Water Smart Agriculture (WaSA) - CARE
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Water Smart Agriculture (WaSA)

Water Smart Agriculture (WaSA) supports smallholder farmers to integrate soil and water management to increase agricultural productivity and enhance conservation of natural resources.


By 2050, farmers will have to produce 70% more food to feed a growing global population projected to reach 9.7 billion – all without exceeding current levels of water withdrawals. The vast majority of the world’s farmers are smallholder famers: those that farm just a few acres, or less, of land. These farmers will need to increase food production while facing increasing climate variability, recurrent dry spells and droughts, low water productivity, and degrading soil health that no longer holds sufficient moisture. A deliberate focus on female smallholder farmers and increasing their productivity, efficiency, and sustainability is needed to safeguard their productivity, and protect food and water security for a large proportion of the global population.

The term “Water Smart Agriculture” (WaSA) was coined by CARE during action research undertaken from 2013 to 2015 as part of the Global Water Initiative in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Uganda. WaSA techniques are soil-smart, rainfall-smart, and (if applicable) irrigation-smart.

more food will have to be produced by 2050 to feed a growing global population

WaSA is an approach to efficiently harvesting, storing, and channeling green water throughout the year, regardless of season. Rather than hoping for rain to water fields, rural poor farmers with constrained resources can harvest rain when it comes and use less water year-round. This alone can double incomes for farmers, who no longer have to rely solely on incomes from rainy season farming but can plant, grow, and harvest during the dry season as well.

WaSA is not a new concept. It draws from water-related interventions of well-known approaches, particularly Climate Smart Agriculture, sustainable agriculture, and conservation agriculture. However, WaSA draws attention to access to water for production, including increasing the soil’s capacity to absorb and store moisture (green water), rainwater harvesting and storage, wastewater reuse, and supplementary small-scale irrigation. In doing so, WaSA emphasizes collaboration across the water and agriculture sectors in order to ensure increased investment in smallholder agriculture and efficient use of water for production, with a more pointed goal of increasing water access for production among smallholder farmers, and increasing yields, incomes, food security, and nutrition.


Water-Smart Agriculture in Uganda

2017 TOPS case study on Water Smart Agriculture and food security in Uganda.

Read the case study on FSN Network

Water-Smart Agriculture in East Africa

This 356-page sourcebook was produced under the Global Water Initiative program and is a starting point for thinking and inspiring efforts.

Read More

WaSA Learning Brief

This 3-page learning brief covers the basics of WaSA, an approach to efficiently harvest, store, access and utilize water throughout the year.

Read More

Tools for an equitable and food secure future

An article on how women in CARE’s Pathways programs in Mali, Malawi, and Ghana are using Water Smart Agriculture for an equitable and food secure future.

Read the article on SPORE