Jeremy Faludi has an interesting piece about the water shortages that threaten our future, and the agricultural circumstances that conspire to make them worse:
Ten years ago, World Bank VP Ismail Serageldin said “If the wars of this century were fought over oil, the wars of the next century will be fought over water.” Though some people at the UN disagree, there is no question that water scarcity is a looming problem of our time.
. . . For poor farmers, irrigation water is usually squandered by lack of infrastructure–bringing water from river or dam to field using canals without linings or covers, which would prevent water soaking into unfarmed soil or evaporating into the air. Since most of the world’s poorest people are farmers, they are also the people who suffer the most from inefficient water use, because they are the last ones to get clean safe drinking water. The solution to this is smart investment, which some government programs and micro-credit organizations and are making possible, but funding is wanting. India was the cradle of modern irrigation technology while under British rule, with a mix of public and private funding for waterworks projects (as well as a mix of success and failure, according to a nice paper on the history & its lessons for today). India could now become the cradle for the next generation of water-efficient micro-scale irrigation if they put their minds to it.
Full piece at WorldChanging.