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Sustainability 2015, 7(6), 6435-6456;

The Water Footprint of Food Aid

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 205 N. Mathews, Urbana, IL 61801, USA
University of Twente, P.O. Box 217, 7500-AE Enschede, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 26 February 2015 / Revised: 30 April 2015 / Accepted: 15 May 2015 / Published: 26 May 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Water Footprints and Sustainable Water Allocation)
Full-Text   |   PDF [531 KB, uploaded 26 May 2015]   |  


Food aid is a critical component of the global food system, particularly when emergency situations arise. For the first time, we evaluate the water footprint of food aid. To do this, we draw on food aid data from theWorld Food Programme and virtual water content estimates from WaterStat. We find that the total water footprint of food aid was 10 km3 in 2005, which represents approximately 0.5% of the water footprint of food trade and 2.0% of the water footprint of land grabbing (i.e., water appropriation associated with large agricultural land deals). The United States is by far the largest food aid donor and contributes 82% of the water footprint of food aid. The countries that receive the most water embodied in aid are Ethiopia, Sudan, North Korea, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. Notably, we find that there is significant overlap between countries that receive food aid and those that have their land grabbed. Multivariate regression results indicate that donor water footprints are driven by political and environmental variables, whereas recipient water footprints are driven by land grabbing and food indicators. View Full-Text
Keywords: ood aid; water footprint; virtual water; water savings; water grabbing ood aid; water footprint; virtual water; water savings; water grabbing

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Jackson, N.; Konar, M.; Hoekstra, A.Y. The Water Footprint of Food Aid. Sustainability 2015, 7, 6435-6456.

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