Water is a key global resource. This book, subtitled 'a comprehensive
assessment of water management in agriculture' is an attempt
to produce a workable summary of the water needs in one area.
Although the topic is well known there have been very few recent
attempts at something on this scale and as such this book should
be seen alongside global assessments of biodiversity and global
warming as a key publication. Of course, the scope is one thing
and the actual production is another.
start with the preface which outlines the basis of the study
and the 10 key questions they sought to answer. A summary provides
a very useful overview of the research. The basis for discussion
here is the simple question of whether there will be enough
water. The response - yes, but - takes the remainder of the
book to answer in detail. It might be tempting to either stop
at this or to ignore it but in reality the reader should do
neither because subsequent chapters provide a wealth of detail
and the summary is a very useful guide to an otherwise lengthy
report. The remainder of the text is divided into four unequal
parts. The first part/chapter covers the study methodology and
the key concepts behind it. There is also discussion on the
limitations of the study and the ways in whih the best outcome
can be found. This is important to note - the study is aimed
at solutions not just research. Part two focusses on trends
and scenario building. The aim here is to look at how we got
into ouyr current situation and what it might be like in 2050.
A range of drivers are outlined and the diversity of solutions
are also given credence. Part three acknowledges that water
is not a solo issue but one linked to a range of other areas.
The idea of chapter four is that the relationship between development,
water, agriculture and poverty is neither simple nor easy -
it's a highly complex web where not all the parts are understood.
Chapter five takes this uncertainty and complexity and tries
to make a policy and reform framework from it. Chapter six tackles
the idea of excess. The problem with water is that it is rarely
sufficient to just add it to soil to find a solution. It's the
idea that irrigatiuon and drainage go together that confuses
students and yet the damage that overuse of the water resource
can do is often ignored. Here we have a review of the problems
caused by over-abstraction of water which range from altered
watercourses to change in water quality. Chapter seven works
on the idea that water supply is fixed and therefore it's best
to use what we have more productively. Part four tackles a range
of thematic issues - specific areas of water use and management
that are seen as crucial to the managed development of the resource.
Topics covered range from rainfed agriculture (making do with
natural resources in drier areas) to irrigation (better use
of technology) and river basin development (holistic appraoch
to sustainalbe use).
is a remarkable text on many levels. For those seeking more
information this book has a wealth of detail. There are numerous
maps, data tables, diagrams and images which provide statistics
and case studies. Those wishing for a readable account of a
complex theme will be delighted in the production ideas in the
book. The initial summary is a vital resource. Chapters start
with an overview where the degree of certainty in statements
is often explicit. End-of-chapter notes, summaries and references
make follow-up easy. This, backed some very impressive full-colour
production techniques makes it a very accessible resource. The
assessment itself is a very interesting methodology an the focus
of practical solutions and sustainability goals mean that the
book becomes a possible reality rather than a dry tome or polemic
which it could easily become. Overall, one of the most remarkable
books on this topic - it should become a classic text and a
necessity in the library. The first must-buy book of 2007.