Wastewater pp 75-92 | Cite as

Social and Cultural Dimensions in Wastewater Use

  • Pay DrechselEmail author
  • Olfa Mahjoub
  • Bernard Keraita


Even when wastewater use projects are technically well-planned, appear financially viable, and have incorporated appropriate health protection measures, reuse can fail if planners do not adequately account for the dynamics of social acceptance. Drawing from practical cases of project failure or success, we present a number of factors that commonly influence the introduction or improvement of wastewater use for potable and non-potable purposes. While water scarcity supports a discussion about reuse, decisive factors might be the level of direct exposure, availability of alternative water sources, education levels and perceptions of health risks, extent of public participation and buy-in, religious concerns, and the means and messages used in knowledge sharing and communication. Overall, acceptance of (safe) wastewater use varies with the development stage of the society, and can be a very dynamic process which makes social feasibility studies, close participation of target groups, and trust building essential components of successful reuse programs.


Wastewater acceptance Potable water Religion Risk awareness Gender Perceptions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Water Management Institute (IWMI)ColomboSri Lanka
  2. 2.National Research Institute for Rural Engineering, Water, and ForestryArianaTunisia
  3. 3.Copenhagen School of Global HealthUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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