While the world is contained with celebrating the inauguration of fall and saluting the winters to come, The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) embraces it 43rd  Global “World Food Day” celebrations on the occasion of its Anniversary. World food Day is observed and celebrated on 16th of  October annually. And celebrations are held all over the globe with the major emphasis on the way to tackle global hunger and strive to eradicate hunger across the world. In 2023, the World Food Day will fall on Monday. The day is celebrated by all UN member states, including Nepal. In 1979, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) designated October 16 as World Food Day.

World Food Day 2023 will be celebrated with many organizations concerned with hunger and food security, organizing and participating in the events all across the global platform. The World Food Programme, the World Health Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the three major bodies concerned with quality and quantity of food in the world, organize activities all over the world.

Fossils of World Food Day Celebrations

In November 1979, the Hungaria Delegation, led by former Hungarian Minister of Agriculture and Food, Dr. Pal Romany, proposed observing World Food Day to unify people in their battle against hunger and the wars and conflicts that it might bring. Dr. Roman actively promoted the concept of celebrating World Food Day throughout the world during the 20th Session of the Food and Agriculture Organization Conference.

The FAO member nations voted on the proposal, and the World Food Day was founded in 1979, with the inaugural commemoration taking place in 1981. Since 1981, WFD has been commemorated annually in over 150 countries, raising consciousness regarding poverty and hunger hardships.

Significance of World Food Day

World Food Day is a global celebration dedicated to spreading awareness about issues concerning food and nutrition security, poverty, and sustainable agriculture, advocating for Equitable Access, mobilizing action, building international relationships and co-operations and achieving the SDGs.

Masses of people worldwide are unable to afford balanced nutrition, putting them in danger of malnutrition. Even when enough food is produced to fulfill global demand, the problem remains, is the availability of healthy food. Multiple issues, such as the COVID-19 epidemic, wars, climate change, inequality, rising costs, geopolitical tensions, and so on, equally intensifies the situation.

In certain areas, people are typically marginalized owing to their gender, cultural background, or position, and they rely solely on their own farmed food, depriving themselves of essential nutrients. World Food Day 2023 will be celebrated with tremendous enthusiasm in order to draw the attention of food activists all over the world to face and find possibilities to combat these challenges.

World Hunger Facts

About 821 million people are chronically undernourished, more than 785 million recorded in 2015.

Nearly 99% of undernourished people live in developing nations.

About 60% of the hungry people in world are women.

About one in five births happens without a skilled birth attendant.

Nearly 20 million infants are born each year with low birth weight, of them, 96.5% are in developing countries.

About 50% of all deaths in children are under 5 years due to under-nutrition.

43rd World Food Day Theme

Every year, World Food Day has a new thread to concentrate on issues that call for action and offer a common objective. This year’s World Food Day 2023 will focus on the theme, “Water is Life, Water is Food. Leave No One Behind”. The theme aims to highlight the critical role of water for life on earth and water as the foundation of our food and continuity of human existence. It also look forward to raise global awareness about the importance of managing water wisely as rapid population growth, economic development, urbanization, and climate change threaten water availability and accessibility.

Water and Climate Change

Climate change is causing weather patterns to be disrupted, resulting in extreme weather events, unpredictable water supply, aggravating water scarcity, and polluting water sources. Such effects can have a major influence on the quantity and quality of water. Climate change is, first and foremost, a water crisis. We are witnessing the effects of climate change through increased floods, rising sea levels, disappearing ice fields, wildfires, and droughts.

Merely 0.5% of the water on the planet is accessible and available freshwater, and climate change is threatening that supply. Terrestrial water storage – comprising soil moisture, snow, and ice has declined at a pace of 1 cm per year over the last 20 years, with serious implications for water security. Climate change and water are intricately intertwined. Water is becoming more limited, unreliable, dirty, or all three as a result of extreme weather occurrences. These effects endanger sustainable development, biodiversity, and people’s access to water and sanitation throughout the water cycle. Flooding and increasing sea levels can pollute land and water resources with seawater or feces, as well as destroy water and sanitation infrastructure including water points, wells, toilets, and wastewater treatment plants.

Glaciers, ice caps, and snow fields are quickly vanishing. Several of the world’s largest river systems are fed by melt water. Volatility in the permafrost can have an impact on the control of freshwater resources for large populations in lowland locations. Increasing water demand necessitates more energy-intensive water pumping, transportation, and treatment, contributing to the deterioration of crucial water-dependent carbon sinks such peat-lands. Water-intensive agriculture for food production, particularly meat, and for bio-fuel crops can increase water scarcity.

Water, on the other hand, has the potential to combat climate change. Sustainable water management is critical for increasing societal and environmental resilience and lowering carbon emissions. Everyone has a role to play, and individual and household activities are critical.

Water for Life. Water for food.

The Earth is a watery place. About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water. Water also exists in the air as water vapor, in rivers and lakes, in icecaps and glaciers, in the ground as soil moisture and in aquifers, and in every life carrying organisms.

Water is never sitting still. Thanks to the water cycle, our planet’s water supply is constantly moving from one place to another and from one form to another. Around 2.5% of Earth’s water is freshwater – the amount needed for life to survive. Almost all of it is locked up in ice and in the ground. Only a little more than 1.2% of all freshwater is surface water, which serves most of life’s needs.

Most of the surface fresh water is locked up in ice, and another 20.9% is found in lakes. Rivers make up 0.49% of surface freshwater. Although rivers account for only a small amount of freshwater, this is where humans get a large portion of their water from. It can be clearly seen that a only a small fraction of water is available for living beings to exist on this planet. Water cycle maintains the continuity of water on earth by charging the groundwater and aquifers.

Water has a very crucial role for sustaining life on earth, this is the main reason there’s no life on the other planets of the solar system. With so much water around it seems like there is enough to see us through for millions of years. But little did we know that even water, which seems to be in abundance, might one day become scarce. Water is crucial for human existence and well-being in addition to its function in food production. Access to clean and safe drinking water is a fundamental human right that is required for proper hydration, nutrition, and overall health.

Water and Food Security

The World Food Day 2023 slogan highlights the interdependence of water, food, and life while pushing for a more equitable and sustainable response to global food security and water concerns. It is a call to action to prioritize water management, sustainable agriculture, and humanitarian initiatives in order to leave no one behind in the pursuit of zero hunger and universal access to clean water. Water is an indispensable resource in agriculture, as it is required for irrigation, livestock, and aquaculture. It is difficult to cultivate the crops and rear the animals that comprise our food supply without an adequate and stable water supply. Irrigated agriculture accounts for 20 percent of all cultivated area and 40 percent of total food production worldwide. Irrigated agriculture is more productive per unit of land than rain-fed agriculture, allowing for greater production intensification and crop variety.

Agricultural production is heavily reliant on water and is becoming increasingly vulnerable to water threats. It is also the major water consumer and a major polluter of the environment. Optimizing agricultural water management is thus critical to a profitable and sustainable agro-food sector. We, on a global scale is running short of clean, fresh water to feed a growing global population, assure sustainable development, and keep our planet healthy. There is insufficient water, as it is now managed, to maintain the world’s population and eradicate hunger and malnutrition. As a result, improved water management is critical to global food and nutrition security. Water is critical to achieving food security, which is described as the state in which all people have physical, social, and economic access to adequate, secure, and nutritious food to satisfy their dietary needs and food choices for an active and healthy life at all times. The major role of water in agriculture is diversified like water is crucial for irrigation, rain-fed agriculture, livestock raising, aquaculture, diversified intense farming along with post harvest practices like processing and storage. Irrigation is critical for enhancing food production and agricultural profitability while also improving resistance to weather uncertainty. Yet, water has an impact on food security and nutrition in different ways. More accurate irrigation management expands not just the quantity but also the variety of food that may be produced, including dry season crops and micro nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. Advances in the closeness and cleanliness of water sources, as well as water extraction technology, promote women’s empowerment and well-being while saving time and increasing health. Water and wastewater management that is effective decreases exposure to fecal pollution and the risk of infectious diseases.

Water in agriculture is central to feeding the planet, providing livelihoods, and building resilience to climate shocks and extremes. Yet, sustainable achievement of these objectives is threatened by growing demand for food and fiber, unsustainable resource use, and ever increasing climate volatility and change. Conflict for water resources is predicted to rise as a result of growing populations, urbanization, and climate change, with a particular impact on agriculture. Population is predicted to exceed 10 billion by 2050, and this population, whether urban or rural, will require food and fiber to fulfill its fundamental needs. When combined with the increasing intake of calories and more nutritious meals that comes with economic development in the developing nations, agricultural production need to be increased by 70% by 2050.

And indeed, future water demand from all sectors will necessitate re-allocating up to 40% of water from lower to higher productivity and employment activities, particularly in water-stressed regions. Because agriculture consumes the most water, such reallocation is most likely to come from agriculture. Agriculture currently accounts for 70% of all freshwater withdrawals globally (and an even larger percentage of “consumptive water usage” owing to crop evaporate-transpiration).

Practical Challenges for Water in Agriculture

Water management in agriculture is frequently complicated by ineffective regulations, significant institutional under-performance, and financial constraints. The water use efficiency need to be increased in order to manage water in agriculture.

Agriculture contributes significantly to water pollution, particularly through agricultural practices and activities that can deposit contaminants into bodies of water. While agriculture is necessary for food production and economic livelihoods, it may have a negative impact on water quality. Pollution may occur due to runoff of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, bacterial Contamination, manure can carry harmful bacteria, such as E. coli and Salmonella, which can contaminate water sources if not managed properly, soil erosion, sediment runoff, unman-aged irrigation and poor drainage, Concentration of Pollutants;Water applied for irrigation can pick up pollutants from the soil and carry them back into rivers or streams as return flows,this procedure pollutes freshwater sources with saltwater, leaving them unfit for irrigation or consumption.

In this way there are multiple ways in which agriculture pollutes the water resources along with the environment.

In order to mitigate the negative impacts of agriculture, sustainable agricultural methods and effective management strategies are vital for mitigating agriculture’s negative consequences on water pollution. Precision agriculture, decreased chemical usage, proper manure management, soil conservation methods, and the preservation of natural buffers such as wetlands and riparian zones are examples of these. Environmentally friendly agricultural techniques can also be encouraged by government rules and incentives. Ultimately, the objective is to strike a balance between agricultural output and environmental conservation in order to provide a reliable and clean water supply.

Moreover, most governments and water users must invest adequately in the maintenance of irrigation and drainage (I&D) systems. While inadequate management and operation may play a part in the poor performance of I&D systems, it is especially the failure to sufficiently maintain systems that results in their declining performance and the subsequent need for rehabilitation. This failure to provide adequate funds for maintenance of I&D systems has resulted in the negligence commonly observed in the sector.

To make a significant contribution to reducing hunger, water management, policy, and investments must overcome significant barriers. Increasing global population, economy, and urbanization are driving rapid and diverse rise in food and water demand, as well as increased competition for water within agriculture and across agricultural, household, and industrial applications. The world population is expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, with Africa and South Asia seeing the greatest expansion, where food security issues are the most severe. However, growing earnings and urbanization will drive up demand for meat and more nutritious meals, requiring more water for animal feed and more precise water management for fruits and vegetables.

Leave no one behind

This phrase highlights the importance of inclusion and fairness in maintaining food security and water access. It asks for a commitment to reaching out to all persons, particularly those who are disadvantaged or vulnerable, as well as addressing the core causes of hunger and water shortages. It is consistent with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, specifically Goal 2 (Zero Hunger) and Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), which seek to eradicate hunger and provide global access to clean water and sanitation.

Possible Management Strategies for Water

  • Climate policymakers must prioritize water in their action plans

Water management that is sustainable helps society adapt to climate change by increasing resilience, safeguarding health, and saving lives. It also helps to reduce climate change by conserving habitats and reducing carbon emissions associated with water and sewage transportation and treatment.

  • Politicians must cooperate across national borders to balance the water needs of communities, industry, agriculture and ecosystems.
  • New water resource management funding will be required to attract investment, generate jobs, and assist governments in meeting their water and climate goals.

Sustainable, affordable and scalable water solutions include

  1. Rainwater Harvesting  

Rainwater capture is especially important in areas with irregular rainfall distribution since it helps to build resilience to shocks and secure supply during dry periods. Rooftop collection for small-scale usage and surface dams to restrict run-off to prevent soil erosion and increase aquifer recharge.

  1. Adopting climate-smart agriculture

Utilizing conservation practices to build organic matter in the soil to promote soil moisture retention; drip irrigation; decreasing post-harvest losses and food waste; and converting trash into a source of nutrients or biofuels/biogas.

  1. Reusing waste-water

Unconventional water resources, such as controlled treated wastewater, can be used for agriculture, industrial, and municipal applications. Properly managed wastewater provides an economical and sustainable supply of water, energy, nutrients, and other recoverable resources.

  1. Harnessing groundwater

Groundwater is overused and contaminated in many locations; in others, it is an unknown volume. Discovering, preserving, and using groundwater in a sustainable manner is critical to adjusting to climate change and fulfilling the requirements of a growing population.

  1. Protecting natural buffers

Since the vegetation helps regulate water flow and binds the soil in flood plains, river banks, and coasts, coastal mangroves and wetlands are excellent and affordable natural barriers to floods, extreme weather events, and erosion.

The theme for 2023 “Water is Life, Water is Food, Leave no one behind” stresses the critical role of water for life on earth and water as the foundation of our food. World Food Day 2023 slogan emphasizes the inter-connectedness of water, food, and life while pushing for a more equitable and sustainable response to global food security and water concerns. It is a call to action to prioritize water management, sustainable agriculture, and humanitarian initiatives in order to leave no one behind in the pursuit of zero hunger and universal accessibility to clean water.