Next generation irrigation and water management for the Asia-Pacific

FAO next generation irrigation

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN FAO) is implementing the Next Generation Irrigation and Water Management for the Asia-Pacific Program (NextGen Program) under the auspice of the multilateral UN FAO-DFAT-AWP Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which was established in December 2017.

The overarching program will modernise Asia’s irrigation systems and water management practices to help the FAO Member States achieve long-term, sustainable food security. The Program comprises of three activities focusing on:

  • gender, water and food synergies in support of the Sustainable Development Goals. This project will develop knowledge, capacity building and guidance on ways in which water management can be gender transformative and positively influence food security in Myanmar. The project will directly support action towards Goal 2 (zero hunger), Goal 6 (water management) and Goal 5 (gender equality and empowerment of women and girls) in Myanmar;
  • modernising irrigated agriculture to protect and restore aquatic biodiversity and ecosystem services in the Indo-Pacific. The project will develop the tools, country-specific guidelines, regional lessons, and in-country capacities required to more systematically include biodiversity and ecosystem service considerations in irrigation rehabilitation, extension and modernisation programs in South-east Asia; and
  • irrigation performance assessments to utilise emerging technologies and tools to benchmark irrigation system performance in Cambodia and guide decision-making around water operations, water sharing and infrastructure renewal or expansion. This project will lay the foundation for the development of an ongoing irrigation system performance assessment framework in Cambodia, with potential application across other developing countries in Asia and beyond. By utilising recent advances in remote sensing in combination with traditional ground survey and validation monitoring, the framework will assist the Cambodia Ministry of Economics and Finance and the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology to track effectiveness of investment, helping to build confidence of investors in water infrastructure projects and prioritise capital works for economic, social and environmental benefits.

The activities under the NextGen Program are being implemented by Australian Partners – the Institute of Sustainable Futures (University of Technology Sydney), Charles Sturt University, and Blackwatch Consulting. The innovative program will ensure systematic cross-fertilisation of results and broad impact across the Indo-Pacific region. The influence of the program will be broader than the three individual activities as resources, information and lessons learned are shared throughout FAO offices in 42 countries so that key lessons can be adopted into broader programs.


Photo: Local woman walking in the rice fields near Lac Village, Mai Chau valley, Vietnam (credit: studiolaska).

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