How to reconcile food safety with access to water and sanitation ?

19/03/2009 - Istanbul, Turkey

As a side event of the 5th World Water Forum in Istanbul themed “bridging divides for water”, (Re)sources think tank organized a conference-debate on Thursday 19th March “A crucial dilemma: how to reconcile food safety with access to water and sanitation?”. 

Mohamed El Yazghi, Morocco State Minister, presented the progress achieved in that direction by the Kingdom and especially the adoption of a Green Morocco Plan.

François Molle, IRD (French Research Institute for Development) researcher, tried to balance the idea of potential conflicts between agricultural and urban water: there will always be enough water for cities. Lack of domestic water is not essentially the result of resource scarcity, but rather of a lack of available finance and political involvement. Efforts are still needed from all sides in order to solve this equation. It first comes down to limiting food waste – 25 to 35% of edible products are “lost” –, to change our eating habits – a vegetarian basically consumes 1,000L water a day against 5,000L for a carnivore – and finally, to produce differently, notably by improving our irrigation techniques.

Yvonnick Huet, Chief Executive of the NGO Agrisud International, demonstrated how, even in fragile contexts, a reasonable and appropriate use of water for agricultural purposes can lead to an improvement of food safety and create a lever effect on the economy and public health. In less than 20 years, Agrisud International helped to create over 20,000 very small farms in 20 countries of Africa and Asia. Results are absolutely striking: soils are better managed, resources are preserved, tens of thousands of people saw their food safety status improve, 90,000 durable jobs were created, populations got more stability and thousands of women gained increased independence and responsibility levels.

Charles Josselin, former Minister of Cooperation, noticed the race led by certain countries to answer the food needs of their population; some governments rent or buy agriculture land outside of their own borders, and therefore distinguishing food sovereignty and food autonomy is essential. The former refers to the capacity to import at least basic commodities while the latter concerns the capability to produce them on the national territory if conditions allow.

As a conclusion, Michel Rocard, former French Prime Minister and newly appointed French Ambassador for Arctic and Antarctic Poles negotiations, called for better agricultural practices and to more seasonable production and consumption modes while encouraging politicians to shoulder their responsibilities as organizers and regulators both in the domain of water and agriculture.


World Water Forum 2009

Mohamed EL YAZGHUI, Morocco State Minister
Patrice FONLLADOSA, (Re)sources Chairperson
Loïc FAUCHON, World Water Council Honorary Chairperson
Yvonnick HUET, Agrisud International NGO Chief Executive
Charles JOSSELIN, Former French Minister of Cooperation
François MOLLE, IRD (French Research Institute for Development) Researcher
Gérard PAYEN, Aquafed Chairperson, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on Water and Sanitation issues
Michel ROCARD, Former French Prime Minister
Pierre VICTORIA,  Cercle Français de l'Eau Delegate General and(Re)sources Coordinator.



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How to reconcile food safety with access to water and sanitation ?