Independent Strategic Analysis of Australia’s Global Interests

Global Food and Water Crises

Australia’s greatest responsibility and opportunity in the 21st century is to help feed a hungry world. Mobilisation of political will and an overhaul of the existing global food systems are critical to avert crises.

How Politics and Electricity in Punjab Combine to Prevent Groundwater Reform

Though Punjab’s groundwater levels continue to decline, the new Congress Government appears unwilling to initiate long-term reform that may risk its political success.

A New Hope? Moisture Farming as a Long-Term Alternative Water Source

The depletion of traditional water sources, such as groundwater, in many hot and humid countries is providing moisture farming with the opportunity to become a potential alternative source of water.

ChemChina Inches Closer to Acquiring Syngenta

The acquisition of Syngenta, a global supplier of seeds and pesticide, by ChemChina is likely to have implications for global food security.

China Ostensibly Cancels Myitsone Dam Project in Myanmar in Favour of Access to Kyaukpyu Port

Beijing gains preferential access to Kyaukpyu port, but until the future of the Myitsone Dam project is clearly articulated it is likely to remain a potentially troublesome issue for the bilateral relationship.

Conflict, Climate Change and Record High Food Prices Contribute to Rising Global Food Insecurity

An immediate global response is required to help stabilise large regions of the world as the number of food insecure populations increases as a result of conflict, extreme weather events and localised high food prices.

The Rising Refugee Intake in Uganda: A Food Crisis Reaching Tipping Point?

Increasingly weak food security in Uganda undermines its ability to sustain an increasing number of refugees.

Crisis in the Horn of Africa: Are we seeing the Normalisation of Food and Water Insecurity?

Three countries in or near the Horn of Africa (Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen) are, or are close to, experiencing famine. This extreme level of food insecurity is exacerbated by conflict, ineffective governance and poor weather conditions. Until these issues are addressed, it is probable that the region will continue to experience heightened levels of food insecurity.

The US Global Water Strategy 2017 Under President Trump

A US Global Water Strategy could be a continuation of Trump-styled ‘America First’ politics. A genuinely global water strategy is possible, but only if Trump is willing to accept the impact climate change has on water security and the leadership role the US has in the securitisation of climate change and water.

Vanuatu: Junk Food Ban Addresses Health Problems but Leaves the Islands at Risk

Promoting local organic foods is an important way to lower the country’s severe obesity and diabetes rates, but erodes the food security of a region highly vulnerable to the shocks of climate change.

Maritime Security Governance and Somali Piracy

Two recent hijackings by Somali pirates have prompted calls for NATO to act on illegal fishing that allegedly pushed these fishermen to piracy. Addressing this as a root cause of a possible new outbreak of piracy, as opposed to the act of piracy itself, is the prudent path to take.

Risk of Damage to Syria’s Tabqa Dam

The “Islamic State” is potentially weeks away from losing control of the Tabqa Dam, a key asset that could see the US-led coalition inch closer to regaining Syria. Any significant damage to the dam’s structure, however, could threaten hundreds of thousands of lives, a worry that IS appears keen to exploit.

Soothing Troubled Waters Essential for India and Pakistan

Further diplomacy between India and Pakistan on Indus River issues will be critical for bilateral relations and regional stability.

The Nile Delta and the Future of Food and Water Security in Egypt

A study showing increased levels of salt in the waters of the Nile Delta and reduced river flows significantly threatens the future liveability of the region.

Wastewater: Part of the Solution to Rising Water Stress?

Recycling wastewater will help relieve some of the pressure associated with rising water demand, but care will need to be taken to ensure that it is safely used.

Strategic Competition in Afghanistan: Why Leveraging Kabul’s Food and Water Security Situation Must be Earned, not Expected

Afghanistan’s food and water security future out to 2030 is looking increasingly hard to manage because of the institutional and security challenges, on top of newer tasks like climate change, that must be addressed before food and water can be properly securitised. India and Pakistan can better tap into Afghanistan’s food and water future if they can firstly service Kabul’s older needs, like military security and infrastructural/institutional development.

Corruption, Sand Mafias and Water Security in India

India’s groundwater levels are indicative of the country’s worsening water crisis. Sand is a vital component of a plentiful groundwater supply, but due to weak institutions and corrupt officials, this valuable resource is being illegally mined by “sand mafias” unconcerned by the country’s growing water insecurity.

China Proposes Water Pipeline from Russia to Gansu Province

At a time when Russia fears increased Chinese influence in the Far East, China has released plans detailing a potential pipeline from Siberia.

Food and Water Security in the Middle East

Food and water demand is likely to increase in the Middle East as a result of demographic, dietary and government-sponsored subsidy trends. While demand is expected to rise, innovative water supply solutions and an emerging trend that encourages conservation and waste minimisation could ensure that the region avoids extreme food and water insecurity.

Bird Flu Strikes Back: Bad News for Birds, Less So For People

The avian influenza A (H7N9) virus, which emerged in south-east China last month, is a new strain of the old H5N1 that is showing signs of some resistance to anti-viral drugs and increased lethality. Birds draw the short straw ahead of humans, however, and medicinal treatment, not viral mutation, seems the cause of resistance.

Laos: Pak Beng Dam Project Approved, but at What Cost?

The construction of a new dam has been approved by the government in Vientiane, but there are many interests that may suffer under the project.

Sri Lankan Drought Worsening, a More Grassroots Strategy Urgently Needed

Despite recent efforts to mitigate drought stresses, farmers still report feeling unprepared, alone and unable to adapt in their struggle to manage existing food and water systems. The Sri Lankan Government must make a more grassroots strategy a main priority.

Governance Failure Leads to Famine in South Sudan

Removing impediments to food aid distribution will assist in ensuring that the country avoids rising levels of food insecurity. Overcoming these impediments, however, will be difficult in the absence of a more receptive political community in South Sudan.

Israeli PM in Australia: Historic Visit a Chance to Deepen Relationship

Though the Israeli settlements issue will no doubt be on the agenda, Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull should use the visit to take advantage of the water management expertise of the Israelis.

Australian Wheat Yield Data Invokes Mixed Responses from Scientists and Farmers

The CSIRO claims that Australian wheat yields have stalled while farmers suggest that statistics do not present an accurate state of the industry.

Is Quinoa an Under-Utilised Grain in the Fight Against Food Insecurity?

A recent scientific report has identified potential genetic improvements that could be made to quinoa crops that may enable scientists and agriculturalists to yield abundant supplies.

Mining Companies adopt Water Stewardship Standards

As mining companies operate in many regions that are likely to experience rising water stress, investing in water efficiency measures will be necessary to maintain community and investor confidence.

Quality over Quantity? Live Cattle Exports a Positive Move amid Growing Brazilian Competition

Despite renewed competition posed by Brazilian beef suppliers, Australia’s beef industry is likely to shine brightly as premium Australian cuts will continue to outpace industry competitors.

Genetically Modified Food and the Second Green Revolution

Genetically modified foods are likely to play a role in the Second Green Revolution. While some could have the potential to increase global food security, others are likely to be self-defeating.

Desalination is not the Solution to Southern India’s Water Stress

While desalination plants will help alleviate municipal water stress in urban areas, they will do little to support agriculture and industry.

Yemen: Famine a Strong Possibility in 2017

A financial crisis has further reduced Yemen’s wheat supply, plunging millions of Yemenis further into starvation.

Southern Africa: Introduced Pests Threaten Crops after Severe Drought

After its most severe drought in 35 years, Southern Africa faces a new threat from introduced pests.

Lesotho Must Re-Evaluate Water Arrangements with South Africa in Wake of Record Drought

The two neighbours must find a solution to the water crisis if they are to prevent the possibility of an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe in the region.

Potential for a Pakistan-Afghanistan Water Treaty

Pakistan is due to commence much-needed talks with Afghanistan over a bilateral agreement for water sharing on the Kabul River, but any new treaty will require close co-operation between the traditionally hostile riparian states.

Syria: Uncertainty Following the Damascus Water Crisis

Water supply has been restored in Damascus following weeks of shortages, but given the continued struggle for control of the resource, there could be further disruption.

Somalia: Drought and Kenyan Repatriations Threaten to Undermine Food Security

If Somalian food security weakens, the potential for destabilising migrations to the Middle East and southern Africa is likely to increase.

The Strategic Importance of Soil, Water and Food in the Early to Mid-21st Century

Julian Cribb, author of Surviving the 21st Century, The Coming Famine and seven other books, discusses how scarcities of fresh water and topsoil, combined with the impact of climate change on regional food production, highlight the growing strategic significance of these primary resources for human survival, health and wellbeing as potential drivers of conflict and mass migration to 2050 and beyond.

Privatisation and Renewable Energy in the Saudi Arabian Water Sector

The privatisation of the Saudi desalination industry could help ensure future water security, but adopting alternative energy sources to power desalination plants will also be necessary.

The Global Implications of Increased Biofuel Production

Crop-based biofuels are an alternative energy source to fossil fuels, but concerns are rising over just how beneficial this alternative is.

Altering Photosynthesis to Increase Crop Yield: A Double-Edged Sword for Food Security?

Genetic manipulation techniques that increase the efficiency of photosynthesis show potential to increase crop yields, but they will also need to retain or increase the nutritional content of food.

The Degradation of the World’s Reefs and Food Security

The degradation of coral reefs and increased fish migration will threaten economic livelihoods and food security for millions of people within the Indo-Pacific region.

Pakistan: 2017 shows Little Sign of an end to Karachi’s Water Crisis

After years of drought, rapid urbanisation, mismanagement of water resources and scarce rainfall still threaten any hope of water security in Karachi.

Demographic Changes in China to 2030

Urbanisation, an ageing population, a skewed gender ratio and rising middle class will weaken Chinese food and water security unless economic reforms are made.

Agricultural Development of sub-Saharan Africa: Who Carries the Burden?

The application of modern land management practices in the sub-Sahara will present African countries with opportunities to make a positive contribution to local and global food security and to combat climate change. Smallholder farmers, however, need to be protected for the risks and financial burden of associated change.

The Consequences of Agricultural Destruction and Severe Drought in Zimbabwe

After two years of severe drought as a result of the El Niño phenomenon, Zimbabwe’s future food and water security is looking increasingly fragile.

The Blue Future: The Sustainability of Aquaculture and Aquaponics

The sustainability challenges of aquaculture and aquaponics must be addressed to strengthen long-term global food security.

Taking back Mosul: Long-term Food and Water Concerns amid a Humanitarian Crisis

The long-term impact of conflict in Mosul must be considered to ensure progress toward greater food and water security in Iraq.

The Politics of Afghan Refugees: Future Food and Water Crisis in Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s migration crisis will likely contribute to a humanitarian food and water crisis in the foreseeable future.

Melanesia: Climate Change, and Food and Water Security

Melanesia faces demographic, environmental and nutritional challenges that could threaten food and water security. Given the strategic significance of the region, it is in Australia’s national interest to continue assisting the region in overcoming these challenges.

Indonesia’s Tropical Landscape Finance Facility: A Catalyst for Environmental Sustainability and Long-Term Food Security?

Indonesia must promote green growth, investment and sustainable ecological management to meet its commitments to the Paris Climate Agreement and safeguard long-term food security.

No Respite for Madagascar: Crushing Drought after Successful Anti-Locust Campaign

With the conclusion of the anti-locust campaign, drought poses the next great threat to food security in Madagascar.

Antimicrobial Resistance: Global Food Chains, Water-Borne Pollution and the Threat to Food and Water Security

The need for collective international action is urgent as antimicrobial resistance poses a significant threat to humans, particularly through agricultural contamination and environmental pollution.

Respite for India: The Result of the 2016 Monsoon

India needs to maintain its focus on water even with this year’s “normal” monsoon.

COP22: Continuing Progress on Food and Water Security

Food and water security proved to be a key point of concern at COP21, and looks to remain so at COP22, where further discussion among parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change may yield significant results.

Global Food Crises: Harnessing the Transformative Forces of Urbanisation

The world’s cities are gaining momentum in harnessing the transformative force of urbanisation to address a shared vision of a sustainable urbanised future.

South Asia’s Energy Crisis: Water Scarcity and its Implications for Hydroelectricity

Without concerted efforts to overcome poor water management, interstate tensions, and poor governance, South Asia’s hydropower potential will not be fully realised.

Singapore Water Tensions: Vulnerable to a Distressed Malaysia

Ensuring the security of Singapore’s water supply relies on the improved governance of Malaysia’s distressed supplies in a volatile climate.

The Future Resilience of the Philippines and South-East Asia’s Tropical Cyclones

The Philippines has made significant efforts to build climate change and natural disaster resilience, but new research suggests that tropical cyclones will continue to increase and intensify.

Global Hunger Index 2016: The Positives and Negatives

The 2016 Global Hunger Index indicates positive progress, but highlights the need for increased efforts if the UN Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger by 2030 is to be achieved.

South Africa and the Dire Need for La Niña

The plight of South Africa is unlikely to be relieved by waiting for good weather.

Sundrop Farms: Harnessing Renewable Energy and the Future of Agriculture

Sundrop Farms set the precedent in commercialising sustainable agriculture and safeguarding long-term food and water security.

Bangladesh Invites Indian Investment in Ganges Barrage Project

Indian investment in Bangladeshi water infrastructure could reduce the bitterness that stems from the operation of the Farakka Barrage.

In a Possible Signal to India, China Diverts a Tributary of the Brahmaputra River

The diversion of the Xiabuqu River, a minor tributary of the Brahmaputra River, could test the effectiveness of diplomacy between Beijing and New Delhi on one hand and India and Pakistan on the other.

Revolutionising the Global Food System and Fighting Global Malnutrition

The international community must revolutionise the global food system in order to achieve the eradication of global malnutrition in the “decade of action on nutrition”.

Encouraging Signs of Diplomacy: Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia Sign GERD Assessment Studies

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia have signed contracts to begin assessment studies on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, indicating willingness for diplomacy by the riparian states.

Middle-Income Countries Take the Lead in Agricultural Research and Development, but Gaps Remain

The shift in the composition of agricultural R&D funding could further widen the gap between agricultural development in high- and low-income countries.

Water Governance in the Tigris-Euphrates Basin

Turkey, Syria and Iraq depend on the Tigris-Euphrates river system for their food and water security. Both rivers have contributed to interstate tension and hostility in the past and an agreement would help reduce interstate tensions. As the region is currently undergoing a period of political turmoil, however, it is unlikely that an agreement will be forthcoming in the near future.

Antimicrobial Resistance Hastened by Misuse of Antibiotics in Feedlots

A universal agreement to prevent the misuse of antibiotics in feedlots will slow the rate of antibiotic resistance, but alternative methods to combat harmful bacteria will ultimately need to be developed.

Negotiating Water Sharing in Southern India

A reliance on state administrations to resolve political tensions over water resources in southern India is unlikely to bear fruit.

African Green Revolution Forum 2016: Prospects for Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa

Food security in Sub-Saharan Africa is in doubt, despite the progress made in the agricultural industry, due to the threat of an increasingly volatile climate.

Fishing in the South China Sea: Prospects for Peace in the Aftermath of the Landmark Ruling

After the international ruling against Chinese claims in the South China Sea, the strategic importance of fisheries may reduce tensions with the Philippines and provide an opening for regional co-operation.

Agricultural Productivity and the Lack of Young Farmers

The global lack of youth in the agricultural sector may just be the signs of an industry in transition rather than the cause of productivity stagnation that many fear.

Australia: Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land and Food Security

Foreign ownership of Australian agricultural land does not seriously affect Australia’s long-term food security, however, a growing and ageing population could pose future challenges.

Returning to the Top of the Pile: Thailand’s Outlook for Rice Exports

Past attempts to manipulate the rice export market demonstrated the fragility of Thailand’s dependence on rice exports and demands a diverse economic plan to remain competitive in the region.

The Future Beyond Conflict: Food and Water Security in Syria

After five years of civil war, Syrian food and water security is extremely poor. Due to widespread destruction and severely weakened political governance, food and water insecurity is likely to persist long after the conflict has ceased.

Chinese Interests in Myanmar’s Dams: Balancing Internal Stability and Development

At the 21st Century Panglong Peace Conference, Myanmar must consider internal and external interest groups to balance development and stability for its own food and water security

Indus Basin Groundwater Depletion: Unsteady Footings for India-Pakistan Relations

Negotiating the increased demand for groundwater between India and Pakistan requires a joint policy of sustaining groundwater supplies to avoid tension, but it will require overcoming major domestic obstacles

Electronic Prepaid Irrigation in Bangladesh: Prospects for Improving Food and Water Security

Bangladesh’s Irrigation Management Improvement Programme is predicted to create improved governance and efficiency of the agricultural water supply, potentially resulting in increased agricultural output

Drought Risk Reduction Strategies Outlined at First African Drought Conference

Provided that the requisite political and institutional will is forthcoming, African drought resilience is likely to improve.

Purifying a Solution for Water Supply in the United Arab Emirates

The solution for the UAE, and the other GCC states, lies in matching their energy and water supply demands with innovative and efficient systems that mitigate environmental damage while improving the development of a private energy sector.

Food and Social Volatility in Egypt: IMF Extends $12 Billion Lifeline

Egypt’s chronic economic symptoms are likely to continue to ail its economy, food affordability and social stability.

Domesticated Ruminants: Climate Change Hero or Villain?

Domesticated ruminants are not just an important food source, they hold great social, cultural and economic significance globally. Some, however, view them as a significant emitter of greenhouse gas. This FDI Strategic Analysis Paper discusses the pros and cons of ruminants in relation to atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions and climate change

New Investment Flows into China’s Water Industry

China puts its money where its mouth is as new investment creates the means to address water insecurity.

India’s Summer Monsoon: Implications for Agricultural Economy and Food Security

India’s summer monsoon is expected to break the two-year drought and revitalise India’s national agricultural economy.

Spike in Violence Causes Concern for Food and Water Security in South Sudan

Political instability, increasing food prices and disease outbreaks, all contribute to the worsening food and water crisis currently gripping South Sudan.

The Land Between Two Threatened Rivers: Food and Water Security in Iraq

Pressure from population growth, a continued lack of sufficient infrastructure, riverine development projects in upper riparian states and climate change is likely to reduce the level of Iraqi food and water security by 2030.

The World Stage is Set: Brazil’s Olympic Games, Climate Change and Water Security

The 2016 Rio Olympic Games and the controversies surrounding Brazil’s political, economic and environmental challenges capture the reality that Brazil is struggling with the implications of climate change and long-term water security.

Food and Water Security in a Hotter Middle East

The governments of the Middle East must find a regional solution to secure food and water resources against an increasingly hostile climate, a course of action that will require overcoming historical tensions.

In Southern Africa, the Effects of El Niño Endanger Millions of Lives

The El Niño-induced drought has endangered the upcoming harvest season. A combination of short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term development in climate resilient agricultural techniques and technology will better support food and water security.

The Agriculture-Forestry Nexus: A Response to Emerging Food Production Challenges

Long-term food security is likely to benefit from the integration of trees into agricultural systems.

Philippines: President Duterte Threatens to Backtrack on Paris Climate Change Agreement

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has attracted controversy by claiming that he will ‘not honour’ his country’s commitment to the Paris Climate Change Agreement raising questions about the future trajectory of Philippine climate change policy.

What Marrakesh Can Learn from Paris: COP22 and the Need for a Realistic Climate Policy

The next meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP22, is scheduled for November 2016 in Marrakesh. After the optimism of Paris, COP22 will be forced to face the challenge of converting the aspiration of COP 21 into reality.

China Expected to Sail Through Floods with Minimal Difficulty

The worst flooding since 1998 is unlikely to have any significant impact on Chinese political stability, food security or the economy.

Pakistan to Take Dam Construction Dispute with India to International Arbitration

Pakistan’s decision to refer to The Hague a dispute with India regarding water sharing and dam construction on the Kishanganga and Ratle rivers is an indication of Pakistan’s desire to enhance and strengthen its diplomatic position in regard to Indus River water sharing.

Opportunities and Challenges for Food and Water Security in South-east Turkey

This paper examines the potential for food and water insecurity in Turkey out to 2030. It finds that Turkey is unlikely to experience widespread food or water insecurity, however, political instability, both domestic and regional, pose some risk to Turkish food and water security.

Action on Global Food Security set to become Major Part of President Obama’s Legacy

With the passing of the Global Food Security Act, US engagement in global efforts to further agricultural development has been strengthened.

Balancing Trade and Stockpiles Crucial for Maintaining Food Security

As the potential for food price volatility remains, maintaining a balance between global trade and domestic stockpiles is likely to be the best course of action to reduce the impact of food insecurity caused by tightening supply.

Water Scarcity, Migration and Regional Security in South Asia

Large parts of South Asia exhibit a near-permanent state of water stress and this is expected to be further exacerbated by climate change. Water scarcity will exacerbate existing problems such as poverty and food insecurity, while creating instability and potentially driving mass migration. Closer regional co-operation and management of shared water resources could lessen the potential for people to migrate.

Balancing Food and Biofuel Likely to be Challenging

If the global food system comes under increased pressure in the decades ahead, biofuels could still harm food security.

New Laws in Tanzania a Positive First Step towards Reducing Land-Related Conflict

New laws will redistribute much-needed land to peasant farmers in Tanzania, but they will not entirely stop land-related conflicts from arising.

Looming Floods in India and Bangladesh Turn the Spotlight on Teesta Water-Sharing Agreement

Recent heavy rains and impending floods in West Bengal and Bangladesh have underscored the need for a Teesta River water-sharing agreement, which is likely to receive renewed attention in the aftermath of the West Bengal elections.

Sub-Saharan Dryland Fisheries and African Food Security

Supporting the development of fisheries in dryland areas of Sub-Saharan Africa could increase food security in the region, but a better understanding of environmental constraints is necessary.

Drought and Water Security in India

Two consecutive years of drought have exacerbated Indian water insecurity, however, decades of mismanagement appears to be the bigger factor in the current water crisis. The upcoming Indian monsoon could relieve short-term pressures, but is unlikely to resolve the underlying issues contributing to water insecurity.

Reducing Global Food Loss and Wastage is now Achievable

The introduction of a global reporting standard for the issue will finally allow for a functional approach between governments, businesses and organisations towards achieving a sustainable future.

High Price of Beef Driving Indonesian Shift on Imports

Indonesia’s shift in attitude to its beef imports shows an increased willingness to take economic and biosecurity risks to service its domestic price pressures.

Wheat Blast Outbreak Threatens Food Security in Bangladesh and Beyond

With Bangladesh experiencing the first recorded outbreak of wheat blast in Asia, concern is mounting that the disease may spread further, particularly to India and Pakistan, with negative impacts for regional food security.

Managing Water Pollution in China with Social Media

Despite a restrictive and controlled social media environment, there are signs that the Chinese Government is increasingly willing to engage with its citizens. The character of these interactions is distinctly Chinese in that the government first organises the pathways through which its citizens can provide feedback rather than allowing independent and unrestricted social movements to emerge. This approach contributes to the enforcement of state policies at a citizen level, while maintaining the central and hierarchical character of Chinese political power.

Food Insecurity in Australia: A Hidden Problem

The recent resources boom has done little to improve levels of food insecurity in Australia, as more and more Australians seek assistance from not-for-profit food assistance programmes like FoodBank.

Ethiopia Announces New Dam Project: The Koysha Dam

With two dams already under construction, Ethiopia has confirmed plans to build a third that may generate further tension and water insecurity for the region.

Completion of Salma Dam Sparks Pro-India Sentiment in Afghanistan

The Salma Dam will provide much-needed water to drought-ridden Herat, but its construction represents far more than a charitable gesture to a war-torn nation.

Social Media: A Tool to Tackle Water Pollution in China?

The large majority of Chinese environmental protests go unreported in the mainstream media and are censored on social media. As the legal, regulatory and policy measures regarding social media become increasingly restrictive, the prospects of successful social media campaigns around environmental issues diminish.

Toxin Accumulation: A Threat to the Global Food Supply?

Warmer climates could increase the risk of toxin accumulation in the global food supply, potentially decreasing the amount of food available for an expanding global population.

The Port State Measures Agreement: A New Hope for Marine Ecosystems?

International illegal fishing is a major problem in commercial fisheries. It poses a serious threat to the effective conservation and management of many fish stocks. The Port State Measures Agreement seeks to prevent, deter and eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing. Its effective implementation, however, particularly for developing countries, may only be an aspiration for the immediate future.

Myanmar Hosts High-Level Roundtable on Water Security and Sustainable Development Goals

The roundtable, while limited in outcomes, was a positive step for the Government of Myanmar, signalling the new democracy’s dedication to water reform and management.

China: Water Scarcity and the Development of Xinjiang Province

The high risk of water scarcity in China’s north-western province of Xinjiang could have future implications for the country if Beijing decides to build industry in the region.

Climate Change Threatens Agriculture in Sri Lanka

Despite increasing temperatures and sporadic monsoon seasons, Sri Lanka has been slow to respond to the impacts of climate change. If no action is taken, both the agricultural industry and national economy face significant losses in the future.

Livelihoods and Food Security on the Mekong River

A large part of mainland South-East Asia depends on the Mekong River for food and water security. Food security and livelihoods are threatened by the construction of hydropower facilities in China, Laos and Cambodia. While these facilities are likely to further the economic development of the region this will come at the expense of traditional farming and cultural practices.

South Africa and Iran Announce Joint Agreement on Desalination Technologies

South Africa’s announcement of a “binational agreement” with Iran to develop desalination plants seems unnecessary considering South Africa’s own domestic desalination capabilities. It is likely that the agreement forms part of a broader plan to reinvigorate South Africa-Iran relations.

Extreme Food Crises Left Unaddressed at World Humanitarian Summit

A poor food security outlook for most of Sub-Saharan Africa is likely to put the international aid system under further strain, a situation that has not been rectified by the World Humanitarian Summit.

Biodiversity: An Integral Part of Food Security

A failure to preserve biodiversity will weaken efforts to protect the global food supply from pestilence, disease and other environmental threats.

The East African Drought and the Importance of Land Restoration

Following severe droughts in East Africa, land restoration may play an important role in mitigating some of the adverse environmental effects that threaten food and water security, particularly in Ethiopia.

World Bank Report: The Effect of Water Scarcity on Economic Growth

The implementation of the policies outlined in the report will require regional and local-level approaches to ensure that they are suited to the complexities of each region and can successfully reduce the impact of water scarcity on economic growth.

The Water-Energy Nexus in the Indian Ocean Region

Population growth and economic development will see increasing demands for both water and energy, which will simultaneously exert pressure on one another. Reducing the link between water and energy will be necessary to ensure the future security of both resources.

Saudi Arabia Faces Possible Backlash over Cuts to Water Subsidies

Consistently low oil prices have taken their toll on Saudi Arabia and, while economic restructuring is necessary, the kingdom must balance out the risk of social instability in an already troubled region.

India, Bangladesh and the Farakka Barrage

India’s construction of the Farakka Barrage has, in part, soured the bilateral relationship it has with Bangladesh. Both countries face increased pressure to meet rising water demands, however, there is little effective water agreement to sustain a co-operative bilateral relationship while meeting these demands.

Grain Production at Risk as Drought Continues in the Indo-Pacific

Predictions of a repeat of the 2007/08 food shortage may come to pass if co-ordinated international action does not take place.

Emerging Middle Eastern Locust Plague Could Heighten Dependence on Trade-based Food Security

Abnormally high levels of rain and civil war combine to make Yemen a perfect breeding ground for locusts, potentially unleashing a plague upon parts of the Middle East.

Iran Attempts to Reverse the Decline of the Region’s Largest Saltwater Lake

Iran faces a potential water crisis, as well as significant damage to the nation’s agricultural and tourism industries if it cannot quickly counteract the rapid decline of Lake Urmia.

Earthquakes, Dams and Water in South Asia

The construction of dams could bring both benefits and risks to South Asia. If they are constructed they will fuel development, but could also heighten the risk from earthquakes and increase interstate tension. Their long-term utility is also likely to come under pressure from increased climatic variability.

Indonesia: Groundwater Decline is Causing Jakarta to Sink

Land subsidence is increasing at a rapid rate and parts of Jakarta could sink below sea level unless action is taken.

China Prepares for Severe Flooding and Crop Damage

After the severe 2015-16 El Niño, there are rising concerns about China’s agricultural sector and its capacity to deal with a natural disaster as well as the impact that it could have on international markets.

China Seeks to Build Rapport Downstream

The release of water from a Chinese dam into the Mekong River is less an act of benevolence and more one of self-interested hydro-diplomacy.

Myanmar: Recovering from Last Year’s Floods, Rakhine State Struggles with its Food Supply

The already disadvantaged Rakhine Rohingya face increased poverty and malnourishment if the food supply does not improve, potentially contributing to another refugee crisis in the near future.

UAE: Facility to Produce Food and Fuel Launched in Abu Dhabi

A new research facility in Abu Dhabi will assist with plans to achieve food self-sufficiency.

Bhutan: Economic Reliance on Hydropower places it at India’s Mercy

Bhutan relies heavily on hydropower to meet its energy agreement with India, but there is increasing evidence that this reliance is at the expense of its conservation policy.

South Africa: Drought Threatens Food, Energy and Water Security

South Africa, Southern Africa’s largest food producer, has experienced its driest year since records began in 1904. It typically exports surplus food to neighbouring countries but, due to decreased production, it is not able to do so this year. If South Africa is transitioning to a new climate paradigm, it will need to explore the feasibility of producing alternative food crops, developing new sources of water and constructing alternative methods of generating electricity.

Water Insecurity in India Paints an Uncertain Future for Agriculture

Centuries of unregulated groundwater use, as well as deficient and late monsoonal periods, have caused alarm in India’s agricultural sector, where water-stressed farmers may be forced to abandon their livelihoods.

Water: An Underappreciated Economic Resource

The 2016 UN World Water Development Report focuses on the relationship between water and jobs, an underappreciated aspect of water security that highlights the vital role it plays in the global economy.

Climate Change, Food and Water Security in Bangladesh

Bangladesh faces significant challenges in adapting to the impacts of climate change. Its topography and geographical location make it particularly susceptible to extreme weather events including cyclones, floods and storm surges. Food and water security are likely to be particularly affected by the changing climate, forcing Bangladeshis to adapt.

A Debate Worth Having: An Australian Sugar Tax

Given Australia’s increasing and alarming obesity rate, the debate of a tax to discourage consumption of sugary drinks is warranted.

Economic Recovery for Indian Farmers

Attempting to mitigate rising criticism and falling popularity, the Modi Administration promises a better future for struggling farmers in its 2016/17 Union Budget.

Iraq: Mosul Dam Breach a Disaster in Waiting

Alarming concern has been expressed by the Iraqi Government, the United States Embassy in Iraq and the UN over the inevitable risk of disaster if the Mosul Dam were to fail.

Global Food Security at Risk as Pollinator Populations Decline

It is hoped that a new UN-sponsored report will push governments to take action to protect pollinators.

China: The Impact of New Agricultural Reforms on Food Security

The Chinese Government’s first policy statement of the year highlights the need for supply-side reforms in the agricultural sector to improve quality and efficiency while continuing to guarantee food security.

Jordan: Resource Scarcity and an Increasing Population

Jordan is struggling to maintain water security amid the impacts of climate change, the Syrian refugee crisis and less aid from the United Nations.

Co-operation and the Brahmaputra: China and India Water Sharing

While the potential for conflict between India and China is low, a combination of regional competition and water-sharing tension could still threaten regional stability. Improved communication and co-operation would reduce the potential for conflict.

Pastoral Lease Reform in Western Australia Offers Agricultural Diversification

The West Australian Government has plans to introduce legislation in June 2016 that would see traditional pastoral leases expand to allow new business ventures.

South Sudan’s Admittance to the East African Community Could Affect Food Security

South Sudan’s admittance to the East African Community is a positive step for the developing nation, but must be accompanied by wide-ranging domestic reforms in order to strengthen the economy and improve the lives of its people.

Southern Africa: Leaders Meet to Address Issues Facing Agriculture and Food Security

A meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is a crucial first step towards mitigating the impacts of the El Niño weather pattern, considered the worst in the region’s history.

Indonesian Water Security: Improving but Still Subject to Shocks

Indonesia is not water scarce as it has enough water to satisfy the needs of its population and economy. Uneven distribution, poor management and a lack of infrastructure, however, have left parts of the country with insufficient access to water. Without considerable investment, water security in Indonesia will remain tenuous and subject to rapid deterioration.

Myanmar: Stalled Chinese Hydropower Project an Issue for Incoming Government

The new administration in Naypyidaw will need to address stalled Chinese hydropower projects, with potential ramifications for the future bilateral relationship.

Water-borne Cholera Outbreak in East Africa and the Middle East

Doctors are concerned that an outbreak of cholera, which began in 2015 and spread throughout east Africa and the Middle East, threatens to worsen with the upcoming rainy season.

Food Security in Indonesia: A Continued Reliance on Foreign Markets

Indonesia has long sought to restore its self-sufficiency in key agricultural commodities and has embarked on an infrastructure development programme that could go some way to boosting market access for domestic producers. This is unlikely to be enough to guarantee future food security and it will continue to depend on foreign markets.

South-East Asia: La Niña Predicted to Bring Relief and Hardship to the Region

Heavier than normal rains due to the La Niña weather phenomenon are expected to ease two years of drought for India, while Indonesia and Bangladesh prepare for its negative effects.

Indian Protesters Cut Off New Delhi’s Water Supply

Protesters in the northern Indian state of Haryana have caused major damage to public infrastructure and precious water supplies, demonstrating the precariousness of New Delhi’s water supply.

Egypt: Economic Woes Weaken Food Security but Pose Little Threat of Unrest

Weakening economic conditions endanger food imports vital for sustaining the government’s politically-sensitive food subsidy scheme, but a popular uprising in the near future remains unlikely.

The Importance of Food and Nutrition in Aboriginal Communities

Following the release of the eighth annual ‘Closing the Gap’ report, data demonstrates that Indigenous communities in Australia still lack access to basic nutritional foods – a key requirement if social disadvantage is to be eliminated.

Mekong River Commission Faces Challenging Future

At a time when the Mekong River Basin faces immense challenges, it could be up to external actors to foster a collaborative environment for sustainable economic development.

Thailand: Drought, Water-Sourcing and the Potential Implications

Thailand, which is experiencing drought conditions, is rushing to secure new water sources to meet demand over the dry season.

Pakistan: New National Water Policy Faces Scrutiny

Ambiguity over treaties and water-sharing between provinces may impede the implementation of Pakistan’s new National Water Policy.

Tibet: A Major Source of Asia’s Rivers

The headwaters of six of Asia’s major rivers begin on the Tibetan Plateau. It is crucial that China and the countries downstream co-operate to ensure freshwater supplies for all. Dwindling water sources in the transboundary rivers of the Tibetan Plateau threaten water security and create a high potential for geopolitical conflict in the region.

Food Commodity Prices Fall in 2015

Food prices fell in 2015 for a fourth consecutive year but increasing pressures on the global food system suggest this is likely to be a short-term trend.

The UAE, Pakistan and the Proposal for a Water Pipeline

A 500-kilometre underground pipeline from Pakistan to the United Arab Emirates has been proposed as a solution to solving water scarcity in the UAE.

The Water Tower of Africa Faces its Worst Drought in Decades

Four hundred thousand children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition, with up to ten million in critical need of food aid.

Global Implications of New Groundwater Research

30 December 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

A better understanding of groundwater use and renewal is necessary to implement effective and sustainable water management policies.

India Pushes to Save the Doha Development Round at WTO Meetings

India receives backing from 47 countries to push for the WTO to focus on outstanding agricultural issues in the Doha Development Round. Background The tenth World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Conference commenced on  15 December in Nairobi, with trade ministers from 47 countries urging WTO members to redouble efforts to conclude unresolved matters of the...

Iran: Water Crisis Worsens but Foreign Investment Could be Key to Solution

Over 500 Iranian municipalities face water scarcity due to inefficient water infrastructure and unregulated domestic use. After years of self-regulating policies, foreign investment could help alleviate this crisis. Background The Iranian water crisis has little improved since FDI previously reported on it in 2013. A drying climate and inefficient water infrastructure have continued to be...

Australia: Rising Obesity Rates and Talk of a GST on Fresh Food

At a time when tax reform is high on the political agenda, data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) indicates Australians are becoming more obese. Background Statistics released from the ABS in December 2015 show that in 2014-15, 63.4 per cent of Australian adults – or 11.2 million people – were overweight or...

Failure to Address Australia’s Urban Expansion Could Impact Its Future Food Security

Ineffective state government strategies to prevent urban sprawl need to be reviewed to protect land for food production. Background The resilience of Australia’s food system to climate change is being compromised by the loss of productive agricultural land on the fringe of its cities. State Government plans to prevent urban sprawl through increased urban infill,...

Dam Divides Ethiopia from Its Neighbours

The Gibe III Dam on the Omo River has already begun providing much needed hydroelectricity to Ethiopia, but tensions continue to rise among local tribes and neighbouring countries. Background The initial support of the Kenyan Government quickly changed when the environmental and social impacts of the dam project became apparent. The controversy surrounding the Gibe...

China-Africa Co-operation and Food Security

On 5 December 2015, the sixth Forum on China-Africa Co-operation, held in Johannesburg, concluded with a consensus between African leaders and Chinese President Xi Jinping for the countries to continue to deepen a strategic co-operative partnership. Background Since 2000, Chinese and African leaders have engaged in a series of conferences on how to best foster...

The Indus River and Agriculture in Pakistan

8 December 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF   Mervyn Piesse Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme     Key Points   Agriculture is the second-largest sector of the Pakistani economy, accounting for approximately 21 per cent of GDP. It is highly dependent upon the Indus River system as farmland is mainly irrigated by water from the Indus...

Experts Call For Reduction in Meat Consumption Ahead of Paris Climate Change Talks

With livestock accounting for 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, curtailing global meat consumption has been suggested as a practical and immediate solution to climate change, but experts still disagree on how to achieve this. Background The United Nations Paris Climate Summit (COP21) is underway, with Australia expected to pledge at least one billion dollars...

Nepalese Agricultural Policy and the Implications of Emigration

The effects of climate change and poor policy in Nepal has seen significantly slow growth in the agricultural industry, with increasing numbers of Nepalese farmers forced to seek work abroad.   Background The Nepalese agricultural sector is in crisis due to a combination of poor government policy and a series of natural disasters. Combined with...

Tensions Rise between Turkey, Northern Cyprus and Greek-Cypriots as Water Pipeline Temporarily Shuts

The management of the pipeline has the potential to undermine future relations but with water security a top priority, the three parties concerned could find room for greater co-operation.   Background In August, the Northern Cyprus Water Supply Project began transferring water from Turkey to Northern Cyprus. In a bid to increase water security to...

China: The Implications of Bottling Tibet’s Water

The growth of the bottled water industry in Tibet is creating concern about the sustainability and political prudency of draining Asia’s water tower.   Background The government of the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) released a ten year plan in October 2015 to expand the bottled water industry. China’s high pollution rates and desire for convenience...

Madagascar Locust Population Declines but Long-Term Food Security Challenges Remain

The successful implementation of the third and final anti-locust campaign in Madagascar will see a decline in the locust population in 2016, but the long-term viability of the campaign and food security remain in question. Background The locust infestation was declared a national disaster by the Madagascan Government in 2012 and a multi-year anti-locust campaign...

India: Flooding in Tamil Nadu Highlights Water Management Problems

Recent flooding in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu has left its capital, Chennai, in a state of crisis, highlighting the limited effectiveness of the state’s water policies and infrastructure. Background A low-pressure trough in the Bay of Bengal has caused week-long heavy rainfall and flooding to occur in Tamil Nadu. As a result, many...

South African Opposition Capitalises on Water Shortages

The drought has drawn attention to the parlous state of water infrastructure in South Africa, a development that the political opposition has utilised to attack the ruling African National Congress. Background The drought in South Africa has continued to spread throughout the country, worsening to a level not seen since 1982. Some areas, according to...

Floods in Middle East Unlikely to Alleviate Water Stress

The arid region has experienced unusually high levels of rainfall in recent days leading to flooding and potential threats to human health with potentially dire political consequences. Background Flooding occurred in the Iraqi capital Baghdad after several days of heavy rainfall. An outbreak of cholera could grow worse as a result. Days later, a rare...

The Indus Treaty Revisited: India-Pakistan Water Sharing

29 October 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Mervyn Piesse Research Manager Global Food and Water Crisis Research Programme   Key Points The Indus Water Treaty has withstood periods of tension and conflict between India and Pakistan and has provided a pathway for the two neighbours to amicably resolve issues relating to transboundary water supply. Both countries clearly have faith in...

Potential “Super” El Niño Presents a Threat to Global Food and Water Security

A strong El Niño, if it is as extreme as that of 1997, will exacerbate food and water supply challenges, particularly in developing countries. Background The El Niño climate phenomenon, caused by warming in the Pacific Ocean, is a natural event that occurs roughly every seven to eight years. Occasionally it becomes stronger than usual...

Rising Salinity in Bangladeshi Sundarbans

Rising salinity levels in the Sundarbans are partly responsible for growing rural-urban migration which is putting greater pressure on urban infrastructure. Background Rising sea levels and more frequent storm surges are increasing both water and soil salinity in the Sundarbans, a dense mangrove forest that straddles the India-Bangladesh border. Rising salinity is attributed to multiple...

Low Water Levels Force Tanzania to Switch off Hydropower Plants

Faced with increased pressure on water sources and climatic variability, the country is beginning to turn to gas-fuelled electricity plants. Background Low water levels have forced Tanzania to turn off all its hydropower plants. Even prior to the shutdown many residents and businesses complained about a shortage of electricity supply, with many consistently experiencing several...

Egypt Receives World Bank Loan for Rural Sanitation Project

The project promises better water quality, improved food security and a reduction in the incidence of health threats. Background The World Bank has contributed US$550 million ($766.82 million) towards a US$2.8 billion ($3.9 billion) project to improve sanitation and sewerage services in rural Egypt. The project is part of the government’s long-term decentralisation plan and...

The Trans-Pacific Partnership – The Winners and Losers in Australian Agriculture

Beef, rice and other grain growers see big gains to be had from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, while sugar farmers are left disappointed by a missed opportunity. Background The twelve countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), including Australia, signed a historic trade agreement on Monday designed to liberalise trade and investments. The TPP trade deal will...

Food and Water Security Addressed in Sustainable Development Goals

The ambitious goals are likely to raise international awareness of food and water issues, but guaranteeing universal access by 2030 will prove difficult. Background The United Nations adopted 17 goals with an associated 169 targets, known as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on 25 September. The goals build upon the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and...

India: Inter-linking of the Godavari and Krishna Rivers

Joining the two rivers in the state of Andhra Pradesh will relieve pressure on groundwater aquifers but possibly at the cost of the region’s environment. Background The linking of the Godavari and Krishna Rivers is part of the Indian Government’s National River Inter-linking Project under which thirty rivers will be connected throughout the country. The...

Sri Lanka: River Diversion Plan Neglects More Urgent Water Management Issues

Better management of existing water resources in the northern dry zone needs to take priority to enhance water and food security and reduce the high prevalence of environmentally acquired disease Background The Sri Lankan Government signed a loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on September 18 to fund a plan to divert water...

Water Security in Urban India: Water Supply and Human Health

22 September 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Mervyn Piesse Research Manager  Global Food and Water Crisis Research Programme   Key Points Increasing urbanisation to 2030 will put further pressure on strained water infrastructure. Recognising that current practices are unsustainable, and implementing water conservation measures in urban areas, will take some of the pressure off declining groundwater supplies. Like their rural...

Yemen Faces Worsening Food Crisis

Food insecurity continues to deteriorate after nearly six months of conflict and is unlikely to significantly improve until hostilities cease. Background Since March 2015, Yemen has experienced unrelenting conflict and past efforts to find a peaceful solution have failed. The conflict has had a dramatic impact upon the food and water security of Yemeni citizens....

Nepal Crisis: Civil Unrest Could See Further Delays to Disaster Relief

The fragile political situation poses risks to food security in post-earthquake Nepal. Background Two major earthquakes struck Nepal earlier this year, on 25 April and 12 May, killing thousands of people and affecting millions more. Hundreds of thousands of people now live in overcrowded shelter camps with little access to safe drinking water after 130,000...

South Africa Forced to Import Corn as Dry Conditions Persist

Amid a regional dry-spell, the largest corn producer in Africa has begun to import the grain; however, the situation is not unprecedented. Background South Africa, the country that produces the most corn in Africa, is suffering from its most severe drought in more than two decades. The country usually produces enough corn to export a...

Kuwait: Food and Water Security

1 September 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

  Download PDF   Haweya Ismail Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Kuwait is currently food secure, having the ability to import its food requirements using wealth from oil revenues. Spending is expected to exceed oil revenue by 2017; economic diversification will be essential to maintain a system of...

Indian River Link Project: Bangladesh Concerned Over Ignored Agreement

India’s decision to commence the first stages of the National River Linking Project (NRLP) without consulting Bangladesh could create tensions. Background The Indian Government is pushing ahead with the first stage of its river link project, linking the Ken River in Madhya Pradesh to the Betwa River in Uttar Pradesh, after gaining clearances from both...

Iraq Faces Escalating Water Crisis amid Heatwave Protests

As temperatures soared above 50˚C in Iraq last week thousands took to the streets in protest of the lack of services and government corruption. Background Widespread power and water shortages in Iraq have triggered protests across Iraq, causing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to warn of growing revolutionary sentiments if the government fails to find quick...

Bahrain Food and Water Security

11 August 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Sinéad Lehane Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Bahrain currently experiences a comfortable level of trade-based food security; however, it is vulnerable to supply disruptions and price risk. A section of the population is vulnerable to food price rises due in part to widespread income and social...

Burma Appeals for International Assistance as Cyclone Komen and Heavy Monsoon Rains Cause Flooding Across South Asia

Persistent rainfall and the landfall of Cyclone Komen have caused severe flooding and landslides across South Asia, killing hundreds and displacing over one million people. Background A slow-moving monsoon depression developed over Bangladesh last week and formed into a tropical cyclone over the Bay of Bengal on 29 July. Moving inland the next day, some...

Developing Agriculture in Pakistan’s FATA: Japan and FAO to Fund Agriculture Project

The Japanese government has signed an agreement with the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to support the recovery and development of agriculture in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Background According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre there are approximately 1.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs) in Pakistan. Up to 1.5 million of these are from...

Food and Water Security in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Download PDF   Madeleine Lovelle Research Assistant Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Despite its harsh climatic environment Saudi Arabia is currently food and water secure. Saudi Arabia relies on its oil-based economy for food imports and desalinated water production. Groundwater depletion, a high reliance on food imports and a growing...

Food and Water Security in Qatar: Part 2 – Water Resources

Download PDF Haweya Ismail Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Scarce natural water resources, variable and low rates of evaporation, and high rates of water consumption have led to the over-extraction of groundwater. Desalinated water supplies at least 50 per cent of the country’s water demand; groundwater (36%) and...

Thailand’s Economy, Food Production Suffer as Drought Continues

The Thai Government has rationed water in approximately one-third of the country and asked farmers to delay planting their crops until August as ongoing drought severely constrains water resources. Background A reduction in rainfall caused by El Niño is severely limiting the water available to farmers in Thailand and is expected to significantly reduce the...

Food and Water Security in Qatar: Part 1 – Food Production

Download PDF Haweya Ismail Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Qatar’s agricultural production is constrained by scarce water resources, infertile soil, harsh climatic conditions and poor water management. The financial and environmental costs associated with implementing Qatar’s National Food Security Program (QNFSP) may outweigh the cost of importing food...

Australian Health Star Rating Not Yet a Transparent or Reliable System

One year after the launch of the Australian Government’s Health Star Rating System, the system is far from being a reliable source of nutritional information for consumers. Background In 2011-12, two-thirds of Australian adults and one quarter of Australian children were overweight or obese. In response to the growing obesity epidemic, the Health Star Rating...

Capitalising on China-Australia Free Trade Agreement Should be a Priority for Agribusiness

The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA), signed on 17 June, has removed barriers for some of Australia’s key agricultural exports and will open the door for significant market growth in China. Background After years of consultations the successful conclusion of free trade negotiations between Australia and China were concluded in November 2014. Now that the...

Bangladesh Hunger Rate Halved: A Model for Hunger Eradication

The State of Food Insecurity in the World report, released by the United Nations on 27 May, indicates that Bangladesh has reduced hunger rates by more than fifty per cent over the past 15 years. Background Countries in South Asia have made slow progress in reducing hunger levels and meeting the associated Millennium Development Goals...

The Sultanate of Oman: Food and Water Security to 2025

Download PDF Sinéad Lehane Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Food security in Oman is currently maintained through a combination of domestic production, food imports and substantial government support. Despite comprehensive water management, Oman faces a high risk of water shortages and is one of the most water-stressed countries...

GRACE Satellite Mission Indicates Global Groundwater Diminishing

A study released by the University of California, Irvine (UCI), using data from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission, has found the world is facing a serious threat to global groundwater sources. Background Over 700 million people in 43 countries suffer from water scarcity today. The United Nations predicts that by 2025, 1.8...

GCC Agricultural Committee Approves Key Food and Water Security Projects

In approving plans for a food and water security research centre, the Gulf Co-operation Council has taken a crucial step towards increasing food and water security among the member states. Background Joint action within the agriculture and water sectors is a key objective in achieving food security for the GCC member states. This year’s GCC...

Land Boundary Agreement Renews Hope for Bangla-Indian Teesta Water Sharing Pact

Bangladesh is hopeful that a positive conclusion to the Teesta water-sharing negotiations will soon be reached, following the successful Land Boundary Agreement between Indian Prime Minister Modi and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina that was reached on 7 June.  Background In 2011, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee failed to agree to former Indian Prime...

Water Management in the Yellow River Basin

Download PDF Sinéad Lehane Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   The administration of the Yellow River Basin (YRB) needs to move away from solely engineering-focused water management, which emphasises flood control and resource development, toward comprehensive, integrative basin management strategies. The YRB currently provides the domestic water supply for more than...

India: Second Consecutive Drought Year Expected To Worsen Water Crisis

The Indian Meteorological Department has revised its monsoon rains forecast from “below normal” to “deficient” after reports of a strengthening El Niño pattern, signifying a second consecutive drought year for the country. Background India’s current heatwave – which has claimed as many as 2,500 lives – is the second deadliest that the country has experienced...

Singapore Signs MOU with UN Food and Agriculture Organization

Singapore and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have prioritised food safety and illegal fishing as part of an agreement, signed in Rome on 9 June, to improve food security and nutrition in South-East Asia.  Background Since joining in 2013, Singapore has prioritised its engagement with the FAO to contribute to food security...

Sindh Government Announces Rental of Desalination Plant as Water Shortage Protests Continue in Karachi

The Sindh Provincial Government has signed a deal with foreign companies to supply desalinated water to Karachi by mid-June in a bid to meet rising water demand in the city. Background Karachi’s ongoing water crisis has led to the mounting incidence of protests and unrest in the city. Rapid urbanisation and industry expansion has exacerbated...

Localising Food Production: Urban Agriculture in Australia

Download PDF Haweya Ismail Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points An increasing number of urban Australians are struggling to access healthy, affordable food. The high cost of living and volatile food prices are leaving an increasing number of households requiring support from organisations like Foodbank. The re-localisation of food...

Piping Water to Kinmen County: China-Taiwan Water Project Central to Improving Cross-Strait Relations

Chinese and Taiwanese officials have prioritised the finalisation of a water supply contract, and the commencement of associated project construction, between China’s Fujian Province and Taiwan’s Kinmen County following formal meetings on the Island of Kinmen last weekend. Background Kinmen County is at risk of a water shortage, due in part, to increasing tourism from...

New Healthy Eating Pyramid Removes “Junk” Food and Prioritises Vegetables.

For the first time in 15 years a new food Pyramid was released on Monday by Nutrition Australia. The new Pyramid reflects the 2013 Australian Dietary Guidelines and has removed processed fats, sugar and junk food from the model. Background Australia and New Zealand are experiencing the fastest growth rates in overweight and obesity in...

Yemen: Import Restrictions Hamper Food Relief Operations during Ceasefire

Import restrictions are reducing the flow of fuel and food supplies to Yemen, despite a five-day ceasefire between the Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels. Background The latest conflict in Yemen has exacerbated the country’s dire humanitarian situation. Poverty levels in Yemen, already considered the poorest country in the Middle East, have increased  from 42 to...

Water and Sanitation Prioritised in Nepal as Monsoon Season Looms

Addressing the limited availability of fresh water and poor sanitation have been prioritised in Nepal, as overcrowded camps and the imminent arrival of the  monsoon season increase the risk of a disease outbreak following last month’s earthquake.  Background On 25 April, Nepal was struck by a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed over 7,500 people and injured...

Water Privatisation: Jakarta Latest City to Rule for Remunicipalisation

The annulment of a contract between Jakarta’s public water operator PAM Jaya and two private water operators earlier this year has left the management of the city’s water supply and sanitation networks in limbo. Background The Coalition of Jakarta Residents Opposing Water Privatisation (KMMSAJ) filed a lawsuit against Jakarta’s administrators in 2013 regarding the privatisation...

China Releases Water Pollution Action Plan, Key Industries Targeted for Pollution Control.

Ten ‘dirty industries’ have been identified in China’s ‘Action Plan for Water Pollution Prevention and Control’ released by the State Council last week. The government is targeting key polluters as it attempts to improve China’s water quality by 2020. Background Water pollution continues to present a serious threat to both environmental and population health in...

South Korea, China and Japan Announce Trilateral Agreement to Co-operate Over Water

China, South Korea and Japan have signed a joint statement agreeing to strengthen co-operation on water-related matters during the 7th World Water Forum held in South Korea this week. Background The World Water Council hosts the World Water Forum every three years, bringing together over 3,500 world leaders, experts and business people for a six...

Water Security in an Urbanising Pakistan

Download PDF Sinéad Lehane Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Pakistan faces an acute water crisis which requires immediate action. Urbanisation will exacerbate water insecurity and present Pakistan with significant economic, social and political challenges. Water insecurity and climate change are contributing to the rapid increase in rural-urban migration....

Karachi in Crisis: Water Shortages Spark Protests in Pakistan’s Largest City.

Continuing water shortages in Karachi have sparked protests and demands that the provincial government do more to address the city’s growing crisis. Background Water scarcity is an ongoing challenge in the city of Karachi. Home to approximately 22 million people and rapidly expanding, the city’s neglected infrastructure cannot meet the demands of its residents. The...

Drought and Salinity Threaten Vietnamese Mekong Delta while Intensive Rice Production Continues

Intensive rice cultivation is threatening long-term agricultural sustainability in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region. An ongoing drought and increasing salt water intrusion are limiting water availability in the area, affecting both the environment and local farmers.    Background Vietnam is the second-largest exporter of rice in the world. Driven by a “rice first” agricultural policy, prioritised since...

Sharing Water: Israel and Jordan Finalise Agreement for Red Sea-Dead Sea Pipeline

Development of the US$900 million Red Sea-Dead Sea water sharing project is set to go ahead following the finalisation of the Jordan-Israel water supply agreement in February. The project will include the development of a desalination plant and pipeline linking the two water bodies. Background Accessing enough fresh water to cater to rising demand is...

Egypt-Ethiopia: Dispute over Nile Dam Likely to Persist Despite New Trilateral Agreement

Although the signing of the Declaration of Principles between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia may ease tensions in the short term, there is still the potential for a renewed stalemate. Background A new pact on the management of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) signed by Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan has averted a potential conflict over...

An Urbanising Region: Sustainable Water Management is Imperative for Future Stability

Faced with rapid population growth and urbanisation, how we manage our water will have a lasting impact on security and stability in the Indian Ocean Region. In focussing on this year’s World Water Day, 22 March, Future Directions International explores the link between water and sustainable development in our region. Background In every area of...

India: Food Subsidy Programme Will Remain Despite Recommendations to Downsize

The Indian Government has rejected a recommendation to scale down its food subsidy programme, and has opted instead to introduce a direct cash transfer scheme to ensure food subsidies are more efficiently utilised. Background India’s high-level Shanta Kumar Committee has released a report detailing recommendations to scale down the beneficiaries of the National Food Security...

Singapore-Rajasthan Sign Joint Programme on Water Management

Plans for Rajasthan to achieve a sustainable water management system will receive a significant boost following the conclusion of a new management agreement with Singapore. Background New plans for India and Singapore to form a joint programme in water management reveal strengthening ties in a year that marks the fiftieth anniversary of bilateral relations etween...

New Code of Conduct Aims to Create Greater Protections for Grocery Suppliers

Australia’s new Food and Grocery Code of Conduct came in to force on 3 March. It is hoped that the new voluntary code will clamp down on unfair conduct and market power imbalances. Background Skewed market power within Australia’s food chain is an ongoing challenge for small businesses and local farmers. The considerable power of...

Kenya and India to Boost Agriculture Co-operation

Kenya and India have restated their commitment to improving bilateral trade relations and enhancing co-operation in agriculture at the most recent Joint Trade Committee meeting in New Delhi. Background Co-operation between India and Kenya is set to expand following the conclusion of the seventh India-Kenya Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting, held in New Delhi on...

Crisis in Yemen: Food, Water and the ‘Slow Motion Coup’

26 February 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF   Tess Marslen        Sinéad Lehane Research Analyst    Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme     Key Points Yemen is the most food insecure country in the Middle East and has the eighth-worst hunger rate globally. Currently, over 10 million Yemenis, or 42.5 per cent of the population, are food...

Addressing Food Insecurity in Africa: The Need for Greater Strategic Alignment and a More Robust Finance Tracking System for Aid

Although a vast amount of money is poured into investments in agriculture and food production in Africa, approximately 65 per cent of the continent’s arable land is too damaged to produce food. Transparent and traceable funding that prioritises soil and land management is required to ensure investment is being directed to where it is most...

Foreign Purchases of Australian Land: Tighter Rules Won’t Necessarily Deter Foreign Investment

The Federal Government has announced that foreign purchases of agricultural land will undergo greater scrutiny and reporting from 1 March 2015. Background Foreign investment in agricultural land is a topic of great debate within Australia. Oscillating between two distinct for and against arguments, debate has depended on little supporting data on the state of investment...

Policy Briefing Paper: Australian Food Systems

17 February 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Tess Marslen Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crisis Research Programme     Key Recommendations To meet rising food demand Australian food producers must improve their sustainability, productivity and efficiency. If Australia is to remain competitive in the global food market, farm export value and volume must increase. Rising debt and low domestic...

Sharing of Teesta Water Critical for India-Bangladesh Relations

Bangladesh is hopeful that an upcoming visit from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, scheduled for 19 February, will accelerate progress on the Teesta water-sharing negotiations. Background Bangladesh is a lower riparian state to the 53 rivers that it shares with India. As a result, the country is vulnerable to the interests of its upstream...

Australia’s Water Security Part 3: Reform & Governance

5 February 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF   Sinéad Lehane Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme     Key Points   Water management and governance in Australia is complex and lacks uniformity across jurisdictions. Since the introduction of the National Water Initiative (NWI) in 2004, all states and territories have made significant progress on water reform. Water...

Supporting Global Farm Management: NASA Soil Moisture Mapping Satellite Launched

NASA launched its Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) satellite on a three-year mission over the weekend to track moisture in the Earth’s soil. The data it collects is expected to help track the potential for drought and flood events and support adaptive farm management. Background A “business-as-usual”, input-intensive approach to agriculture development is no longer...

Climate Change Reprioritised in Pakistan: Ministry for Climate Change Reinstated

Pakistan put climate change back on the political agenda earlier this month with the reinstatement of the Ministry for Climate Change and the appointment of senator Mushahid Ullah Khan as federal minister for the portfolio.  Background Pakistan is among the countries worst-affected by climate change. Increased incidences of monsoonal flooding and other natural disasters threaten...

Import Barriers Harm Australia-Vietnam Horticultural Trade

Vietnam has banned imports of Australian fruit and vegetables, following rumours that it would stop issuing import permits to Australia in 2015. The loss of the Vietnamese market, which generates $40 million each year, is a devastating blow to Australia’s horticultural industry. Background Vietnam has stopped issuing import permits for all Australian fruit and vegetables...

Empowering Women in Agriculture: Australia and Beyond

27 January 2015 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF   Tess Marslen Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points   Women make up approximately half of the international agricultural workforce, but exercise significantly less power in the sector than men. Reducing the “gender gap” in agriculture is recognised as a way to considerably increase food security. Women’s...

Water Flows to Beijing: Central Line of China’s South-North Water Transfer Project Online

Beijing and other dry northern cities in China have begun receiving water from the Danjiangkou Reservoir, following the completion of the central route of the South-North Water Transfer Project. Supply-side management alone, however, will not address China’s growing water shortages. Background China faces a multitude of challenges in accessing and supplying enough safe water to...

Oil Prices: the Upside for Australian Agriculture

Australian farmers and agribusiness should be preparing themselves to take advantage of opportunities arising from falling oil prices and a lower exchange rate. Background The OPEC has allowed global oil supply to remain high, pushed prices down and openly stated that it will not slow production throughout 2015. A consequent drop in the value of...

Health Star Rating System Website Relaunched

Assistant Minister for Health Senator Fiona Nash has relaunched the Health Star Rating System website, ten months after it was originally launched and subsequently taken down. The website is part of the first phase of an education campaign and food product labelling system for packaged foods in Australia and New Zealand. Background The relaunch of...

Nepal, Hydropower and Geopolitics: Balancing Interests in the Tibetan Plateau

4 December 2014 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Tess Marslen Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme       Key Points Less than one per cent of Nepal’s enormous hydropower potential is currently utilised. Large-scale hydropower projects could generate enough power to satisfy domestic demand and enable the Nepalese Government to export surplus electricity, creating significant opportunities for...

China First To Dam the Brahmaputra: India Concerned About Consequences

China’s new Zangmu Dam may increase the risk of downstream floods from the Brahmaputra River. India has voiced environmental concerns, but its apprehension may be politically driven. Background China has completed and begun to operate the Zangmu Dam on the Tibetan side of the Brahmaputra/Yarlung Zangbo River. Constructed at 3,300 metres above sea level, this...

Australia-India Economic Partnership Agreement Promising for Australian Agriculture

Following Australia’s successful conclusion of free trade negotiations with China last week, an ambitious goal to finalise a trade agreement with India by the end of 2015 has been announced. If successful, the agreement will provide significant opportunities for the Australian agricultural sector, particularly in research, services and technology. Background After nine years of negotiations,...

Scarcity and Abundance: UAE Food and Water Security

25 November 2014 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF   Lauren Power     Research Associate Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points The United Arab Emirates is extremely water scarce and cannot support a domestic agricultural sector capable of feeding its population. The country’s energy resources and financial wealth enable it to comfortably meet its food and water needs...

World Toilet Day: Greater Investment needed for Sanitation in the Indo-Pacific Region

Access to improved water and sanitation is crucial to support development and economic growth in the Indo-Pacific Region. Greater investment is urgently required to achieve universal sanitation. Background The importance of improved water and sanitation for economic development has emerged on the international development agenda in recent years. Despite a greater awareness of the link...

Australia’s Water Security Part 2: Water Use

13 November 2014 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Sinéad Lehane Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme     Key Points Water use in Australia has led to the full allocation of much of its available surface water. The agriculture sector is the largest water consumer, accounting for just over half of all water consumed in Australia. Population growth...

Trilateral Dialogue to Address Food and Water Security in India

The India-Australia-Israel Track II Trilateral Dialogue was launched last week in New Delhi to address long-term food and water challenges in India, supporting India’s ‘Second Green Revolution’. Background Since the Green Revolution of the late 1960s, India has faced ongoing agricultural productivity declines. Coupled with population growth, scarce natural resources and growing disparities between rural...

Australia’s Food Export Outlook

6 November 2014 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF   Jack Di Nunzio FDI Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points   Australian Agriculture is highly dependent on food exports - 58 per cent of total food product is sold overseas, generating 70 per of the sector’s total value Merely meeting domestic demand is inadequate to support...

Coal Seam Gas Mining on Agricultural Land – The Fork in the Road for Australia’s ‘Transitional’ Economy?

  The recently-released Agricultural Competitiveness Green Paper outlines the concerns of farmers over the impact of mining operations in agricultural areas. As Coal Seam Gas (CSG) operations intensify in rural areas of Queensland and New South Wales, the federal government must back the paper’s commitment to protect the sustainability Australia’s farmland and water assets. Background...

Aquaculture Partnership to Address Malnutrition in Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste and New Zealand have recently signed an agreement under the ‘Partnership for Aquaculture Development’ project, to develop the Timor-Leste fish farming industry and address on-going malnutrition and food insecurity in the country. Background The Timor-Leste Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries (MAF) and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) have finalised...

GMOs in Kenya: A Red Herring for Agricultural Development Policy

Kenyan MPs are calling to lift the national ban on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) only two years after then President Kibaki sanctioned restrictions on their production and importation. The potential of GM products as a food security solution is unclear, however, and serves as a headline-grabbing distraction from the raft of structural problems that compound...

Australian Aid: Investing in Agricultural Research and Development

16 October 2014 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF   Tess Marslen Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Current agricultural practices are failing to nutritiously feed the global population. Research, development and extension (RD&E) in agriculture is essential to ensure the food security of future generations. Australia currently contributes to the food security of approximately 500...

Family Farming: Critical to Food Security and Under Threat

This year’s World Food Day celebrates the family farm and the critical role it plays in supporting food security and sustainable agriculture. Worldwide, however, smallholder farmers are facing increasing challenges to access markets, remain competitive against large-corporate farms and secure greater land rights. Background The UN General Assembly designated 2014 the ‘International Year of Family...

The UN Climate Summit: Promises and No-Shows

Demand for action on climate change has dominated the headlines in the wake of the 2014 UN Climate Summit, but we still have a long way to go in terms of international collaboration on the issue. Background More than 100 heads of state congregated in New York on 24 September for the 2014 UN Summit...

Farmers Market Leads Food Waste Initiative in Australia

NSW Green Grocer, Harris Farm Markets, launched its ‘Imperfect Picks’ initiative last month - offering a range of fruit and vegetable lines, which would otherwise have been wasted, at reduced prices. While a greater commitment is needed from the nation’s major supermarkets to address the $8 billion food waste bill, farmers markets are growing in...

Proposed Reduction in Wheat Irrigation is Part of China’s Plan to Reduce Water Consumption

In an effort to reduce rural water consumption, China has announced a plan to decrease wheat irrigation throughout its Northern provinces. Background Water security is at the top of China’s priority list. In the past 40 years, the world’s most populous country has lost half of its coastal wetlands and 13 per cent of its...

Linking Rivers the Latest Plan to Ensure Water Access in India

India plans to begin work within the next 6 months on the first phase of river linkages as part of a revived national inter-basin water transfer project.     Background India’s current water challenge is well documented. The country extracts 230 cubic kilometres of groundwater every year and faces critical water shortages and environmental degradation, caused by...

New Beef Processor Opens Up Opportunities for Northern Cattle Producers

Australia’s longest running business – the Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) – will open its new beef processing plant this week, south of Darwin. The plant, which has the capacity to process 1000 cattle per day, is a boost for the beef industry in its efforts to add value during a period of declining cattle stocks...

Agriculture Hit Hard as Floodwaters Persist in Pakistan

Monsoonal rains have led to widespread flooding in north-east Pakistan, killing hundreds of people and leading to widespread damage to local crops and agricultural infrastructure.    Background Monsoonal rains since early September have led to ongoing flooding and landslides in India and Pakistan. The disaster has now killed over 500 people and inundated thousands of acres...

Philippines Price Inflation: Food Security Hopes and Woes

The Philippines faces food security challenges due to its underperforming agricultural sector and vulnerability to volatile global markets. As the government persists with its rice self-sufficiency policy, poor Filipinos suffer from food prices that are consistently above world average. Background Food affordability in the Philippines is a persistent issue for the poor. The volatility of...

Australia’s Water Security Part 1: Water Resources

16 September 2014 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Sinéad Lehane Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Despite occupying 5.6 per cent of the world’s landmass, Australia receives little more than one per cent of the world’s available freshwater resources. The bulk of Australia’s population, agriculture and industry are located in the temperate and southern coastal...

Jordan’s Food and Water Security

11 September 2014 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Soazic Heslot Research Assistant Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme       Key Points Jordan is a small country with few available resources and a weak economy. Population growth - largely due to the influx of refugees from Syria - is increasing the pressure on those resources. Jordan is in a...

The Islamic State: A Major Threat to Food and Water Security

Now in control of much of Iraq’s wheat supply, the Islamic State (IS) poses a major threat to food and water security. Even though Kurdish and Iraqi Government forces, with the help of US airstrikes, have regained control of the highly strategic Mosul Dam, there is still a risk that the IS could retake it...

WTO Talks Resume as India, G-33 Hold Firm on Food Subsidies

  India will continue to push for an improved food subsidy baseline to support its National Food Policy, when WTO talks resume this month. The mandates of many G-33 governments depend on the continuation of their subsidy systemsand since developed countries are unlikely to compromise further on the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), their lack of...

Unlocking Our Potential – The Need for Foreign Investment in Australian Agriculture

8 September 2014 | Global Food and Water Crises

  Download PDF     Jack Di Nunzio FDI Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme     Key Points Available statistics and recent reports suggest Australian agriculture is experiencing an increase in foreign investment. Foreign investors, in particular State-owned enterprises (SOEs), are looking to Australia for long-term, low risk agricultural assets and...

China’s Increasing Food Imports: The Impact on Global Markets

  China’s imports of cereals have increased dramatically in 2014, despite almost achieving self-sufficiency in the past decade. China’s food consumption is changing and increasing, which, considering China’s growing middle class, will have significant and lasting consequences on the global food market. Background Since the 1990s, China’s demand for food has dramatically increased. In 2010,...

China Says ‘No’ to GMO

China maintains a zero-tolerance policy on genetically modified crops, indicating a clear position in the global GMO debate. Background China is at the cutting edge of agricultural research and development. With a population of 1.3 billion to feed and a water supply that is 90 per cent polluted, it is investing more money than any...

Global Aquaculture: Australia’s Role in Meeting Industry Challenges

Aquaculture is rapidly expanding and showing promise as a means of decreasing poverty rates and improving food security globally. Australia’s world-leading aquaculture companies have demonstrated their potential to pioneer the advancement of this important industry. Background Aquaculture – the breeding and harvesting of aquatic organisms – has grown substantially in recent decades. Despite this, long-term...

Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam: Tripartite Talks Resume

Tripartite talks between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on the Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD), have resumed this week. Policymakers hope that these talks will improve regional co-operation and stability. Background Talks about the GERD froze in January this year, after Sudan publicly expressed support for the construction of the dam. Egypt and Ethiopia agreed to meet...

Declining Research and Development Investment: A Risk for Australian Agricultural Productivity

26 August 2014 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Tess Marslen Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme Key Points Australia is facing an “investment gap” in agricultural research and development; current levels of investment are insufficient to address the challenges faced by the agricultural sector. Agricultural research and development intensity has progressively declined since the 1980s, despite strong links...

Famine Looming in South Sudan

Celebrating three years of independence, the world’s newest country is experiencing acute food insecurity. Aid agencies warn that famine could occur in the coming months as civil war continues. Background Conflict in South Sudan started in December 2013, after the president accused his former vice-president of attempting a coup against him. The situation escalated when...

Bangladesh: Funding Received for Dhaka Environmentally Sustainable Water Supply Project

The European Investment Bank (EIB), the lending institution of the European Union, has approved a US$136.9 million loan to Bangladesh, to carry out the Dhaka Environmentally Sustainable Water Supply Project (DESWSP). This project is expected to enhance the country’s water security. Background Last year, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) published the Asian Water Development Outlook...

The Promise of Universal Water Access in South Africa

The newly appointed Water and Sanitation Minister in South Africa, Nomvula Mokonyane, has promised water access for all South Africans, but crumbling infrastructure, a lack of funding and inequality are ongoing challenges in achieving this ambitious goal. Background South Africa is the thirtieth-driest country in the world. Precipitation is unevenly distributed and annual rainfall is...

Iran’s Food Security

Download PDF Soazic Heslot Research Assistant Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme     Key Points Iran is in the middle of a nutrition transition. Although the number of people suffering from hunger is lower than ever before, changing dietary patterns are leading to increased incidences of obesity. The government’s goal of agricultural self-sufficiency...

Food Crisis in Somalia to Reach Emergency Phase

  Somalia faces an acute food crisis. Ongoing drought, along with civil war and instability, are leading to serious food shortages across the country. Background According to the Foreign Policy Fragile States Index, Somalia is ranked as the second most fragile state in the world, behind South Sudan. Conflict in Somalia has been ongoing for...

Controlling the Iraqi Dams: the Key to Controlling the Country

  Jihadist militia group “The Islamic State” is progressing towards control of key Iraqi dams. These developments in the conflict pose significant threats to the food and water security, and to the lives, of the entire Iraqi population. Background In a recent statement, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov,...

Death on the Nile: Egypt’s Burgeoning Food and Water Security Crisis

Download PDF Lauren Power FDI Associate Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme Key Points   One in five Egyptians are currently experiencing food insecurity as a result of structural issues in the food supply system. The Nile is Egypt’s only renewable water source, but the shifting geostrategic balance between states in the Nile Basin...

The Holy Holiday’s Toll on Food Waste: Ramadan and Food Security in Saudi Arabia

Food wastage has resurfaced as a problem in Saudi Arabia during the holy month of Ramadan. As a leading importer of food, Saudi Arabia will face many challenges in feeding its young and growing population in the years ahead. Background Saudi Arabia lacks the water, arable land and climate conditions necessary for large-scale agriculture and...

Malaysia: 700,000 Households Face Water Cuts in Selangor State

Since March 2014, hundreds of thousands of households in the Malaysian state of Selangor have faced acute water insecurity, caused by significant population growth and climate change induced reductions in water availability.  Background Ongoing high temperatures have reduced water flows in the Sungai Selangor River. Selangor relies upon the river for its water supplies and...

Market Power in the Australian Food System

Download PDF   Natazsa Bariacto, Research Assistant Jack Di Nunzio, Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Australia’s two largest supermarket chains - Coles and Woolworths - dominate the domestic food system. Greater diversity is needed in Australia’s food system, to allow equitable co-existence between small and local farming suppliers...

3AGTGs for 2025: Prospects for African Agriculture and Food Security

The African Union summit has drawn the leaders of the continent together to focus on the development of Agriculture and the improvement of food security. Due to population growth, the development of agriculture is now, more than ever, pertinent to economic and social stability in Africa. Background The 23rd Ordinary Summit of Heads of State...

US Reinstates Madagascar in African Growth and Opportunities Act

Following Madagascar’s first democratic election since 2006, the United States has announced that it will reinstate Madagascar as a priority trade partner under the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA). After four years of political and economic turmoil, the hope is that reinstatement in this US preferential trade programme will re-energise the country’s failing economy....

Nutrition Rating System Given Green Light for Australian Food Packaging

A voluntary, five-star, healthy food rating system will begin in Australia and New Zealand in August, following a public education campaign. It remains to be seen, however, whether the opt-in scheme will be adopted by the largest food manufacturers – a prerequisite if the system is to be effective in helping to prevent obesity in...

India Extends Deadline for Implementation of the Food Security Act

  The deadline for the implementation of India’s National Food Security Act has been extended by three months from the initial 5 July deadline. Difficulties and delays, including a change of government, have impeded the efficient implementation of the Act. Background Approved in September 2013, the National Food Security Act (NFSA) was due for country-wide...

Pakistan IDPs Face Growing Food and Water Insecurity

  Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced following the commencement of a new counter-militancy offensive in North Waziristan district in June. The increased number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) is likely to lead to greater insecurity in the district, as a mismanaged humanitarian crisis unfolds.    Background The breakdown of peace talks between the...

Climate Change and Australian Food Security

Download PDF Jinny Collet Research Assistant Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Climate change is a key threat to Australian food security between now and 2050. The IPCC identified two major agricultural regions in Australia as climate-change hotspots: the Murray-Darling Basin and South-Western Australia Australia is at risk of falling behind...

Increased Investment to Secure Water for Agriculture in the UAE

In an effort to address increasing competition for water in the UAE, farmers’ groups, the UN and government departments are adopting a number of water-saving technologies.   Background The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has, on average, only 500 cubic metres per person of fresh water available each year. Growing urbanisation and increased population density are driving...

Irrigation Practices and Water Security in the Tibetan Plateau

Download PDF Tess Marslen Research Assistant Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Irrigated agriculture is the biggest consumer of water in the Tibetan Plateau, with nearly 40 per cent of land in the region under irrigation. Institutions at state, basin and regional levels are failing to adequately manage irrigation, leading to...

Beef Exports to the Middle East: Can Australia Compete With Brazil?

In recent weeks, both Brazil and Australia have announced progress on deals with Iran regarding beef exports. With their export markets increasingly overlapping, it is critical that Australia takes note of the South American giant and plans accordingly.  Background In late May, the Australian Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce announced that an agreement had been reached...

Countries Prepare for Predicted El Niño Mid-Year

  Forecasts indicate that an El Niño weather pattern is likely to develop in July or August this year, potentially reducing monsoonal rainfall and agricultural production across India and South-East Asia. Background The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has warned of a 70 per cent chance that an El Niño system will develop in the Southern...

No Bees, No Food: The Potential Implications for Australian Food Security

A worldwide decline in bee numbers is causing concern in Australia. Domestic losses threaten the long-term production of key food crops dependent on wild bee pollination. Background A recent Harvard study has found that certain insecticides - known as “neonics” – and widely used in commercial stone-fruit cropping, have been linked to mass declines in...

Health and Nutrition in Australia

Download PDF Laurissa Tieleman Research Assistant Global Food and Water Research Crises Programme     Key Points Approximately two-thirds of the Australian adult population is overweight or obese according to the most recent Australian Health Survey. This proportion continues to increase, with massive implications for the burden of chronic disease on individuals and the economy....

South Sudan Faces Famine as Civil War Continues

South Sudan is at a high risk of famine, warns the UN, following the displacement of more than 1.3 million people and the disruption of the planting season, as civil war continues to affect the country. Background The world’s newest country, South Sudan is facing a famine greater than that seen in Ethiopia in the...

India’s Food and Water Security

Download PDF   Sinéad Lehane Acting Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme     Key Points With forecast population growth, India will face a growing challenge to secure food and water for its population. India currently has enough food and water per capita to remain secure, but a lack of storage capacity...

Climate Change in the Tibetan Plateau Region: Glacial Melt and Future Water Security

Download PDF Cécile Levacher Research Assistant Global Food and Water Security Research Programme     Key Points Climate change will have severe impacts on the Asian monsoon and the Himalayan glaciers. Increased glacial melting in the Himalayas, accompanied by increasingly unpredictable rainfall patterns, will have dire consequences, not only for food and water security, but...

Malnutrition and Chronic Water Scarcity Persist in Pakistan’s South-East

  Prolonged drought in the Thar and Cholistan deserts in Pakistan are causing increasing numbers of neo-natal deaths, linked to malnutrition. This is the latest humanitarian crisis in a cyclical trend of natural disasters in the country, highlighting the vulnerability of Pakistan’s rural poor to acute food and water insecurity. Background Since October 2013, desert...

Modi Vows to Clean up the Ganges River

  Following his election win on Friday, Indian Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi reiterated his commitment to restoring the Ganges River. Heavily polluted from industrial waste, raw sewage and religious items, the Ganges rejuvenation was used successfully as a symbol of Indian nationalism during Modi’s election campaign. Background The Ganges River was at the centre of...

China’s Soil Pollution: Domestic Food Safety Concerns May Bring Global Headaches

Last month’s release of China’s ‘secret’ soil pollution general survey revealed that nearly one fifth of the country’s arable land is polluted. As the costly clean-up of the consequences of China’s thirty-five year food production boom gets under way, large swathes of farmland are expected to lie fallow, creating concern over the long-term impact on...

Food Waste in Australia

Download PDF Maria Rosaria Torrisi FDI Research Assistant Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Food waste is the deliberate wastage of food fit for human consumption, generated at the latest stage in the supply chain. Australia wastes $8 billion worth of food per year. There is a pressing need for quantitative...

Reforms Underway in Egypt as Interim Government Addresses Food and Energy Subsidies

  The Egyptian Interim Government has begun addressing Egypt’s costly subsidy programmes, with the introduction of a smartcard rationing system for bread. It also plans to increase the cost of energy for Egypt’s wealthier citizens.  Background Since the 1970s, successive Egyptian governments have failed to reform the increasingly costly subsidy system, which is crippling its...

China’s Water-Energy Nexus Challenge

Download PDF Sinéad Lehane Acting Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points   China faces an intractable water crisis by 2030 under a business-as-usual scenario. Crippling water pollution, disparities in supply and demand and predicted growth in both energy and water requirements, have created insurmountable challenges for China’s central government....

Australian Agriculture at Risk under Climate Change Predictions: IPCC Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its latest report and its predictions for Australian agriculture are grim. Cutting greenhouse gas emissions rapidly is vital to alleviate the projected decline in food production. Background A report by the IPCC on the global impact of climate change has recently been released. Seven years after...

African Fund to Boost Solidarity alongside Food Security and Development

The African Solidarity Trust Fund, while still in its fledgling stages, presents an opportunity for regional empowerment and co-operation.  Background  The African Union has declared 2014 as its Year of Agriculture and Food Security, identifying African-led policy coherence as a key priority. In March this year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) signed agreements...

Battle Continues against Locust Plague in Madagascar

  Work by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, to control the locust plague wreaking havoc in Madagascar, has been boosted with the introduction of a fixed wing spraying aircraft. Background In May last year, Future Directions International analysed the impact of a locust plague on food security in Madagascar. At the time, the locusts...

Thailand’s Failed Rice Subsidy Scheme: The Final Blow for Prime Minister Shinawatra?

Thailand has lost its position as the world’s top exporter of rice – a position held for three decades – after a bungled government subsidy scheme involving speculation over rice prices. Slow repayments to Thai farmers have created dissent among Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s traditional base in the north and bolstered fervent opposition amongst opponents...

North Asian Trade Mission to Bring Gradual Gains for Farmers Despite Stalled China FTA Talks

Last week, Prime Minister Abbott concluded trade negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Japan and signed a Free Trade Agreement with South Korea (KAFTA). While the domestic beef industry emerges as the key winner of the trade agreements, doubts have been raised over the holistic benefit to Australia’s agricultural sector. Background Japan and...

Setback for Local Markets as Community Food Grants Axed

Cuts to the Community Food Grant programme will financially affect many independent organisations that provide healthy and locally sourced food alternatives to consumers. Background                    The Federal Government has announced that it will discontinue the $1.5 million Community Food Grants programme. The grants have financed non-profit projects led by food hubs, food rescue groups and local...

UN Report Stresses Upcoming Water Crisis in India

The United Nations has released the World Water Development Report and its predictions for India’s water security are grim. There are possible solutions to improve India’s water use efficiency, but issues involving water sharing remain a concern for the future of the region. Background A UN report released recently predicts that as many as 3.4...

Consumption Patterns and Food Demand in Australia to 2050

Download PDF Jack Di Nunzio Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme Key Points   Australia’s demographic transition to an older, more ethnically diverse and increasingly urban population will shape the nation’s food demand profile to 2050. Australia is currently food secure, yet the growth of its agricultural sector may be vulnerable towards...

Egypt Remains Reactionary As Nile Saga Continues

  The construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam by Ethiopia continues to create tension in Egypt over regional water security. Egypt remains vocal in its objection to the project, but will need to adopt a more co-operative outlook if real progress is to be made on regional water sharing. Background The Ethiopian Government’s “Growth and...

MENA States at Risk as Unrest in Ukraine Affects Global Grain Exports

As the conflict in Ukraine continues, the reduction in global grain exports is putting the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region at risk of food insecurity. Background Continued political unrest in Ukraine is fuelling fears about the security of global grain supplies. Ongoing conflict within Ukraine, a major exporter of maize and wheat, has...

Long-Term Solutions Needed to Address Drought in Australia

The Australian Government has launched a $320 million drought assistance plan to support farmers affected by drought. While the assistance provides temporary relief to farmers, Australia requires long-term strategies to adapt to the predicted increase in the number and severity of drought events. Background Farmers in Queensland and New South Wales are currently facing their...

Australian-Vietnamese Agricultural Trade: Challenges and Opportunities

Vietnam’s rapid growth has increased demand for Australian agricultural exports, as well as increasing Australian investment in Vietnamese agriculture. Background The Vietnamese agricultural industry is rapidly expanding and opening its doors to foreign direct investment. For Australia, growing demand in Vietnam means new markets for Australian exports and investment. While this is exciting news for...

Prolonged Drought Undermines Food Security in the Middle East

The Middle East is currently suffering from a drought that threatens regional food security, especially in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.Proactive regional approaches to long-term water management will be necessary, both to improve resistance to drought and to prepare for predicted increases in the frequency and severity of drought conditions. Background Lower than...

Don Sahong Dam Threatens Food Security in Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia

  Construction of the Don Sahong Dam along the Lower Mekong River is scheduled to commence in December this year. Concerns have been raised that the project will exacerbate existing malnutrition in the region and jeopardise the livelihoods of villagers and commercial fishers. Background The government of Laos aims to become the “battery” of South...

A Shift in Priorities over Kenya’s Groundwater Resources

Hopes for increased food and water security in Kenya’s Turkana region fade, as the government prioritises water access in towns over regional development. Background Drilling has commenced on the Lotikipi Aquifer, the largest of the groundwater reserves discovered in the northern Turkana region in September 2013. An announcement by Kenyan officials that the town of...

New Plan Focuses on Long-Term Development and Food Security in Post-Relief Philippines

  Typhoon Haiyan has made clear the importance of improving the resilience of the Philippines to natural disasters, but barriers such as corruption and the lack of transparency in local governments, need to be addressed before long-term development plans can truly become effective. Background In November last year, Future Directions analysed the Long-Term Food Security...

WORLD WATER DAY 2014: Greater Co-operation Needed to Improve Water Governance in Australia

The theme of this year’s World Water Day, the water-energy nexus, is looming as Australia’s greatest challenge in the sustainable management of resources. In Australia, increasing cross-industry co-operation and management is critical to ensuring future supply and access.    Background Water and energy are intrinsically linked. We need energy production to access, supply and treat...

Are China’s Plans to Tackle Water Pollution Sufficient?

China’s pollution reduction scheme is a step in the right direction, but long-term conservation is unlikely to occur unless clearly defined and legally enforceable obligations for water users are put into place. Background As China continues to develop, water scarcity and pollution pose increasingly urgent challenges. Plans to tackle these issues are currently high on...

Is Australia Ready to Capitalise on China’s Increasing Appetite for High-Protein Foods?

  China is expected to increase its consumption of meat and dairy products in coming years. China will not be able to meet these rising demands internally, however, and will have to rely on foreign exporters. Australia could thus become an important source of protein for China. Are we ready to take advantage of this...

New Initiative to Address Yemen Food Crisis

The World Food Programme (WFP) has launched a Relief Operation to help Yemen tackle its on-going food crisis but, to truly be successful, it must be combined with a stable political and social environment. Background Yemen is plagued by a range of serious issues, but its major continuing problem is food security. More than 10...

Australian Live Sheep Export Bans Lifted on Bahrain and Iran

Live sheep exports to Bahrain and Iran are set to resume following an announcement at a major cattle conference in Broome, Western Australia over the weekend. The recommencement of trade is expected to benefit Australian sheep farmers, but the live export trade faces continued pressure from animal welfare advocates. Background In September 2012, Bahraini quarantine...

The Iranian Water Crisis

27 February 2014 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Sinéad Lehane Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points   Iran is facing a serious and protracted water crisis. Due to long-term government mismanagement and lack of planning, achieving water security in Iran will require significant policy reform and strong governance. Unmetered access and widespread dam development have...

Water Insecurity Top of the Agenda as NENA States Meet

Water insecurity will feature prominently during the FAO Regional Conference for the Near East and North Africa (NENA), as the new Regional Water Scarcity Initiative is discussed in Rome this month.  Background According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), per capita freshwater availability in the NENA region shrank by two-thirds over the past...

African Union’s “Year of Agriculture and Food Security” Makes Slow Start

  The latest African Union (AU) summit marked the tenth anniversary of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Plan (CAADP). Overshadowed by security concerns in the Central African Republic and South Sudan, the agriculture and food security-themed summit signals further inaction, despite the need for regional integration in the continent’s agricultural sector. Background The CAADP was...

Herders and Farmers Clash over Water, Land in Tanzania

Violence between semi-nomadic pastoralists and local farmers reignited in Tanzania earlier this month as persisting drought forced herders into farming communities. The national government has been blamed for failing to mediate between the two communities in a dispute driven by land and water scarcity. Background Up to fifteen people have been killed in January as...

Thirsty Energy Initiative aims to Integrate Resource Management

  The World Bank has launched its new global initiative, ‘Thirsty Energy’, during the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi last week.  Background Access to water and energy are interdependent and increasingly vulnerable to supply scarcity and climate change. In developing states a lack of infrastructure and governance can exacerbate these vulnerabilities, leading to...

White Paper to Outline Opportunities for Australian Agriculture

The Government has announced that it will release an agriculture White Paper at year’s end, signalling its intention to capitalise on high food demand from nearby Asian markets. Background Last week, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce issued a media release declaring Australia’s ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to improve the nation’s agricultural competitiveness, as the terms...

Creating Impact Pathways: Conservation Agriculture on Smallholder Farms

16 December 2013 | Global Food and Water Crises

  Download PDF   Charlotte Jones Research Assistant     Key Points   Smallholder farms with largely subsistence production underpin the food security of the vast majority of the world’s poor, but in these systems productivity is usually well below its potential.  Many conventional agricultural practices have resulted in widespread degradation, which constrains productivity and...

Does Himalayan Hydro have the Power to Bring Water Co-operation?

An alignment of interests is a necessary but not sufficient condition for meaningful co-operation between states over shared hydro resources. Other factors, including domestic cohesion, levels of trust and the effects of power asymmetry all contribute to the balance of conflict and co-operation. Such considerations will have to be overcome if Nepal is to emulate...

India Wins on Food Security Protections at WTO

India’s insistence on indefinite maintenance of domestic subsidies to protect its food security was expected to deal a debilitating blow to WTO negotiations in Bali last week; however, concessions were passed on 8 December, as the WTO achieved its first major agreement in its eighteen-year history. Background India attended the World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations...

Global Wildfires, Carbon Emissions and the Changing Climate

6 December 2013 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF   Lauren Power Research Manager   Key Points   Wildfires release considerable quantities of carbon into the air when they burn vegetation and are an important factor inflating the global burden of carbon emissions. Worldwide, fires burn an estimated 350 to 450 million hectares of forest and grassland every year. This is equivalent...

India Fast-Tracks Hydropower Dams in Response to China’s Brahmaputra River Diversion

  China’s US$62 billion South-North Water Transfer Project has India scrambling to establish a “prior use” claim over the affected water resources of the Brahmaputra River, streamlining a number of large-scale dam projects near the border. Background The Brahmaputra is a strategic water resource for both India and China. In 2003, a Chinese plan to...

Thai Government May Decommission Pak Mun Dam amid Protests in Bangkok

The Thai Government has mandated the opening of the Pak Mun Dam amid ongoing protests in Bangkok that are seeking to oust the current government. Background The Pak Mun Dam in Thailand’s north-eastern province of Ubon Ratchathani was closed on the morning of 25 November following the annual four-month opening of the gates. The operation...

China’s New Leadership Faces a Food and Water Security Challenge

China’s Third Plenum has recently concluded and early signals indicate a shift towards more balanced development. It is unlikely, however, that environmental reform will be sufficient to avert the nation’s burgeoning food and water security crises. Background The Third Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party has recently concluded in Beijing. The strategy...

Long-Term Food Security Risk in Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan

The devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan is now becoming evident, but these current impacts precede inevitable medium- and long-term food insecurity in affected areas. Background The destruction caused by Typhoon Haiyan has devastated the Philippines and will require abundant emergency aid to restore a semblance of normality. In addition to the immediate impacts though, Haiyan...

Conflict on the Nile: The future of transboundary water disputes over the world’s longest river

25 November 2013 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF   Jack Di Nunzio Research Assistant   Key Points   The Nile River has had a major impact on the interstate politics of the region through the years, as it is the only reliable source for renewable water supplies in the area.   The Entebbe Agreement has shifted control over the Nile away...

Supermarket Code of Conduct Improves Sustainability of Australian Food Sector

  Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths have entered into a voluntary code of conduct, designed to address the power imbalance within the Australian food sector. The code will reduce the profit-squeeze experienced by suppliers and could have long-term benefits for the sustainability of Australian agriculture. Background Australia’s food retail sector is dominated by the supermarket...

G-33 to Lobby WTO to Raise Subsidy Levels for Poor Farmers

  Developing countries led by India, China and Indonesia are seeking changes to WTO agreements to allow them to implement domestic subsidy programmes in support of food security. Background The G-33 – a coalition of developing countries with large populations of smallholder farmers – will propose fast-tracked agreements seeking flexibility on food-security elements of agricultural...

Water Rationing in Tehran as Iran Faces Looming Water Crisis

  Water rationing may be imposed in Tehran if residents fail to reduce their water consumption by 20 per cent following a sharp decline in annual precipitation. Background Reduced rainfall across Iran is leading to significant reductions in groundwater reserves and fears a water crisis is looming. Faced with a critical shortage of water the...

Hungry Neighbours? Indonesia’s Food Strategy and Water Security Future

11 November 2013 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Jack Di Nunzio Research Assistant   Key Points   Indonesia currently has a low level of food insecurity. Food supplies are theoretically adequate to feed the population, however inefficiencies in distribution systems across the archipelago restrict access to food products at prices affordable for the nation’s poor.  In October 2012, the Indonesian government...

Burma/Myanmar: Food Security Latest Concern in Rakhine State

While Burma/Myanmar is regarded as a food secure state, experts are becoming concerned by rising levels of chronic food insecurity in its central regions, including conflict-ridden Rakhine State. Background Burma/Myanmar is widely considered as food-secure; capable of producing sufficient food to meet the basic needs of its population. A report conducted by the UN and...

Feeding the Cities: Is Urban Agriculture the Future of Food Security?

1 November 2013 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF   Claire Corbould Research Assistant   Key Points   In developed countries urban agriculture plays only a minor role in improving the food security of an area. Lack of space and the absence of economic incentives limit increases in crop production. Urban agricultural production constitutes a large proportion of the total food supply...

Global Hunger Index 2013: Sub-Saharan Africa Makes Ground While India Continues Slowly

The 2013 Global Hunger Index (GHI) has downgraded Sub-Saharan Africa’s hunger levels from ‘alarming’ to ‘serious’ for the first time, while South Asia continues to have the highest rates of hunger. Background The Global Hunger Index report has detailed progress in 23 of 120 surveyed nations, six of the top ten being in Sub-Saharan Africa....

Yemen’s National Food Security Strategy Back on the Table

Recently meetings have been held to reactive Yemen’s National Food Security Strategy, a seven point plan that may assist in improving the country’s food security and nutrition. Background Yemen is one of the most food insecure countries in the world, with one-third of its population – around 7.5 million people – lacking access to food....

The Battery of South Asia? The Potential for India-Nepal Hydropower Cooperation

24 October 2013 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Lincoln Meeking Research Assistant Key Points Regional leaders have appealed to Nepal to strengthen hydropower cooperation with India, to address Nepal’s domestic economic and energy crises. The close proximity and economic strength of India have made it the best candidate to boost Nepal’s hydropower potential. Historical relations between India and Nepal have been...

Natural Disasters Compound Food Security Issues in Sri Lanka

Two years of drought and flooding in Sri Lanka’s Northern and Eastern provinces has resulted in rising household debt levels and spreading food insecurity. The situation highlights the need for relief plans to shield Sri Lankans from future disasters. Background As a result of extreme weather conditions over the past 20 months, the food security...

Global Food Prices to Remain Volatile

Global food prices are expected to be volatile over the next few years. The current period of stable lower prices, provides an important opportunity for governments to implement policies to adapt to forecast volatility. Background The Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on World Food Security, met last week in Rome to review global efforts to...

Water Insecurity a Key Threat to the Development of Global Mining

Pressure for platinum miners in South Africa to halve their water consumption is symptomatic of a growing global risk to resource development posed by water shortages and conflict over water supplies available for mines. Background The South African Government recently requested that platinum miners in the country’s North West province cut their water use by...

Sustainability, Agricultural Development and the World’s Future Food Needs

8 October 2013 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Lauren Power Research Manager Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Summary The final round of consultations hosted by Future Directions International’s Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme used the outcomes of previous roundtables to examine the issue of sustainability in farming systems and its importance in meeting future food needs....

Food and Farm Subsidies in the Global Food System

3 October 2013 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Lauren Power Research Manager   Key Points Food and farm subsidies if implemented for a restricted period, targeted to vulnerable groups and supported by programmes that encourage self-sustainability, can improve food security and provide a boost to food self-sufficiency. While poorly targeted food subsidy programmes may meet their stated goals of improving food...

Subsidies in the Global Food System Part V: US Farm Bill Continues to Hurt Taxpayers and Global Food Systems

Negotiations over the US Farm Bill remain locked in a stalemate, but prospects point to extended support for farmers. These farm subsidies are a major impediment to the establishment of a fair global food system that is supportive of the long-term food security of developing countries. Background Farm subsidies are a central pillar of agricultural...

India’s Draining Aquifers Pose a Food and Water Security Crisis

India’s unsustainable use of its water resources has long been an area of concern, but the issue persists due to the high costs and political challenges of potential solutions. If the problem is not urgently addressed, there will be severe and irreversible consequences for India’s food security, stability and development. Background India is the world’s...

Organic Recycled Fertilisers Could Provide the Solution to Bangladesh’s Fertiliser Challenges

With the price of fertilisers rising dramatically, obtaining them from waste-activated sludge is a growing alternative. Background Bangladesh relies heavily upon fertiliser to meet its food production demands. Around 50 to 60 per cent of food crops are attributable to fertiliser use. Bangladesh experiences high rates of illness and food safety concerns, because of the...

Subsidies in the Global Food System IV: Can the Food Security Bill Alleviate Hunger Among India’s Poor?

The Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme continues its series on subsidies in the global food system by examining the food consumption subsidies to be introduced through India’s controversial Food Security Bill. Background India’s new Food Security Bill will seek to broaden distribution of subsidised staple foods to the country’s urban and rural poor....

Indian Supreme Court Suspends Hydro-electric Dam Projects in Northern India

The Indian Supreme Court’s decision to suspend all new hydro-electric dam projects, has pressured the Indian government to improve transparency about the impacts of its domestic dam building projects. Background Following a period of very high rainfall in mid-June, the state of Uttarakhand in Northern India was affected by catastrophic floods and landslides, which left...

Farming Sustainability Series Part III: Sundrop Farms- Growing with Seawater and Sunlight

19 September 2013 | Global Food and Water Crises

  Download PDF   Philipp Saumweber, Founder and CEO, Sundrop Farms   Key Points Significant cost advantages can be gained by reducing the use of non-renewable and limited resources such as oil and fresh water. By employing solar desalination technology, Sundrop Farms has created an agricultural system that is both profitable and environmentally sustainable. The...

Groundwater Discovery Raises Hope for Drought-Stricken Kenya

The discovery of massive groundwater aquifers in Turkana has raised hope for millions of people living in Northern Kenya who have been suffering from chronic water shortages. Concerns have been raised about the ability of the Kenyan government to manage the groundwater to ensure that it is distributed effectively to drought-stricken areas in Turkana and...

Exporting Australia’s Agricultural Know-how

Future Directions International’s chairman, Major General Michael Jeffery, will this week attend Australia’s Annual Growth Summit on food production and sustainability, to discuss how Australia can reduce global hunger by sharing its agricultural expertise. Background This week, as part of its National Economic Review series, Global Access Partners will host the 4th Australia’s Annual Growth...

Farming Sustainability Series Part II: Sustainability in Australian Farming Systems

12 September 2013 | Global Food and Water Crises

  Download PDF   Key Points While there is some potential for large-scale corporate farming in Sub Saharan Africa, this is not the answer to food sustainability issues on most of the continent. Rather, the focus should be placed on empowering smallhold farmers. One of the primary challenges facing the Australian agriculture industry is raising...

Subsidies in the Global Food System III: Food Handouts a Political “Quick Fix” in the GCC

GCC countries introduced reactionary food consumption subsidies following the 2008 global price spike, but these handouts are only a temporary fix to the serious risk of long term food insecurity in the region. Background Food handouts and consumption subsidies are popular methods of providing a social safety net and combating food insecurity in countries that...

Farming Sustainability Series Part I: Smallholder Farming, Future Food Needs and Sustainability

6 September 2013 | Global Food and Water Crises

  Download PDF Key Points The discourse on “sustainable intensification” has much to gain from an understanding of traditional agricultural methods developed by smallholder farmers that have taken the cost of environmental excesses into account and have adapted agricultural systems that have long-term sustainability.  Food security is often conflated with poverty as development organisations tend...

Subsidies in the Global Food System II: Malawi’s FISP – Success or Stumbling Block?

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter,has called on the Malawian Government to reassess the country’s Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP). He predicted that Malawi’s domestic food shortages will worsen unless the government revises the FISP and begins implementing more sustainable, long-term agricultural programmes. Background The FISP was first...

Poor Yields Heighten Pakistan’s Domestic Food Concerns

While agriculture remains an important part of Pakistan’s economy, domestic production has stagnated since the 1990s. The negative impacts of population growth, climate change and declining government investment on Pakistan’s dwindling agricultural sector have serious implications for its future food security. Background Despite the economic importance of agriculture to Pakistan’s economy, food security is not...

Subsidies in the Global Food System I: India’s Subsidised Farm Inputs

India’s agricultural input subsidy policies have fostered yield gains and even surpluses, but now threaten the long term sustainability of the agricultural industry and the health of the country’s economy. Adaptation may prove to be difficult, however, as these policies are deeply entrenched in the agricultural production system. Background The agricultural subsidy programme in India...

Fish for the Future: Aquaculture and Food Security

27 August 2013 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Sinéad Lehane FDI Research Analyst     Key Points   Aquaculture is the fastest growing food-producing sector in the world, contributing one-third of global food fish production. The nutritional benefits of fish consumption have a positive link to increased food security and decreased poverty rates in developing states. Wild fish extraction for fish...

Drought in Namibia causing Widespread Food and Water Insecurity

Namibia is situated in one of the driest regions of Africa and is no stranger to water scarcity. Now, as the country faces its worst drought in three decades, one third of its population is experiencing food insecurity. Background The summer rains needed to replenish surface water systems, grow rain-fed crops that support local populations...

US Fossil Aquifer Depletion Poses Long-term Threat to Global Food Security

Overdrawing of the High Plains Aquifer system is a major threat to US agricultural production and exports, which form a major portion of globally traded grain stocks. Background Increased demand for groundwater for industrial, domestic and agricultural purposes, is causing aquifer levels to drop across the United States. The High Plains Aquifer System covers eight...

Report Identifies Strategic Importance of Gender Equality to Future Food Security

Faced with numerous inequalities and constraints, women and girls worldwide need greater access to education and employment opportunities in the agricultural sector if food security is to be achieved. Background In a recently released report the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Oliver de Schutter, has identified gender inequality as a key...

GCC Co-operates on Critical Water Security Measure in Response to Fears of Iranian Nuclear Radiation

The General Secretariat of the GCC has recently announced plans to implement a joint water supply system, to mitigate the potential impacts of a disaster at the Bushehr nuclear plant in Iran. The development bodes well for co-operation on the serious water and food security risks facing the region. Background The countries of the Gulf...

Pakistan and Iran Turn Attention to Water Scarcity Crisis

Recent public discussion about the threat of water shortages in Iran and Pakistan, may lead to geopolitical tensions with Afghanistan over transboundary water sources. Background The multitude of major crises faced by both Iran and Pakistan in recent years has diverted attention from the increasingly serious problem of water scarcity, which they face. The severity...

Food Crises and Political Turmoil: The Impact of Egypt’s Military Intervention on National Food Security

Download PDF Lauren Power FDI Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme     Key Points A key factor underlying the unrest in Egypt in recent years and driving the protests that led to the ouster of President Morsi, is the erosion of food security. In Egypt there is a close correlation between...

Thai Minister Tackles Rice Subsidy and Boosts Agricultural Trade

Thailand’s new Commerce Minister Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan has pledged to reform the country’s plagued subsidised rice farming industry. Background Despite Thailand's new Commerce Minister, Niwatthamrong Boonsongpaisan, recently reinforcing his commitment to tackle corruption and losses in the rice-pledging scheme, the government has caved-in to pressure from the rice farmer lobby. It has restored subsidy support to...

Food Prices Set to Rise Following Indonesia’s Fuel Subsidy Cut

The food security of millions of Indonesian families may be at risk, with the prices of key goods predicted to rise on the back of Indonesia’s recent fuel subsidy cut. Background In a move which promises to strengthen long-term economic growth, the Indonesian government recently cut fuel subsidies, causing a 44 per cent increase in...

US Directs Foreign Development Funds to African Agriculture

Recent US government and private sector commitments to agricultural systems in sub Saharan Africa, highlight the importance of agricultural development in Africa to global prosperity and food security. Background When President Obama made his first major visit to Sub Saharan Africa last week in a three country tour, an item that was high on the...

Australia Joins the Fight Against Malnutrition

Australia has joined the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and over twenty other governments, in a commitment to resolve world hunger and improve nutritional standards across the globe.  Background The Nutrition for Growth summit was held on 8 June in London, hosted by the UK Department for International Development, the Brazilian government and the...

National Planning for the Northern Food Bowl

National consensus is needed to highlight the importance of developing Northern Australia in the ‘Asian Century’. Background At a press conference on Friday 21st June, Tony Abbott released a major policy statement outlining the Coalition’s vision for Northern Australia, seen by some as a response to the government’s Australia in the Asian Century White Paper...

Food Wastage: The Irony of Global Gluttony

Download Pdf Tom Davy FDI Research Manager Key Points Current methods of agricultural production and distribution account for almost a third of global food waste, and are unsustainable. In both developing and developed countries the bulk of foods wasted are the more nutritionally dense fresh fruits and vegetables, with heavily processed foods stored for increasingly...

The Nile Saga: the Reason behind the Rhetoric

While the war of words continues, Egypt is failing to recognise the reality of recent Nile developments- Egypt will face reduced water supplies in coming years, and threats of war are not a viable method for dealing with the issue. Background In the past fortnight, since Ethiopia diverted the Blue Nile to continue work on...

Australia to Benefit from Rising Meat and Dairy Demand in Asia and the Middle East

With the agricultural sector currently experiencing historically high commodity prices globally, livestock products are predicted to remain high for the next decade providing key market opportunities for Australia.  Background While overall agricultural production growth is expected to slow in the coming decade at an annual rate of 1.5 per cent compared with 2.1 per cent...

Public-Private Partnerships Sought with Chinese, Indian and Israeli Investors to Solve Water Crisis in Dar es Salaam

Tanzania’s international public-private partnerships for the water sector may prove to be the answer to widespread issues with African water utilities. Background Tanzania is holding discussions with foreign investors from China, India and Israel for the provision of water services in Dar es Salaam and other cities, to address the country’s water supply and quality...

Ethiopia Causes Regional Tensions to Surface as it Diverts the Nile

Project construction to divert water along the Blue Nile River in preparation for Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam, began last week amid rising water security concerns in Egypt and Sudan. Background Early last week, Ethiopia began the process of diverting the course of the Blue Nile, to continue construction of the country’s Grand Renaissance Dam. The decision...

National Food Plan to Boost Agricultural Optimism

  Joe Ludwig, the Federal Minister for Agriculture has released the long anticipated National Food Plan, with ambitions to take advantage of the growing Asian “dining boom”. Background First mentioned in the 2010 Labor election campaign, the National Food Plan promises multi-million dollar research funds and grants to Australian producers, to boost trade ties with...

Locust Plague Causing Food Security Crisis in Madagascar

  Madagascar faces an extreme risk of food insecurity in the coming twelve months as a serious locust plague threatens crops in up to two-thirds of the country. Background Already experiencing high rates of undernutrition, Madagascar’s food security situation is expected to deteriorate over the course of the next twelve months, unless measures are taken...

Second Asia-Pacific Water Summit Overshadowed by Mega-Project Controversy

Concerns about the multi-billion dollar water management project initiated by the Thai Government hung over the Second Asia-Pacific Water Summit recently held in Chiang Mai.  Background The Second Asia-Pacific Water Summit, which opened early last week, was titled, “Water Security and Water-related Disaster Challenges: Leadership and Commitment”. It has been overshadowed, however, by ongoing speculation...

Indonesian Interest in Australian Cattle Farms a Twist on Food Self-Sufficiency Push

  Recent interest from Indonesian public sector investors in owning and investing in Australian cattle farms could signal that the government is compromising on its controversial food self-sufficiency laws.  Background A delegation of senior officials from Indonesia’s investment board, the BKPM, will visit Australia early in June to discuss opportunities to invest in Australia’s cattle...

Egyptian cruelty case shows live exports issue is far from being resolved

Live animal exports to the Middle East have long been a contentious issue for the public image of the Australian agricultural sector. Now, in light of recently released footage from abattoir in Egypt showing animal cruelty involved in Halal slaughter, Australian cattle exports to the country have been suspended. Background In a video produced by...

Obesity in the Indian Ocean Region: The Emerging Embodiment of Malnutrition

Download PDF  Lauren Power Research Analyst, Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme    Key Points Current trends in economic transition, urbanisation and the globalisation of food systems, indicate that the population in the Indian Ocean Region will experience an increased incidence of overweight and obesity in coming years. As countries undergo nutritional transitions obesity will...

Price Hikes Causing Further Food Insecurity For Iran

  The trend of rising prices and double-digit inflation rates continues in Iran causing further problems for Iran’s food security and public unrest ahead of its presidential elections. Background Increasing food prices in Iran are raising concerns about the country’s political stability. International, particularly Western, sanctions over Iran’s controversial nuclear programme have damaged the local...

A New Phase of Co-operation in South Asian Trans-boundary Water Management?

India and Bangladesh are moving forward with the formation of two sub-regional strategic alliances for river basin management in South Asia. Background In the past fortnight, significant progress has been made on co-operative trans-boundary river system management in South Asia. Nepal, India and Bangladesh (NIB) and Bangladesh, India and Bhutan (BIB) have solidified alliances in...

Murray Darling Model To Support Water Management In India

Australia and India have signed an agreement to share Australian water modelling technology that will assist India to develop water resource management plans to address its looming water insecurity. Background In October 2012, the Australia-India Water Technology Partnership was announced; initiating bilateral collaboration on the common challenge of managing scarce water resources. The agreement’s first...

Indian Food Security Bill is a Positive Step, but Fails to Address Real Issues

Despite its economic, geopolitical, and military rise, India still has more undernourished people than the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. The recent release of the National Food Security Bill goes some way towards acknowledging the problems involved in addressing the issue, but falls short of any real institutional change. Background The release last week of the...

Jakarta Governor Pushes for Acceleration to Protect City from Floods.

Background In January 2013 Jakarta was inundated with floodwater from tidal changes affected by the monsoon season. Several Jakarta neighbourhoods were flooded and approximately 18,000 residents evacuated. Every year the city is affected by rising tidal levels and flooding, which impacts on the livelihoods and ecology of the Jakarta area. As part of a Master...

Boreholes Plentiful in Swaziland but Lack of Drinking Water a Serious Economic Threat

One of the world’s poorest nations, Swaziland has long suffered from many social, economic and political problems to which it has thus far failed to achieve any semblance of resolution. Now people in the land-locked southern African country are struggling with the problem of sourcing drinking water, despite a seeming abundance of wells.  Background Locals...

Australian Model Leads in Global Move to Reduce Drought Crises

In the lead up to World Water Day, global talks have concluded on measures to implement national drought management policies that will improve food security for the half of the world’s population that will be living in areas of high water scarcity by 2020. Background Last week, representatives from countries around the world, including Australia,...

New Technology Set to Transform Kenyan Livestock Sector

Mobile phone technology is currently being tested by Kenya’s livestock industry, in the hope of revolutionising real-time data collection and food security worldwide. Background The increased use of mobile phones across Africa has given rise to technology designed to accurately report key livestock information, with real-time data availability. A number of these technologies, supported by...

Egypt Faces Food Insecurity and Social Unrest as Strategic Grain Stocks Fall

Egypt faces heightened food insecurity as the depletion of foreign reserves undermines the government’s ability to maintain supplies of subsidised food. Subsequent increases in food prices could spur public protests that would challenge the government’s hold on power. Background Egypt is the world’s largest grain importer. Domestic production levels fall well short of demand and...

Africa Solidarity Trust Fund Becomes Reality

Equatorial Guinea makes the first contribution of US$30 million to create an African-funded food security trust fund. Background The Africa Solidarity Trust Fund received its first official donation on 22 February 2013, at the third Africa-South America Summit, held in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. The US$30 million donation from Equatorial Guinea is the...

China’s Emerging Middle Class: Challenges and Opportunities

28 February 2013 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF John Boulter FDI Research Analyst Key Points There is no universally agreed upon definition of middle class but, regardless of the definition used, the Chinese middle class is growing. Incomes are grossly under-reported in China, thus obfuscating estimates of the numbers of middle class and affluent citizens. China risks stagnation of its GDP...

Food Insecurity and Malnutrition Worsening in Yemen

The food security outlook in Yemen for 2013 is worse than in 2012, because the root causes of the problem remain unaddressed and are now compounded by poor prospects for the local agricultural sector. Background Since 2011, the combination of the recent global food, fuel and financial crises, high levels of poverty and ongoing instability...

A New Green Revolution? Growing Support for SRI Crop Management Techniques in India

Reports of “super yields” and the success of SRI pilot programmes across India, have raised hopes for the development of sustainable smallholding agriculture. Background SRI is becoming the new buzzword in development and agricultural organisations throughout India, following the success of a suite of programmes implementing the System of Rice Intensification; a dynamic set of...

Dam Collapse in China a Cause for Downstream Concern

A dam breach in Shanxi province is a cause for major concern in countries downstream from China’s numerous dam construction projects. More transparency in the planning and construction of Chinese dam projects could go a long way towards improving ties with downstream neighbours and preventing disaster. Background On 15 February 2013, there was a partial...

Ethiopian Water Security a Continuing Concern

Ethiopia’s border region with Somalia suffers from critical and worsening water insecurity, but there are positive signs from the agricultural sector. Background Traditionally a trouble spot for food and water security issues, the rural population in Ethiopia remains in a tenuous position, especially after poor seasonal rainfall and harvests in some areas. Although there are...

Food and Water Security China’s Most Significant National Challenge

8 February 2013 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF John Boulter FDI Research Analyst Key Points Food and water security will be China’s most significant national challenge over the next 30 years. The combined effects of an increasing population, more people living longer and increasing individual food consumption will require the production of considerably more food than is presently available. Improvements will...

British G8 Presidency Boosts New Global Hunger Coalition

Following the success of the 2005 “Make Poverty History” campaign, Britain’s presidency of the G8 has prompted a follow-up campaign aimed at targeting global food security. Background The “Enough Food for Everyone IF” campaign has highlighted global food security on the public agenda. With the countdown to the G8 summit in Enniskillen this June already...

Conflict Worsens Food and Water Security in Northern Mali

Despite recent military successes in the northern Mali conflict, humanitarian issues still affect the newly government-controlled regions. Background Humanitarian efforts in region of Gao have been suspended due to the ongoing conflict between French-supported Malian forces and Islamic insurgents in the north of the Saharan country. This has resulted in a deterioration of the already...

Food Wastage: A Major Challenge

Hong Kong’s landfill problem is drawing attention to the issue of chronic global food wastage. Background Globally, between a third and a half of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted, amounting to around 1.3 billion tonnes per year, according to the “Eat. Think. Save.” initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme....

Climate Change: Mixed Results

Attendees at the UN’s annual climate change conference in Doha probably had two options:  accept a weak outcome, or see the collapse of the only international meeting that attempts to confront the impact of global warming. Background The two-week long climate talks, involving representatives from 194 nations, ended with an agreement to implement the second...

Support for Agriculture Deferred: Doha Talks Yield Little Action

The threat to agriculture posed by the changing climate may increase due to the lack of a substantive outcome at the UNFCCC. Background Negotiations have concluded at the recent meeting of the UNFCC, which aimed to tackle climate change. Support for agriculture, particularly in developing countries, was recognised as imperative to the maintenance of a...

Djibouti’s Food Insecurity Drives Internal Migration

Djibouti’s food insecurity will not ease in the short term due to a combination of environmental, social and political problems. Background The relatively small population of Djibouti is preparing for another dry season as it deals with a growing hunger problem. Livelihoods are increasingly at risk due to the lasting effects of dry weather, as...

Burundi’s Returning Refugees: The Benefits and Detriments to Food Insecurity

Burundi’s returning refugees must be equipped with skills and given land access to assist in improving the country’s food security. Background Renewed peace in Burundi is attracting former nationals who fled the violence during the years of civil war. The large volume of returnees is complicating efforts to restore food security to Burundi’s 8 million-strong...

The Future of Food and Water Security in New Egypt

22 November 2012 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Jay Vella Research Analyst Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme   Key Points Fifteen million Egyptians do not earn a sufficient income to purchase an adequate level of nutrition. Income constraints limit the consumption choices of those most vulnerable to food insecurity. Economic, political and environmental challenges place restrictions on domestic food production....

Flooding in Kenya Causes Lost Harvests

A flood-induced decline in rice production will worsen food security among Kenya’s vulnerable households. Background Floods have ravaged farms in an important rice-producing area of Kenya. Crops have been destroyed and livelihoods threatened, as farmers lose both food and income. The damaging weather event is untimely, as Kenya is already having difficulty feeding its population....

China’s Rising Food Consumption Provides Opportunities for Australia

Australia will capitalise as China’s demand for food imports continues to rise sharply over the next decade. Background China’s agriculture sector and food security have received attention in the government’s recently released white paper. While China has progressed markedly in the areas of agricultural productivity and poverty alleviation, many people in rural areas still suffer...

Food Security in Mali Likely to Deteriorate Further

Locust swarms are expected to spread throughout North-West Africa in the coming weeks, posing a threat to the region’s food security. Background Seasonal rain that arrived in Mali two months early, has led to a proliferation of locust numbers in the region. Food security is threatened by the spread of the notorious pest, with little...

UAE to Develop Farmland in Serbia as Part of Food Security Strategy

A development contract with Serbia will assist the food security of the import-dependent Gulf state and help build its resistance to global food prices. Background The United Arab Emirates relies on imports to feed its population. Faced with a shortage of arable land and water, it is looking overseas to secure its food supply. A...

Drought in Sri Lanka Causing Food Shortages and Economic Losses

Sri Lanka may lose up to 60 per cent of its rice harvest should weather conditions remain unchanged. Background Drought in Sri Lanka has led to the loss of vast areas of rice paddy fields. Areas in the country’s north are becoming extremely dry and are particularly at risk of food shortages. The government is...

Dam Project in Ethiopia May Lead to Regional Tensions

The construction of a large dam along the Blue Nile River will divert water away from Egypt and Sudan, whose people rely upon water from this source for their livelihoods. This project may lead to conflict in North-east Africa. Background Ethiopia has initiated the construction of a contentious hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile River....

Thailand’s Rice Exports Expected to Fall Following a Strategic Error

Thailand is likely to lose its status as the world’s largest rice exporter as a result of the government’s contentious agricultural policies. Background The Pheu Thai Party of Thailand came to power last year offering a range of attractive policies, including rice subsidies for farmers. The state’s intervention has resulted in the growth of large...

India Escapes Calamitous Drought

A turn-around in India’s seasonal level of rain will assist the country to recover from crippling drought. Background Two months of dry weather sent India’s government into crisis mode, as expectations of widespread crop failure threatened the country’s already precarious food security. A reversal in rainfall patterns, however, appears to have alleviated that threat. As...

Extreme Weather Causes Thousands of Deaths Among Swazi Cattle

A sudden decline in livestock numbers is proving destructive for farmers, though it may benefit the country in the long run.   Background Thousands of cows in Swaziland, kept in sub-standard conditions, have succumbed to recent inclement weather. Government warnings about the health risks of consuming the meat from their carcasses are being ignored. The...

The Need to Regenerate Our Landscape

We cannot continue to mismanage our landscape if we are to avoid the global challenges resulting from land degradation, food and water security, a changing climate and increased populations. Background Soils for Life, an Outcomes Australia Project, launched a report, Innovations for Regenerative Landscape Management, on 13 September in Sydney.  The report is available at...

The Looming Global Water Crisis

The world must confront a looming water shortage or the political and security impact may be devastating. Background “The world today confronts a water crisis with critical implications for peace, political stability and economic development. The future impact of water security may be devastating. Using water the way we have in the past, simply will...

Global Agribusiness Conference Tackles Food Supply Challenges

A lack of respect for food at the societal level needs to be addressed to combat future food crises. Background Perth recently hosted the Global Agribusiness Conference, convened to address potential future food crises. The diverse list of speakers engaged a range of topics, including commercial agriculture, science and technology, and food markets. The event...

World Water Week 2012 Focuses on Water Efficiency

Delegates at the annual World Water Week in Stockholm concluded that the food-energy-water nexus is currently among the world’s greatest challenges.  Background Should the food-energy-water nexus (FEW) replace climate change as the most pressing issue facing planet Earth? This was the subtext of the 2012 World Water Week. The conference, held annually in Stockholm, focussed...

Lessons from Brazil for the National Food Plan and Global Food Security

12 September 2012 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Key Points Brazil’s Belo Horizonte Food Security Programme has important lessons for Australia’s National Food Plan Brazil developed a National Food and Nutritional Security Policy (PNSAN) in 2010. The Brazilian programme has reduced the number of those on poor diets, the number of child deaths and the extent of malnutrition. Educating the public...

Papua New Guinean Land Grabbing Controversy

PNG will have to have to review its land use legislation to maintain or enhance the living standards of its citizens. Background The Up for Grabsreport, released in July by Greenpeace, has shed light on the issue of land-grabbing in Papua New Guinea (PNG). To date, the country has lost 5.1 million hectares of customary...

Reducing Waste and Greenhouse Emissions: San Francisco’s Success and Potential for Australia

Lessons from San Francisco could be useful as Australia prepares its National Food Plan. Background San Francisco has achieved significant results in its municipal waste recycling and composting program; diverting 78 per cent of the city’s waste from going to landfill and creating a more sustainable food cycle. A trial program in Western Australia has...

Vital Insights from the FAO for Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity

Consideration of sustainable diets will be important for future food policy research and development. Background Following an International Scientific Symposium on Biodiversity and Sustainable Diets the FAO has released a publication detailing the topics presented. It is entitled Sustainable Diets and Biodiversity: directions and solutions for policy, research and actions. It contains some fundamental insights...

Imminent Challenges to Pakistan’s Future Water Security

Erratic weather, surface water depletion and inadequate infrastructure could result in a severe water crisis in the near-future. Background Infrastructure damage in a major city of Pakistan has drawn attention to the possibility of future water crises. Pakistan is at risk of developing water shortages due to inadequate structural investment and a changing climate. The...

Scientists Unite On African Food Security

Australian and African scientists work on lifting yields in Africa, with likely flow-on benefits to Australian farmers. Background Scientists from across African agricultural research and development organisations are meeting CSIRO scientists in Brisbane this week, to discuss solutions to western and central Africa’s ongoing food security problems. They are hoping to find long-term solutions for...

Severe Drought and Armyworms Affect Central and South-West China

Drought and armyworm hit Chinese crops but are unlikely to impact on food supply and prices. Background The central and south-western regions of China are experiencing a serious water crisis as a result of insufficient rainfall and higher than average temperatures. The recent armyworm outbreak in the Jilin and Hebei provinces and the Inner Mongolian...

Water-Shortage Crisis Escalating in the Tigris-Euphrates Basin

28 August 2012 | Global Food and Water Crises

  Download PDF Key Points Since 1975, Turkey’s extensive dam and hydropower construction has reportedly reduced water flows into Iraq and Syria by approximately 80 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. Approximately 90 per cent of the water flow in the Euphrates and 50 per cent in the Tigris originate in Turkey. Low flow...

Looming Global Food Shortage: A Repeat of 2007/08?

Background Dry weather in key food-producing regions of the world is significantly reducing global food production. Consequently, the prices of staple crops are increasing to relatively high levels. The state of global agriculture this year has prompted comparisons with the devastating food crisis of four years ago, although the situation is unlikely to be as...

Worst Drought in 70 Years Hits Mexico

Background Approximately 70 per cent of Mexico is being hit by the worst drought in 70 years. The drought has lasted for more than a year and has slashed food production by 40 per cent. An estimated 2.5 million people are affected and almost two million hectares of agricultural land has been devastated. Comment Financial...

US Drought Renews Debate over Use of Food for Fuel

Background The USA is the world’s largest producer of corn, soybean and wheat and with severe drought continuing to diminish the prospects for this year’s harvest, the potential for a considerable rise in global food prices is increasing daily. This has refocused the spotlight on the US mandate requiring petrol used for automobiles to include...

Arguments for a Trans-Tasman Food Plan

Background Australia and New Zealand have a bi-national food regulation agreement, established in 1991, and a history of partnership in relation to their food industries and trade. Given New Zealand’s important role in Australia’s food industry, there could be potential for a stronger partnership in addressing food security through the development of a Trans-Tasman Food...

Growing Food Insecurity in Kenya’s Cities

Background Kenya is experiencing the highest rate of urbanisation in Sub-Saharan Africa. The high population density of unplanned urban settlements, combined with rising food prices, is generating concerns for food security in its cities. Kenya’s urban poor have limited possibilities for alternative strategies for dealing with food inflation, creating the need for government intervention to...

Poor Indian Monsoon Stokes Fears of Drought, Food Insecurity

Background The monsoon season in India, June through September, has delivered significantly lower than average rainfall so far this year. As a result, many areas are facing water shortages and the prospect of crop failures. The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is primarily blaming a 7.8 million tonne decrease in global...

National Food Plan: Canada’s Civil Movement Alternative

Background Many countries have created, or are in the process of forming, national food policies in an effort to ensure food security for their growing populations. Australia is among them, with the Australian Government’s recent release of Australia’s National Food Plan green paper in July 2012. The green paper has received mixed reviews, however, since...

Livestock Virus Detected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Background The highly contagious peste des petits ruminants (PPR) virus has been detected in livestock in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where the virus is destroying thousands of livestock. It is the worst epidemic the DRC has experienced in the last decade and is having a devastating economic impact on farmers. The outbreak is...

Global Food Security Index Highlights Concerns

Background The Economist Intelligence Unit has released a new index on food security, which considers the food security of 105 countries. It uses a model that analyses 25 individual indicators in the areas of affordability, availability, quality and safety. Comment The Sub-Saharan region of Africa was rated as the worst region for food security, followed...

Politics Blamed for Malaysian Water Crisis

Background As Malaysia gears up for a federal election next year, people in the state of Selangor in the country’s west are questioning whether the current water shortage crisis in their area has been manufactured for the sake of political leverage. Malaysia’s long-time ruling party, United Malays National Organization (UMNO), lost control of Selangor in...

Severe US Drought Sparks Fear for New Global Food Crisis

Background With the USA facing its most severe drought conditions in over 50 years, the prospect of a spike in global food prices looks increasingly likely. The USA is the world’s leading exporter of maize and a top soybean exporter. An increase in the global prices for these commodities would have significant implications for many...

Australia’s National Food Plan – A Plan for the People or a Plan for Big Business?

Background The Australian Government released the National Food Plan green paper on 17July 2012, as a further step toward its aim to create “a sustainable, globally competitive, resilient food supply, supporting access to nutritious and affordable food”. The green paper, however, has come under criticism from the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, which released a statement...

Conflict in Syria Threatens Food Supply

Background The spread of violence throughout Syria is creating large food shortages and rising food prices. Farmers have lost their access to land, as farms become battlegrounds harbouring regime and opposition forces. The reduced supply and distribution of food is affecting Syria’s urban populations, forcing millions to escape in search of food and shelter. The...

Food and Water Security in Tanzania

Download PDF Aida Mliga Research Assistant Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme Key Points Tanzania’s food and water security is at risk due to many factors, rapid population growth and poverty chief among them. Current strategies undertaken by local and international institutions to counter the risks are having varying levels of success. Investment in...

Yemen Facing Child Malnutrition Crisis

Background As the newly formed Yemeni government struggles against a multi-faceted separatist uprising, as well as an increasingly severe conflict with Ansar al-Sharia and Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), millions of Yemenis are facing starvation and malnutrition. Yemen has the second highest level of chronic malnutrition, behind Afghanistan. Many of the worst affected are...

Floods in Bangladesh Leading to Food Insecurity

Background Eastern Bangladesh was hit by severe flooding in late June. Approximately 130 people died and more than 100,000 lost their homes. As the affected regions struggle to recover, thousands of people have seen their food security eroded. Damage to infrastructure and crops is limiting the availability of food, particularly in the South-Eastern part of...

Illegal Fishing Threatens Aquaculture Sustainability

Background Illegal, Unregulated and Unreported (IUU) fishing is depleting global fish stocks and damaging the ecosystems of the world’s oceans. The Coastal waters around West Africa and the Horn of Africa are particularly vulnerable due to the high volume of illegal fishing activities in those areas. Developing countries, which cannot combat the threat of IUU...

Agricultural Education Requires Renewed Focus

Background A Federal Parliamentary Committee recently released the findings from its inquiry into higher education and skills training to support agribusiness in Australia. It found more could be done to encourage students to study agriculture. Among its recommendations was a call for an inquiry to establish a higher education framework to support the implementation of...

Chinese Investment in the Kimberley

Background In late April 2012, a Chinese investment group trading as Kimberley Agricultural Investments (KAI), launched a bid to buy 15,000 hectares of land in the Kimberley region of North-Western Australia. With a population of 1.3 billion, China’s investment in foreign agricultural land is motivated by increasing food requirements and a need to secure food...

Zimbabwe’s Food and Water Security Outlook

Download PDF By Kumbirai Kuwuya Research Assistant FDI Global Food and Water Security Programme Key Points 1.4 million Zimbabweans facing food shortages in 2012. Water is underutilised, with only 22 per cent of runoff stored and utilised. Most of the farming land also remains underutilised, due to the effects of the Land Reform Programme in...

Decline in Wheat Supplies Predicted to Raise Global Food Prices

Background As a consequence of dry weather conditions plaguing the main grain exporting states, wheat inventories and production are expected to drastically decline in the next agricultural year. Although the situation is not as serious as the 2007-2008 food crisis, there are still fears about food inflation provoking yet another devastating global food crisis. Comment...

Drought in the Korean Peninsula Worsens Food Insecurity

Background The worst drought on record is eroding the food security of millions of people, particularly in North Korea. Reduced agricultural output and rising food prices are worsening the already poor condition of chronically food insecure people. The United Nations has identified a shortage in the funding flowing from international donors to North Korea; funding...

G20 Struggles with Food Security Solutions

  Background Food Security as an issue has made it to the international stage, becoming a focus of international organisations and groups such as the G20. Yet, in the wake of the G20s recent meeting in Mexico, the group has received mixed reviews over its efforts to deal with food security. Comment The United Nations...

Food Security Top of Agenda at UN Earth Summit 2012

Background Rio de Janeiro once again played host to the UN’s Earth Summit from 20-22 June. The effects of climate change on global food security are necessitating innovative changes in agriculture. The agricultural sector, already operating below capacity in much of the developing world, must improve its productivity to accommodate a fast-growing global population. Australia...

GrainGrowers Annual Conference – Food Security: Obstacles and Opportunities

Background GrainGrowers national Innovative Generation conference, to be held in Adelaide on 9-10 July 2012, will address the issue of food security from a range of perspectives and as an upcoming issue for Australian farmers, both nationally and within the global context. One of the panel speakers will be General John Hartley, Chief Executive and...

G20 Must Focus on Food and Nutrition Security: IFPRI

Background   As the G20 met in Mexico this week, the International Food Policy Research Institute called for summit participants to keep focused on global food and nutrition security. IFPRI Director General, Shenggen Fan, said more work needed to be done on the agreed action plan.   Comment   The G20 has shown its willingness...

Rise of Syrian Refugees – Ramifications for Food and Water Security

Background   The Humanitarian Bulletin on Syria, published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on 5 June 2012, reported that at least one million people, from a population of 22 million, are in need of assistance in the midst of intensified political unrest. Further, more than 78,000 refugees, half of...

Food and Water Security in Swaziland: Potential for Crises?

Download PDF Jay Vella Research Analyst FDI Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme Key Points Swaziland is a food deficit country with low agricultural productivity. Anywhere between one quarter and three quarters of its population require food assistance, depending on prevailing circumstances. The country’s erratic weather also produces widespread water insecurity. Up to 40...

Agri-Portal to Improve Global Land Knowledge

Background A new Global Agro-ecological Zones (GAEZ) portal has been established, which encourages better land use planning. It was created over the past 30 years by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA). Its function is to assist in the assessment of global...

UK Text Messages Technology to Tackle African Water Shortages

Background The UK Government is funding a project to introduce text message technology into East Africa. Under the scheme, hand operated water pumps will send an automatic text to local water engineers when they break down or run dry. The technology, developed at Oxford University, will speed up the response time of water officials fixing...

Influx of Malian Refugees Exacerbates Niger’s Food Crisis

Background   Niger is experiencing a severe food-and-water crisis, which is a result of drought, rising food costs and poverty. The situation is exacerbated by the recent influx of Malian refugees, as they deplete the country’s already limited resources. International assistance is inadequate and a greater effort is urgently needed, as the crisis threatens to...

North Korea’s Food and Water Crisis Exacerbated by the Recent Drought

  Background   A recent drought in North Korea is worsening a food and water crisis that already leaves a significant portion of the population ill and malnourished. The unstable food situation is caused by both climatic and domestic factors. North Korea depends heavily on food-aid from other nations, but due to fresh diplomatic tensions...

Inaugural Africa Human Development Report Provides Framework to Combat Chronic Food Insecurity

Background   The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) released its inaugural Human Development Report on Africa in May. The report establishes four key areas for future action, which are seen as essential to alleviating the chronic food insecurity that has plagued Sub-Saharan Africa for decades. Those areas are: increasing agricultural productivity; improving nutrition, especially in...

Rebel-held Timbuktu’s Worsening Food and Water Crisis

Background Food and water in the north of Mali is in short supply, due to rebels taking control of the country’s northern regions. Mali’s central government, following a coup d’etat in March by mutinous soldiers from its national Army, lost control over areas now patrolled by two armed rebel groups. Secular Tuareg separatists and the...

Food Security Hits G8 Agenda

  Background   The Group of Eight (G8) meeting of the world’s largest economies, being held in the US this week, will consider global food security. Global financial uncertainty, however, is likely to overshadow the long-term food and water security concerns. The main discussions will be held on the margins, aside from the main G8...

Outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease in the Gaza Strip

Background A strain of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), known as SAT2, has been detected in the Gaza Strip. The highly contagious virus, which originated in Egypt and Libya, has caused the destruction of thousands of livestock in the region, resulting in heavy financial losses for farmers. The outbreak will potentially exacerbate the current food crisis in...

Pakistan Projects Bumper 2012 Harvest, Concerns Remain on Regional Food Insecurity

Background The Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture (GIEWS) has released a new country brief on Pakistan, which assesses the current situation on food security. Although the overall food supply situation over the last two years has been favourable, there is considerable regional variation, due to severe flooding in both 2010...

Food Insecurity in Nepal’s Mountain Regions

  Background   Surveys reveal that Nepal’s mountain dwellers are suffering from food poverty. Unequal economic development has created divisions in Nepali society, so that access to food, water and services is uneven. Growing urban populations and uneven government oversight are contributing to the deterioration of food and water security in mountain communities.   Comment...

Inaugural Global Food Report Warns of Rising Food Prices and Volatility

Background A multitude of factors have led to sharp global food price rises over the last five years. This has significant implications for the food security of millions of people in developing countries. In response to this, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) released its inaugural ‘Annual Global Food Policy Report’ on 23 April;...

Australia to Join ‘Sanitation and Water for All’ Partnership

Background Ministers from developed and under-developed countries recently held a meeting in Washington, as part of the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership. The talks focussed on delivering improved access to clean water and sanitation for the world’s poor. Australia has announced its intention to become a member of the Partnership, as well as providing...

“Landgrab” Report Highlights Failings

Background Earlier this year, the International Land Coalition released the report, Land Rights and the Rush for Land. It was the culmination of three years of research into the “landgrab” practice and highlights the outcomes and responses that are required by governments. It argues that the poor are bearing disproportionate costs, but reaping few benefits...

China’s Groundbreaking $608 billion Drought-Proof Plan

Background Following China’s record-breaking water-related natural disasters in 2010, its government is developing a $608 billon, 10-year water conservation and watershed management plan. It is described as the most comprehensive attempt in more than 60 years, to deal with a worsening crisis. Coinciding with China’s focus, the Asian Development Bank this month published a report,...

United Nations Hosts Debate on Food Price Volatility

Background Leading figures from around the world met at the UN General Assembly to debate the causes for, and solutions to, damaging food price volatility. Varying viewpoints were presented, reflecting the role of both the financial system and demand and supply factors, in setting food prices globally. A new and immediate approach is required to...

Drought and Famine in Zimbabwe Expected Again This Year

Background Zimbabwe is facing yet another drought this year. A deficit of approximately 45 per cent in the nation’s staple food source, maize, is the likely outcome for 2012. Over the decade, droughts have crippled the nation and have contributed to the already low life-expectancy levels and high levels of emigration. About 1.4 million Zimbabweans...

Syria Struggles with a Critical Resource: Water

Background Since January 2011, Syria has been facing violent civil unrest as elements of the population seek the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad. However serious the political struggle may be, according to a new report Syria faces an even more severe crisis relating to water security, which could threaten the long-term future of the country....

Sundrop Offers Food Security Solution for Arid Regions

Background Australian firm Sundrop Farms is spearheading work on a new crop production system that has the potential to transform agriculture in Australia and places like the Middle East. The technology provides the means for countries facing food security concerns to maintain a level of self-sufficiency.  Comment Sundrop Farms has developed a greenhouse powered by...

India Water Week 2012: Inaugural Water Security Conference Underway in New Delhi

Background Representatives from government, academia and business are meeting in New Delhi for India’s water security conference, which began on April 10. Wastage and market inefficiency, combined with population growth and urbanisation, pose a threat to India’s future water security. India has 17 per cent of the world’s population but only four per cent of...

Egypt Threatened By Foot-And-Mouth Disease

Background A new strain of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) has broken out in Egypt. Several thousand animals have died from the disease, resulting in a sharp drop in livestock production and a decline in farmers’ income. The outbreak has also led to further increases in food prices, putting additional strain on families already struggling with Egypt’s...

Food Subsidies Required to Counter Price Spikes

Background A new report by the Asian Development Bank suggests that food subsidies, targeted at the very poorest people in South Asia, are required to stop tens of millions more people falling into extreme poverty. Comment The report, Food Price Escalation in South Asia – A Serious and Growing Concern, notes that South Asia is...

A Common Food and Water Strategy for the GCC?

Background The seventeenth annual conference on Water and Food Security in the Arabian Gulf took place on 26-27 March 2012. Organised by the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research, the conference called for a multi-pronged Gulf Co-operation Council strategy to deal with food and water security. Comment With its limited supplies of water and...

Food and Water Knowledge Lacking in Australian Schools

Background A recurrent theme at workshops run by FDI’s Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme is concern at the lack of knowledge of our food chain systems among Australian students. Some argue that the lack of appreciation for the importance of food security is one of the reasons why it is hard to get...

Swaziland Food Insecurity Intensified by Financial Crisis

Background Household surveys in Swaziland indicate the extent to which food security has been affected by the recent global financial crisis. People in both rural and urban areas are modifying their food consumption habits, following severe economic shocks. Rising food prices and lower incomes are inflicting hunger and malnutrition, in a country where the food...

World Water Forum: A Stepping Stone to Water Security

Background Every three years since 1997, the World Water Council has hosted the World Water Forum. This year, the venue was Marseilles, France in mid-March, with the focus on sharing solutions to water challenges. The forum has developed 12 priorities, which include access to clean water, harmonising water and energy, and contributing to food security....

Pipeline Project to Counter UK Drought

Background Usually quite a wet country, the United Kingdom is facing the worst drought in 30 years since the 1976 “super drought”. Spring has not arrived and yet farmers are facing water restrictions and there is speculation of a hosepipe ban due to the lack of rainfall. In response, an ambitious plan to drought-proof parts...

Food and Water Security in South Africa: Present and Future

Download PDF Key Points South Africa is characterised by a paradox of instances of food insecurity amid a national food surplus. 14 million South Africans are vulnerable to food insecurity. Future food and water security will be determined by the interaction between population growth, income and agriculture. Inequality remains the primary barrier to achieving universal...

Rising Food Prices and Security Focus of FAO Conference

Background Food and water security and rising food prices, are the focus issues of a Food and Agricultural Organization conference being held this week in Hanoi, Vietnam. Attending are agriculture ministers, senior officials and civil society representatives from 40 countries in the Asia-Pacific. Comment The conference, which runs all week, gives an indication of the...

Food Security in Lesotho Threatened by Extreme Weather

Background Lesotho is in the midst of a food security crisis, as people continue to feel the effects of the severe flooding that occurred in early 2011. The heavy rain and flooding affected much of the country, destroying crops and livestock, and bringing food insecurity to large areas of the country. Agricultural production has been...

Reduced Rainfall to Affect Zimbabwe Food Security

Background Irregular rainfall patterns across Zimbabwe last year have led to failed and substandard harvests in 2012. The resultant loss of income and agricultural output will worsen Zimbabwe’s already tenuous food security status. Government policies and corruption are further hindering progress, in a country showing some signs of recovery from its recent economic collapse. Food...

Perth Hosts One Just World Food and Water Security Forum

Background Global food and water security was the focus of a forum recently held at the University of Western Australia. The speakers spoke of the need for greater co-operation between NGOs and government in ensuring food is distributed to areas where it is needed. The speakers agreed that future food security is not so much...

The Politics of Water Security between Afghanistan and Iran

Download PDF Key Points Increasing development and water consumption in upstream Afghanistan negatively affects water supply to Iran, thereby exacerbating latent tensions between the two countries. Iran perceives the construction of hydroelectric dams on the Afghan side of the basins as a direct security threat. There is no active agreement between Iran and Afghanistan over...

India’s Government Works with NGOs in the Fight Against Insurgency

Background Maoist insurgents in India are harming the livelihoods of rural communities. Access to food is being lost in areas under Maoist control, as a result of violence and coercion. In an effort to reach vulnerable sections of the population, the government is employing new strategies, with the assistance of NGOs. Comment The government of...

East Africa Struck by Famine

Background On 20 July 2011 the United Nations formally declared a famine in the East African countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti. These countries experienced the worst famine in two decades. According to UNICEF statistics, 13 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Somalia is regarded as the worst hit nation, where...

African Drought Causing Food Shortages and Early Migration

Background Persistent drought has reduced the harvest yield in the Sahel belt of Africa, which will lead to a severe shortage of food. Worried farmers in the worst affected areas are migrating with their families to ensure they have access to food. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warns of an...

India Records Bumper Crop, Though Problems Remain

Background India is expected to pull in a record crop this year, following favourable rains. Estimates suggest that foodgrain output could reach more than 250 million tonnes, with rice reaching 100 million tonnes for the first time. The wheat output will top the government forecast, with a record 88 million tonnes expected. Yet, food insecurity...

“How-to” Flood Management Guide for Cities

Background Around the world, urban flooding is a growing development challenge, as Australia experienced first-hand in Brisbane last year. This month saw the release of a report from the World Bank and the Global Faculty for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, titled ‘Cities and Flooding: A Guide to Integrated Urban Flood Risk Management for the 21st...

The Challenge of Global Degradation and Scarcity

16 February 2012 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Tim Thomas Future Directions International Research Intern Global Food and Water Crises Research Programme Key points Degradation and scarcity of land and water are a growing threat to sustainable food security. Agricultural systems are at risk throughout the world. There will be significant limitations on land and water resources by 2050. 25 per...

India’s Water Plight

Background Water management will play a key role in determining the state of food security in India in the coming decades, according to speakers at a symposium titled “India and the Age of Crisis: A Symposium on the Local Politics of Global Economic and Ecological Fragility”, held at the University of Western Australia last week....

India Conference: Food Security Worsened by Government Policy

Background FDI recently attended a symposium held at the University of Western Australia. The two day programme, titled “India and the Age of Crisis”, covered issues of governance and how these affect access to food and water. In attendance was journalist Palagummi Sainath – Rural Affairs Editor for the influential Indian daily, The Hindu –...

UN Report Calls For New Ways to Tackle Food and Water Security

Background The report ‘Resilient People, Resilient Planet: A Future worth Choosing’, has been released by the high-level United Nations Panel on Global Sustainability. It contains 56 recommendations, which seek to put into practice sustainable development around the world. Comment The recommendations indicate a real desire by those on the panel to make necessary global changes...

Asian Food Security Road Map Released

Background In August 2011, the inaugural international conference on Asian Food Security took place in Singapore to discuss the way forward for Asian food security. It was attended by Future Directions International and organised by the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies and the South-East Asian Regional Centre for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture....

Legitimate Concerns in Canadian Withdrawal from Kyoto Protocol

Background Canada’s withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol in December 2011, in the wake of the Durban climate talks, provoked a steady stream of criticism among Canadian environmentalists and the international community. Ottawa intimated that Kyoto was not the way forward for action on climate change. Certainly not alone in its doubts – Japan and Russia...

Broadened Focus the Challenge of Berlin Water Initiative

Background From 20-21 January 2012, the second Berlin Water Dialogues will be held in the city’s fairgrounds. It will be an extension of the Bonn2011 Nexus conference held last November, convened by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Co-operation and Development, which focussed on integrated solutions ‘for the Green Economy’. To go one step further,...

Qatar to Launch Dryland Nations Alliance in 2012

Background The Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) is set to launch an international alliance of dryland nations by September 2012 – a strategic alignment that would see engagement and support between countries sharing food security obstacles due to scarce water resources. The development of a collaborative front on this issue is one plank in...

Mekong River: Xayaburi Dam Construction Delayed

Background The Governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam have agreed to delay the building of the Xayaburi Dam. The dam was the first of 11 dams proposed for the Mekong River basin. The delay was announced at the meeting of the Mekong River Commission Council, held in Cambodia on 8 December 2011. Comment The...

Climate Fund Delay Threatens to Undermine Durban Conference

Background The United Nations Climate Change Conference, held in Durban, South Africa, from 28 November to 9 December 2011, cements a change of stance that was signalled at the Cancun 2010 Conference.  Rather than risking the diminished expectations of a globally binding climate treaty, which were thwarted at the 2009 Copenhagen Conference, the agenda coming...

Talks Highlight Agricultural Shortfalls

Background The World Agricultural Forum was held from 28 November to 1 December 2011 in Brussels, Belgium, bringing together experts in agriculture, economics, technology and trade, as well as senior politicians. Comment The conference focussed on a number of key topics, including: links between political unrest and hunger; the role of south-south partnerships; global trading...

India Prepares for Mammoth Food Security Task

Background The Indian Cabinet is expected to agree by 10 December 2011 to the National Food Security Bill, which was released for comment in August. The Bill gives the government the power to offer cash transfers or food coupons to priority households, estimated to be up to 46 per cent of the country’s rural population...

An Overview of Global Food Losses and Waste

25 November 2011 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF This paper began as a series of workshop discussions hosted by Future Directions International on the subject of ‘Global Food Supply and Demand to 2050.’ The workshop, the fourth in the series, was attended by several eminent Australian academics and thinkers*. Food losses and wastage was an area that was seen as needing...

Opportunity for Australia to Share Food Safety Expertise

Background The United States Agency for International Development, Mars Incorporated and Waters Corporation have pledged US$1 million to create the first ever Global Food Safety Capacity Building Fund. The fund will seek to improve global food safety standards and spread best practices through a universal system. Comment Establishment of the fund was announced at the...

River Basins Could Secure Sustainable Food Future

Background A new five-year study of ten major river basins, from the Nile to the Indus-Ganges, has found that there is more than enough water to sustain food demands during the twenty-first century. The analysis, by scientists from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), identified that inefficient use and inequitable distribution of the...

The Politics of Water Security in the Kabul River Basin

10 November 2011 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Paula Hanasz* FDI Associate “The insurgency is only fundamentally effective in the Pashtun belt. The critical part of the population is where the water and the roads are. People near water are more important economically: along the Helmand and Kabul rivers. You secure these areas, and you take the oxygen out of the...

Africa’s Private Sector Speaks: Food Security Roundtables on the Horizon

Background Leading regional newspaper, The East African, and three locally-engaged multi-national corporations, Coca Cola, East African Breweries and the Rockefeller Foundation, will open a dialogue about Africa’s food security issues in a series of roundtables over the next few months. The agenda will be to provide local private industry with a voice in selling solutions...

CHOGM Puts Food Security on Centre Stage

  Background Global Food security featured prominently at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Perth last weekend. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard also indicated that she would be speaking on food security at the G20 meeting this week. Comment The Australian Government has launched a $36 million food security centre in Canberra. It...

Mining Water May Open Agricultural Land in Pilbara

Background In a scheme dubbed as one of Australia’s largest potential agricultural irrigation projects, Rio Tinto has announced plans to use water pumped from the Marandoo mine to cultivate crops on pastoral leases it owns in the Pilbara. Comment Rio Tinto’s Hamersley Agriculture Project, set to start in the middle of next year, will initially...

China Tackles Water Security with Ambitious Project

Background Over the next decade, China plans to harness more than 5,000 rivers and reinforce or rebuild more than 46,000 reservoirs. The vice-minister of water resources, Jiao Yong, said it would spend $600 billion over the next decade (double its current spending on water infrastructure) on infrastructure works, to overcome water shortages and tackle badly...

Further Flooding in Pakistan Worsens Critical Situation

Background Recent monsoon flooding in Pakistan’s Sindh province has left nearly 300 people dead and destroyed 400,000 homes – a devastating blow for a nation still struggling to come to terms with last year’s flooding. Comment The breadbasket province, which usually receives 150 millimetres of rainfall a year, has had over 1000 millimetres of rain...

Indian Bumper Crop Follows Above-Average Rainfall

Background Monsoon rainfall in India was 3 per cent above the 50 year average between June and the end of September, lifting farm output and easing pressure on domestic food prices. Grain production is expected to reach a new record of 245 million tonnes, up 1.4 per cent from a year ago.   Comment The...

Water Crisis Hits Pacific Nation

Background On 3 October 2011, the Pacific Islands of Tuvalu and Tokelau separately declared states of emergency in response to imminent water shortages. Prolonged drought conditions, the most severe in 50 years, have drastically reduced net water storage, with current supplies estimated to be depleted within weeks if external aid cannot supplement supply. Comment The...

A Perspective on Food and Water Security in Yemen

11 October 2011 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Key points The country’s major constraint is low agricultural productivity and insufficient water resources. The 2008 and 2009 triple crises (food, fuel and economic crises) have had a great impact on Yemen’s food security. Water reserves are being consumed faster than it takes them to replenish thereby increasing the risk of water insecurity....

Rice Yield Increases Highlights Research Benefits

Background Research is lifting yields and adding an extra $US1.46 billion per year to the value  of rice to South East Asian rice farmers, according to a report by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. Speaking on the report at a conference in late September 2011, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said that Australian...

Indonesia on Drought Alert

Background Indonesia is on drought alert, with concerns of significant water supply disruptions throughout Greater Jakarta. The Cisadane River in the Tangerang municipality is flowing at reduced rates after rain has failed to materialise in recent months. Around 100,000 people are facing a food crisis in Eastern Indonesia as a result of the drought. Comment...

Foreign Ownership of Agricultural Land Remains Unchanged After 30 Years

Background Foreign owners own 11 per cent of Australian agricultural land and one per cent of agricultural businesses, according to a report released on 9 September 2011 by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This percentage remains on par with levels from the mid-1980s. Comment The report into foreign ownership is the first undertaken since 1983-84,...

Pakistan Floods Again

Background Southern Pakistan is under water again after heavy rains affected an estimated five million people. The exceptionally heavy monsoon rains have taken the lives of hundreds of people and flooded 1.7 million hectares of land. It has also taken the lives of an estimated 100,000 cattle, while destroying around one million houses. Comment Many...

Egypt Protests Ethiopian Nile Dam Project

Background Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi is set to visit Egypt in mid-September 2011, to discuss the sharing of water from the Nile River by different countries. This is in response to disagreements with other Nile Basin states, which have wanted to draw the river’s water for their projects. Egypt has so far maintained that...

Desalination Experts in Perth Conference

Desalination experts from around the world have arrived in Perth this week for the World Congress on Desalination and Water Re-Use. The Western Australian Government says that it is appropriate that Perth host the international conference because it is at the forefront of desalination technology. About 1,200 delegates are at the four-day conference, which is...

India Expands African Land Network

Background A delegation of 35 Indian investors, including food conglomerates McLeod Russel, Kaveri Seeds and Karuturi Global, have been on a whirlwind tour of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda in recent weeks. They are seeking land to grow palm oil, maize, cotton, rice and vegetables for the burgeoning Indian market. In what could be some of...

Madagascar’s Food and Water Security as Affected by Natural Disasters

6 September 2011 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Key points Natural disasters act as a stumbling block towards Madagascar’s food and water security and the economic development at large. One quarter of the rural population is food insecure and 8 per cent of the total population is affected by chronic food insecurity. With the recurrent natural disasters, measures to promote adaption...

Aid Community Fails to Heed East African Famine Warnings

Background Despite the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) being in place since the aftermath of the widely-reported 1984-85 Ethiopian famine, its forecasts have been unable to rally enough preventative measures for the current food crisis in the Horn of Africa, which is affecting an estimated 12 million people. This is the worst drought...

Salt-Tolerant Potatoes Offer Possible Global Food Security Solution

Background Earlier this month, in a world-first, a Dutch company and researchers harvested the first successful crop of salt-soil potatoes. Scientists involved in the trial believe that the new type of potatoes could solve the global food crisis. Comment Saltwater-loving crops, such as these rare potatoes, could provide a sustainable solution to the lack of...

Action Plans for Asian Food Security Outlined

Background  Attendees at the August 2011 inaugural International Conference on Asian Food Security, were told that Asian food security is under stress and a number of points need to be addressed to reduce the number of impoverished people in Asia. Comment The Director General of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Shenggen Fan, said that...

Afghanistan’s Food and Water Security Challenges

19 August 2011 | Global Food and Water Crises

Download PDF Introduction As the international intervention in Afghanistan begins to wind down, the world's attention turns to how security can be achieved and maintained other than militarily. A myriad of factors determines the stability and development of a state, but one that is often not given due prominence is the food security of the...

Singapore: Inaugural Asian Food Security Conference

Background The Asian community will need to develop cooperative approaches to stop the recurrence of food price hikes like those of 2008. Attendees at the inaugural International Conference on Asian Food Security in Singapore last week, heard that mechanisms are needed to stop panic or speculative buying. Comment Many of the speakers at the conference,...

Madagascar Faces New Threat of Locust Infestation

Background  In June 2011, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation announced that a build-up of locusts in south-western Madagascar could turn into a plague if no action is taken. It is feared that the plague could endanger the lives of 13 million people unless a new campaign to contain the insects is advocated. Comment...

Chinese City of 4 million Left Dry as Pollution Contaminates Water

Background “Alarm,” “panic” and “crisis” are some of the words being used in Chinese and international media to describe the current water crisis occurring in Mianyang, Sichuan. The city of four million residents has lost its water source, due to pollution from an electrolytic manganese plant. The crisis, and indeed that is what it is,...

Tanzania: A Caution On Foreign Land Seekers

Background Foreign interest in Tanzanian agricultural land has been on the increase with the latest interest coming from a United Statesagribusiness which is set to acquire 324,000 hectares of land with the intention of bringing modern and sustainable agriculture to the country. Comment The investor suggests that smallholder farmers will benefit from the use of...

Desalination: A Viable Answer to Deal with Water Crises?

Download PDF Key Points There are about 14,500 desalination facilities across the globe, but the highest desalination capacity is located in the Middle East. Desalination plants are vital for economic development and social stability in many arid regions. The global demand for desalination units is projected to triple within the next six years. Desalination is...

Carbon Farming Initiative Could Cost Farmers

Background The Carbon Farming Initiative, an expected sweetener in the Carbon Tax deal proposed by the Federal Government, has failed to excite farmers. At a conference held in Fremantle in mid-July, organised by the eastern Australian grain growers’ organisation, GrainGrowers, many farmers expressed anger at the initiative, saying it lacked clarity, would achieve nothing and...

Oman to House World’s First Commercial “Forward Osmosis” Desalination Plant

Background In June 2011, Modern Water, a UK-based company, won a £500,000 ($759,800) contract to build a desalination plant at Al Naghdah, in the Al Wusta region of Oman. The plant will be capable of supplying 200 cubic metres of fresh water per day. The new plant is understood to be the world’s first fully...

Global Food Prices Stabilise

The Food and Agricultural Organization’s Food Price Index rose one per cent to 234 points in June 2011. This is 39 per cent higher than in June 2010, but remains four per cent below its all-time high of 238 points in February this year. International sugar prices were behind much of the increase. The sugar...

Ethiopia: New Plans for Hydroelectric Production

Background On 29 June 2011, the Ethiopia Electric Power Corporation announced that it would build four hydroelectric dams on the Nile River. The major hydroelectric dam project is part of a plan to spend $4.5 billion to raise power generating capability. The project will be in addition to the Grand Renaissance dam, which is also...

The GM Food Potential

                                       Download PDF Key Points Genetically modified food has generated much debate about the safety and necessity of such foods. Malnutrition affects over two billion people worldwide. Genetically modified crops have been developed to enhance the nutritional value of staple foods and to increase small farmers’ yields through pest and disease resistance. The use...

Options of Using Urban Water Runoff to Water the Cities

Download PDF Key Points A growing urban population across the globe is straining water infrastructure. Studies have suggested that when urban runoff techniques are implemented stormwater runoff can be reduced by up to 70 per cent. This reduces pollution entering waterways by up to 90 per cent and also reduces site development costs. Capturing urban...

New Report Highlights Food Security Challenges for Gulf States

Background A report by Alphen Capital into the food industries of the countries of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), was published in late June. It estimates that, due to population growth and increased per capita income, food consumption will reach 51.5 million tonnes by 2015, up from 40 million tonnes currently. Comment Food imports into...

WA Liberal Party Food Security Vision

Background Food security was the focus of the Western Australian Liberal Party’s Forrest Division annual conference, held in Margaret River on 17-18 June 2011. The Conference was attended by WA Premier Colin Barnett and several other Government Ministers and parliamentarians. The “show of force” highlighted the growing awareness and concern in the Party about ensuring...

Successful Food Security Action Needs Private Sector Support

Background An action plan on food price volatility and food security was agreed at the recent meeting of G20 Agriculture Ministers in Paris on 22-23 June 2011. The 56 point action plan will be submitted to the G20 leaders’ summit in November 2011. Comment At the G20 Summit, the agriculture ministers stressed that strong global...

The Influence of Governance on Global Agricultural Land Availability

Download PDF This paper began as a roundtable discussion hosted by Future Directions International on the subject of ‘Land Limitations.’ The roundtable, the third in a series of roundtables, was attended by several eminent Western Australian academics and thinkers*. The discussion highlighted a number of challenges to the availability of land that needed to be...

Draft Agreement Promises Positive Outlook for Bangladesh Water Security

Background High-level talks between India and Bangladesh in June this year herald a timely agreement on the subject of sharing water from the Teesta River. The agreement represents an important gain for Bangladeshi water security and sets a positive precedent for future water-sharing arrangements. Comment India and Bangladesh have been trying to resolve the question...

Indonesian Beef Price Rises, while Export Ban gives Northern Australian Farmers Power to Negotiate

Background The ban on cattle exports to Indonesia will hit the Indonesian hip pocket and highlights the insecure state of Indonesia’s beef industry. Almost all of the beef Indonesia imports comes from Australia. The export ban will hasten Indonesia’s desire to obtain self-sufficiency, to such an extent that when the ban is lifted there may...

Action Call on Pending Global Water Crisis

Background A new panel is being established to address a serious void in leadership on global water issues. Twenty former heads of government from around the world met in Quebec City, Canada, on 31 May to consider the world water crisis. While several recommendations were adopted, implementation may be hampered because of the absence from...

E.Coli Outbreak Undermines European Food Security

Background The recent E.Coli outbreak across Europe, which has resulted in as many as 22 deaths, illustrates some of the many challenges to food security in a globalised world. Food security is not just an issue of quantity and availability but also of quality. It is a problem that is also faced by the developed...

Fear for Riots after New Food Price Highs

Background On 19 May 2011, the Chicago Board of Trade indicated that wheat futures rose to US$8.17 per bushel – a 91 per cent increase in less than a year. It is feared that riots in developing countries will be a consequence of the rising food prices. This is not necessarily the end of the...

Tanzanian Food and Water Security Outlook

                                        Download PDF          Key Points       The major constraint facing the agricultural sector is falling labour and land productivity. The reduced availability of arable land is mainly due to the effects of climate change, as well as the increasing size of the population. Water security is a main concern, leading to great domestic, economic...

Mining Undermines South African SKA Bid

Background The South African Government’s bid to build the $2.5 billion Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope could be undermined by the effects of a mining technique known as “fracking”. These concerns play into the hands of Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett as he travels to Europe this week to promote WA’s bid for the project,...

Chinese Admit Three Gorges Dam Failures

Background                                            The Chinese Government has issued a statement admitting that the $23 billion Three Gorges hydro electric dam project is leading to deterioration in the ecology of the region and is vulnerable to geological disasters. The managers of the dam are confronted with conflicting demands for the water, while trying to return profits to their...

A Step Towards An Eco-Friendly Lifestyle In Tanzania

Background Tanzania is currently looking at developing a group of eco-villages with the financial support of the European Commission. Eco-villages are communities designed with the aim of promoting ecological, social and economic sustainability. To support the country’s efforts, the Commission launched the Global Climate Change Alliance in Tanzania on 26 October 2010. Tom Vens, the...

The Future Prospects for Global Arable Land

      Download PDF                                             Key Points Population growth and changing consumption habits will create a considerable degree of additional demand which will in turn place pressure on arable land resources. Arable land scarcity is the result of a range of human and climatic factors including degradation, climate change, soil constraints, urban encroachment and unequal land...

The Rundown on Rainmaking

  Summary Australia’s susceptibility to drought has affected its farming capacity in the past and continues to do so now. This is despite the extensive research on weather modification and the development of technology designed to ameliorate water shortages. Artificial rainmaking has the potential to form a significant component of water resource management. Worldwide, scientists...

Water Surplus Countries

Summary The information collated by organisations such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) forecast grave situations for future water supply. By 2050, it is predicted that 15 per cent of the world’s countries will be experiencing water deficiency, most of which...

Global Land Limitations

1 ISSUES IDENTIFIED a.Population The issue of population growth focused primarily on the nature of growth, its geographical location and its effect on food security.  The world’s population growth is estimated to reach almost 9 billion by 2050. This is an increase of between 40 and 45 per cent on current levels and will represent...

Japan’s Short-term Food Crisis Overshadows More Prolonged Emerging Challenge

Background As Japan grapples with an immediate food and water crisis as a result of the earthquake, more concerning for the government is the loss of up to 70 per cent of its farmers over the next 5-10 years as “baby-boomers” leave their farms. The age demographic realities of the farming population will make it...

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