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Climate change, water and food security
2006-2010, International, Food Safety, Air contamination/pollution and health

The impacts of climate change on the global hydrological cycle are expected to vary the patterns of demand and supply of water for agriculture – the dominant user of freshwater. The extent and productivity of both irrigated and rainfed agriculture can be expected to change. As a result, the livelihoods of rural communities and the food security of a predominantly urban population are at risk from water-related impacts linked primarily to climate variability. The rural poor, who are the most vulnerable, are likely to be disproportionately affected. Adaptation measures that build upon improved land and water management practices will be fundamental in boosting overall resilience to climate change. And this is not just to maintain food security: the continued integrity of land and water systems is essential for all economic uses of water.

This report summarizes current knowledge of the anticipated impacts of climate change on water availability for agriculture and examines the implications for local and national food security. It analyses expected impact of climate change on a set of major agricultural systems at risk and makes the case for immediate implementation of ‘no-regrets’ strategies which have both positive development outcomes and make agricultural systems resilient. It is hoped that policy makers and planners can use this report to frame their adaptation responses when considering both the water variable in agriculture and the competing demands from other users.

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