Water is central to many of the Sustainable Development Goals, to be agreed by the UN later this year, from providing sanitation and improving health to ending hunger. But in sub-Saharan Africa, where rainfall is low and evaporation is high, crop failure is common, especially after prolonged dry spells or when rains come at the wrong time of year. The new goals may be missing a significant opportunity to help solving this problem.
In a Comment piece in Nature, coinciding with World Water Day on 22 March 2015, Centre director Johan Rockström and researcher Malin Falkenmark argue that water harvesting and soil water management is not getting enough attention in global discussions to define the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals (SDGs).
They believe that water-harvesting methods — such as terraces, dams, gullies and tanks — and tillage techniques that avoid turning the soil, have proven to be effective in increasing yields and should be introduced across Africa.
To withstand longer droughts, social strategies and infrastructure such as insurance, trade policies and cereal banks should be established to assure food security, they write.
"Without connecting water, food, growth and poverty, the sustainable development framework will not deliver on its promise to Africa," the authors argue.
Johan Rockström and Malin Falkenmark, authors
Rockström and Falkenmark propose an approach for the SDG goal that will improve water security, address hunger and poverty and enhance carbon storage.
"Retaining more rainwater in soils and storing run-off would bridge dry
spells that last weeks, the major challenge to rain-fed food production.
For longer droughts, social and economic strategies are needed to
assure food security."
Read the full Comment here (Requires permission)
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Johan Rockström is a Professor in Environmental Science with emphasis on water resources and global Sustainability at Stockholm University, and the Executive Director of Stockholm Resilience Centre.
Malin Falkenmark is a globally renowned water expert. Her interests are interdisciplinary with a focus on water scarcity in developing countries and the policy implication of land-water-ecosystem linkages.
Research news | 2020-03-26
Three major innovations helped shape the global food system in the past. How can we learn from them to develop a more sustainable system for the future?
Research news | 2020-03-24
Researchers and practitioners present a vision and strategy to better include different worldviews on the value of nature. All with a little help of the octopus
Research news | 2020-03-23
Researchers urge hydrology and water community to join the “Grand Challenge” in establishing safe limits to human interference with the global water cycle
Research news | 2020-03-19
Four-year programme receives SEK 64 million from the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra)
Research news | 2020-03-18
Researchers, practitioners and artists present previously unimagined ways of thinking about sustainability futures in the region
Research news | 2020-03-17
Computational approach can reveal intricate interactions among stakeholders and help prevent unintended policy outcomes