Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

The Water Governance Scorecard: Identifying How to Make Water More Accessible for Agricultural Use

In USAID’s discussions on the role of water vis-à-vis resilience, technical focus often falls within the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) realm. As key issues like water quality are most closely associated with sanitation, it is easy to see how water discussions would situate at the household-level and take on a direct health focus.

Looking at water within the domain of agriculture, however, reveals additional perspectives on water’s role in resilience considerations. Sustained access to reliable, fresh water is a precondition for smallholder farmers to improve yields and boost productivity. It is also an area of enabling environment concern. The need to efficiently allocate a country’s water resources for agricultural use reveals the centrality of effectively managing, regulating, and protecting water resources at the national level.

To help bridge water discussions between the WASH realm and agriculture sector, the Feed the Future Enabling Environment for Food Security project recently developed the Water Governance Scorecard, a new technical resource that engages publicly available datasets on Feed the Future focus countries’ national water system governance practices as they relate to agricultural production.

Through presenting data on agricultural water resources, use, and institutional governance performance, the Scorecard looks at water within the agriculture sector and agricultural investment. For example, water quality—central to the WASH sphere—in the context of agriculture factors in via standards for irrigation. As depicted in data from the World Bank’s Enabling the Business of Agriculture’s water indicator set, countries without prescribed water quality standards for irrigation receive lower performance scores. Another dataset sheds light on water-related investment issues, such as assessing the percentage of a country’s cultivated area equipped for irrigation.

For USAID Missions, the Water Governance Scorecard provides both evidence-based benchmarking information on water governance as well as value in assessing resilience vis-à-vis national water system governance and use in agricultural production. Missions may use the Scorecard to take stock of water governance successes as well as potential performance gaps and identify opportunities for improvement.

Readers may access the Water Governance Scorecard here.