Houston, Texas (WiredPRNews.com) — A new study presented at a water conference in Stockholm on Monday told the tale of 53 cities and how wastewater is universally used for the irrigation of urban agricultural land in developing nations. This practice, however, has its ups and downs as the study showed.
According to the AFP, the use of wastewater in agriculture is essential for the poor as it provides a livelihood and assists with food supplies. However, the downside of the usage is that wastewater can also carry with it a slew of diseases and other health risks for anyone who consumes it, especially in uncooked vegetables, as told by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).
Researcher Liqa Raschid-Sally of the IWMI noted that the use of wastewater is just as bad as it is good for the consumer and one must be very cautious. The report from AFP said, “The survey showed that 80 percent of cities studied were using untreated or partially treated wastewater for agriculture. In over 70 percent of the cities studied, more than half of the urban agricultural land was irrigated with wastewater.”
The main countries where wastewater is primarily used in irrigation is Asian countries such as China, India and Vietnam, but also “nearly every city of sub-Saharan Africa and in many Latin American cities as well,” the statement said. The wastewater is also mainly used for the growth of rice and vegetables.
The report did not suggest the elimination of the use of wastewater indicating that doing so would directly and negatively effect those who depend on the urban agriculture such as farmers and the consumers of the food.
In lieu of eliminating wastewater, the report encouraged local officials to implement safer wastewater policies and suggested inexpensive ways to utilize the water safely such as washing produce correctly.