May 2022 Research Journal Roundup

Microplastics monitoring in South Africa and more: IWMI contributions to research articles in May 2022

Microplastics monitoring in South Africa and more: IWMI contributions to research articles in May 2022

By Clara Colton Symmes, Princeton in Asia Fellow, IWMI

As human activity continues to impact the planet’s natural environments, IWMI researchers study exactly how landscapes, lives, and ecosystems are changing in order to more effectively develop innovative solutions for mitigating and adapting to emerging challenges related to environmental change. Each month, our researchers contribute to studies published in research journals read around the world — see below to learn more about the work they published in May 2022.

Women engaged in paddy transplanting. Pyawt Ywar Irrigation Scheme, Myinmu Township, Sagaing District, Myanmar. Photo: Sanjiv de Silva / IWMI
Women engaged in paddy transplanting. Pyawt Ywar Irrigation Scheme, Myinmu Township, Sagaing District, Myanmar. Photo: Sanjiv de Silva / IWMI

Are fresh water and reclaimed water safe for vegetable irrigation? Empirical evidence from Lebanon

As water sources used for vegetable irrigation are becoming increasingly polluted, researchers are studying whether such sources are still safe to use. IWMI’s Marie Helene Nassif and Javier Mateo-Sagasta contributed to a study published in Water focusing on the use of groundwater, river water, and reclaimed wastewater in Lebanon. Researchers not only evaluated the potential health risks of these sources, but also explored how irrigation method (drip, sprinkler, and surface) impacted crop contamination levels. They found that use of fresh water with very low levels of E. coli did not compromise vegetable quality, and that treated wastewater had no adverse effect on irrigated vegetables. The research will be used to update the Lebanese standards for water reuse in agriculture and inform water quality monitoring and management policy.

Read more here.

First biomonitoring of microplastic pollution in the Vaal river using Carp fish (Cyprinus carpio) “as a bio-indicator”

Fish consume microplastics that wash into the waterways where they live. Yet because microplastics are so small, they can travel via wastewater or, due to other polluting activities, can slip through natural filtration systems and contaminate larger waterways. IWMI’s Josiane Nikiema contributed to a study recently published in Science of the Total Environment focusing on carp fish living in the Vaal River in South Africa, where data on how microplastics are affecting freshwater fish is limited. Microplastics were found in all 26 of the examined fish, with a total of 628 particles recovered in their gastrointestinal tracts — amounting to an average of approximately 26 particles per fish.

Read more here.

Diversity and diversification: Ecosystem services derived from underutilized crops and their co-benefits for sustainable agricultural landscapes and resilient food systems in Africa

Encouraging the farming of neglected and underutilized crop species that have been gradually phased out in favor of monocropping and largescale agriculture in Africa can strengthen environmental and human health and wellbeing. To better understand the potential of these crops, a group of researchers including IWMI’s Tafadzwanashe Mabhaudhi conducted a review of 35 articles. The study, published in Frontiers in Agronomy, reports that neglected and underutilized crops address the three pillars of sustainable development — ecological, social, and economic — by supporting ecosystem services, dietary diversity, and economic empowerment, especially for women. Researchers emphasize that a transition to this farming practice could be a transformative solution to strengthening food systems and livelihoods across Africa.

Read more here.

The role of water in transforming food systems

It is estimated that by 2050, half the world’s population could be at risk of water stress. However, global efforts for strengthening food security have not sufficiently considered the role of water in agriculture. In an article for Global Food Security, IWMI’s Stefan Uhlenbrook emphasizes how the efforts to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals on zero hunger and clean water and sanitation are behind schedule. With climate change posing an increasing threat to food systems, he emphasizes the need for centering water in all efforts, including strengthening the health of key ecosystems (such as wetlands), improving agricultural water management, addressing social inequities, and making food systems more environmentally sustainable.

Read more here.

The spatial politics of land policy reform in Myanmar and Laos

Land policy reform, which can dictate how agricultural land is owned and cultivated, has been at the forefront of politics in the Global South during the last two decades. In an article for The Journal of Peasant Studies, IWMI’s Diana Suhardiman demonstrates how land contestation and control is reflected in policy and political shifts in two Southeast Asian countries. For example, while the leading communist party in Laos has restrained non-governmental influence on land policy reform, she writes that in Myanmar, a brief democratic transition gave non-governmental individuals and organizations weighted control.

Read more here.


Interested in reading more about IWMI’s recently published research? Check out these other journal articles from May 2022:

Operationalizing irrigation water charges in Sub-Saharan Africa: A case study from the Central Rift Valley, Ethiopia

Published in Water Policy with contributions from Firsum Hagos, Amare Haileslassie, and Abdulkarim Seid.

Prediction of sediment yield in a data-scarce river catchment at the sub-basin scale using gridded precipitation datasets

Published in Water with contributions from Muhammad Tousif Bhatti.

Spatio-temporal trends of precipitation and temperature extremes across the North-East Region of Cote d’Ivoire over the period 1981–2020

Published in Climate with contributions from Komlavi Akpoti.

Negotiating marginality: Towards an understanding of diverse development pathways of ethnic minorities in Vietnam

Published in International Development with contributions from Thai Thi Minh.


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