SANA’A, Nov. 9 — A seminar on the hazards of using sewage water to irrigate crops was held on Thursday in Taiz during the Al-Saeed Forum for Sciences and Culture.
Chaired by Professor Abdulrahman Al-Zubairi, chairman of the department of Microbiology in the Faculty of Sciences at Taiz University, the seminar stressed the importance of immediate attention to the fact that a shortage of water resources has prompted many Yemeni farmers to resort to use sewage water to irrigate their farms.
Al-Zubairi explains, “The shortage of water is the result of both the increasing rate of population growth and irresponsible irrigation. Only seven percent of underground water is consumed by the population, while 93 percent is used for irrigating crops, especially qat.”
The total amount of water used annually is 3.5 billion cubic meters of which 93 percent is used in agriculture, 6 percent in households and 1 percent by industry. According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation, the renewed fresh water is 2.5 billion cubic meters per year creating a gap between used water and renewed fresh water of one billion cubic meters a year.
Topography experts at the ministry predict that because of population growth 4.6 billion cubic meters of water will be needed by 2025.
The Ministry of International Planning and Cooperation has built many stations for filtering water in Aden, Hajah, Emran and Yarim. Funded by the German Constructor Bank, the stations enable farmers in these governorates to reuse sewage water for irrigation.
However, researchers at Taiz University have found that health hazards still exist. Because these filters are only capable of removing solid waste from sewage water, parasites and bacteria remain in the water, according to Al-Zubairi
Most common in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, wastewater use is critical to farmers’ incomes, urban food security but raises health concerns.
As developing countries confront the first global food crisis since the 1970s as well as unprecedented water scarcity, a new 53-city survey conducted by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) indicates that most of those studied (80 percent) are using untreated or partially treated wastewater for agriculture. In over 70 percent of the cities studied, more than half of urban agricultural land is irrigated with wastewater that is either raw or diluted in streams.