This topic means a lot to Celma since her background is in agriculture and water management. Agriculture is an activity that contributes to livelihoods of a large part of the population of Mozambique and it’s an opportunity to survive the socioeconomic distress in urban areas.
Freshwater is scarce and a competitive resource in urban areas. This makes wastewater an alternative source for irrigation in peri-urban areas where water is limited.
Wastewater is widely used treated, partially treated or untreated in many parts of the world and the situation is similar Maputo. The wastewater treatment plant in Maputo treats 10% of city’s wastewater and its effluent is widely used for crop irrigation despite the plant not treating the wastewater adequately. There are water quality guidelines on water reclamation for irrigation but these are not realistic for the context of Maputo, due to existing conditions of treatment and use.
The benefits of water reclamation are: increased water availability, nutrient recovery for agriculture and, additionally, environmental protection.
In her research, she has assessed the risk of irrigating with wastewater in lettuce in the Infulene valley in Maputo. She found that irrespective of irrigating water source, similar E. coli concentrations were found in lettuce, which raises the possibility of other sources of contamination such as manure application and crop handling.
Therefore, she is also assessing the effect of solar radiation on E. coli disinfection and E.coli contamination along the supply chain, from the field to the market. In addition, she is assessing the amount of nutrients that can be recovered from Infulene’s wastewater because recent studies in Maputo showed that there is the potential to recover 500 ton/year of Nitrogen for agricultural purposes.
The results of this research will help to reshape the current status of water reclamation for irrigation and better inform the areas of improvement to enable secure water reclamation in Mozambique and across Sub-saharan Africa, resulting in the development of conditions for local agricultural farmers working in those areas.
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