April-May 2023 Research Journal Roundup

Roundup of research, journal and other academic articles from April and May 2023.

IWMI Contributions to Research in April and May 2023

By Victoria Blymier, Princeton in Asia Fellow

From assessing freshwater salinization patterns in Central Asia, to measuring the potential of spices to add to mineral provision for refugees in East Africa, IWMI researchers have contributed to a wide range of studies from around the world. The following is a selection of their open-access work published in April and May 2023. To read the full articles, click the doi links below.

A woman collects freshwater in Central Asia. Photo: Neil Palmer / IWMI
A woman collects freshwater in Central Asia. Photo: Neil Palmer / IWMI

Five decades of freshwater salinization in the Amu Darya River basin

Salinity, or the concentration of inorganic ions in freshwater, reduces freshwater availability while deteriorating water quality—and freshwater salinization is on the rise in Central Asia. In a study published by the Journal of Hydrology: Regional Studies, IWMI’s Shavkat Kenjabaev and colleagues sought to understand the spatiotemporal patterns and underlying driving mechanisms of salinization in Central Asia’s Amu Darya River basin (ADR). Researchers constructed a conceptual model of river salinization by assessing the changes in discharge and salinity, evaluating the salinity-discharge relationships, and identifying the main drivers of river salinization from 12 points across the ADR through 50 years of water chemistry data. Their assessment found that salinity increased along the river course and was correlated with discharge upstream prior to the 1990s. Additionally, interannual variation was primarily determined by secondary salinization, while intra-annual variation was determined by river flow. Furthermore, the rate of secondary water salinization has sped up due to human activities, namely intensified agriculture.

Read more here.

Digital ethnography? Our experiences in the use of SenseMaker for understanding gendered climate vulnerabilities amongst marginalized agrarian communities

Researchers adopt digital tools and methods for data collection and analysis that can transform agri-food systems while minimizing biases. But could these innovations introduce further gender disparities on account of the digital divide that affects women and marginalized communities? IWMI’s Deepa Joshi, Meera Bisht, Upandha Udalagama and Alexandra Schindler contributed to a study published in Sustainability that explored this question by testing SenseMaker: a digital ethnography tool that maps climate vulnerabilities and resilience in the Gaya District of Bihar, India. SenseMaker allowed researchers to capture intersectional inequalities faced by communities vulnerable to climate change. However, the tool’s application was influenced by prior exposure to technology and required significant translation resources. Ultimately, the study concluded that researchers’ perceptions, positionalities and biases had the potential to impact SenseMaker’s signification framework design, demonstrating that research bias persists despite the innovation in research methodology.

Read more here.

Multilateral development banks investment behaviour in water and sanitation: findings and lessons from 60 years of investment projects in Africa and Asia

Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) have been critical to funding water and sanitization infrastructure projects, but data about their investments is dispersed and difficult to compare. In response, this study published by The Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development reviewed water and sanitation financing in Africa and Asia from the World Bank, African Development Bank, and Asian Development Bank over a span of sixty years. IWMI’s Muhil Nesi and Josiane Nikiema contributed to an assessment of territorial trends, technology choices, distribution of financial burdens, and reforms to institutional arrangements for 3,639 water and sanitation projects between the years 1960-2020. The dataset indicated that MBDs’ investments followed the changing patterns of urbanization and funding for sanitation projects has gained more attention. Institutional reforms generated investment in equipment and skills. Additionally, public finance was leveraged with greater success than private funds, demonstrating that MBDs should focus on distributing national public funds for water and sanitation projects.

Read more here.

Estimating the potential of spices for mineral provision in a refugee context in East Africa

Micronutrient deficiency is high among refugees, but minor food components such as nutrient-dense spices could supplement diets. IWMI’s Solomie Gebrezgabher contributed to a study that used Portable X-Ray Fluorescence to analyze forty turmeric and curry powder samples from varying markets across East Africa. Turmeric powder samples were analyzed for calcium, potassium, strontium, and zinc—the contents of which were statistically different among Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda. Additionally, researchers tested whether 5g portions of turmeric and 4g of curry powder would contribute to an adequate intake (AI) or recommended daily allowance (RDA) of selected minerals for adult male and female refugees. The study, published in SN Applied Sciences, found that turmeric fulfilled 20% of the AI/RDA for manganese and iron microminerals among adult refugee men and women. These findings demonstrate that turmeric and curry powder acquired from East Africa contain good sources of minerals and acceptable levels of toxic metal(loid)s. Researchers conclude that these spices—especially turmeric—should be recommended for food-to-spice fortification among East Africa’s refugee population.

Read more here.

Operational and structural diagnosis of sewerage and drainage networks in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa

Why are urban sewage systems in Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa failing to manage wastewater and rainwater drainage? IWMI’s Komlavi Akpoti and colleagues developed a study that identified the different causes of operational and structural degradation in selected networks in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. Published in Frontiers Sustainable Cities, their study’s analysis of semi-structured interviews, video camera inspection, socio-environmental field surveys and descriptive statistics found that several structural, environmental and behavioral practices contribute to urban sewage systems’ degradation: illegal dumping of solid waste, unauthorized connection of wastewater networks, unsustainable urban agriculture practices and high vegetation, and poor infrastructure.  The study sets forth recommendations to address the identified challenges.

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Prospects for treated wastewater reuse in agriculture in low- and middle-income countries: Systematic analysis and decision-making trees for diverse management approaches

Decision-makers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are exploring reuse of treated wastewater for agriculture as a solution to freshwater scarcity. In their paper published in Environmental Development, IWMI’s Mohamed Hassan Tawfik and colleagues analyzed two cases of wastewater reuse management in Egypt and Jordan. Researchers produced a decision-tree tool to support decision-making around wastewater reuse based on contextual factors such as agricultural field demands, location, freshwater resources, sanitation coverage, and infrastructure. Upon operationalization, the tool effectively assisted decision-makers with evaluating courses of action for optimal wastewater reuse in agriculture.

Read more here.

Interested in reading more about IWMI’s recently published research? Check out these other journal articles from April and May 2023

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