Food Systems African Deltas

Deltas in Africa are under pressure because they are often densely populated and host a multitude of functions. Deltas offer many economic opportunities but these areas also face many challenges, including the availability of food at affordable prices, health and sanitation, water management, urban planning, etc. Using the Nile Delta as an example, the food system is linked to the water system.

Delta regions make a strong contribution to food production and other ecosystem services. However, they are also particularly vulnerable to the effects of development and climate change, including water shortage (droughts) and flooding (floods), salinity, acidity, humidity, land subsidence-sea-level rise, pests and other diseases. Deltas are economic hotspots, where many functions coincide and where many people live. Therefore, there is often a high population pressure and a high land use pressure. Availability of fresh water of sufficient quality and maximisation of the use of saline areas is an essential component of food systems in deltas. Therefore, the link between the 'food system' and the 'water system' is essential.

Wageningen U&R, together with multiple stakeholders, is investigating new "transition paths" for resilient food systems in "Deltas Under Pressure". Tools are being developed to support these transitions, connecting field, farm, regional and national levels to enhance future food security. This project complements this.

Furthermore, this project contributes to the background documentation of the UN World Food Systems Summit (2021) by researching deltas in Africa, using the Nile Delta as an example. Although the Nile Delta is not fully representative of deltas in Africa, it is pre-eminently a delta where biophysical delta characteristics combine with economic interests, a very dense population and limited water supply. The various components of the current food system, including drivers and outcomes, are studied in relation to the water system. The output of the study will be policies for a sustainable water-for-food system. An expected outcome is also an identification of how Egypt will need to adapt the food system in the coming decades. There is collaboration with the Delta Alliance in studying other African deltas to identify, in a similar way, the inter-relationship of the food system and water system.