Our water footprints have gone global. The drivers include modern agribusiness and the unprecedented reach of value chains. Those living where rain falls or rivers flow may give little thought to the water demands of their lifestyles. Others do not have that privilege. Worldwide, people’s water uses contribute to an increasingly complex web of “virtual” water flows implied in agricultural production, trade, and investment. This datablog entry introduces some of the water issues of global market-driven agricultural investment in developing countries.
Growing flowers and vegetables for export is a vital source of revenue for Kenya and other East African countries. It provides jobs for local people, including women, and creates market channels for small-scale farmers to sell their crops. But working conditions and employment terms must be improved. Moreover, the industry is a major water consumer, competing for declining river water with other uses. This is a problem during the dry season, which corresponds with Europe's winter. Near Mt Kenya, the sector is shifting from using river water to relying more on stored water and boreholes.