Irrigation and Drainage Systems

, Volume 24, Issue 1–2, pp 53–64 | Cite as

Urban growth, wastewater production and use in irrigated agriculture: a comparative study of Accra, Addis Ababa and Hyderabad

  • Daniel J. Van Rooijen
  • Trent W. Biggs
  • Ian Smout
  • Pay Drechsel


The relationships between urban development, water resources management and wastewater use for irrigation have been studied in the cities of Accra in Ghana, Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and Hyderabad in India. Large volumes of water are extracted from water sources often increasingly far away from the city, while investments in wastewater management are often lagging behind. The resulting environmental degradation within and downstream of cities has multiple consequences for public health, in particular through the use of untreated wastewater in irrigated agriculture. Despite significant efforts to increase wastewater treatment, options for safeguarding public health via conventional wastewater treatment alone remain limited to smaller inner-urban watersheds. The new WHO guidelines for wastewater irrigation recognize this situation and emphasize the potential of post- or non-treatment options. Controlling potential health risks will allow urban water managers in all three cities to build on the benefits from the already existing (but largely informal) wastewater reuse, those being the contribution to food security and reduction of fresh water demands.


Urban growth Wastewater irrigation Water scarcity Urban water balance Developing countries Cities Urban agriculture 



The first author would like to thank the International Water Management Institute for funding his PhD research. The authors would like to thank the reviewers for their stimulating comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel J. Van Rooijen
    • 1
    • 2
  • Trent W. Biggs
    • 3
  • Ian Smout
    • 2
  • Pay Drechsel
    • 4
  1. 1.International Water Management InstituteAccraGhana
  2. 2.Water Engineering and Development CentreLoughboroughUK
  3. 3.San Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  4. 4.International Water Management InstituteColomboSri Lanka

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