More than 20 million hectares of land are irrigated with wastewater today, and much of it is not based on any scientific criteria ensuring its safe use. But stakeholders are eager to learn!
In the face of increasing water scarcity, recognising wastewater as a resource has been a crucial step towards ensuring future water security. Today, more than 20 million hectares of land are irrigated with wastewater. However, much of this practice is not based on any scientific criteria ensuring the safe use of the wastewater. The new book Safe Use of Wastewater in Agriculture: Good Practice Examples (Hettiarachchi, Hiroshan and Reza Ardakanian, eds.) launched by the United Nations University Institute for Integrated Management of Material Fluxes and of Resources (UNU-FLORES), is a useful resource for governments interested in learning from existing ventures.
“A sound understanding of the opportunities and potential risks must be the base for any use of wastewater. In order to address the technical, institutional, and policy challenges of safe water reuse, developing countries and countries in transition need clear institutional arrangements,” UNU-FLORES Director Reza Ardakanian explained. “The Safe Use of Wastewater in Agriculture (SUWA) initiative partners were approached by a number of countries with the request to help them address these capacity needs.”
In response to this request, UNU-FLORES identified several interesting case studies from around the world in 2015 exemplifying the practice of wastewater use in agriculture across the globe. These were discussed at a workshop in Lima, Peru, in February 2016 attended by experts, researchers, and ministerial representatives from 15 different countries. The book is the result of that workshop. It includes 17 case studies selected from Latin America, Asia, and Africa addressing three different dimensions of the topic: Section I – Technological Advances; Section II – Health & Environmental Aspects; and Section III – Policy & Implementation Issues. The aim of the editors is to enhance not only North-South but also South-South knowledge sharing.
At 2016 World Water Week in Stockholm this week, UNU-FLORES is also co-convening two seminars on wastewater use and is giving away complimentary copies of the book Safe Use of Wastewater in Agriculture: Good Practice Examples at the United Nations University stand (#35) in the exhibition area.
Rachel Shindelar, Communications and Advocacy Associate, UNU-FLORES
Tel: + 49 1771737676
Fax: + 49 35189219389
At World Water Week 2016: Stand #35
In 2011 seven UN-Water members, partners, and programmes joined efforts to address the capacity needs of countries with regards to the Safe Use of Wastewater in Agriculture (SUWA). UN-Water is a United Nations inter-agency coordination mechanism for all freshwater related issues, including sanitation. The seven members were namely: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage (ICID), and the UN-Water Decade Programme on Capacity Development (UNW-DPC). Between 2011 and 2013, capacity development activities brought together 160 representatives from 73 UN Member States from Asia, Africa, and Latin America. In 2015, the coordination of the SUWA initiative was transferred to the United Nations University, with UNU-FLORES and UNU-INWEH at its helm.
The current phase of the SUWA initiative aims to support UN Member States in developing their national capacities in focus areas identified and prioritised during 2011–2015, promoting the safer and more productive use of wastewater. Developing countries and countries in transition remain the focus. Sharing information between countries/regions on good practice examples of safe water reuse in agriculture is one of the important objectives identified during the early phase of the SUWA initiative.