Water Youth Network at the First International Forum on Water Scarcity in Agriculture

The First International Forum on Water Scarcity in Agriculture held from March 19th  to 22nd 2019 in Praia (Capo Verde) at National Assembly was the opportunity to gather 200 scientists, politicians, academics, engineers, entrepreneurs, civil society members, NGOs, associations, and citizens to discuss and exchange practical, innovative, and collaborative solutions to water scarcity in agriculture in times of a changing climate and humanity. The forum focused on small Island developing states (SIDS) and West African countries and how to turn water scarcity issues into opportunity for sustainable development and food and nutrition security.

WYN member Lako Stephane served on two different panels during the conference

The forum was organized under the patronage of the Government of Capo Verde in collaboration with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Ministry of Agricultural Food, Forestry and Tourism Policies of Italy (MIPAAFT), the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG), and the Global Framework on Water Scarcity in Agriculture (WASAG).

Following the Concept note of the forum, this forum focused on ten main activities: i) Field visit in the Santiago Island, ii) Opening Ceremony at the National Assembly, iii) Technical sessions on the six main working fields of WASAG, iv) Poster session, v) Parallel sessions vi) special session on the way forward to World Water Forum Dakar 2021, vii) exhibition viii) Celebration of the World Water Day ix) WASAG Working groups meeting and x) Closing ceremony.

The Water Youth Network participation to this forum was prepared by Ursula Wilberg Costa (IWRM team) and Lako Stephane (DRR and Partnership). As a member of WASAG and active member of two working groups (Water and migration & drought preparedness), the Water Youth Network, represented by the WASAG Focal Point (Lako Stephane) attended two sessions as a panelist (“drought as an opportunity” and “dialogue for interlinkages assessment of the water and migration nexus in rural environments”). We also supported the reporting of two other sessions (“side event on innovations” and “towards the 9th World water Forum, Dakar 2021”), participated the field visit in the Santiago Island (main Island of Capo Verde having 50% of its area and population as well as Praia, the capital which is facing the second consecutive drought-year, with zero rainfall).

We organized and pushed for a youth meeting at Praia with interesting discussion on adequate, functional low cost technologies to address water scarcity and the potential of young professionals and early career researchers to support WASAG goals (10 youths from Capo Verde, Cameroon, Ghana, Togo, Senegal, Vietnam, Holland, USA).

WYN members and other delegates at a field visit



From the engaging discussions, with diverse and enthusiastic participants, some of the highlights were:

  • Addressing water scarcity needs to include both high technology and low technology with the idea of building on existing, long-lasting solutions
  • Migration is a historic and common adaptation strategy. It is driven by many social, environmental, economic, natural, behavioral, and conjunctural factors
  • Smart engineering and renewable clean energy can help reduce water investment costs
  • There is an urgent need to find ways to channel all the science, research, policy, and programs to end users ;
  • Droughts and floods are interrelated; dry years are generally followed by heavy floods. Stakeholders from all parts of hydroclimatic risk management must start talking to each other
  • Pro-active planning across sectors at all levels and early warning  are prominent adaptive strategies with great impact on the resilience and sustainable development of communities
  • Groundwater, desalination, crop genetics, soil management, appropriate agricultural practices, sound water allocation, and management as well as productive natural resources seems to be the way out for water scarce environments
  • Water scarcity is the next global challenge of this 21st century, it addresses demographics, food, water, cooperation, and natural resource use issues and works across sector
  • The Global framework for Water scarcity in agriculture needs youth to join the framework and support working groups
  • New priority areas of the World Water Forum 2021 leading to Four working groups are: i) Water security ii) Water cooperation, iii) Water and Rural development and iv) Means and tools for governance.


A PRAIA COMMITMENT was produced and published. It clearly states that good governance, blending of resources, innovation in all fields, collaboration, advocacy, climate smart approaches, data production and use, sustainability, high value of natural resources, focus on rural livelihoods, vulnerable and community-based responses are key to address water scarcity.

Youth, as the Praia Commitment states, “as future stewards for land and water, are at the forefront of implementing innovative solutions.”

The main conclusions of this forum will be showcase at Stockholm Water Week 2019 at a special WASAG Session.

Water Youth Network engagement in many sessions and in formulating statements both for working groups and the Praia Commitment was very much appreciated. We are grateful to all FAO staff who supported our participation and all Capo Verdian residents and friends who made our stay a very pleasant one. We are looking forward for the second forum pleaded for by the cap-verdian Prime Minister.


More pictures from the forum here (flickr)

Blog prepared by: Lako Stephaneand Ursula Wilberg Costa

Edited by: Sara Löwgren