Floods and droughts affect millions of people and each year and cause billions of dollars of damage to agriculture - and they are getting more frequent. The Variability, Risks and Competing Uses (VRC) flagship aims to reduce risks and losses that farming communities suffer from water-related disasters. It does this by managing water variability, minimizing damages and maximizing the opportunities it provides.
In addition, in a world where demand for water resources is growing while the water resource base is increasingly degraded and depleted, VRC aims to help manage the competition over surface and groundwater and associated energy and land uses so that more people benefit in an equitable way. To use resources more sustainably, VRC provides policy advice to governments and stakeholders on improved water resource infrastructure planning and management. This includes consideration of 'portfolios' of green and grey infrastructure for enhanced ecosystem services, increased resilience and sustainability.
Water quality: the real water crisis?
The phrase ‘water crisis’ often evokes images of cracked soil and shriveled crops or towns and fields completely submerged. And while some regions of the world are frequently subjected to the devastation caused by droughts and floods, water crises come in other forms with a far more global reach. A study by CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE) partner, IFPRI, highlights the extent of a different water crisis: deteriorating water quality. The study estimates that by 2050, increased use of nitrogen and phosphorous will result in up to 1 in 3 people being exposed to a high risk of water pollution. [read more]
Weighing the trade-offs of large water investments
The county capital of Wajir in northeast Kenya lacks clean drinking water and has no suitable source of water nearby. That's why the Kenyan government plans to tap into an important groundwater body, the Merti aquifer, located 120 kilometers away, to secure a steady supply of water to the city. Potential benefits include improved public health and higher productivity as well as economic growth, which is expected to accelerate development in the region.
After discussions with community representatives, WLE scientists modeled how the Merti water-transfer project was likely to affect communities in an effort to develop a more equitable project design. They uncovered significant trade-offs, with likely impacts on various communities. [read more]
Ensuring access to water with ecosystem services schemes in Peru
In the Cañete River basin in Peru, urban residents, rafting companies, industries and farmers all depend on clean and plentiful water resources. One model to ensure the quality of these natural resources for future generations is for downstream beneficiaries to reward upstream communities in exchange for protecting and maintaining the watershed. In 2014 a Peruvian congressional committee approved national rewards for ecosystems services legislation developed by the Ministry of Environment, with WLE partner, CIAT, Conservation International and GIZ acting as advisers. In June 2014 the Peruvian congress passed the law, which promotes and regulates rewards for ecosystem services schemes throughout the country. [read more]