Africa should mobilize water resources as part of anti-hunger efforts, according to the United Nations (UN). As the world struggles to feed a burgeoning population, Africa's use of water resources for agriculture is a small fraction of its potential and must be expanded to address poverty on the continent, the UN food production agency reports.

Africa uses just 5 percent of its total renewable water resources for agriculture, compared with 20 percent of the total in Asia. Just 7 percent of Africa's total arable land is irrigated, against 42 percent in South Asia and 36 percent in East and Southeast Asia, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) said.

“Recent research shows that growth in agriculture is the most beneficial for the poor, of all economic sectors,” FAO's Louise Fresco told a major continental conference on water for food and ecosystems in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. “We, therefore, still have a great potential and opportunity to address the needs of Africa in food, poverty reduction and ecosystems,” the FAO assistant director-general said, adding that Africa must “continue to invest in unlocking the potential of its diversified agricultural systems - in rain-fed agriculture, irrigation and mixed systems.” She noted that advances in food production have been offset by pollution and called for African countries “to harmonize the needs for food and ecosystems through sustainable water management.”