In Zanzibar, an island in the Indian Ocean off the East African coast, farmers improve rice yields as part of the U.S. government's Feed the Future initiative. Photo Credit: Megan Johnson/USAID

Agricultural Water Management

Agricultural water management (AWM) seeks to use water in a way that provides crops and animals the amount of water they need, enhances productivity, and conserves natural resources for the benefit of downstream users and ecosystem services.

Why Agricultural Water Management Matters

Although AWM includes irrigation, it is not simply about applying water. It includes soil, land, and ecosystem conservation practices, such as drainage and watershed management; fisheries management; and technologies for lifting, storing, and conveying water. Traditional AWM was concerned with improving the efficiency of water use in large-scale irrigation schemes in which the objective was to control, not manage, water. As larger numbers of farmers are investing in small-scale irrigation systems, and regulation is either absent or uncoordinated, there is a need for improved practices. AWM has the potential to improve incomes and food security for poor farmers in priority countries.

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