Managing water by managing land: addressing land degradation to improve water productivity and rural livelihoods
MetadataShow full item record
Bossio, Deborah A.; Geheb, Kim; Critchley, W. 2010. Managing water by managing land: addressing land degradation to improve water productivity and rural livelihoods. Agricultural Water Management, 97(4):536-542. Special issue with contributions by IWMI authors. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2008.12.001
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/41798
The premise of this paper is that the key to effective water resources management is understanding that the water cycle and land management are inextricably linked: that every land use decision is a water use decision. Gains in agricultural water productivity, therefore, will only be obtained alongside improvements in land use management. Expected increases in food demands by 2050 insist that agricultural production - and agricultural water use - must increase. At the same time, competition for water between agricultural and urban sectors will also increase; and the problem is further compounded by land degradation. A global survey suggests that 40% of agricultural land is already degraded to the point that yields are greatly reduced, and a further 9% is degraded to the point that it cannot be reclaimed for productive use by farm level measures. Soil erosion, nutrient depletion and other forms of land degradation reduce water productivity and affect water availability, quality, and storage. Reversing these trends entails tackling the underlying social, economic, political and institutional drivers of unsustainable land use. This paper is based on a review of global experiences, and its recommendations for improving water management by addressing land degradation include focusing on small scale agriculture; investing in rehabilitating degraded land to increase water productivity; and enhancing the multifunctionality of agricultural landscapes. These options can improve water management and water productivity, while also improving the livelihoods of the rural poor.