World Water Day took place last week, on Thursday the 22nd of March, 2012. The point of world water day is to focus our attention on the importance of freshwater and the sustainable management of freshwater resources. With a gentle nudge from the GIZ team in Zambia we decided to take a closer look. Each year, World Water Day highlights a specific theme to raise awareness. For example, the 2012 theme is ‘water and food security’ whilst the 2011 theme was ‘water for cities’ and 2010 was all about ‘water quality’.
GIZ in Zambia have been working with the Ministry of Energy and Water Development (MEWD) and the Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH) toward reforming the legal, organisational and institutional framework conditions of the water sector in Zambia. According to GIZ, 80% of Zambia’s urban population live on the outskirts of Zambia’s towns and cities. That equates to about three million people. Nearly half of these people, that’s 1.5 million people, do not have sufficient access to clean drinking water or sanitation. But, as result of the working partnerships between GIZ and Zambia’s ministries and authorities, some four million people in Zambia have already gained access to clean drinking water.
Focusing in on this years theme, ‘water and food security’ we looked at five frequently asked questions that are relevant to Zambia.
1. What is food security?Food security exists when a person has physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs for an active and healthy life.
2. Why is water a key to food security?It’s a fact that people who have better access to water tend to have lower levels of undernourishment. In Zambia’s rural areas, where people depend on local agriculture for food and income, lack of water can be a major cause of famine and undernourishment. Erratic rainfall, floods, droughts and seasonal differences in water availability can and do cause temporary food shortages.
3. How much water is needed to produce our food?This example hit home! It takes about 1500 liters of water to produce 1kg of wheat, but it takes 10 times more to produce 1kg of beef!
4. Is the competition for water increasing?When the population increases and the economy grows, as is happening in Zambia, water demands for cities and industry growing much faster than for agriculture. Increased competition for water often translates into loss of access to water for poorer communities. For millions of smallholder farmers, fishers and herders, water is one of the most important factors of production. Without water, they cannot make a living. This is true for Zambia.
5. How can we reduce the waste?Incredibly, roughly 30% of the food produced worldwide is lost or wasted every year. In many developing countries, large amounts of what is produced is lost between the farmers’ field and the market due to poor storage and transportation facilities. Here more needs to be done to enable a smoother journey from field to market. In developed countries, food is wasted by the consumer who is unaware of the resources needed to produce it. Here a change in attitude is necessary because limiting waste reduces the water needed to produce our food.
Here’s a summary of how Zambia took part in the 2012 World Water Day
Update on April the 2nd 2012Here is a news piece here by the Devolution Trust Fund which is water and sanitation project for the urban poor.
This video also explains the links between water, food security, nutrition and energy very nicely.
We were also sent a picture from the Youth Development Through Football tournament on 21st of March. The former National Football Team player Annie Namukanga is seen with Dep. Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Charles Zulu; Deputy Minister Sport and Youth, Nathaniel Mubukwanu; Information, Broadcasting and Tourism Deputy Minister, Forrie Tembo; Japanese Ambassador, Egawa; and German Ambassador Frank Meyke.
Also fitting is this document we came across via Economist, Dambisa Moyo’s Facebook page. She says, “People are worried about the recent spike in oil prices but among commodities, it’s not just oil. Water is also an issue for concern with a US agency forecasting the possibility of water wars.” Global Water Security discussed this in depth.
Find out moreIf you want to find out more about the challenges we face with water then here is the 2012 World Water Day brochure and here’s the website. You can also join the World Water Day network here:
We leave you with this fact: Each of us needs to drink two to four litres of water every day, but it takes 2000 to 5000 litres of water to produce one person’s daily food.