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Innovating, Planning, and Modernizing Irrigation and Water Resources Management for Climate Mitigation and Adaptation

November 14, 2022

World Bank Water at COP27: Innovating Irrigation and Water Resources Management for Resilience

Climate change is expected to affect crop production worldwide, particularly in rain-fed agricultural regions. As climate change shifts rainfall patterns, irrigation is a powerful tool to increase the world’s food supply. Irrigation has the potential to provide crop yields more than two times as large as dryland agriculture. Modernization of irrigation systems enables more efficient water use while providing necessary services to farmers. Farmers need to be in the driver seat, and Farmer-led Irrigation Development (FLID) is one of the solutions which holds the potential to build resilience of farming systems, including smallholders, whilst supporting governments to achieve their economic and sustainable development goals (SDGs) in a changing climate. FLID is conceptualized as ‘…a process in which farmers, individual and/or group, drive the establishment, improvement, and expansion of irrigated agriculture, often in interaction with other actors. Modernization of irrigation is necessary for flexible, on-demand irrigation and providing professional management, institutional reform, and private sector involvement.

Agriculture is also about mitigation as the second largest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions after energy, and the first emitter of methane. Hence, agriculture can contribute to mitigation, particularly methane emissions reduction. Methane is the most potent GHG gas, and around 12% of global methane emissions stem from rice fields. The most transformative method to reduce methane in rice fields is Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD), which can reduce water use by up to 30 percent and methane emissions by 48 percent.