Publications

Waste or Savior? Two Cases of Emerging Wastewater Irrigation in Urbanizing Kathmandu Valley

Quarta, Silvia; Roth, D.; Dongol, R.; Shrestha, A.; Yakami, S.

Summary

This chapter discusses two case studies from the peri-urban areas of Kathmandu, Nepal, where irrigation using wastewater or highly polluted water is increasingly practiced. While climate change gradually brings more water stress to the area, the rapidly expanding urban areas are encroaching on land and water resources that were mainly used for agriculture and basic domestic purposes until quite recently. In conjunction, these processes are causing new constraints on irrigated agriculture, forcing irrigators to explore alternatives for accessing water to avoid exclusion from this crucial resource. Using two case studies of changing irrigation practices, we show how peri-urban farmers find locally specific individual and cooperative solutions to deal with the decreasing availability of water for irrigation. Reinterpreting the function of existing infrastructure, exploring new water sources, and introducing new water accessing technologies, farmers manage to maintain access to water through the adoption of increasingly ad-hoc and pragmatically arranged irrigation practices. We suggest that future policies that deal with these processes should start from the experiences and daily practices of marginalized groups and vulnerable actors who continue to depend on agriculture, to develop adaptation strategies that consider their livelihoods.