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Wetlands: Providing more than a billion livelihoods

More than a billion people depend on wetlands for a living ! Just stop and think about that number – and about what a wetland actually is. The Ramsar Convention defines a wetland as any land area that is saturated or flooded with water, either permanently or seasonally, along with all beaches and shallow coastal areas.

This definition covers all inland wetlands such as marshes, ponds, lakes, fens, rivers, floodplains, and swamps... as well as the whole range of coastal wetlands which include saltwater marshes, estuaries, mangroves,lagoons and coral reefs. Then we should add in all manmade wetlands such as fishponds, rice paddies, and salt pans.  

Wetlands host a diverse range of jobs, including a few we might not normally think of:

Rice farming

  • Rice, grown in wetland paddies, is the staple diet of 3.5 billion people and accounts for 20 % of all calories consumed by humans.
  • Almost a billion households in Asia, Africa and the Americas depend on rice growing and processing for their main livelihoods.
  • Some 80 % of the world’s rice is produced by small-scale farmers and is consumed locally.


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Current Issue: Africa Water & Sanitation & Hygiene _January-February 2016 Vol.11 No.1