ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Managing water for food and human security in South Asia


Fennnell Shailaja - UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE, Centre of South Asian Studies and Department of Land Economy, Cambridge, United Kingdom


46 – Sustainable Regeneration of Water Infrastructures: An Invitation to Forge Interdisciplinary Governance & Policy Design Thinking


 The natural disasters ravaging countries in the South Asian region play out through the medium of water. There are increasingly frequent periods of protracted drought and floods as climate change affects the Hindu Kush Himalaya mountain ranges: the Indus Basin Irrigation System has experienced a reduction in the glacial area covered since the 1970s due to atmospheric warming (Lancet, 2020). In the face of these repeated natural disasters, it becomes difficult to ensure food security and fears have been exacerbated by the breakdown in global supply chains triggered by national lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

There are knock on effects for human security in the region, as the current floods are not just a grave concern because they have destroyed the livelihoods of the affected communities, they have resulted in additional flows of migration as communities are no longer reside in locations unable to ensure their survival: following on from the waves of additional deaths within these communities, The global pandemic provided new insights into how communities might be able to adapt: through incentives for smallholders, particularly women, to increase their income and to encourage them to move to other crops (e.g., millets) that survive in drier climates and withstand higher temperatures- introduced and disseminated with the participation and stewardship of local communities could create alternative approaches to improve food and human security in South Asia.