-intensive products. Here’s an interactive tool from the UN to determine how much water different food products use. Be mindful of food waste- 30% of all food produced worldwide is never consumed. At Waterkeeper Alliance, we encourage you to contact your senators and tell them why clean water is important to you. Access Waterkeeper Alliance’s petition to keep the Clean Water Act strong.

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