Event overview

This webinar explored the implications of Covid-19 on global water and food security and how water planning can best incorporate the critical uncertainties that pandemics bring.


  • Introduction: Marisa Escobar, Water Program Director, SEI
  • Panel discussion moderated by Annette Huber-Lee, Senior Scientist, SEI.
    • Lahcen Kenny , PhD, Professor, Departement d’Horticulture, Institut Agronomique et Vétérinaire Hassan II, Agadir, Morocco
    • Laura Forni, Senior Scientist, Equality in Water Management in Bolivia, SEI
    • Kim Andersson, Senior Expert, Sanitation Global Perspective, SEI
    • Newsha Ajami , Director of Urban Water Policy, Water in the West
    • Marta Echavarría , Director of Ecodecision
  • Q&A moderated by Brian Joyce, Senior Scientist, SEI.


For over a decade, SEI has helped government and non-government organizations plan and manage water in a way that increases resilience and reduces vulnerabilities for both humans and ecosystems. We use a participatory, stakeholder-driven process called robust decision support (RDS) to identify critical uncertainties and find robust solutions to water scarcity.

The Covid-19 pandemic brings new challenges and circumstances to water and agricultural planning, which must be incorporated into the RDS process and water models. This webinar focused on three ongoing projects in the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America, where we have begun discussions with stakeholders on how to add Covid-19 scenarios into their water planning to ensure resilience.

Participants discussed how best to incorporate pandemics into water modelling and planning and addressed key questions for water and agricultural stakeholders.

  • Given the disruption in food imports and exports, how might water allocations shift towards more focus on national and/or local food self-sufficiency?
  • If emphasis is given to food self-sufficiency, with increased allocations for agriculture, what will be the impacts on other sectors? Who potentially wins and loses?
  • Can water for sanitation and hygiene (WASH) get renewed investment in order to provide all people with access to clean water for hand washing, to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and other waterborne diseases?
  • What is the role and/or potential of more inclusive water interventions to allow the most vulnerable to gain more water-related income potential though local markets?