Food, Energy, and Water Security (FEWS)

There are deep links at the macro and micro scales between food, energy, and water security. We are working to understand these connections through both field projects and modeling. A major thrust of this work is understanding the role irrigation does or could play in food and nutrition security in both developing and developed regions.

A decade of work with the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) in Northern Benin design and evaluating village-scale solar-powered drip irrigation systems has shown in detail how irrigation can break the low-productivity trap created by seasonal precipitation to improve food security and raise incomes (PNAS 2010, World Development 2012), improve nutrition (FNB 2016) in an area where it is really needed (PHN forthcoming), and even empower women. We are currently finishing evaluation of the scale-up phase of this project to 10 villages and thousands of beneficiaries. The punchline is that in sub-Saharan Africa we think that investments in renewables-based irrigation could be an effective and economical mechanism for simultaneously addressing a number of issues (PNAS 2013).

We were recently awarded an NSF/NIFA INFEWS (Innovations at the Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Systems) grant to model California's linked ag-water-energy systems at present and under climate change in the near future (summary here). This project builds on our current work (ES&T 2017) to understand the water-food connections in the Central Valley, as well as methods infer and detect groundwater withdrawals at policy-relevant scales.


Current Projects:

  • Full food security impacts (and pathways) of the Solar Market Garden (Halima Alaofe, Doug Taren, Roz Naylor)
  • Hydrological variability as a driver of land and water use in California (UCSD/UCI/UCD INFEWS team)
  • Comparison of methods to estimate groundwater withdrawals at policy relevant scales in the Central Valley (Adrian Borsa, Wes Neely)