IWMI’s New Agenda on Transformative Water Security for Building a Resilient Future

L to R- Dr. Giriraj Amarnath, Principal Researcher, IWMI_ Dr. Mark Smith, Director General, IWMI_ Dr. Alok Sikka, Country Representative- India

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New Delhi, 3 November 2022: Water security is key to our collective future, yet many parts of the world today are deeply water-insecure. Extreme weather events have shown a sharp rise in Asia, with recent extreme flood events across Bangladesh, parts of India, and then Pakistan. Climate security is also deeply intertwined with water security. Water runs through some of the biggest challenges facing the world such as floods, drought, hunger, health and pollution. Without immediate and bold action, water security is set to worsen which directly impact food and livelihood security. 

To strengthen the response to the world’s most pressing challenges, IWMI is promoting a year-long Transformative Futures for Water Security initiative. The TFWS initiative will build partnerships and coalitions among the policy, business, development, practitioner, and science communities, working together with youth, balancing voices from the Global South and Global North in order to focus and strengthen the science base for action on water security.

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“The reports we see in the press and in the media over the last two years in terms of floods and droughts and extreme water events across the world are alarming. The initiative is based on six high-ambition missions for science-based action on water security built upon through a series of regional multi-stakeholder dialogues that culminate in the ‘Transformative Futures for Water Security’ conference in March 2023”, says Dr. Mark Smith, Director General, IWMI. Dr. Smith is in India to attend India Water Week 2022.

The severity of drought and its ability to cause extensive loss and damage is increasing due to climate change, which is a pressing challenge that jeopardizes livelihoods in agricultural communities. IWMI recently introduced the South Asia Drought Monitoring System (SADMS)- a satellite-based online drought management tool that provides farmers, extension workers, and water management authorities with all the information needed to monitor, forecast, and manage drought in South Asia. It is developed in close partnership with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).

“We have been working very closely with ICAR- Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) on SADMS since 2016-17, particularly with a focus on validating the outputs which are emanating out of this SADMS, and how they can be best used in drought contingency planning to mitigate production risks”, says Dr. Alok Sikka, Country Representative, IWMI.

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 SADMS covers Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, incorporating national- to regional-level datasets drawn from multiple satellites, observed data, and other sources to aid farmers and communities in proactive drought early action strategies. The system can be used to monitor weather forecasts across South Asia and near real-time drought indicators to identify areas for drought preparedness measures. “There was previously no integrated end-to-end drought monitoring and management system

available for South Asia,” explains Dr. Giriraj Amarnath, who leads the SADMS program and is Research Group Leader for Water Risk to Development and Resilience at IWMI. “SADMS provides single stack drought management system ranging from the weather forecast, drought prediction and monitoring, decision support and contingency plans that can be adopted by diverse stakeholders, so they could make informed decisions on how best to mitigate the drought risk.”

“Platforms like SADMS become important for timely monitoring of droughts and to prepare accordingly. The portal will play a vital role in the South Asia region”, said Dr. S Bhaskar, Assistant Director General (Agronomy, Agro-Forestry & Climate Change), ICAR.