Heinz-Peter Wolff, Susanne Neubert:
Potentials and Limitations of Wastewater Re-Use in Rural Areas -- A Comparison between Tunisia and Jordan


1University of Hohenheim, Department of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences in the Tropics and Subtropics, Germany
2German Development Institute (GDI), Department of Policy Issues of Development Cooperation, Germany

Recycled wastewater provides a potential alternative resource for water scarce regions. Treatment costs are an obstacle for purification up to drinking water quality, but water of lower quality may still be used for irrigation purposes. Research results from Tunisia and the Jordan Valley indicate that impacts from the use of treated wastewater on agriculture and rural development depend -- at least in the short and mid-term run- on the socio-economic and institutional environment of farming systems rather than on applied water qualities. Wastewater already amounts to around 5% of the total available water resources in Jordan and Tunisia and will increase to a share of more than 15% within the next 30 years. Potentials and limitations from this alternative water resource vary due to differences in the context of farming systems and agricultural development. Similarities are likely to arise from the perception of consumers with regard to products from wastewater irrigation and from lower variations in water supply. Wastewater use in agriculture already takes place in Jordan. Further amounts are likely to replace for currently used freshwater in irrigation. Administrative regulations and restrictions for wastewater use restrict cultivation alternatives. Results are an increase in the required minimum land size of sustainable farming systems, a decrease in the number of farms in the Jordan Valley, lower labour requirements in agriculture and impacts on the market supply with specific products. Tunisia, which applies comparable administrative regulations, intends to use wastewater in a first step for extending its area of arable land. Predictable consequences are the increase of income opportunities for farming systems that are based on agriculture, but also limitations for livestock holders, who currently rely on the extensive use of communal areas. The comparison of the results from the research programmes in Jordan and Tunisia emphasises the need for a thorough examination of the individual case in the run-up of approaches to introduce or enhance the use of treated wastewater in agriculture. Recycled water is a valuable resource of rising importance but appropriate plans for its use have to take into account measures with regard to potentially substantial secondary impacts.

Keywords: Agriculture, Jordan, recycled water, Tunisia, waste water


Contact Address: Heinz-Peter Wolff, University of Hohenheim, Department of Agricultural Economics and Social Sciences in the Tropics and SubtropicsFruwirthstraße 12, 70599 Stuttgart, Germany, e-mail: hpwolff@uni-hohenheim.de
Andreas Deininger, September 2004