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This project website is intended to grow continually as more countries participate and more worldwide users contribute with their feedback. In this sense, it should continue to be "under construction".

This website has been revised and managed by Sachimine Masui (Associate Professional Officer, AGLL) and Jacques Antoine (Senior Officer, AGLL), project manager of Gateway to Land and Water Information.


As an important result of the World Food Summit in November 1996, a major thrust of FAO's Mid-term Programme is food security and nutrition within the framework of sustainable agricultural and rural development (SARD). SARD has identified the sustainable management and use of the available natural resources and the environment as both a prerequisite and a means of achieving food security.

The 15th session of the FAO Committee on Agriculture (COAG), in January 1999, emphasized the importance of land and water resources assessment and monitoring at all levels for food security and SARD.

Countries need to improve their ability to plan and monitor the use of their land and water resources in order to increase agricultural productivity while maintaining land and water quality through better use and management of these resources. They need to establish land and water resources information systems capable of providing a variety of information on the status of land and water resources in support of sound decision-making for the use and sustainable management of these resources.

At regional and global levels, FAO and other international institutions need to project and monitor the capacity to produce the food required in the future and also the domestic potential in the least developed countries with inadequate food supplies and limited market demand. For assessment of the situation, projections and decisions, consistent and easily accesible information is needed by member countries and the international community. Country-level information on land and water is the foundation for national planning and also provides the building blocks for regional and global systems monitoring food security and the health of the planet.

This information must not only be gathered but also transferred to the users, including decision-makers, planners, scientists and rural land users. The Committee recognized the need for periodic reporting on the state of the world's land and water resources synthesizing information from the vast amounts of existing data, maps, statistics and documents. Such reporting should enhance awareness about land and water development problems and facilitate decisions on the sustainable use of land and water.

It is the primary responsibility of Member Nations themselves to collect information and prepare the reports. FAO has a role in supporting methods and data standards, ensuring consistency of information and promoting the exchange and dissemination of information.

This is the context within which the Land and water Development Division of FAO (AGL), as part of its normative programme, is collaborating with other FAO units, national institutions and other partners in building up an information base and reporting framework on monitoring and assessing the sustainability and vulnerability of present use of land and water resources in relation to food security, as well as the related aspects of national policies and policy instruments.

The purpose of these efforts is to enhance the capacity of countries to monitor the state of land and freshwater resources in terms of availability, scarcity, quality and trends in use in order to facilitate sound decisions on their sustainable use worldwide. The reports are to be prepared by country and by region. They are to be compiled in the form of a digital atlas to be made available through the Internet and on CD-ROM. The national report is addressed to planners and decision-makers in government ministries, to donor agencies, researchers and University students, but also to the public at large.

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Last updated: 21 March 2003