Monthly Archives: March 2017

From Waste to Watts: How Sewage Could Help Fix India’s Water, Energy and Sanitation Woes

Originally published on the WRI website. As India’s summer intensifies, many states are already in the midst of a drought—and the hottest days have yet to arrive. At the same time, water-intensive agriculture, rapid urban expansion, increases in industrial activity and growing energy production are driving the country’s water demand upward. More than half of India is now considered severely water stressed.

Part of the problem is that India still manages its water as an infinite resource on a linear model of withdrawal, consumption and disposal. But a more efficient management model is to look at water from a “circular economy” perspective. Water’s usability doesn’t need to end once it washes down the drain. Rather, we can see industrial and domestic wastewater as a valuable resource from which usable water, nutrients and even renewable energy can be extracted.

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Wastewater: The Best Hidden Energy Source You’ve Never Heard Of

Originally published on the WRI website. It’s no secret that the world’s need for energy is increasing—but what many don’t realize is that a promising potential energy source is being flushed down our toilets every day. Increasingly, this wastewater—as well as other organic waste from sources like gardens and kitchens—is being used to heat homes, provide electricity, and even power cars.

This year’s World Water Day focuses on the problems and possibilities posed by wastewater. Wastewater is water contaminated with human, agricultural, or industrial wastes. While typically seen as a nuisance, the organic matter contained in wastewater from our sewage systems (commonly known as “sludge”) can become a valuable resource with sludge-to-energy systems.

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Parkland Agroforestry

A video on Sustainable Land Management in Africa looks at the use of parkland agroforestry as part of effective and sustainable integrated farming.


Farmers and Pastoralists

A video on the series on Sustainable Land Management in Africa looks at the interactions between farmers and pastoralists in Mali, for the benefit of the environment and sustainability of scarce resources. Click here to watch the video


From small bushes, big trees grow


Over the last decade World Vision and partners have been working very hard to introduce Farmer Manager Natural Regeneration (FMNR) wherever a receptive ear can be found. Uptake generally follows the following pattern: First there is disbelief that this low cost, simple technique can be beneficial. Deep-seated paradigms such as “trees are bad for crops, trees grow too slowly and indigenous trees have no value” are challenged and so there is some push-back.

An enlightened few decide to pilot FMNR on a small scale. Within a short period, positive changes are self-evident; the landscape looks greener and now, with trees, is more pleasing to the eye. By thinning and pruning thorn tree thickets, light is allowed through to stimulate grass growth, and the trees themselves produce fodder. Improved habitat for natural predators results in fewer insect pests. Soil fertility increases. With lower temperatures and higher soil moisture holding capacity, when drought does occur, it has less impact.

As a result of these benefits, farmers are reporting more productive farmland, higher incomes, school fees are paid on time and without stress. Children are spending more time in school and, along with their mothers, are spending less time foraging for firewood. Hope for a bright future is being restored. Confidence is growing and farmers are investing more in agriculture, because it pays to do so and because the impact of drought and flood are reduced, there are less risks – allowing for new bee hives, improved seed, fruit trees, hay making and storage facilities. Incomes increase in line with these investments.

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FMNR in Kenya unearths opportunities for farmers

Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR) methods, implemented in the area as part of World Vision’s Mogotio ADP, are opening up new opportunities for communities and allowing farmers to return to their pastoral roots. As part of FMNR methods, thick undergrowth is cleared from around local tree varieties, providing a protective canopy and allowing grass to thrive in the newly created shade. Land once lost to erosion is being reclaimed for productivity and profit.

This sets off a series of important changes for the community. More fodder is made available for sale or feeding of animals. Cows are better fed and produce more milk, and growing gardens result in better family nutrition and boosted profits to meet expenses such as school fees and fencing. Increased incomes also allow people to take out loans and buy livestock. The clearing of brush and selective tree pruning provides material that can be used as firewood or turned into valuable charcoal.

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