Research on water is closely interlinked with the questions of food security and climate change adaptation. Stockholm International Water Institute [www.siwi.org] has produced a policy brief which emphasises the water scarcity crisis in relationship to climate change and inequalities in access to water. Julien Morel’s paper (in French) on climate change and water resources provides a global overview of the issues surrounding climate change and water scarcity, water demand, water quality, water in relationship to extreme weather, effects on vulnerable people and adaptation strategies for the future.
Most research in Africa is focused on the problems of water scarcity and droughts, floods, changes of river basins and its impact on agriculture and thus subsequently food security. There are several studies concerning the Sahel, Ethiopia and the Nile River- all vulnerable areas prone to drought, desertification or flooding. An IIED issue paper by Lorenzo Cotula (available in French and English ) on Land and Water rights in the Sahel gives a good insight into the complexity of the water scarcity and access problems facing the region. The paper emphasises the importance of creating efficient water management systems as well as water infrastructure, and thus the need for rules and institutions that promote equitable as well as sustainable water use. The IWMI [www.iwmi.cgiar.org/] research report on Climate Change and its impact on water resources of the upper Blue Nile River in Ethiopia highlights that access to water is a political issue as much as a question of resource availability.
IWMI has also produced useful research reports on appropriate technology implementation in relationship to climate change adaptation in Ghana and Ethiopia . In Ghana, the implementation of the Treadle pump, which needs no fuel, has significantly improved production and the well-being of the community. In Ethiopia, small scale micro irrigation and rainwater harvesting has proven to have positive effects on home garden productivity and thus an increase in both food security and women’s empowerment.
The Blue Ventures Research Report from Madagascar analyses the possibility of implementing biogas technology for water sanitation in a rural village in Madagascar. A technical document which also provides examples of environmentally friendly technologies that in turn can have positive health impacts.
Water and Health
The WHO (http://www.who.int/topics/water/en/) has also produced an interesting study linking water and health issues in relation to access to water, water scarcity and the quality of water. The document presents the linkages between lack of good water supply and lack of health and suggests that a focus on the protection of health (rather than a focus on disease transmission) and good water management could be the key to a sustainable development.
Overall there seems to be a lack of resources on the linkages between health and water in relationship to climate change although water is the most essential for our wellbeing and survival. Within the literature available there is a focus on rural areas and agriculture, but a gap on water issues in urban environments. Access to clean water in the sprawling urban slums of Africa is a major challenge which the Water for African Cities study by UN Habitat and Gender and Water Alliance does look, through a poverty and gender lens.