Social Innovation Factsheet #2.1: Innovation in water reuse and the potential of new water resources
In order to satisfy the increasing demands for water, communities in Africa and across the world are turning to non-traditional water resources, such as treated wastewater or agricultural drainage water. While demands are increasing for both urban (domestic, industrial) and agricultural use, traditional water resources are often facing depletion and are under threat of pollution. Climate change, population growth and urbanisation make the demand-supply balance even less favourable, particularly in many African countries.
Traditional sources such as natural groundwater and surface water bodies or artificial dams could be augmented by treated wastewater, agricultural drainage water, desalinated seawater or brackish groundwater. These options often require extensive and complicated infrastructure. However, this is not the case for decentralised harvesting of rainwater, urban storm water or household wastewater. Although wastewater is a potential public health risk, it is increasingly also perceived as a potential alternative resource. Recent technological innovations can be applied either in large scale treatment plants or at decentralised scale. The latter is especially promising for cities without or with poor sewer systems.