Water and food security: experiences in India and China

This paper argues that the coming battle for global water, food, and energy security will most likely be won or lost in Asia. This is a region that relies very much on irrigation for food production and where already two thirds of the world's 850 million poor and hungry live. India and China dominate the region in almost every aspect – in population, economic importance, and growth. So what happens in these countries will no doubt impact the whole region. Both are described as mega-countries with high population densities, near double digit economic growth, and populations exceeding 1 billion people. But here the similarity ends as each country approaches the governance of water management and food production in quite different ways, which very much mirror their contrasting political systems. The author, who has an intimate knowledge of both the history and current development strategies being adopted in each country, compares and contrasts the ways in which they are tackling the same challenge of harnessing water resources under growing water scarcity and competing demand. This analysis offers fascinating insights for others who are developing agriculture and water policies and raises issues about the appropriate balance between central authority and decentralised water management.

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