Joining the fight to combat global water and food scarcity

April 1, 2015

By 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be living under ‘water stress’ conditions, where access to safe and reliable water is restricted*.

Already, around 700 million people in 43 countries across the globe suffer from water scarcity, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, according to United Nations Water.

By 2030 it is predicted that food demand will increase by a further 50 percent, as our global population continues to grow at a staggering rate. This phenomenon will further deplete water resources as roughly 30% of the food produced worldwide – about 1.3 billion tons – is lost or unused every year, which means that the water used in production is also wasted.

To meet global food demand by 2050, agricultural production must increase by 60% which poses a profound challenge for agronomists and technologic experts worldwide.

Abdul Latif Jameel’s social arm, Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJCI) is supporting the movement to alleviate these concerns by strengthening long-standing relationships with world leaders in combating food and water shortages.

ALJCI has worked for many years with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on poverty alleviation programs and has now established a new laboratory within MIT called the Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab (J-WAFS) that will lead vital research into the impact of population growth, urbanisation, and climate variability on food and water resources. 

J-WAFS began operations in September 2014 and will spearhead research to help mankind adapt to a rapidly changing planet and combat world-wide scarcity of food and water. The lab aims to address the collective pressures that endanger food and water systems in developing and developed countries alike.

Because water and food systems and needs are often specific to a particular country or region, the lab's approach will emphasise solutions that vary by area of activity. It will also seek to develop broad-based approaches through a range of disciplines: urban planning and design, engineering and technology, climate and hydrology, and policy, economics, and social sciences.

* United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)

For more information about the J-WAFS laboratory, please read the full press release here.