World Water Week focuses on irrigation waste
Kate Spirgen | August, 2012
Seventy percent of the world's water is used for agriculture.
Today marks the beginning of World Water Week in Stockholm, where the world takes a closer look at how we're using one of our most precious resources.
This year, the week is focusing on the amount of water wasted at farms, greenhouses and agriculture in general. In all, about 70 percent of the world's water supply is used for food productin, according to the International Water Institute.
Torgny Holmgren, executive director of Stockholm International Water Institute, is warning that more than a quarter of global water usage is spent to grow food that goes to waste.
European Union Development Commissioner, Andris Piebalgs released the following statement:
"Today, I want to confirm the EU's strong commitment to making sure that everyone, no matter where they live, has access to clean, safe water and sanitation. We don't start from scratch and our aid has already triggered good results. Over the period 2004-2009, EU aid has provided access to clean drinking water to more than 32 million people and to sanitation to over 9.5 million people across the world.
Thanks to the European Commission, more than 60 countries currently benefit from major water and sanitation projects. Access to water and sanitation has been one of top priorities of the EU and over the last decade, our aid has almost tripled to reach around €2bn a year.
Yet every minute, three more children die from drinking dirty water - that's 4,000 every day. Half of the hospital beds in developing countries are taken up with people suffering from diseases caused by poor water, sanitation and hygiene. This is simply unacceptable and it's clear that more and faster progress is necessary. We are committed to doing all we can to step up our efforts to create a world where all human beings can drink, bathe and clean with water without fearing a deadly disease from it.
Contributing to the Millennium Development Goal of access to water and sanitation is at the core of the EU's work on reducing poverty. Two years ago, at the MDG Summit in New York, we launched the EU Millennium Development Goal initiative, which is allocating an extra €1 billion for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to help them meet the most off-track Millennium Development Goals (as well as further support those who have made particularly good progress). Water and sanitation is one of the four MDGs being specifically targeted by the initiative, with €266 million, which just shows how much of a priority this is for us.
But water is not only vital for drinking and hygiene purposes, it is also key to agriculture. Worldwide, 70 percent of water is used as irrigation water to grow food, for example, and in some developing countries, this figure increases to over 85 percent. It's clear that access to water and food security are therefore closely interlinked.
Sustainable agriculture and food and nutrition security are at the top of the EU's long-term development cooperation agenda. We are determined to enhance our support to provide the three key requirements of water, energy and food.
In World Water Week, I'd urge other donors, partners and the private sector to join us and help us turn the tide and do all we can to preserve our precious water supplies before it's too late."