Our food and water security is facing multiple threats due to climate change and environmental factors. But conflict is another important factor for concerns about the security of these resources. With global food inflation already at a record high, the Ukrainian-Russian crisis is exacerbating these pressures by raising fuel prices and reducing food supplies, exacerbating the resource problem.

What is food and water security?

Food and water are two basic necessities for all life on Earth, including humans. Survival without them would be impossible, and the presence of these resources makes this planet habitable. Food and water are essential for social, economic, environmental and political activities. However, not everyone is lucky enough to receive them clean, of good quality and in sufficient quantities daily.

But water systems are becoming more vulnerable to rising global demand for water, facing the threat of pollution and natural disasters such as floods and droughts. Many of the world’s river basins are under threat due to poor management of the water resources available in these regions, threatening the ecosystem and raising concerns about water availability. The threat of water scarcity is very real and urgent, as half of global pollution potentially occurs in water-stressed areas due to already in 2025.

Water security is the ability to protect sustainable access in enough water adequate quality necessary to sustain livelihoods, well-being and socio-economic activities for development. Given the growing fear and impacts of climate change, it is important that we have sustainable sources of water, not just enough water to withstand the various factors that affect availability. With proper resource management, achieving water security will not be a pipe dream; in 2020, 74% of the world’s population have access to a safe drinking water source with clean, uncontaminated water available to them when they need it.

Another reason why water security is a major concern is that it contributes directly to food security. Safe water is essential not only for drinking or daily needs, but also for food production and agriculture. Water security is closely related to food security, as water is a basic element of agriculture and crop productivity. Ensuring food security regular access to healthy, nutritious and sufficient food through physical and economic means. Availability, access, use and stability of access are very important attributes of food security as defined World Food Summit in 1996. Food can be supplied either through domestic production or through imports, while ensuring access to food through adequate resources, including the cultural and traditional rights of specific communities. The use aspect concerns services that complement each other to achieve a particular state of nutritional well-being. Stability of access as well as availability are critical to achieving food security.

The state of food security in the world is currently vulnerable due to various social, political, environmental and economic shocks that have occurred. There seems to be some confusion as to whether food security is related to a production crisis or a supply crisis. But it should be clear: there is enough food to feed everyone in the world. A lot of food is wasted around the world, especially in developed countries, leading to global food inequalities. The EU, UK and US throw away tons of food, and only a quarter of their food goes to waste. enough to feed the hungry.

One of the main concerns is the structure or design of our food systems. They are inherently vicious, and it is a vicious circle of production, overproduction, waste generation leading to environmental problems, which in turn worsen the condition of our farms and agricultural processes, and the cycle continues. There is an urgent need to develop large-scale sustainable production systems. Overfishing is yet another contributing factor to our concern about water security, as it endangers marine life and ecosystems, exacerbating food and climate problems.

Factors contributing to water insecurity are also among the main drivers of food insecurity. Climate change and extreme events have a huge impact on growing and harvesting opportunities, as well as the quality of food produced. Economic crises or recessions, population growth and conflicts can have the greatest impact on global food security. According to economist Thomas Malthus, as population grows, the world will begin to face a shortage of resources. At the same time, thanks to technological progress, people have been able to produce much more than they need, and therefore availability is no longer an issue. In addition, conflicts and wars can trigger situations in which millions of people go hungry and become internally displaced, with little or no access to clean and safe food and water.

food price inflation, food and water securitySource: Food and Agriculture Organization

The impact of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict on global food and water security

Many countries are still recovering from the severe public health and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. During which food prices rose and world food inflation soared. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the world’s two main breadbaskets, has heightened these concerns about food security and rising food inflation. This has led to increased uncertainty and short-term volatility in food supply and availability, as the two countries are among the three largest exporters wheat, corn, rapeseed, sunflower seeds, oil and barley in the world. The Russo-Ukrainian war has caused major disruptions in harvesting and sowing, logistics and at various levels in food supply chains, as well as damage to crops and the destruction of agricultural infrastructure and basic resources.

Along with various food crops, Russia is also a major exporter of fertilizers needed for food production. The rise in fertilizer prices directly affects the rise in gas prices, since it is an important component of agricultural production; thus, higher fertilizer input prices contribute to food price inflation.

Low- and middle-income or least developed countries are heavily dependent on imports of wheat and other commodities from Russia and Ukraine. They will also be the ones who will be hit the hardest by rising import bills, leading to even more domestic food inflation. According to the World Bank Food Security UpdateThe ongoing conflict in Eastern Europe has had a changing impact on patterns of trade, production and consumption, and as such, the effects of food inflation could continue until the end of 2024.

food and water securitySource: Food and Agriculture Organization

In many countries, people will struggle to eat healthy and nutritious food due to declining food supplies, rising food prices and declining real wages. Consumption patterns may shift towards less expensive food substitutes and growth in demand for these, in addition to other variables such as rising fuel and fertilizer prices, may push their prices up depending on the degree of substitutability.

It is not known how long it will take to restore food stocks to pre-conflict levels. The degree of destruction, the effectiveness of international initiatives and assistance, and the speed with which Ukrainian farmers can be trained and deployed on farms will play a key role.

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