Water is at the nexus of food security and climate risk management. Smallholder farmers depend on reliable access to water to support production through rainfall and/or irrigation systems. As climate risks mount, variability in water availability and allocation will affect the competitiveness and resilience of the agriculture sector.
Water use in agriculture is thus a key area for USAID to consider in both its economic growth and resilience programming. To help this effort, USAID water discussions must account for water use in agriculture alongside Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) considerations. Expanding this focus speaks to smallholder resilience through their exposure to water stresses.
In this effort, the governance of water resources is an important consideration for policymakers and development actors. The strength of national and sub-national institutions, including the willingness and capacity to enforce formal rules, determine how water resources are distributed across competing sectors, including municipal, industrial, or agricultural sectors.
The EEFS Water Governance Scorecard
provides a starting point for policymakers and development actors to engage with water governance indicators. The Scorecard summarizes publicly available datasets on Feed the Future countries’ water resource availability, infrastructure, and regulatory institutions, and highlights performance gaps in the enabling environment.
The Water Governance Scorecard also provides countries with important comparative information. Policymakers may use this rapid snapshot to assess strengths and weaknesses in their water governance systems relative to those of their peers. They can then make inferences as to what reforms to their national water governance systems are needed to support adequate water use within the agriculture sector in the face of climate risks.
A holistic approach to water use management is one that includes water use for agriculture and accounts for the role of governance in ensuring that water resources are allocated effectively to support food security. The EEFS Water Governance Scorecard is a useful resource to inform USAID efforts toward that end.
For more on water governance from the Feed the Future Enabling Environment for Food Security (EEFS) project, see this post. To access EEFS’ suite of technical resources, visit the project’s activity page on Agrilinks and check out its resources on Marketlinks. Be sure to follow EEFS on Twitter at @EE4AgMarkets, and sign up for its e-newsletter here.