Farmers' perceptions and knowledge of using waste and wastewater in two peri-urban areas of Kathmandu valley of Nepal
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Using waste and wastewater in urban and peri-urban agriculture and its related concerns in developing countries have become the burning issues in academic and non-academic spheres. It is often argued that reuse of waste and wastewater through agriculture is a viable alternative to support small-scale urban and peri-urban farmers, to sustain the urban food system and to maintain the urban environment. However, researches and studies in developing countries have confirmed that the unsafe and unregulated reuse poses several public health and environmental risks. In this context, exploration of farmers’ knowledge and perceptions might be an important contribution in the wisdom of knowledge and in the field of research. This study is an attempt to explore farmers’ perceived benefits and perceived risks of using waste and wastewater in peri-urban area of Kathmandu valley. The study also tries to establish an association between discourses of waste and wastewater use and the farmers’ practices at the local level. The empirical data for this study was collected from two months of fieldwork in 2016 in two peri-urban sites (site-A and site-B) using semi-structured questionnaires surveys (N=50, 25 in each site, interviews (n=30, 15 in each) and supplemented by observation and participant observation. The theoretical framework has been designed combining FAO’s concept of peri-urban agriculture, typology of waste and wastewater use given by Van der Hoek (2004), some discourses of waste and wastewater use documented in multiple literatures and WHO’s multi-barrier approach. The result from analysis shows the wastewater is being used in farming in both peri-urban sites; however, use of wastewater for irrigation purpose is common in the site ‘B’ where the direct pattern of wastewater use (from polluted river water and open sewage) has been found. Farmers of site ‘A’ are using water from deep boreholes that are locally considered as clean water to irrigate crops, but the vegetable brokers are washing vegetable in polluted river water in this site. Farmers are also using organic waste to fertilize the crops and waste food to feed their livestock (mainly pigs and ducks). Relating farmers choice of wastewater use with the closed loop discourse, it is concluded that the current use of wastewater in agriculture is found to be a response to clean water scarcity not for the nutrient value whereas farmers have a strong awareness and knowledge of agronomic and economic values of organic waste and food waste. Concerning perceived risks, itching and skin infection, odd smell and mosquito nuisance were responded as common farmers’ health-related problems but the higher frequency has been found in site ‘B’. Concerning to public health risks, the higher risk might be posed by washing vegetable in contaminated river water but the local chain of food (from farm to fork) can also generate several public health risks. Thus, enhancing farmers’ capacity to low-cost and safe ways of handling waste and wastewater and adoption of the multi-barrier approach that prevents health risks in every step of a food chain, need to go hand in hand.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
SubjectPeri-Urban AgricultureFarmers Perception and KnowledgeWaste and WastewaterPublic Health Risk
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