Municipal liquid waste an option for addressing water scarcity


Photo credit: FAO

In California, wastewater is sanitized and blended with groundwater, supporting large-scale crop production.

Exploring the use of wastewater in agriculture

Once seen as a problem to be disposed of, municipal liquid waste is now being eyed as an option for addressing water scarcity

With food demand and water scarcity on the uptick, it’s time to stop treating wastewater like garbage and instead manage it as a resource that can be used to grow crops and help address water scarcity in agriculture.

Properly managed, wastewater can be used safely to support crop production — directly through irrigation or indirectly by recharging aquifers — but doing so requires diligent management of health risks through adequate treatment or appropriate use.

How countries are approaching this challenge and the latest trends in the use of wastewater in agriculture production will be the focus of discussions by a group of experts taking place today in Berlin during the annual Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (19-21 January). The event has been convened by FAO along with the United Nations University, Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), the UN’s Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and the Leibniz Research Alliance Food and Nutrition.

Read the full article: FAO

Rainwater harvesting in hot climate



Clever concave roof design harvests rainwater in hot climates


Kimberley Mok
Design / Green Architecture

We know that water is life, and the growing scarcity of water in many regions around the world is already affecting food security, and could very well prompt future climate migration and conflicts over water.

All these factors are compelling reasons to create self-sustaining buildings that are appropriately designed for their local climate and possibly even support local biodiversity. ArchDaily shows this interesting rainwater-collecting design from Iranian firm BMDesign Studios, which features a double-roof design with a bowl-shaped component that augments the amount of rainwater that can be collected in arid climates.


Photo credit: Morocco World News

EU Project Invents New Method To Combat Desertification in North Africa

Reforest Africa’s highest mountain to help protect vital water supplies



Aerial view of the dwindling ice on the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. UN Photo/Mark Garten

Reforesting Kilimanjaro could ease East Africa’s severe water shortages – UN

There is a need to reforest Africa’s highest mountain to help protect vital water supplies that are under threat across large parts of East Africa, a UN Environment report urged today.

The loss of Mount Kilimanjaro’s forests could trigger water crisis as rivers begin to dry up, notes the report, entitled Sustainable Mountain Development in East Africa in a Changing Climate, which was launched at the World Mountain Forum in Uganda today.

The report stresses that climate change has already destroyed 13,000 hectares of the mountain’s forests since 1976 – equivalent to cutting off a year’s supply of drinking water for one million people.

According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Mt. Kilimanjaro’s forests are a vital source of water for the surrounding towns and the wider region. Water from the mountain feeds one of Tanzania’s largest rivers, the Pangani, providing food, fuel and building materials to much of East Africa.

The report notes that higher temperatures as a result of climate change have increased the number of wildfires on the mountain and thus accelerated the destruction of forests. Because there are now fewer trees to trap water from clouds, the annual amount of dew on the mountain is believed to have fallen by 25 per cent.

As an example of the dire impact of this situation, UNEP notes that the town of Moshi, which is located in the foothills of Kilimanjaro, is already experiencing severe water shortages as rivers begin to dry up, starving farmland of water in an area already struggling to cope with a dramatic drop in rainfall.

The report urges Tanzania to protect Mt. Kilimanjaro’s water catchment area by reforesting the mountain, investing in early warning systems and making climate adaptation a top priority.

Read the full article: UN NEWS CENTRE

An inventive cap to collect water in the air (Ghent University students – Belgium) – Text in Flemish language


An English translation would be very welcome.  Any helping hand ? Please send your translation to

Studenten bestrijden waterschaarste met ingenieuze dop

Een groep master- en doctoraatsstudenten aan de Universiteit Gent heeft een inventieve dop ontwikkeld die water uit de lucht kan halen. Hun doel? Waterschaarste bestrijden.

Voor het ontwerp Dewpal – in het Nederlands ‘watermaatje’ – haalden de studenten inspiratie bij het schild van de woestijnkever, die de dauwdruppels op zijn schild condenseert om niet uit te drogen. Op die manier kan de structuur efficiënt en passief water te collecteren uit de lucht.

Ze modelleerden het schild van de kever in 3D. De structuur ziet eruit als een dop in de vorm van een halve bol, en kan op een fles geschroefd worden om water handig op te vangen.

Het materiaal waaruit de Dewpal geprint is, ontwikkelden ze zelf en is een bijzonder staaltje biotechnologie. Het bevat onder andere een eiwit dat al in de natuur voorkomt: het vormt ijskristallen en helpt om wolken te vormen uit gecondenseerd water. Zo zorgt het ervoor dat de condensatie zo optimaal mogelijk verloopt en er dus zo veel mogelijk water uit de lucht gehaald wordt.

De groep studenten neemt binnenkort deel aan de iGEM-competitie. iGEM (International Genetically Engineerd Machine) is een internationaal vermaarde competitie in synthetische biologie waarin teams van over de gehele wereld een eigen project uitwerken.

A paste helping desert soils to retain water and nutrients



China Invents Paste To Make Sand Fertile

Researchers from Chongqing University have developed a paste which helps desert soils to retain water and nutrients

Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences

by Michael Friedländer, Eatglobe thumb_62202_avatar_normal

Plants in an oasis near Dunhuang in the western part of Gobi desert –

The Chinese Academy of Sciences announced in early September that a team of researchers from Chongqing Jiatong University has developed a paste which helps sand to retain water and nutrients.

The finding has great significance for fighting and reversing desertification which represents a major problem in China. Half of China is composed of arid and semi-arid regions which are situated in the country’s North and Northwest (see map). Until the early years of this century, desertification has increased, largely due to over-exploitation of the land.

Major, centrally planned programmes to fight desertification through reforestations and restrictions on land use have since succeeded to stop further desertification. However, the long-term success of these measures is uncertain. For example, it has been shown in some regions that reforestation can lead to increased desertification by taking away scarce water resources from other plants. And restrictions on land use can drive people into covert farming activities if they have no alternative sources of income.

The researchers who developed the paste started their work in two sites in Chongqing where desert soil conditions were simulated, using the paste. However, the plants grown, rice, corn and potatoes, still profited from ample rainfall typical for Chongqing, which is situated in south-central China. Next, larger-scale test fields were built with the help of the paste in the Ulan Buh section of the Gobi desert last April.

Read the full story: Eatglobe

En collectant et conservant les eaux des wadi dans les aquifères (Collecting and conserving the Wadi water in the aquifers)


Photo credit: Presenza

Maghreb. Un nouveau projet pour combattre la désertification et la sécheresse

28.07.2016 – Cagliari, Italie Redazione Italia

Projet Wadis-Mar, désertification et sécheresse peuvent être combattues en collectant et conservant les eaux des wadi dans les aquifères.

Voici les résultats de l’étude réalisée par l’équipe de recherche sur la désertification (NRD) de l’Université de Sassari et l’Espagne, l’Algérie et la Tunisie.

A l’occasion de la présentation finale des travaux, spécialistes et personnalités internationales ont présenté leurs recommandations aux institutions.

Lisez l’article entier: Presenza



Traditional Soil and water conservation

Traditional soil and water conservation on the Dogon Plateau, Mali (1990)

Posted by Prof. Dr. Willem VAN COTTHEM

Ghent University – Belgium

Having participated in all the meetings of the INCD (1992-1994) and all the meetings of the UNCCD-COP, the CST and the CRIC in 1994-2006, I had an opportunity to collect a lot of interesting books and publications on drought and desertification published in that period.

Book Nr. 28

Please click:

or see Traditional soil and water conservation

‘Atrapanieblas’ to capture condensation (Cloud Catchers)


Photo credit: Treehugger

Video screen capture Makeshift

Peruvian farmers harvest water from fog

by Sami Grover

Sami Grover

If you live halfway up a mountain in rural Peru, and if you have no access to running water, farming can be a difficult task. In a town called Villa Lourdes, villagers receive deliveries of fresh drinking water three times a week from Lima—and they used to have to schlep a good deal of that water up the hill to irrigate their crops. That’s until a different, all together more elegant solution presented itself:


Using ‘Atrapanieblas’—large nets erected on the hillside—farmers like Maria Teresa Avalos Cucho take advantage of the daily fog to capture condensation, harvesting between 200 and 400 liters a day from each panel—which is then stored in tanks, and gravity-fed to the crops below.

Read the full article: Treehugger  

Food security and groundwater

Photo credit: CGIAR 

Sprinkler irrigation in Ghana.Photo Credit: Nana Kofi Acquah/IWMI.

Is groundwater the key to increasing food security in Sub Saharan Africa?

Sub Saharan Africa is currently experiencing a food crisis due to drought. The World Food Program estimates that 10 million people in the region will require food aid in the coming year.

How can water resources be better used to ensure food security in these arid and semi arid areas?

One particularly promising way is to explore groundwater irrigation. It is a growing sector, and as surface water becomes more variable and uncertain, it provides an important buffer for farmers. It also responds to their water demand in a more flexible and reliable way, which would allow them to increase their yields and mitigate the effects of extreme water shortages.

An important vehicle to promote poverty alleviation, especially in rural areas, groundwater irrigation can provide much needed food, as well as rural employment. Crop yields in areas that are currently already using this resource, either solely or in combination with surface water, are typically much higher than those using surface water irrigation alone.

At the moment, groundwater is a largely untapped resource in sub-Saharan Africa, with only 1% of cultivated land being equipped for groundwater irrigation in all of Africa, as compared to 14% in Asia. There are sufficient groundwater stores in many parts of the continent so the potential to increase use for irrigation is quite high.

Ease of extraction and demand are uneven, however, and renewability of groundwater must be considered in order to make any groundwater irrigation schemes beneficial and sustainable over the long term. This requires a good estimation of upper limits for sustainable irrigation and most appropriate geographic areas for development.

The question then is: where does it make sense to develop renewable groundwater irrigation?

Read the full article: CGIAR

“Water scarcity” — a condition defined by the withdrawal of more water than is sustainably available



Photo credit: Nature

‘Water scarcity’ affects four billion people each year

Global map charts locations that use more water than is available in at least one month each year.

by Emma Marris

In the western United States, disputes over the management of the Klamath River, which wends its way from southern Oregon to the Pacific Ocean through northern California, have made blood boil for generations. Cattle ranchers and potato farmers want to take the water out for irrigation; Native American tribes, environmentalists, hunters and anglers want to leave it in to support fish and waterfowl populations. Every summer, tempers flare as the rain dries up and water levels begin to fall.

But until now, most global analyses would not have categorized the basin as experiencing “water scarcity” — a condition defined by the withdrawal of more water than is sustainably available. That’s because the analyses have been done on an annual basis, and it is only for three months of the year, in July, August and September, that water from the Klamath River is in short supply.

Read the full article: Nature

How ancient civilizations used and conserved water.



Photo credit : Science Daily

This is the base of an excavated depression showing evidence of limestone quarrying for building material.
Credit: Jeff Brewer

How an ancient civilization conserved water

Source: University of Cincinnati


High-resolution, aerial imagery bears significance for researchers on the ground investigating how remote, ancient Maya civilizations used and conserved water.

Collection, storage and management of water were top priorities for the ancient Maya, whose sites in Mexico, Belize and Guatemala were forced to endure seven months out of the year with very little rainfall. As researchers expand their explorations of the civilization outside of large, elite-focused research site centers, aerial imagery technology is helping them locate and study areas that are showing them how less urbanized populations conserved water for drinking and irrigation. The NSF-supported research by Jeffrey Brewer, a doctoral student in the University of Cincinnati’s Department of Geography, and Christopher Carr, a UC research assistant professor of geography, was presented at the 81st annual meeting of the Society of American Archaeology.

The UC researchers used a surveying technology called LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) — along with excavation data — to examine the spatial characteristics, cultural modifications and function of residential-scale water tanks — a little-investigated component of Maya water management by commoners versus the more powerful and visible elites, says Brewer.

LiDAR is a remote sensing technology that collects high-resolution imagery shot from an airplane at 30,000 points per second, allowing researchers to map ground surfaces through dense vegetation. The technology saves a significant amount of time in the field, compared with trekking through forests to locate these small depressions at ground level.

Read the full story : Science Daily

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