|Title:||Reducing the Risks of Wastewater Irrigation: Strategies and Incentives|
|Time:||14:00 - 17:30|
|Convenor:||International Water Management Institute (IWMI), International Development Research Centre (IRDC), World Health Organization (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and World Bank (tbc)|
We will examine the cost-effectiveness of alternative risk mitigation measures by drawing on pilot studies on the implementation of the new guidelines and discuss analytical approaches, policy interventions and farm-level initiatives that reduce the risk from pathogens at several stages along the exposure pathway. This includes conventional and unconventional wastewater treatment, and food preparation.
We will focus primarily on irrigation with untreated wastewater in developing countries, where water pollution is its main driver, but also look at other positions on the sanitation ladder, giving the increasing need for wastewater use in situations of water scarcity.
The event will close with the announcement/presentation of four new publications on wastewater irrigation by the World Bank, WHO, FAO and IWMI-IDRC.
Event Summary and Conclusions
To show the value of wastewater under water scarcity, a case study in Spain quantified the overall net profit of a water exchange scheme, with farmers being compensated for using reclaimed water while ‘releasing’ high value freshwater for urban use. This approach can be potentially applied in many middle-income countries in water-scarce areas. The example was taken from the new FAO Water Report 35 www.fao.org/docrep/012/i1629e/i1629e.pdf which gives a methodology for the comprehensive economic appraisal of wastewater reuse projects.
Efforts to achieve health-based targets should build on wastewater treatment as well as non-treatment options, using a multi-phased approach which considers the limitations and opportunities in individual countries. Where treatment is not feasible, crop restrictions could work if regulations can be enforced. Options for different financial incentives were discussed for scenarios where regulations are weak, in order to support farmers and traders to adopt alternative safety measures and counter the attraction of maximizing benefits at the expense of safety. A positive market response would be the best incentive but requires risk awareness among consumers. Alternative financial incentives include access to credit or input subsidies.
The IWMI case of Ghana (www.idrc.ca/openebooks/475-8/) showed that up to 90% of the DALYs from the use of untreated wastewater could be averted through low-cost interventions on- and off-farm. Next to financial incentives, education and social incentives (such as improved tenure security) could enhance the adoption of safety measures. A high adoption rate is essential for maintaining the generally positive cost-effectiveness of on- and off-farm measures that reduce health risk.
In the face of growing water scarcity, planning for wastewater use in agriculture is of growing importance across the spectrum from lower- to higher-income countries. A new World Bank Policy Research Working Paper (WPS 5412) http://go.worldbank.org/UC28EAWNI0 differentiates between four country income levels to create a typology for analyzing current issues, trends, and priorities.
A guidance note on how to apply the WHO guidelines at different levels of the sanitation ladder is provided in the second edition of the WHO information kit on their 2006 guidelines www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/wastewater/usinghumanwaste/en/index.html which was launched together with the other mentioned publications.
While most of the discussion focused on low-income countries with limited industrial development, research gaps were acknowledged in view of emerging economies where chemical contaminants can not easily be addressed via non-treatment options.
Key lessons were
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