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The water-nutrition
productivity gap, the
case of Ethiopia
Walking on two water legs for nutrition
Jan Lundqvist, professor, June 23, 2020, Stockholm
Last half a century: Significant increases on
the supply side, kcal and protein (global trends)
Kcal person -1 day -1, 1961 – 2011 /2030/ Protein: 1961 - 2011
Grams person-1 day-1
(all categories of food)
High-income: ~ 84 to 100
Low- & middle-income: ~ 50 to 70
Lundqvist, J. & Unver, O. 2018. Alternative Pathways to Food Security and FAO. 2017. The Future of Food and Agriculture.
nutrition. Water predicaments and human behaviour. Water Policy, July 17 Trends and challenges (p. 85) , Rome
Ethiopia - some characteristics
People, water, food
• Dynamic economy, demography &
political leadership
• Erratic rainfall
• Predominantly rainfed
• Smallholder farmers
• High risk, low productivity & income
• Concentration on a few staples
• Food imports
“The Three Ethiopias””
Bekele, S.B., et al. 2010. Irrigation Potential for Enhancing the Irrigation Potential in Ethiopia.
Constraints and opportunities for enhancing the system. IWMI
Yield variation and nutrient density of crops
Yield variation, tons/ha Vitamin contents, mg/100 g
Productivity gap and nutrition
• With low productivity:
- low return per drop (high ET: much water, little food)
- low yields/no surplus food imports
- encroachment into other ecosystems
- risk aversive behaviour; staple crops dominate
- perpetuation of poverty; no money for school fees, …
Mineral fertilizers more frequently used than water
High water productivity
pre-supposes better coor-
dination and co-
management of inputs:
 water
 mineral fertilizers
 improved seeds
 land/soil conservation/
management
Barley
Wheat
Sorghum
Finger millet
Field peas
White Haricot beans
Red haricot beans
Chickpeas
Fenugreek
Groundnuts
Sesame seed
Head cabbage
Ethiopian cabbage
TomatoGreen pepper
Red pepper
Swiss chard
Beetroot
Carrot Onion
Potatoes
Garlic
Taro
Sweet potatoes
Avocado
Banana
Guava
Lemon
Mango
Orange
Papaya
Oats
Faba beans
Teff
Maize
-10
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
-10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
Shareoflandunderfertilization[%]
Share of land under irrigation [%]
Average 2015/2016; 2016/2017; 2017/2018
1 %
50 %
100 %
Cereals
Root crops
Pulses & legumes
Oil crops
Vegetables
Fruits
Dismiss dichotomies about water
• A range of promising (and practiced) interfaces
between rainfed and irrigated farming systems AND
between productive and domestic water use
• In predominantly rainfed systems, small amounts of
supplementary water AND other inputs, properly
managed by farmers:
- high marginal water productivity
- reduce risks, boost yield, facilitate diversification
- increase return to farmers’ efforts
How to interpret a significant
reduction in the prevalence
of stunting among children < 5?
- Per capita increases in food
production/supply, import,
access
- Changes in food habits
- improved WASH
- Mothers’ education level
- Reduction in poverty
Progress in nutrition among children < 5
https://ec.Europe.eu/europeaid/Ethiopia-nutrition-fich-and-child-stunting--trends_en
Findings & Messages
• Improved nutrition: production, access, habits and absorption of nutrients in
food eaten: from field to finger to stomach
• Walk on two water legs: i) water for food with high nutrient density
AND ii) water in WASH (absorption of nutrients in the food eaten)
• Enhanced productivity, esp. in smallholdings:
better coordination of water, mineral & organic fertilizers, seeds
• Coordination more pragmatic than integration: community and basin level
• For farmers to benefit from expanding market opportunities: logistics,
(public) purchase of nutritious produce
Figures and diagrammes shown in this presentation are included in:
SIWI and FAO: “Water Productivity, the Yield Gap, and Nutrition
- The case of Ethiopia” (forthcoming)
Thanks
Louise Malmquist, Jennie Barron, Paulo Dias, Mekonnen Wakeyo, Claudia Ringler

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The water-nutrition productivity gap

  • 1. The water-nutrition productivity gap, the case of Ethiopia Walking on two water legs for nutrition Jan Lundqvist, professor, June 23, 2020, Stockholm
  • 2. Last half a century: Significant increases on the supply side, kcal and protein (global trends) Kcal person -1 day -1, 1961 – 2011 /2030/ Protein: 1961 - 2011 Grams person-1 day-1 (all categories of food) High-income: ~ 84 to 100 Low- & middle-income: ~ 50 to 70 Lundqvist, J. & Unver, O. 2018. Alternative Pathways to Food Security and FAO. 2017. The Future of Food and Agriculture. nutrition. Water predicaments and human behaviour. Water Policy, July 17 Trends and challenges (p. 85) , Rome
  • 3. Ethiopia - some characteristics People, water, food • Dynamic economy, demography & political leadership • Erratic rainfall • Predominantly rainfed • Smallholder farmers • High risk, low productivity & income • Concentration on a few staples • Food imports “The Three Ethiopias”” Bekele, S.B., et al. 2010. Irrigation Potential for Enhancing the Irrigation Potential in Ethiopia. Constraints and opportunities for enhancing the system. IWMI
  • 4. Yield variation and nutrient density of crops Yield variation, tons/ha Vitamin contents, mg/100 g
  • 5. Productivity gap and nutrition • With low productivity: - low return per drop (high ET: much water, little food) - low yields/no surplus food imports - encroachment into other ecosystems - risk aversive behaviour; staple crops dominate - perpetuation of poverty; no money for school fees, …
  • 6. Mineral fertilizers more frequently used than water High water productivity pre-supposes better coor- dination and co- management of inputs:  water  mineral fertilizers  improved seeds  land/soil conservation/ management Barley Wheat Sorghum Finger millet Field peas White Haricot beans Red haricot beans Chickpeas Fenugreek Groundnuts Sesame seed Head cabbage Ethiopian cabbage TomatoGreen pepper Red pepper Swiss chard Beetroot Carrot Onion Potatoes Garlic Taro Sweet potatoes Avocado Banana Guava Lemon Mango Orange Papaya Oats Faba beans Teff Maize -10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 -10 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 Shareoflandunderfertilization[%] Share of land under irrigation [%] Average 2015/2016; 2016/2017; 2017/2018 1 % 50 % 100 % Cereals Root crops Pulses & legumes Oil crops Vegetables Fruits
  • 7. Dismiss dichotomies about water • A range of promising (and practiced) interfaces between rainfed and irrigated farming systems AND between productive and domestic water use • In predominantly rainfed systems, small amounts of supplementary water AND other inputs, properly managed by farmers: - high marginal water productivity - reduce risks, boost yield, facilitate diversification - increase return to farmers’ efforts
  • 8. How to interpret a significant reduction in the prevalence of stunting among children < 5? - Per capita increases in food production/supply, import, access - Changes in food habits - improved WASH - Mothers’ education level - Reduction in poverty Progress in nutrition among children < 5 https://ec.Europe.eu/europeaid/Ethiopia-nutrition-fich-and-child-stunting--trends_en
  • 9. Findings & Messages • Improved nutrition: production, access, habits and absorption of nutrients in food eaten: from field to finger to stomach • Walk on two water legs: i) water for food with high nutrient density AND ii) water in WASH (absorption of nutrients in the food eaten) • Enhanced productivity, esp. in smallholdings: better coordination of water, mineral & organic fertilizers, seeds • Coordination more pragmatic than integration: community and basin level • For farmers to benefit from expanding market opportunities: logistics, (public) purchase of nutritious produce
  • 10. Figures and diagrammes shown in this presentation are included in: SIWI and FAO: “Water Productivity, the Yield Gap, and Nutrition - The case of Ethiopia” (forthcoming) Thanks Louise Malmquist, Jennie Barron, Paulo Dias, Mekonnen Wakeyo, Claudia Ringler