In a Call to Action on September 21st 2016, the eleven Heads of Government and State and Special Adviser who make up the UN/World Bank High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) called for more innovation as part of a fundamental shift in the way the world looks at water. Leaders specifically made an appeal for the launch of challenge events, to stimulate thinking that will shift the needle in implementing a new water agenda. Heeding this call, the Government of Australia and other partners (including the World Bank) are launching the Water Data Challenge. This challenge aims to improve the access to information that is so crucial to ensuring that farmers thrive – especially in lower-income settings – and water resources are managed well.
With the greater part of the world’s water consumption used for farming, publicly available and accessible data on water are of paramount importance in agriculture. This is true not only for growing crops, but also for the efficient use of scarce water in the short and long-run.
Current estimates show that the world may face a 40% shortfall in water availability by 2030. Managing water resources is, therefore, critical for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In developing countries, relevant data on water quantity and quality often are non-existent, not well organized, and not affordable. Consequently, farmers cannot make well-informed decisions on daily operations or investments, resulting in sub-optimal harvests and overuse of valuable water. For these reasons, we are seeking new data, approaches and technologies to organize, disclose and distribute water data to farmers.
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