Water in agriculture


Maintain and increase agricultural production through sustainable water management.

Worldwide, agriculture uses an average of 70 percent of the freshwater extracted, mostly from surface waters and groundwater. A large part of it is used for irrigation. In some developing countries, the figure is as high as 90 percent. Due to climate change, water is becoming increasingly scarce. More than 30 countries, which live mainly from agriculture, are threatened by acute water shortages.

The problem is particularly explosive due to the growing world population, for which more and more food must be produced. The most important approach: water must be managed sustainably. The goal is to achieve a higher yield with the same or even lower water input. This is especially true for irrigated agriculture, but also for more efficient rain-fed farming.

In doing so, GIZ considers water and land resources together. The aim is to achieve integrated water and land management with an agroecological focus. Its task is to manage water use so that water is used more effectively, fairly, efficiently, and sustainably. Through improved water and land management, water can be stored longer, and erosion can be avoided. Smallholder farms in particular benefit from this. If they can produce and sell more, the overall development prospects improve: people can feed themselves better, find work and poverty in rural areas decreases. On behalf of the German Government, GIZ advises its partners on water resources and land management. GIZ is particularly active in the following areas:

Resource Management

Through its advisory services at the macro, meso and micro levels (multi-level approach), GIZ supports authorities and private user groups in establishing holistic, integrated water resources and land management, including the management of watersheds. The focus is on the efficient and sustainable use of water and soil. GIZ is supporting state water law reforms. It adapts tried-and-tested concepts to local conditions, trains managers, employees and farmers and promotes mechanisms for more efficient use of water resources.

Transforming food systems

With the perspective of an agroecological transformation of agricultural and food systems, GIZ aims to make agricultural operating systems more resilient. It informs its partners about the effects of climate change on agricultural water use and develops adaptation measures together with those affected. In doing so, GIZ draws on local knowledge, adapted cultivation and irrigation methods, and techniques for water storage and soil conservation.

Together with its partners, GIZ is developing approaches for adapted, economically sustainable water use and soil conservation in agriculture that consider the situation of smallholder producers. For example, it sets up water user organizations and marketing associations or advises existing initiatives. Particularly, it takes into account the needs of women and disadvantaged groups, such as nomadic livestock farmers. Traditional rights of access and use are incorporated into the concepts. The overarching goal is distributive justice.

Development of new sources

GIZ supports the development of new water sources, such as the ecologically and health-safe use of brackish water or treated wastewater.

Additional information