HC Deb 25 March 1998 vol 309 c178W
26 Mrs. Fyfe

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what plans she has to increase assistance to irrigation projects. [34654]

Clare Short

Agricultural irrigation has a vital role to play in ensuring future food security, and brings with it direct and indirect benefits, the latter mainly through employment, to poor people. 2.4 billion people living in developing countries depend directly on irrigated agriculture for food. This number will increase. Two thirds of all water extracted from rivers and aquifers is used for irrigation. In developing countries the proportion is even higher. There is increasing awareness of the finite nature of water as a resource, and increasing competition for the use of that water.

This issue and the general question of sustainable water management will be the subject of the meeting of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development in New York in April.