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Water & Sanitation

Key Facts

  • 70% of the water in the world is used in agriculture
  • 5.7 billion people could experience water shortages by 2050

Water is crucial for our health and ability to produce food: it is our most precious resource. Access to clean, safe water and sanitation has never been more important – basic hand washing is an essential practice for reducing the spread of disease and viruses like COVID-19 – and yet estimates show that 5.7 billion people will experience water shortages by 2050.  

Some crops need water to grow, and at present we are farming a lot of very thirsty plants in countries where water shortages are already an issue. The demand for these plants normally comes from wealthier countries who put pressure on water-scarce countries to produce luxury goods: 

  • 2000 Litres of water are needed to product 1Kg of avocados
  • 140 Litres of water are needed to produce the beans for just one cup of coffee
  • 17,000 litres of water are needed to produce 1kg of chocolate
  • 5 litres of water are needed to produce a single almond

These products are grown in Peru, Brazil and California, for example, where water shortage is already a problem. In Peru, 2.5 million people don't have proper access to safe water; in Brazil this number is over three million, and California often experiences serious droughts.

In places where water is limited, we must develop strategies and work together to ensure the water we use in agriculture doesn't compromise people's basic needs.


Webster Isheanopa Makombe

Webster Isheanopa Makombe , 21, Zimbabwe

Covid-19 uncovered a side to food systems I had not seen before, the lockdowns and travel bans severely affected import dependent countries and in the initial days of the pandemic there were lots of food shortages.


Webster is passionate about change in African food systems, he has campaigned for legislation in support of nutritional finance and breastfeeding for early years and for is calling for food sovereignty and equality.