, Volume 46, Issue 3, pp 347–360 | Cite as

A livelihood in a risky environment: Farmers’ preferences for irrigation with wastewater in Hyderabad, India

  • Cecilia Saldías
  • Stijn Speelman
  • Pay Drechsel
  • Guido Van Huylenbroeck


Most cities in developing countries fail to treat their wastewater comprehensively. Consequently, farmers downstream use poor-quality water for irrigation. This practice implies risks for farmers, consumers and the environment. Conversely, this water supply supports the livelihood of these farmers and other stakeholders along the value chains. Linking safer options for wastewater management with irrigation could therefore be a win–win solution: removing the risks for society and maintaining the benefits for farmers. However, in developing countries, the high investment costs for the required treatment are problematic and the willingness of farmers to pay for the water (cost recovery) is often questionable. Using a choice experiment, this paper gives insight into farmers’ preferences for wastewater use scenarios, quantifying their willingness to pay. The case study is Hyderabad, India. Farmers there prefer water treatment and are prepared to pay a surplus for this. Considering the cost-recovery challenge, this information could be valuable for planning small on site wastewater treatment systems.


Agriculture Choice experiment India Wastewater 



Field research for this paper was supported by the International Water Management Institute and Ghent University. The authors thank Dr. Priyanie Amerasinghe for facilitating contacts and fieldwork in Hyderabad; Dr. George Danso and Dr. Krishna Reddy Kakumanu for their comments on the choice experiment and the questionnaire. We also thank many interviewees who generously shared information. Finally, we thank two anonymous reviewers whose comments helped us to improve this paper.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecilia Saldías
    • 1
  • Stijn Speelman
    • 1
  • Pay Drechsel
    • 2
  • Guido Van Huylenbroeck
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Agricultural EconomicsGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.International Water Management InstituteColomboSri Lanka

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