IWMI Projects on Reuse of Wastewater
for Agriculture

Water Management, Environment, and Human Health Aspects of Wastewater Irrigation

Duration: 2001 - 2005

Objective: To evaluate potential costs and benefits of this practice and develop recommendations for sustainable use.

Field research location: peri-urban Hanoi , Vietnam


  • Vietnam Institute for Water Resources Management
  • National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, Hanoi
  • Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Denmark
  • Danish Hydraulic Institute (DHI)


Project description: The first year of this four-year project entitled' Wastewater Reuse in Agriculture in Vietnam: Water Management, Environment, and Human Health Aspects' will be a review of already available data and documentation. A planning workshop took place in Vietnam in March 2001. New studies under this project will begin in 2002.

IWMI is also involved in a study on wastewater management and reuse in cassava starch producing villages near Hanoi. This is coordinated by CIP as a pilot project for the Systemwide Initiative on Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture (SIUPA).

Donors: This project is funded by Danida

Contact person: Liqa Raschid at l.raschid@cgiar.org

Wastewater use in urban and peri-urban vegetable farming, Kumasi, Ghana

Duration: 2001 -ongoing

Objective: To study the current use of wastewater in informal vegetable irrigation, to assess possibilities of (partial) wastewater treatment in the frame of a general assessment of appropriate strategies for safe, productive and sustainable vegetable farming in urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA).

Field research location: Kumasi, Ghana.


  • Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi
  • Wageningen University, the Netherlands

Project description:

This project started in July 2001 to study how farmers are currently using wastewater in irrigated vegetable farms in the urban and peri-urban areas of Kumasi. Information is gathered on the source, quality and quantity of water that the farmers are using, the irrigation methods and the farming practices. In addition, the demand for and perception of farmers, consumers and relevant authorities on wastewater use is being studied. Constraints and opportunities of safer wastewater use options will be looked into. Analysis is being carried out on the potential negative and positive impact of wastewater irrigation on soil and the crops grown. Data will also be obtained on post-harvest crop contamination (especially markets).

Based on the findings, the study will provide guidelines on improved irrigation methods/techniques, farming practices, and hygienic handling of vegetables to enhance sustainable vegetable production and minimize negative impacts. Recommendations will be made to government and policymakers as regards the potential of safe wastewater use for vegetable production with or without distinct wastewater treatment.
The project is supposed to provide the ground for a larger follow-up project involving more cities in Ghana and the subregion.


Abdul-Ghaniyu S., G. Kranjac-Berisavijevic, I.B. Yakubu, B. Keraita. 2002. Sources and quality of water for urban vegetable production in Tamale, Ghana. Urban Agriculture Magazine 8:10-11

Asare, I., Kranjac-Berisavljevic, G. and Cofie, O. (2003) Faecal Sludge Application for Agriculture in Tamale. UA magazine 10, p.31-33.

Cofie, O. O, van Veenhuizen, R. and Drechsel, P. Contribution of urban and peri-urban agriculture to food security in Sub-Saharan Africa. Paper presented at the Africa session of  3rd WWF, Kyoto, 17th March 2003

Cofie, O., Drechsel, P., Obuobie, E., Danso, G. and B. Keraita. 2003. Environmental Sanitation and Urban agriculture in Ghana. Paper in 29th WEDC international conference proceedings: Towards the Millennium Development Goals~ Actions for Water and Environmental Sanitation. Abuja, Nigeria, pp 87-90

2003. Water for Food in the Cities: The Growing Paradigm of Irrigated (Peri)-Urban Agriculture and its Struggle in Sub-Saharan Africa. African Water Journal Vol. 1 (2). Submitted

Danso, G., Drechsel, P. Akinbolu, S. and Gyiele, L. 2003. Review of Studies and Literature on the Profitability and Sustainability of Urban and Peri-urban agriculture. FAO Final Report (PR 25314), IWMI, Accra

Danso, G., P. Drechsel, T. Wiafe-Antwi and L. Gyiele. 2002. Income of farming systems around Kumasi, Ghana. Urban Agriculture Magazine 7: 5-6.

Drechsel, P., U.J. Blumenthal and B. Keraita. 2002. Balancing health and livelihoods: Adjusting wastewater irrigation guidelines for resource-poor countries. Urban Agriculture Magazine 8: 7-9

Keraita B, and P. Drechsel, in press. Agricultural use of untreated urban wastewater: Ghana Case Study. In: Wastewater Use in Irrigated Agriculture: Confronting the Livelihood and Environmental Realities: Christopher Scott, Naser I. Faruqui, Liqa Raschid (eds.) Accepted, revised and resubmitted. CABI.

Keraita, B., Danso, G. and Drechsel, P. Urban irrigation methods and practices in Ghana and Togo. UA magazine 10, p. 6-7.

Keraita, B., Drechsel, P. and Amoah, P. 2003. Influence of urban wastewater on stream water quality and agriculture in and around Kumasi, Ghana. Environment & Urbanization vol. 15, p. 172-178.

Keraita, B., P. Drechsel, F. Huibers, and L. Raschid-Sally. 2002. Wastewater use in informal irrigation in Urban and Peri-urban areas of Kumasi, Ghana. Urban Agriculture Magazine 8: 11-13

Keraita, B., Drechsel, P., Amoah, P. and Cofie, O. 2003. Assessment of health risks from urban wastewater and solid waste reuse in agriculture. Paper prepared for workshop on “Health risks and benefits of urban and peri-urban agriculture and livestock (UPA) in Sub Saharan Africa, Nairobi, June 2003. workshop proceedings, IDRC (in press)Obuobie, E., Danso, G. and Drechsel, P., 2003. Access to land and water for urban vegetable farming in Accra UA magazine 11, p. 15-17.

Mensah, E., Amoah, P., Abaidoo, R.C. and P. Drechsel. 2001. Environmental concerns of (peri-) urban vegetable production - Case studies from Kumasi and Accra. In: Drechsel, P. and D. Kunze (eds.) Waste Composting for Urban and Peri-urban Agriculture - Closing the rural-urban nutrient cycle in sub-Saharan Africa. IWMI/FAO/CABI: Wallingford (in press)

Contact person: Pay Drechsel at p.drechsel@cgiar.org

Improving the Performance of Wastewater Irrigation in Peri-urban Areas

Duration: 2000 - 2002

Objective: To identify and validate the benefits of wastewater irrigation and practices for sustainable use.

Field research location: Phase I - Haroonabad, Pakistan; Phase II - Faisalabad, Rechna Doab subbasin (an IWMI Benchmark Basin), Pakistan


  • Agricultural University, Faisalabad
  • Center of Excellence in Water Resources, Lahore
  • Institute of Public Health, Lahore
  • Water and Sanitation Authority, Faisalabad
  • Technical University Hamburg-Harburg, Germany
  • Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Denmark

Project description:

An initial study on the cost and benefits of wastewater irrigation was setup in Haroonabad, a small town without industry. The objective of the study was to identify opportunities to reduce the environmental and health risks without resorting to treatment.

This study confirms that wastewater irrigation offers benefits that can help many rural water-short areas in Pakistan increase their agricultural productivity and profitability. But in each location the negative impacts and sustainability issues must be carefully evaluated.

A similar study was setup in February 2001 in Faisalabad, a large city with major industry.


Feenstra, S.; Hussain, R.; van der Hoek, W. (2000). Health Risks of Irrigation with Untreated Urban Wastewater in the Southern Punjab, Pakistan. IWMI Pakistan Report 107. view abstract

Donors: Phase II of this project is funded by German Ministry for Economic and Development Cooperation (BMZ).

Contact person: Jeroen Ensink at j.ensink@cgiar.org

Balancing the economic and ecological concerns of wastewater irrigation

Duration: 1999-2000

Objective: To examine the economic benefits to farmers of wastewater irrigation and the health and environmental risks involved.

Field research location: Guanajuato River Basin, Mexico


  • Water and Sewage Authority of the City of Guanajuato
  • University of Guanajuato

Project description:

IWMI’s research in Mexico examined the advantages and disadvantages of using urban wastewater for crop production in Mexico's water-scarce Guanajuato river basin. Here, wastewater irrigation is a critical component of intensive water recycling practices. This study shows that the 140-hectare site downstream of Guanajuato – that is irrigated with raw sewage – serves as a defacto water treatment facility with significant retention of contaminants. The study found that the economic value of wastewater used for irrigation represents a significant monetary benefit to both society and the water users.

The findings of this study suggest that the continued application of wastewater to agricultural land in this area would be a more economical form of wastewater treatment than building a wastewater treatment plant. If a treatment plant were built, local farmers' net incomes would be reduced, as they would have to buy crop nutrients to replace those previously provided by wastewater. The caveat is that the potential for serious negative impacts on health and the environment must be researched and monitored on an ongoing basis.


Urban wastewater reuse for crop production in the water-short Guanajuato River Basin, Mexico. IWMI Research Report 41.

Buechler, S.J.; Scott, C.A. 2000. For us, this is life': Irrigating Under Adverse Condition’ In IWMI Latin American Series No.20.

Donors: This project received support from the Taiwan Council of Agriculture, the Tao Yuan Foundation for Irrigation Research (Taiwan) and the T. Sao-Jin Memorial Foundation for R&D for Agriculture and Irrigation (Taiwan).

Contact person: Chris Scott at c.scott@cgiar.org




last updated: 15 October, 2001

On this page:
Water management, environment and human health aspects of wastewater irrigation, Vietnam

Wastewater use in urban and peri-urban vegetable farming, Kumasi, Ghana

Improving the performance of wastewater irrigation in peri-urban areas
, Pakistan

Balancing the economic and ecological concerns of wastewater irrigation, Mexico

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