Overseas Development Institute
is the UK’s leading independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues
ODI Background Notes
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By Eva Ludi
he ood price crisis o 2008 has led to there-emergence o debates about globalood security (e.g. Wiggins, 2008) and itsimpact on prospects or achieving the rstMillennium Development Goal (MDG): to end povertyand hunger. On top o a number o shorter-term trig-gers leading to volatile ood prices, the longer-termnegative impacts o climate change need to be takenvery seriously.The United Nations Development Programme(UNDP) warns that the progress in human develop-ment achieved over the last decade may be sloweddown or even reversed by climate change, as newthreats emerge to water and ood security, agri-cultural production and access, and nutrition andpublic health. The impacts o climate change – sealevel rise, droughts, heat waves, foods and rainallvariation – could, by 2080, push another 600 millionpeople into malnutrition and increase the number o people acing water scarcity by 1.8 billion (UNDP2008).Agriculture constitutes the backbone o mostArican economies. It is the largest contributor to GDP;the biggest source o oreign exchange, accounting or about 40% o the continent’s oreign currency earn-ings; and the main generator o savings and tax rev-enues. In addition, about two-thirds o manuacturingvalue-added is based on agricultural raw materials.Agriculture remains crucial or pro-poor economicgrowth in most Arican countries, as rural areas sup-port 70-80% o the total population. More than in anyother sector, improvements in agricultural perorm-ance have the potential to increase rural incomes andpurchasing power or large numbers o people to litthem out o poverty (NEPAD, 2002; Wiggins, 2006).Climate change, however, is considered as posingthe greatest threat to agriculture and ood securityin the 21st century, particularly in many o the poor,agriculture-based countries o sub-Saharan Arica(SSA) with their low capacity to eectively cope (Shahet al., 2008; Nellemann et al., 2009).
Arican agriculture is already under stress as a resulto population increase, industrialisation and urbanisa-tion, competition over resource use, degradation o resources, and insufcient public spending or ruralinrastructure and services. The impact o climate changeis likely to exacerbate these stresses even urther.
The outlook or the coming decades is that agricul-tural productivity needs to continue to increase andwill require more water to meet the demands o grow-ing populations. Ensuring equitable access to water and its benefts now and or uture generations is amajor challenge as scarcity and competition increase.
The amount o water allocated to agriculture andwater management choices will determine, to a largeextent, whether societies achieve economic andsocial development and environmental sustainability(Molden et al., 2007).This paper reviews current knowledge about therelationships between climate change, water andood security.
Small-holder agriculture, water andclimate change
Smallholder armers (including herders and shers)make up the majority o the world’s poor people. TheInternational Fund or Agricultural Development (IFAD)(IFAD, n.a.) estimates that there are 1.2 billion peoplewho cannot meet their most basic needs or sucient
Climate change, water and oodsecurity