When you sit down to your next meal, take a look at your plate. How much water do you see? The obvious answer might be “little” or “none”. But the surprising truth is you are likely consuming thousands of liters of water every time you sit down for a quick bite.
Estimates suggest the average American consumes an amazing 3,496 liters, or 924 gallons, of water every single day. That’s over 14,500 glasses of water per a person, per a day. And that represents the amount of water needed to produce the food we eat.
Experts tell us that current levels of water consumption are simply not sustainable as the global population continues to grow and climate and environmental changes impact available water resources. Projections suggest that between 2000 and 2050 water demand will increase by 55 percent globally, meaning that the number of people impacted by water scarcity and stress will continue to rise. Already, approximately 2.8 billion people—more than 40 percent of the world’s population—live in river basins impacted by water scarcity.
What’s more, food and agricultural production—which accounts for 70 percent of all water use—is also on the decline and threatening the global food supply. As the global water resources become increasingly scarce, we must learn how to adapt to a new reality. In part, this means learning how to do more with less. Learning to use available water better, learning how to store water more efficiently, and learning how to grow more food using less water.
At USAID, we believe that we must mobilize the global community into action around this critical development challenge. We believe that we must learn how to do more with less so that all people have enough to eat and that science and technology are at the root of a sustainable, scalable solution to the global water challenge.
That’s why on September 2, 2013, at the opening session of World Water Week, we announced Securing Water for Food: A Grand Challenge for Development. This $25 million Challenge will identify, source and bring to scale promising new low-cost innovations that use existing water resources more efficiently, improve water capture and storage technology, and reduce salinity of existing resources to ensure new sources of water for agricultural production in the communities USAID and Sida serve.
On November 19, USAID released the first call for proposals for the Challenge. During this first round of the Challenge, the Founding Partners aim to provide up to $15 million to fund entrepreneurs, businesses, innovators and scientists that are seeking to launch a new innovation or to expand an existing business in new markets.
Eligible applicants are invited to submit concept notes from now through January 17, 2014. For full application details, go to: www.securingwaterforfood.org.
Securing Water for Food is the latest in USAID’s series of Grand Challenges for Development which seeks out innovative new technologies to critical development challenges. Learn more about USAID’s Grand Challenges for Development.
Follow @SecuringWater to get the latest news and updates about the Challenge.
This article first appeared on the USAID blog, and is reproduced with permission.