Untreated waste water is used for irrigation in over 80% of all Pakistani communities with a population of over 10,000 inhabitants. The absence of a suitable alternative water source, waste water’s high nutrient value, reliability, and its proximity to urban markets are the main reasons for its use. Two case studies in Pakistan studied the impact of untreated waste water use on health, environment, and income. The results showed a high increase in hookworm infections among waste water users and a clear over-application of nutrients through waste water. Heavy metal accumulation in soilover a period of 30 years was minimal in Haroonabad, a small town with no industry,but showed initial signs of excess levels in soil and plant material in Faisalabad, a city with large-scale industry. The impact of waste water irrigation on household income was considerable as waste water farmers earned approximately US$300/annum more than farmers using freshwater. Both case studies showed the importance of waste water-irrigation on local livelihoods. The lack of financial resources at municipal and provincial levels for waste water treatment calls for other measures to reduce the negative impact of untreated waste water use on health and environment, for example to manage groundwater, regular (canal) irrigation water, and waste water conjunctively,and regular deworming treatment of those exposed to waste water.
Asian Journal of Agriculture and rural Development is edited by Dr. Rana Ejaz Ali Khan
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