Behavior change approaches applied to growers and consumers of wastewater irrigated food : any application?

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  • dgalibourg
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  • PhD candidate with the WEDC at Loughborough University (UK), looking into the recycling of water and nutrients to improve the resilience and food security of smallholder farmers a, and particularly how to foster an enabling environment for the successful implementation of sustainable & safe schemes at scale (e.g., behavior change, governance)
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Behavior change approaches applied to growers and consumers of wastewater irrigated food : any application?

Dear all,

I am new to SuSanA, and it is such an community that I am sure this is the first of many more interactions to come ! ūüėĄ

I am just starting a PhD with the WEDC (Loughborough University, UK). With a background in agriculture and wastewater treatment, I am interested in wastewater irrigation (WWI) for food production by smallholders as a factor of resilience and food security in urban settings of low- and middle-income countries. I am particularly investigating the multiple-barrier approach recommended by WHO to make WWI safe to both workers and consumers where wastewater treatment options might be sub-optimal.

Researchers have characterized strong drivers and/or low perception of health risks among workers and consumers in different settings. Some authors suggest using social marketing to raise awareness, educate growers and consumers about contaminated food, identify appropriate incentives, or implement new regulations as steps toward more safety. However, while these approaches have been applied to other fields, including sanitation, their application to WWI is (quasi) absent from the literature.

Would anybody be able to refer me to such initiatives?
I am looking forward to reading from you.

Best regards,
David


ps : I hope I selected the appropriate category for my post. If not, please let me know ūüėÖ
David Galibourg
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  • rochelleholm
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  • Manager and Associate Professor with the Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation at Mzuzu University (Malawi). To learn more about the Centre visit http://www.mzuniwatsan.com/ .
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Re: Behavior change approaches applied to growers and consumers of wastewater irrigated food : any application?

Hi  David, 
Here is some case study work from Malawi.  One on greywater re-use and  one on farmers use of water for stewardship and certification. 

Newcomer, E., Boyd, C., Nyirenda, L., Opong, E., Marquez, S. and Holm, R. Reducing the burden of rural water supply through greywater reuse: A case study from northern Malawi. Water Science & Technology: Water Supply, 2017, 17(4), pages 1088-1096. DOI: 10.2166/ws.2017.004  http://ws.iwaponline.com/content/17/4/1088

Holm, R. H.¬†and Magombo, A. N. Between water stewardship and independent global water certification: learning from smallholder rice farmers, Karonga, Malawi. Waterlines, 2021, 40(1), pages 61‚Äď72. DOI: 10.3362/1756-3488.20-00006 doi.org/10.3362/1756-3488.20-00006

Best of luck. 
Rochelle
Rochelle Holm, Ph.D., PMP
Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation
Mzuzu University (Malawi)
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  • dgalibourg
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  • PhD candidate with the WEDC at Loughborough University (UK), looking into the recycling of water and nutrients to improve the resilience and food security of smallholder farmers a, and particularly how to foster an enabling environment for the successful implementation of sustainable & safe schemes at scale (e.g., behavior change, governance)
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Re: Behavior change approaches applied to growers and consumers of wastewater irrigated food : any application?

Hi Rochelle,

Thank you for your reply and the references. For some reason, I couldn't access/purchase the paper published in Waterlines. The information on greywater reuse was very interesting. If I understood correctly, the reuse of greywater is not yet generalized in the study area and consists of fruit trees planted at the outlets of bathing areas and water point aprons. If so, did the study lead to a more systematic reuse of greywater in the area?

Actually, that's what I am looking for: initiatives where wastewater reuse for irrigation is already an established practice. It could be through planned schemes, using treated wastewater from the plant. It may also be a more informal practice where irrigation relies on surface water within or downstream of a city where the wastewater treatment plants are absent or operate in degraded mode.

These initiatives would then focus on working with vegetable farmers, resellers, or consumers to reduce the risk of contamination through non-treatment options. It could be raising awareness, creating a demand for increased food safety, identifying the incentives to promote such results.  It could also be working with local governments to facilitate or support such efforts.

In short, I am looking for any examples of applications of the multiple-barrier approach recommended in the WHO 2006 guidelines to complete or replace wastewater treatment.

Best regards,
David
David Galibourg
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WEDC, Loughborough University, UK
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  • Elisabeth
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  • I'm passionate about SuSanA's role in the WASH sector since about 2005. I'm a freelance consultant since 2012 (former roles: program manager, lecturer, process engineer for wastewater treatment plants)
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Re: Behavior change approaches applied to growers and consumers of wastewater irrigated food : any application?

Hi David,
Welcome to the SuSanA discussion forum, nice to read your posts! Just trying to clarify: you said you are looking for "initiatives where wastewater reuse for irrigation is already an established practice." This seems very broad and you have likely already found many examples for this from your literature review already? 

Is your focus more on "behaviour change" or on the reuse aspects? We have all sorts of previous discussion threads about the reuse aspects which are mostly in this sub-category:
forum.susana.org/40-greywater-blackwater...ter-reuse-irrigation

There was a publication by IWMI in 2018 which you've probably seen already:
forum.susana.org/40-greywater-blackwater...-publication-by-iwmi
It's called "Wastewater Reuse in Numbers".

A collection of articles was provided in 2017 here:
forum.susana.org/40-greywater-blackwater...-22-2017-usaid#22421
That was the year when World Water Week's theme was¬†¬†‚Äúwater and waste: reduce and reuse‚ÄĚ.

I don't want to send you links of publications that you all have already. So perhaps you could clarify what specifically you'd like to know and discuss? What is the research hypothesis of your PhD thesis?

Again, welcome and I hope you find this forum a useful place to toss around ideas for your PhD thesis and to keep us informed of your progress. I think and hope that many PhD researchers find this forum helpful in this way.

Kind regards,
Elisabeth

P.S. Do you prefer this thread to be in the sub-category for behaviour change or in the sub-category for wastewater reuse?
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  • dgalibourg
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  • PhD candidate with the WEDC at Loughborough University (UK), looking into the recycling of water and nutrients to improve the resilience and food security of smallholder farmers a, and particularly how to foster an enabling environment for the successful implementation of sustainable & safe schemes at scale (e.g., behavior change, governance)
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Re: Behavior change approaches applied to growers and consumers of wastewater irrigated food : any application?

Hi Elizabeth,

Thank you for your message. I agree my question may be broad and unclear at this point, in part because I'm still refining my PhD project. It is also because I am afraid that refining too much might bring too little results. Maybe my title should have mentioned "food crops grown with partially treated, untreated, diluted or raw human waste," but I was already struggling to keep it concise.

My starting point is the multiple-barrier approach recommended by WHO in its 2006 guidelines for the safe use of wastewater, excreta, and greywater in agriculture. 

Human waste reuse is widely practiced in informal urban agriculture to supply fresh vegetables to many cities in low- and middle-income countries. This contributes significantly to the livelihood of small farmers and the food security of poor consumers. Thus, it is counterproductive to ban it, despite its presenting a substantial risk to the health of workers and consumers and the environment. How, then, can it be made safer when relying only on adequate treatment is not an option, as is the case in most low- and middle-income settings?

Most papers focus on formal schemes where planned reuse relies exclusively on treatment technology to mitigate the health risks. Many publications looking into informal reuse stop at assessing its extent, its potential, and acceptability, generally recommending participatory approaches to complement some technology implementation.
But very few (none?) actually seek to implement a multiple-barrier approach by working with farmers, food vendors, consumers, and local governments to make the informal reuse safer when adequate technology is not an option. My research hypothesis is that surely, somewhere, some people have tried to explore that path.

I am looking for any attempts to apply behavior change and social marketing approaches to informal reuse for food production: raising awareness about the health risk, creating a demand for safer food, or promoting the adoption of safer practices (e.g., irrigation, handling, food hygiene).

I am interested in any initiatives aiming to provide an enabling environment to accompany informal reuse toward more safety (e.g., strengthening integrative governance, multi-stakeholder platforms).

Fearing that this would not bring many results, I'm opening up to formal schemes that included working with the farmers, vendors, and consumers to ensure a successful and sustainable implementation.

Sorry for the long message. I hope I have been a bit clearer this time around.

Best regards, 
David

PS: I initially avoided placing this thread in the more technology-focused "wastewater reuse" sub-category. But I'm open to having it moved anywhere it best belongs.
David Galibourg
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Behavior change approaches applied to growers and consumers of wastewater irrigated food : any application?

Hi David,

Thanks for clarifying. So I get now that you are going to focus on the "non-treatment barriers" within the multiple-barrier approach to safe reuse.

One question: how do you define "human waste"? When I see human waste, I translate that in my mind to "human excreta" and think of it as "not mixed with water". That means, human waste would not include wastewater. Is that also how you see it?

Personally, I have a preference for "human excreta" over "human waste" as I think it's more neutral. Then again, others have accused me that "human excreta" is a euphemism. See discussion on Wikipedia talk page on "reuse of excreta" here . 

Regarding examples or case study for your research, have you seen this publication? It might be of relevance for you:
Make me a Change Agent: An SBC Resource for WASH, Agriculture, and Livelihoods activities

I am wondering if this WHO publication from 2018 is a good starting point for you:
WHO (2018). Guidelines on Sanitation and Health. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2018 .

There is also this older one from WHO from 2008:
WHO, FAO, IDRC, IWMI (2008). Second information kit - Using human waste safely for livelihoods, food production and health (#01, #02) - Second Information Kit on the third edition for the Guidelines for the Safe Use of Wastewater, Excreta and Greywater in Agriculture and Aquaculture. World Health Organization (WHO)

Also you might find some interesting threads here on the forum by using the search term "nexus".ÔĽŅ

Please let us know how you get on. And don't be put off by the fact that so far only Rochelle and I have replied to you. I am sure others will join in as time goes on.

Regards,
Elisabeth
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  • dgalibourg
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  • PhD candidate with the WEDC at Loughborough University (UK), looking into the recycling of water and nutrients to improve the resilience and food security of smallholder farmers a, and particularly how to foster an enabling environment for the successful implementation of sustainable & safe schemes at scale (e.g., behavior change, governance)
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Re: Behavior change approaches applied to growers and consumers of wastewater irrigated food : any application?

Hi Elisabeth,

Yes, you nailed it: my focus is the "non-treatment barriers" within the multiple-barrier approach to safe reuse, and more particularly, the drivers, barriers, and incentives surrounding the adoption of these practices.

Thank you for the references. The "Make me an agent of change" manual is an interesting addition.

Regarding my use of "Human waste," I only meant it as a broad and short terminology for "wastewater, excreta, and greywater," and really anything that might be contaminated with human faeces and be of use in agriculture.  In that sense,  if "human waste" is generally considered a synonym for the sole human excreta, that would defeat my point, and I would need to adopt another phrasing.

Best regards,
David
David Galibourg
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WEDC, Loughborough University, UK
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  • Heiner
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  • I am a retired organic farmer and interested in nutrient cycles. As an volunteer I now travel mainly to poor countries and together with locals I would like to find new ways of sustainable agriculture. This is beyond the regulations of IFOAM.
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Re: Behavior change approaches applied to growers and consumers of wastewater irrigated food : any application?

Hi David,

I follow this thread with interest and think you are on an important track. You don't ask what has to be done but look at the real situation and chances for improvements with little effort. If I understand you right.... Due to the corona situation I expect that lots of scheduled improvements/ installations will be postponed and so your work will be very helpful.
Unluckywise I have no examples for you. My knowledge is generated by literature and videoclips. But as Elisabeth wrote: please keep us informed and once your work is done I would be glad to read it!

Good luck and much success,

Heiner
Heiner, the old farmer.....
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  • danipa
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Re: Behavior change approaches applied to growers and consumers of wastewater irrigated food : any application?

Saludes, en primera instancia a qu√© nivel de saneamiento se tratar√°n las aguas residuales, para luego ser utilizadas para regad√≠o, a ciertos cultivos se les puede aplicar agua residual con o sin ning√ļn tratamiento.
Ahora cantidad que al hacer una gobernanza y gestión eficiente se podría tener almacenado el agua para la agricultura inteligente, ya que las aguas residuales rurales , la cantidad originada no es significativa en comparación a la superficial y sub terranea que existe , por lo tanto  hay que planificar la construcción de ríos artificiales y lagos , con dos. Metas almacenar para su uso posterior y evitar inundaciones en los siembras y protección al ciudadano.

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Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version):

Greetings, in the first instance at what level of sanitation will the waste water be treated, to then be used for irrigation, certain crops can have waste water applied to them with or without any treatment.
Now amount that by making an efficient governance and management could have stored water for smart agriculture, since rural wastewater, the amount originated is not significant compared to the surface and sub terrestrial that exists, therefore we must plan the construction of artificial rivers and lakes, with two. Aims to store for later use and prevent flooding in the sowing and protection to the citizen.
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