Use case

Resource efficiency (water)

Case study II applies a landscape-based approach to examine and act upon nature-based solutions with the aim to address the mismatch between (waste) water demand and supply.

The research activities take place in two different geographical areas (i.e. the Netherlands and Ghana) where food systems face different challenges and specific climate risks.

In both areas we consider (a) opportunities and constraints that stakeholders may perceive; (b) future technological development in both cropping and waste water treatment and (c) the benefits for nature.

Research questions

In general terms we aim to address the following research questions:

  1. What are the underpinning mechanisms of (a set of) nature-based solutions that aim to address the mismatch between (waste) water demand and supply, and how do they function?
  2. To what extent do/can nature-based solutions contribute to food security, circularity and climate resilience?
  3. What are the fostering and hampering factors for implementing and scaling nature-based solutions within specific spatial contexts?
  4. What are essential processes, data, information and (visualization) tools for supporting multi- stakeholders in a food system to jointly explore promising nature-based solutions and appropriate locations at landscape level?


1. Ghana’s food basket in changing climate

The Bono East region is Ghana’s food basket. Climate change has made farming in this region more difficult and risky because farmers are no longer able to predict the onset of the rainy season, and experience prolonged dry spells and erratic rainfall, making agriculture an unreliable and unprofitable investment.

Potential nature-based solutions
A. Rainwater harvesting for irrigation (RWHI)
RWHI is important for improving agricultural conditions in dryland regions.

case study II_Rainwater harvesting for irrigation.jpg

B. Ecosystem restoration
Land degradation reduces soil and water efficiencies and raises prices through external inputs (e.g., fertilizers) and decreases food security. Restoring land can help improve productivity. It can be done in multiple ways.

case study II_Ecosystem restoration_enlarged.jpg

2. Waste water connectors in the Netherlands

Food processing industries in the Netherlands are increasingly exploring how water use per unit of produced product can be reduced in farming systems and within the factory. Some are considering whether residual water streams can be re-used within the factory or by neighboring land owners. Also, substances dissolved in the water can be re-used.

Potential nature-based solutions
A. Alternative water resources from (food) industry for irrigation
By reusing the wastewater and components in the wastewater for crop production, the discharge of water and nutrients to rivers will be prevented.

case study II_Alternative water resources for irrigation 2.jpg

B. Realize water buffers
Water conservation in the soil and ground water bodies by rainwater harvesting in winter (precipitation surplus) to meet water demand in summer in both nature and agricultural areas.

case study II_Buffering of precipitation.jpg

C. Salt tolerant aquaculture for lower water demand Strategies to reduce water demand in food systems by a transition from arable farming towards (salt tolerant) aquaculture.

case study II_Salt tolerant aquaculture.jpg