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As a journalist, I avoid endorsing public awareness campaigns, but I figured that the U.N.'s World Water Day was a good time to say a few words about the ties between our struggle to keep ourselves fed and the urgent need to bring our use of water under control.
Conveniently, the World Water Day theme this year is “Water and Food Security.” Here are some food-and-water facts from the campaign organizers at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization:
Water runs through all the “Food for 9 Billion” stories. Our recent PBS NewsHour feature about land transfers and displacement in Ethiopia looks at some of the "downstream" effects of the global water-buying spree by cash-rich, water-poor countries such as Saudi Arabia and China. Two stories from Egypt ("Food for a revolution" and "Growing pains") show how competing claims for precious Nile River irrigation water fuel the controversy over the country's agriculture policy. The Bangladesh climate change story is, of course, all about water – too much, too little, too salty, at the wrong time and in the wrong places. "The scientific challenge" touches on the need to make crops more efficient at transforming water, land and sunlight into food.
And keep your ears open in April for a radio story from India, by far the world's biggest user of groundwater, where uncontrolled pumping for agriculture is sucking critical aquifers dry. We’ll meet a couple of grassroots leaders who are mobilizing citizens to capture rainwater and rein in overuse.
You can check out some World Water Day videos here. Elsewhere on the page, you can find an advocacy guide (where I found the bullet points above) and other materials. One of the overarching messages is that there is much we can do to avert a crisis – but business as usual is not an option. I have no problem endorsing that.