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Water as an explanatory factor for food security in dryland countries

IWRA 2021 Online Conference One Water, One Health
Theme 2: How can managing water in agriculture contribute to food security and public health?
Author(s): Fernando Riaza Fernández, Irene Blanco Gutiérrez, Paloma Esteve Bengoechea, Joaquín Millan Gómez

Fernando Riaza Fernández
Irene Blanco Gutiérrez
Paloma Esteve Bengoechea
Joaquín Millan Gómez

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid

Keyword(s): Food security, water security, water-food nexus, composite index, drylands


(a) Purpose or objectives and status of study or research hypothesis

A Food-Water Security Index (FWSI) has been developed for tracking the progress towards food security in water vulnerable countries from dryland regions of Africa and Asia, allowing for the identification of specific areas for action through a detailed consideration of the water dimension within food security.

(b) Key issue(s) or problem(s) addressed

Dryland countries are home to a majority of undernourished populations across the world that suffering from water scarcity and food insecurity, and in many cases civil conflicts, are forced to migrate to more prosper regions. However, among the different indicators and tools for assessing and monitoring food security insufficient attention is paid to the role of water in explaining it. The effect of water on food security is particularly relevant in developing countries in Asia and Africa, which account for 70% of the World's drylands.

(c) Methodology or approach used
The core of the methodology is the development of a composite index to which a total of 36 countries and a final set of 14 indicators were selected. The weighting step was conducted among experts in the field to score the level of relevance of the indicator in explaining food security. The index calculation applied a normalisation technique applying the expert weighting by indicator to obtain an index value between 0 and 1, which enables all countries to be ranked comparatively to assess food security and analyse the key factors explaining it.

(d) Results and conclusions derived from the project
The FWSI has proven to be a robust index to complement the explanation of food security patterns in drylands. The results of the study support the idea that considering water resources is key to explain food insecurity and the multidimensional nature of the phenomenon. As part of the objective of the research, the report also publishes the results of the index for Africa and Asia in years 2000 and 2015. Africa as a whole concentrates the major
of drylands, which increased its water-food security vulnerability, leaving Asia as a more prosperous continent.

(e) Implications of the project relevant to selected conference theme, theory and/or practice
The results of the study have evidenced the potential of the Water-driven Food Security Index to enrich the analysis of food security across time and space in dryland countries. This work emphasized the relevance of understanding the relationship between water security and food security while providing insights into that relationship. The study concludes that alternative methodology of indicators is useful to study region specific food security rather conventional generalized one.

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