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News UN hunger targets may increase water burden

If developing countries are to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to eradicate hunger, cropland must continue to expand and massive amounts of additional water will be required for food production, according to a study. However, researchers say countries in savannah regions, such as sub-Saharan Africa, could reduce their water requirement through better water policies and more efficient irrigation techniques.

Developing countries need a huge increase in water supply if they are to meet the Millennium Development Goal on hunger, say researchers. "Research shows that the know-how, technologies, and management systems appropriate to local rural communities exist and could be successfully adapted and adopted if the right investment, capacity building efforts, policies and legal frameworks are put in place," the authors write. One of the MDGs is to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger between 1990 and 2015. Johan Rockström, from the Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden, and colleagues analysed water requirements for food production in 92 developing countries using data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

The study found that to meet food demands, the rate of cropland expansion would have to continue at a similar rate to the past 50 years ― around 0.8 per cent each year. The expansion of agricultural land is a major cause of damage to natural ecosystems.

Contact information Johan Rockström (email:
News type Inbrief
File link
Source of information SciDev.Net
Keyword(s) MDGs
Geographical coverage International
News date 17/04/2007
Working language(s) ENGLISH