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WPB31

WPB31

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Published by: pratima_shrestha_1 on Jul 22, 2010
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10/25/2012

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WATER POLICY BRIEF
Issue 31, 2009 Putting Research Knowledge into Action
Key fndings
Water storage should be just one component of a multipronged approach toadapting agriculture to climate change.In adapting to climate change, careful attention must be given to the fullcontinuum of physical water storage from groundwater, through soilmoisture, small tanks and ponds to small and large reservoirs.Appropriate water storage for agriculture can contribute to both povertyalleviation and climate change adaptation.Water storage has a vital role to play in improving global food securityand building resilience for adaptation to climate change. A wide rangeof storage options are available, each with strengths and weaknesses.Because of the uncertainty associated with climate change, planners needto focus on exibility in storage systems and give careful consideration tothe sustainability, eectiveness and suitability of dierent storage types.
 
Flexible Water Storage Options
 
and Adaptation to Climate Change
 
NON-PHYSICALPHYSICALWater Storage
Reservoirs, groundwater, soil moisture
Food Storage
Virtual water storage
Management Strategies
Drought/flood insurance, water sharing agreementsIncreasing focus on compensation Increasing focus on minimizing impacts
Storing water
Physical water storage is one component of a rangeof adaptation strategies; other options include foodstorage and management strategies (Figure 1). These are complementary, not mutually exclusiveapproaches and the best results are obtained whenan appropriate balance is achieved among all threeaspects.Agriculture is by far the largest human use of water.It uses 70% of global freshwater withdrawals, mainlyfor irrigation to supplement water for rainfed cropsand livestock. ‘Natural’ variability in rainfall andtemperature mean that in many places access tofreshwater is already unpredictable. How climatechange will alter this ‘natural’ variability is the subjectof considerable study.For many millions of smallholder farmers, reliableaccess to water is the dierence between plenty andfamine. The classic response is to store water behinddams or in tanks or ponds when it is abundant andwhere it can be conserved for times of shortage. Waterstorage spurs economic growth and helps alleviatepoverty by making water available when and whereit is needed. Today, many developing countries, eventhose with abundant water, have insucient waterstorage capacity.Inadequate storage leaves farmers vulnerableto the vagaries of climate. Ethiopia is one suchexample. Ethiopian farmers are heavily reliant onrainfed subsistence agriculture. The lack of storageinfrastructure means farmers have limited ability tocope with droughts and oods. These limitations areestimated to cost the economy one-third of its growthpotential. The Ethiopian case is a good illustration of the urgent need for appropriate investments in waterstorage to increase agricultural productivity and toensure that farmers have options for adjusting to thecoming climate changes.
2
When most people think about water storage, therst thing that comes to mind is large dams. Morethan 45,000 large dams (more than 15 meters high)have been built throughout the world. The majorityof these are in North America, China and Europe.About 40% are used solely or partially for irrigation.
Figure 1
:
 
Elements of an eective water management strategy.
    P    h   o   t   o   c   r   e    d    i   t   :    M .    M   c    C   a   r   t   n   e   y    P    h   o   t   o   c   r   e    d    i   t   :    M .    M   c    C   a   r   t   n   e   y    P    h   o   t   o   c   r   e    d    i   t   :    M   a   r   t    i   n   e    P   o   o    l   m   a   n
 
All of the abovePlanting cropsDirect,Buckets, pumpsdam outlets, pumps,off-take towers
Natural wetlands
(lakes, swamps etc.)
 Ponds and TanksSoil MoistureAquifers
deepshallow
Reservoirs
smalllarge
SUBSURFACESURFACEAccess
Increasing storage reliability Increasing storage reliabilityBoreholes, deep /shallow wells, etc
   I  n  c  r  e  a  s   i  n  g  c  a  p   i   t  a   l ,  e  n  v   i  r  o  n  m  e  n   t  a   l  a  n   d  s  o  c   i  a   l  c  o  s   t  s  a  n   d  m  a  n  a  g  e  m  e  n   t  c  o  m  p   l  e  x   i   t  y
3
Dams are one of the many surface and below-surface water storage options for agriculture. Others
include natural wetlands, water stored in the soil and
rainwater harvesting ponds (Figure 2). Historically,irrigation depended heavily on water in rivers ornaturally stored in lakes, oodplains and wetlands.Groundwater provides much of the water usedfor irrigation. In India, more than 19 million pumpswithdraw 230 cubic kilometers of groundwaterannually. In Spain, northern China and California,crop production is almost entirely dependent ongroundwater. All groundwater originates as rainfall
    P    h   o   t   o   c   r   e    d    i   t   :    M .    M   c    C   a   r   t   n   e   y    P    h   o   t   o   c   r   e    d    i   t   :    M .    M   c    C   a   r   t   n   e   y    P    h   o   t   o   c   r   e    d    i   t   :    V    l   a    d    i   m    i   r    S   m   a    k    h   t    i   n    P    h   o   t   o   c   r   e    d    i   t   :    M .    M   c    C   a   r   t   n   e   y    P    h   o   t   o   c   r   e    d    i   t   :    M .    M   c    C   a   r   t   n   e   y
Figure 2
:
 
 The continuum of water storage options.

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