Water, poverty and agriculture -A cross basin comparison
Water, poverty and agriculture -
A cross basin comparison
S.E. Cook1, L. Harrington2, M. Rajasekharan1 and M.J. Fisher3
Challenge Program on water and Food (CPWF)1, Cornell University, USA2, and
International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)3
The Basin Focal Projects (BFPs)
BFPs provide strategic research that
links project and basin activities and
provide insights on water, agriculture
and poverty in 10 diverse basins over
• What links water, food and poverty?
• How well is water used?
• What are the foreseeable risks and
opportunities for change in basins?
Mekong - The wettest basin in the world where the poorest rely on sensitive
aquatic ecosystems such as the Tonle Sap.
Volta- 50% live below poverty line and the performance of rainfed agriculture
is only a small fraction of its potential.
São Francisco - Commercial agriculture forms a strong driver of change.
Karkheh - A water-short basin with added pressure from the strategic policy
goals of the government for self-sufficiency of food grain staples (e.g wheat).
Nile - One of the largest river basins in the World and 99% of its flow is shared
amongst 10 riparian countries. Huge evaporation losses in the Aswan Dam.
Limpopo - A basin with highly variable rainfall with frequent extreme events
(both floods and droughts).
Niger - More than 70 percent of the people in the riparian countries are below
the poverty line.
Andes - Economies transforming the lives of many while marginalizing some.
Indo-Ganges - Lifeline of more than 700 million people of which the majority
Yellow River - Pressure on water from high economic growth.
Rainfall M m3/ km2/ year
Ganges Linkages between water-food-poverty are
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 1600 complex! Not all water-poor people are poor and
not all the poor are water poor.
Per capita watersupply:
m3/ person/ year Irrigation and livestock are important in ‘dry’
Volta basins and fish are important in ‘wet’ basins.
Nile Generally water productivity (WPr) is well below
Limpopo its potential and there is considerable scope for
increase. For example, in Volta current WPr is
0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10000
<10% of its potential & in Sao Francisco it is
<20% of its potential.
Basin water uses
Rainfed agriculture Options for increasing water productivity differs
Nile Irrigated agriculture between the basins and depends on
Limpopo environment, market, policies and Institutions.
Karkheh Grassland, woodland
Indus and other
Discharge and losses
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100
Acknowledgements: This poster represents the combined effort of many people and Institutions involved in the Basin Focal Projects. We cannot acknowledge individually the
valued and unique contributions to this collaborative initiative. We thank all those contributed to this project. BFPs were funded by the Challenge Program for Water and Food
(CPWF) and we thank the CPWF and its donors.