MIT Energy Initiative

Interconnections among energy, water, and food

MIT researchers focus interconnectivity study on Pakistan, where all three of these resources are in short supply

James Wescoat and Afreen Siddiqi, from Large-scale irrigation, Energy Futures, Spring 2013Credit: Stuart Darsch

[I]rrigation is not just about water; it’s not just about agriculture. It’s become intimately connected with energy and therefore greenhouse gas emissions as well.

Afreen Siddiqi, research scientist

An MIT team is providing new understanding of the growing interconnections among three critical resources: energy, water, and food. The work focuses on Pakistan’s Indus Basin, where irrigation water is increasingly pumped from underground, a practice that is intensifying a pre-existing shortage of energy. Using new and existing data plus statistical models, the researchers are clarifying how much pumping is going on, how it’s affecting energy use and food productivity, and where and why it’s happening in this region—home of the world’s largest contiguous network of river-fed irrigation canals.

Research Team

Afreen Siddiqi Engineering Systems

This research was supported in part by the MIT Energy Initiative Seed Fund