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Water and Food Security


As a result of being a basic need for all life and good health, access to adequate water supplies, also referred to as water security, is a human right according to international law. In as much as water is a gift of nature, there is always a limit to what can be provided by nature. In most parts of the world, the water crisis has worsened to a point whereby the amount of drinking water has become alarmingly low. Much of the water today is regrettably polluted.

Changes in climatic conditions in most parts of the world have led to water-related phenomena. This includes droughts, floods, and the rising of the sea level. By and large, the changes in climatic conditions in the world have led to water crises with regard to   water resources management.

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Water Security Challenges among the Xhosa Community South Africa

Xhosa community in South Africa is largely a water scarce community. The region is actually considered to be one of the driest in the world. The community is  facing a water crisis now. This is mainly because water challenges have had a serious and rapid impact on the community, thus worsening the community’s socio-economic life. Additionally, there are socio-economic and environmental challenges which arise as a result of unmet water needs.

The example of the Xhosa Community serves a proof that whenever there is a water crisis, the first to be  hit hardest are usually the poor. This is because they depend on water for their domestic use, their livestock care, and their agricultural needs. In many ways, recent climatic changes have become extra burdens to the challenges  faced by poor communities (Ashton & Turton, 2009).

Droughts and Floods

Just as any part of the African continent, the South African Xhosa community  faces extreme droughts as well as floods depending on the seasons in a year. Specifically, the region faces a decline in precipitation. In most cases, the yields they receive are usually rain-fed agriculture (Ashton & Turton, 2009). This means that the moment there is a decrease in rainfall, food security is affected, which exacerbates malnutrition. It is projected that by mid-century, there will have been a decrease in water resources (Ashton & Turton, 2009).

Additionally, there is likelihood of  mega-deltas being affected, as a result of climate change (Ashton & Turton, 2009). This is likely to lead to urban flooding which in case of  rapid urbanization  will further aggravate the already dire situation faced by  the poor dwellers of Xhosa city. A rise in the sea level is an indication that the low lying coastal areas with large populations will be left to suffer (Ashton & Turton, 2009). By and large, these negative impacts greatly undermine development of the Xhosa community. In particular, the foregoing process significantly affects the fiscal growth of the community, thus resulting in new challenges to water and food security (Ashton & Turton, 2009).

Inadequate Management of Water Resources

Just as in any other part of Africa,  management of water resources in the South African Xhosa community is not effective enough . This is unfavorable to such the key sector which has the potential of alleviating poverty among  rural Xhosa households as well as reducing exposure to fluctuation of food prices and availability (Ashton & Turton, 2009). Coupled with a poor infrastructural base, the Xhosa community is largely susceptible to hydrological unpredictability.

 In most cases, poor infrastructure leads to high leakage rates, which further diminishes  water supplies. Additionally,  insufficient information on ground and surface water budgets as well as the deficiency of a generally approved understanding of water rights further complicate the situation (Ashton & Turton, 2009).

Increase in Demand

Another big challenge that the South African Xhosa community faces is  increase in demand for  scarce water supplies. Migration, increase in population, as well as  changing patterns of human consumption as a result of economic growth have drive the demand for fresh water up (Ashton & Turton, 2009). As a result of the impact of this rapidly increasing urban center, there has been an increase in demand for water. This has  created a big challenge to the management of water resources in the South African Xhosa community.

Water Security Challenges in the US Californian Community

The threat to the adequate supply of water to California may be less urgent or important, than the economic policy challenges faced by the Californian State community. Yet, it still needs to be handled. Over the past couple of months, just  as in other parts of the United States, a devastating drought has hit parts of the state. Consequently, this has brought an increase in prices of grains, corn, as well as other agricultural products.

The fact that there have been conflicts between energy producers and local communities is an indication that there is a big challenge regarding water security in California. Similarly to other sectors of the American economy, the water security issue in California is subject to environmental, socio-economic, and governmental changes (UNESCO, 2010). By and large, the unpredictable economy as well as the fiscal instability causes slow economic growth. This in turn increases stress on water utilities (UNESCO, 2010).

Over the years, the Californian community has faced a decline in sufficiency of water resources. This is inclusive of the uncertainties which are somewhat related to the demand as well as  supply of water from competing interests, including new and emerging contaminants. Another challenge in the management of water resources that California as a community grapples with is its aging water infrastructure, which consequently increases the resources that are needed to replace and upgrade the systems.

Additionally, the changing workforce, as a result of the aging workforce as well as the global competition for skilled technical resources, has made it difficult for the community to attract and retain qualified personnel that are badly needed (UNESCO, 2010). Similarly to the rest of the world,  climatic changes have negatively impacted the water resources, infrastructure as well as the water-related ecosystem services.

The recent climatic changes have had a direct impact on Californian water resources. This year’s devastating drought, extreme temperatures, as well as violent weather have affected the global climatic patterns , which in turn affect the water resources (UNESCO, 2010). It is largely projected that the global climatic changes will have a negative impact on water resources in the near future.

Water and Agriculture

Over the  couple of past decades, there has been a change in the way agriculture is practiced (UNESCO, 2010). In this regard, increase in the mechanization of agriculture, along with increasing use of fertilizers, pesticides, and farm specialization have led to undesirable impacts on the water environment. Consequently, these changes have increased water pollution (UNESCO, 2010). Just as  many  other parts of the developed world, the use of agrochemicals has had a damaging effect on water resources in California.

Additionally, the economic recovery that is currently going on is likely to lead to increased irrigation. This eventually results in soil salinization as well as high levels of mineral salts  increasing in water resources (UNESCO, 2010). The increase in irrigation is also likely to affect the ground water levels which have declined since  withdrawals outweigh revitalization.

Solutions to Water Security Challenges

Ground Water Exploration

The troubled state of South African water circumstances calls for converted focus on the sources of ground water which underlies much of the region (Braune & Xu, 2010). In addition to concentrating much attention on the already dire situation, this initiative can offer tangible opportunities to the entire region as well as the global community (Braune & Xu, 2010). If well implemented, this can go a long way in overcoming the water security challenges not only in the continent of Africa, but also in the developed world. Sustainably developing and managing these underground water resources is very crucial for the economic development of the region (Braune & Xu, 2010).

According to Braune and Xu, given that the water stress levels in the region are high, the vast ground water resources can go a long way in alleviating the water scarcity problems that the region grapples with. In this regard, there ought to be programs to develop the exploration of water resources (Braune & Xu, 2010). Additionally, data-generation and sharing ought to be done, including cross-border mutual and sustainable water resource management initiatives (Braune & Xu, 2010). It is only by cooperating and carefully sustaining water resources that the water scarcity can be alleviated in communities in Sub-Saharan Africa, like the Xhosa community.

Water Storage

Due to the fact that much of the Xhosa region is subject to extreme climatic variability similarly to  the rest of the Sub-Saharan Africa, there ought to be an improvement of water storage capacity. According to experts,  building of large dam projects can possibly create a more sustainable reserve of water resources. This can be used in combating the troubles of climatic variations.

Proper Management of Water Resources

Communities that have well-developed water resources management mechanisms are flexible to climatic fluctuations. As a result, they are able to better manage any projected climatic impacts. In this regard, both communities in Sub-Saharan Africa and California ought to establish water and sanitation development (Ashton & Turton, 2009).

This can be executed by establishing the resilience of the services to the vagaries of climatic variations (Ashton & Turton, 2009). Both communities also need to promote climatic receptive agriculture, administration as well as governance of supply options. To be more specific, both communities can  improve agriculture as well as  land management practices to strengthen productivity and resilience to climatic fluctuations. This can  be achieved through the control and management of on-farm resources (Ashton & Turton, 2009).

Investment and Financing in Water for a More Sustainable Future

Just as in  any other sector, there is a need to finance water security (UNESCO, 2010). The Californian community can effectively invest in the collection of data, dissemination and analysis of data, human resources as well as technical capacities. If the community  effectively invests in water security, the uncertainties and risks will become manageable (UNESCO, 2010).

Additionally, there is need to establish environmental controls as well as monitor the licensing and abstraction of groundwater. This will go a long way in reducing the risks of pollution as well as overexploitation of water resources (UNESCO, 2010). Disregard of the inspection systems may result in a loss of essential hydrological information. Such information can be used to implement crucial water management strategies for future water security (UNESCO, 2010).


Management of water resources is crucial to the development goals associated with the eradication of poverty, ecological protection and socio-economic development. It is therefore imperative that the international community should establish effective arrangements for the management of water resources (Braune & Xu, 2010). As the world population continues to grow, the demand for the scarce water resources will definitely rise. This undoubtedly calls for a wide range of systematic and comprehensive  measures of water resources management to ensure the projected constraints are effectively dealt with. 

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