A new 25-country study has demonstrated a strong link between water and food insecurity, suggesting water may be key to addressing hunger.
The data for the study was collected by Northwestern University and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) via the Gallup World Poll in 2020. The researchers analysed data from a sample of 31,000 individuals across 25 low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
The study found that individuals experiencing water insecurity were up to 3 times more likely to experience food insecurity. The study also found that of those who experienced water insecurity at the time of the poll, 68.9% were also experiencing food insecurity.
The strong link between water and food insecurity suggests that improved access to water should be a key element of strategies to ensure food security. “Water insecurity is a major global health issue and its impact on biological and social well-being is only likely to grow with climate change, said Hilary Bethancourt, a member of the research team at Northwestern University. “These data suggest that we have just seen the tip of the iceberg in terms of understanding the role that water insecurity plays in food, nutrition, and well-being in general”.
Based on the findings, the researchers suggest that water and food insecurity should be addressed in tandem. Adopting an integrated approach would ensure that water insecurity does not pose and additional barrier to food insecurity.
Bethancourt presented the findings at Nutrition 2022, an annual event of the American Society for Nutrition which took place between 14-18 June.