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Irrigation (areas of concern)

Irrigation enables farmers to increase crop production by reducing their dependence on natural rainfall. It is considered a vital part of ensuring food security in the future. Yet it also causes extensive environmental damage and undermines human resilience to water scarcity. Irrigation is responsible for 70 % of all freshwater withdrawals in the globe. Human induced salinisation is a widespread problem as around 30 % of irrigated land are affected and becoming commercially unproductive. This layer displays the areas of concern for irrigation related issues, derived from the convergence of global evidence of human-environment interactions that can have land degradation consequences.

RCoE Action:

Cherlet, M., Hutchinson, C., Reynolds, J., Hill, J., Sommer, S., von Maltitz, G. (Eds.), World Atlas of Desertification, Publication Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2018.


This layer does not map the area that is actually irrigated. Concerns can be validated or dismissed only by evaluating them within their local biophysical, social, economic and political contexts. Local context provides an understanding of causes and consequences of degradation, but also offers guidance for efforts to control or reverse it.

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