Accra Consensus – Agenda for Research, Capacity Building & Action on the Safe Use of Wastewater and Excreta in Agriculture

In collaboration with IDRC and WHO, IWMI organized in early October an international expert consultation in Accra, Ghana, to brainstorm about the state of the art of applied research on wastewater irrigation in low-income countries. This meeting followed the one in Hyderabad in 2002 and concluded with a Consensus statement by about 40 participants from 30 international, regional, and national institutions and universities in 17 countries.

Accra Consensus

Agenda for Research, Capacity Building & Action on the Safe Use of Wastewater and Excreta in Agriculture
Rapidly expanding cities, escalating water scarcity, food supply and livelihood needs, particularly in low-income regions, are all driving the increasing demand for untreated and treated wastewater and excreta for agriculture. Although much progress has been made in our understanding of these issues since the ‘Hyderabad Declaration’ of 2002, significant challenges remain to make the use of wastewater and excreta in agriculture safe, economically productive, and sustainable.

The Accra Consensus
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Program of the Accra Meeting
[PDF 42KB]

Key Research Issues
[PDF 75KB]

We — an expert group from 30 international, regional, and national research institutes, multilateral and bilateral bodies, and universities based in 17 countries — emphasize the need to support policy makers around the world to make informed decisions that lead to cost-effective interventions that improve public health, promote sustainable sanitation, protect the environment, and support food security and economic development.

Achieving this goal requires consolidation of information on the science and practice of wastewater and excreta use, and well-targeted research to address gaps in the evidence base needed to support informed decision-making. Therefore, we propose the following multi-disciplinary agenda for action:

  1. Integrate health and economic impact assessments to determine the actual contribution of wastewater and excreta use to the burden of disease, particularly in low-income settings, and to prioritize interventions to improve health and livelihood outcomes.
  2. Facilitate the adoption of the 2006 World Health Organization guidelines for the safe use of wastewater, excreta and greywater in low-income settings through the development and application of appropriate local practices and standards that take into account local capacities and resources. Specifically:
    • Fill data gaps on levels, transmission, persistence, and reduction of key pathogens along the environmental pathways from fecal origin to human exposure, and measure disease incidence among those exposed.
    • Rigorously evaluate — in multiple geographical contexts — a range of wastewater and excreta treatment approaches and other risk mitigation strategies for their cost-effectiveness and impacts on health, livelihood, and the environment.
  3. Increase human, institutional, and technical capacities in low-income settings to:
    • Detect important pathogens in human and environmental samples
    • Design and operate wastewater and excreta treatment systems that can be maintained in their ecological and economic context, and thereby support the safe and productive use of wastewater and excreta in agriculture
    • Develop and support effective participatory governance mechanisms for sustainable sanitation design and operation and safe and productive wastewater and excreta use.
  4. Facilitate the exchange of information on best practices, including successful risk assessment and mitigation strategies, among partners around the globe through national and regional knowledge hubs and web-based data banks.

Accra, 9th October 2008

The Expert Group:

Robert Bos WHO Switzerland
Duncan Mara University of Leeds UK
Akica Bahri IWMI Africa Ghana
Blanca Jimenez National Autonomous University of Mexico Mexico
Thor-Axel Stenstroem Stockholm Environmental Institute Sweden
Frans Huibers Wageningen University The Netherlands
Mark Redwood IDRC Canada
Modeste Kinane FAO West Africa Ghana
Andrew Hamilton University of Melbourne Australia
Ashley Murray University of California/Berkeley USA
Kara Nelson University of California/Berkeley USA
Robert Abaidoo Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology Ghana
Liqa Raschid-Sally IWMI Ghana Ghana
Marites Tiongco International Food Policy Research Institute USA
Seidu Razak Norwegian University of Life Sciences Norway
Jeroen Ensink London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine UK
Priyanie Amerasinghe IWMI India India
Doulaye Kone Dept of Water and Sanitation in Developing Countries (EAWAG) Switzerland
Pay Drechsel IWMI Ghana Ghana
Christine Moe Emory University USA
Chris Buckley University of Kwazulu-Natal South Africa
Seydou Niang IFAN CH. A. Diop University Senegal
Chris Scott University of Arizona USA
Philip Amoah IWMI Ghana Ghana
Sahar Dalahmeh Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences  Jordan/Sweden
Guéladio Cissé Swiss Centre for Scientific Research Cote d’Ivoire
Brama Kone Swiss Centre for Scientific Research Cote d’Ivoire
Jeff LeJeune Ohio State University USA
Hanna Karg University of Freiburg Germany
Bernard Keraita University of Copenhagen/IWMI Denmark/Ghana
Alexandra Clemett (Evans) Loughborough University/IWMI Sri Lanka UK/Sri Lanka
Alix Zwane USA
Andrea Silverman University of California/Berkeley USA
Jody Armstrong Saint Mary’s University Canada
Dela Awadzi Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology Ghana
Olufunke Cofie IWMI Ghana Ghana
Marie Schoeffler University of Hohenheim Germany
Daan Van Rooijen Loughborough University UK
Ernest Abraham Mensah University of Greenwich / IWMI Ghana UK/Ghana

Note: The expert consensus does not necessarily commit the listed institutions to the proposed agenda for action.



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