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Better management of water key to feeding world: UN chief

03-23-2012 09:35 BJT

ROME, March 22, (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that producing enough food to feed the world's rapidly growing population will require the sustainable use of water.

Ban warned that unless the capacity to use the world's "most critical finite resource" in agriculture in increased, the international community will fail to end hunger and open the door to a range of other ills, including drought, famine and political instability in a statement at the start of World Water Day 2012 ceremonies taking place at FAO.

At the same time, climate change is exacerbating the risk and unpredictability for farmers, "especially for poor farmers in low-income countries who are the most vulnerable and the least able to adapt," he said.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates some 1.6 billion people today live in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity and by 2025 two-thirds of the world's population could be living under water-stressed conditions.

One primary reason for this is the necessary use of water for food production, FAO said, adding that the average human drinks 2 to 4 liters of water every day, but it takes 2,000 to 5,000 liters of water to produce one person's daily food.

FAO also estimates 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted each year. A 50 percent reduction of food losses and waste at the global level would save 1,350 million cubic kilometres of water annually.

Guaranteeing sustainable food and water security for all will require transferring water technologies, empowering small food producers and conserving essential ecosystem services, the UN chief said.

Ban also called for policies that promote water rights for all, stronger regulatory capacity and gender equality.

On March 22 each year, the UN-Water partnership of 28 UN organizations celebrate World Water Day as a way to focus public attention on water-related issues and the need to sustainable manage freshwater resources.

FAO is the lead UN agency for World Water Day this year, which bears the theme "Water and Food Security".

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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