Food and water as if poor people mattered: a professional revolution
Hunger is an extreme sign of deprivation. Failures to eliminate hunger, and past errors of belief, are reason for humility and reappraisal. Hunger in the modern world is a problem not of production but of poverty, not of the total food available but of who produces it and who can command it. Normal professionalism is also part of the problem. To alleviate deprivation and hunger, professionals need to learn from and with those who are last - the poor - and to put their priorities first, including livelihoods and personal food security. Irrigation's benefits to the land-poor - the landless and those with little land - are easily underestimated. They can include higher production, employment on more days, higher daily wages, less need to migrate, and reduced risks. From canal irrigation benefits to the land-poor can be realised through redistribution of canal water; sliding scales of water entitlements; raising cropping intensities; more predictability and less hassle in water supply; and equitable land distribution. From groundwater, benefits to the land-poor can water; public policy with power tarrifs, spacing wells and tubewells; and trees as poor people's solar pumps. Last-first approaches can also be applied to drinking water, water for pastoralism, common property land, watershed development, energy, and agricultural research. Normal professionalism points away from these opportunities; to realise them, and enable the poor to overcome hunger and deprivation, demands new professionalism which puts the last first.