What is your magic formula to ensure water and food security for all? #wwweek #ifadwater #globaldev

Today, World Water Week 2012 edition comes to a close. This year's event focused on food security. 

For the last 20 years, the development world has adopted an integrated water management approach yet we still are managing our land and water resources in a fragmented manner. For the last many decades, we've been talking about the need to put in place innovative and sound good water governance so that as development workers we can ensure  cost-effective investment in institutions, information and infrastructure.

Earlier this week, in a panel discussion, Ms Virgina Hooper (University of East Anglia), Dr Aziza Akhmouch (OECD), Dr Uma Lele (Global Water Partnership), Mr Alexander Muller, (FAO), Dr Liese Dalbauman, PepsiCo and Dr Zhanyi Gao (International Commission on Irrigation Drainage)  engaged in a conversation exploring the key features of good governance for water and food security and tools needed to enable good decisions for water4foodsecurity investments.

While we are waiting for the official summary of the rich discussion, here are some of my personal take home messages and soundbites: 

  • To our biggest chagrin, the documents that we, as development workers, spend considerable amount of time to compile and write lack clarity and contain little or no useful information in terms of  empirical evidence. Experts and researchers struggle to find concrete results of how rural development investments have had an impact on poverty.
    This was a great wake up call. Hopefully next time, when we put pen to paper, we will make a concerted effort to:
    • write for the reader as opposed for ourselves
    • write clearly and provide empirical evidence of how the intervention has both worked and not worked, thus assisting both development workers and policy makers to scale-up and make informed decisions
  • Considering that the readily available documentation does not provide the required empirical evidence, to avoid giving an eschewed picture, researchers need to go to the source and conduct first-hand research at community level. We need more facts and figures grounded in reality!
  • Food security is a global challenge. It affects both developed and developing countries 
  • We need to extend the voluntary guideline for land governance to also cover water related issues. It was reassuring to hear that international organizations will be assisting and supporting countries to implement the voluntary guidelines
  • PepsiCo's magic formula is its passionate staff! I guess PepsiCo staffers do not spend their days writing reports, rather put their passion to work to deliver better products and services
To wrap up this blogpost, as mentioned by the panelists, we should not be asking whether we have enough, rather, whether we have too much and should focus our emphasis on sharing benefits. At the same time, we need to learn both from what has and has not worked. 

I did not hear anyone share "a failure" story. Perhaps that was the biggest failure of the 2012 edition of World Water Week. It would be great if the organizers were to revisit their business model for 2013 edition, and celebrate colleagues who come forward and share stories of failed investments.

Until then, let's hope that together we manage to put in place and implement better governance structures to achieve food security for all.

And we would love to know what is your magic formula to ensure water and food security for all?