| Agriculture, Water and Cities
From Waste to Wealth: Maximizing the Benefits of Wastewater in Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture
Water flowing out of cities should not be seen as waste but as a resource for the poor. In and around cities in Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Latin America, many farmers use polluted surface water from predominantly domestic sources to irrigate their crops, often because they have no safer water alternative. While wastewater is nutrient–rich, it also carries pollutants and pathogens harmful to human health. However, trends show that wastewater will become an increasingly important component of future agricultural water supplies, particularly in water-scarce countries.
Under its Theme 3 Research “Agriculture, Water and Cities”, IWMI is supporting WHO and FAO with applied research looking at safe irrigation practices and realistic policies that will enable farmers to maximize on the benefits generated from wastewater use while protecting public health and the environment. IWMI contributed to the Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture by analyzing wastewater generation and wastewater use in more than 50 cities in developing countries. IWMI also carried out a related subregional assessment in West Africa, and an indepth study in Ghana. In 2006, the Comprehensive Assessment produced a report on “Cities versus Agriculture” which led to the revision of IWMI’s Theme 3 structure and the addition of a new sub-theme (“Integration of urban development, agriculture and the environment”). IWMI’s Theme 3 also contributed to chapter 11 of the Comprehensive Assessment on “Agricultural Use of Marginal-Quality Water—Opportunities and Challenges”