The Stream, March 22: World Water Day 2011

The New York Times compares the water markets and policies of Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin and California’s San Joaquin Valley. Will California’s farmers follow in the footsteps of their Australian counterparts, who made far-reaching changes to their water practices in response to a dire 12-year drought?

Agriculture, Industry
In a sobering article, the Guardian‘s John Vidal describes how Ethiopia came at the center of a global rush to buy or lease cheap farmland for growing oil palm, sugar cane, rice, maize, cotton and other crops. Ethiopia is one of the world’s largest recipients of humanitarian food and development aid, but offers millions hectares of fertile land to foreign corporations.

Right or wrong, the land grabs are quite ingenious schemes, when you think about it. But water scarcity is also encouraging innovation in water technology, and stoking a flourishing “blue tech” economy that is driving innovators, entrepreneurs and investors into the water industry.

World Water Day 2011 Summit
On the sidelines of a summit for World Water Day 2011, a new United Nations report warns that African cities need to invest in greener water infrastructure in order to meet the growing demands of their burgeoning urban populations.

In another statement, the United Nations said that Iraq loses 50 percent of its water resources to seepage, leakage and wastage due to system inefficiencies, and fails to provide clean drinking water for 6 million of its citizens, AFP reports.

Natural Disasters
The devastating earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan earlier this month could be the costliest natural disaster ever, according to provisional estimates released by the World Bank. This infographic in The Economist ranks the world’s most economically damaging natural catastrophes since 1965.

In the wake of Japan’s humanitarian crisis, experts at the United Nations forum in Canada have called for more preventive action to tackle water disasters, such as the deadly floods that hit Japan, Australia, Brazil, South Africa and Sri Lanka this year.

The Stream is a daily digest spotting global water trends. To get more water news, follow Circle of Blue on Twitter and sign up for our newsletter.

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