The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region is facing chronic water scarcity, which is very severe in some countries such as Jordan and Yemen. INWRDAM had been involved since February 2000 in greywater research activities in Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen. Houses in rural areas in the MENA region are usually simple and this makes it possible to separate greywater from black water with minimal modification of sewer pipes inside the house. In 2000 INWRDAM conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the potential for greywater reuse in rural areas of Jordan.
Shihab Najib Al-Beiruti
IWRM, Greywater, Wastewater Treatment, Community Capcity Building, Enconomic Feasibility, Women Empowerment, Governance, Water Resources, Irrigation, Agiculture
Policy (Goverment Subsidy)
Socio-economic (Community Involvement, Women Empowerment, Economic Feasibility)
Details and reports are included in the attachment: Studies of IDRC Supported Research on Greywater in Jordan Conducted by INWRDAM
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region is facing chronic water scarcity, which is very severe in some countries such as Jordan and Yemen. INWRDAM had been involved since February 2000 in greywater research activities in Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen. Houses in rural areas in the MENA region are usually simple and this makes it possible to separate greywater from black water with minimal modification of sewer pipes inside the house. In 2000 INWRDAM conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the potential for greywater reuse in rural areas of Jordan. Phase I of greywater research project that was implemented during 2001-2003 in Ein Al-Baida, of Tafila Governorate, southern Jordan resulted in developing five different types of on-site greywater treatment units. Mainly one module known as the confined trench unit (CT) which is based on constructed wetland treatment principle was used by INWRDAM and its partners during Phase II conducted from 2004 to 2008 was located in water scare area in the Al-Amer villages, in the Governorate of Karak southern part of Jordan. Local community participation was emphasized and modalities for beneficiaries contribution in the ownership of the greywater treatment units were tested. During 2009-2011, INWRDAM further improved the design and operation of the CT units so that routine cleaning was made simple and easier, solved problems with pump priming and improved agriculture practices that increase family income and reduce impacts of greywater on soil, plants and the environment. The CT was well accepted by the users and can last for ten years with little care and maintenance and minimal running costs. All greywater units installed by INWRDAM were for single family use and all greywater produced was used within the home garden. Many organizations became aware of the potential of greywater use in peri urban and rural areas as a practice centered on women’s role in managing the home garden and improving food security for poor families. INWRDAM greywater research, studies and reports prepared by many INWRDAM experts conduct necessary research to answer these crucial questions. INWRDAM greywater applied research was also addressed to governmental, donor and research organizations, researchers and the general public interested in greywater use at household level.
Low cost greywater treatment units can be applied in rural and peri urban parts of most of the MENA countries that are suffering from drought, water scarcity and climate change consequences. So far, INWRDAM greywater treatment and use was implemented mostly in Jordan and Lebanon and limited research was conducted in Yemen, Syria and Tunisia. The most important step to start greywater treatment activities is to investigate site and beneficiary selection criteria based on local water use practices.
Need of the rural communities for irrigation home gardens led INWRDAM to investigation possible alternative water supplies such as rain water harvesting, municipal water use or purchasing water from local vendors by tankers. Most, except rain water harvesting, were thought to be either very expensive or not reliable. It was realized that communities in Jordan are all connected to electricity and domestic water networks. Also INWRDAM and other organizations conducted surveys in Jordan that showed per capita water use in the country is in the range of 100 L/c/d in the rural areas. It is also practical and possible to recover up 60 to 80 L/c/d of greywater after treatment instead of fresh water that can be reused in irrigating home garden crops that are not eaten raw.
The local rural community and local NGOs were vital to understand and take up the idea of separating greywater from black water and construction and installation of treatment units and its operation and maintenance. The role of the household women proved to be crucial to the success of the greywater reuse concept at community level. Also the support of the government agencies and the international donors was important to expand the practices of greywater reuse in the country.
Low cost greywater treatment and use in agriculture can be widely applied in the MENA Region and it represents a high step in the IWRM and Governance concepts where all stakeholders can contribute to the success of greywater activities. While INWRDAM had made very much progress in this field or research, yet, many important parallel steps can still be done. The need for developing sites and beneficiaries criteria are the foundation to move forward in wide application of greywater use in the whole MENA Region. In fact, researchers, donor agencies, governments, and decision makers must not consider greywater use benefits only. However, they must consider the other in-kind contribution of such activities which may include but not limited to: capacity building of local communities, saving valuable fresh water resources, positive contribution to the local environment…etc.
The greywater capture and reuse concept was a solution that responded successfully to improve access to water to low income households in rural areas of the MENA region. Benefits of greywater use for irrigation of home gardens in rural and peri-urban areas include conserving precious freshwater and money saved from reduced bills, greywater is available year-round, greywater use increases olive tree yield by more than 20% and finally, money saved from reducing frequency of emptying home sewage cesspits.
Economic feasiblity studies showed that the net benefit-cost ratio of using low cost greywater treatment units for irrigation is about 3 to 1 over 10 years project period time. In addition to its contribution to community capacity building, women empowerment and helpling the protection of the local environment by conserving precious freshwater.
1- Over the span of eight years the Number of communities practicing greywater reuse increased and now there are communities in Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine and Yemen involved in the practice.
2- Local research organizations such as universities and colleges conduct research on this topic and many scientific publications were published.
3- Government formulated standards for monitoring the practice and also it was included in the Jordan water stategy 2024.
The outcomes of studies showed that replication potential for implementation of low cost greywater treatment units for irrigation exists in many countries of the MENA Region. In Jordan, for example, the percentage of population that can be served with such activities is about 40%, which means about a quarter of a million of rural families all over Jordan. Recent greywater activities had been widely implemented in Lebanon and proved to be successful. Studies and observations indicated a good potential for greywater use exists in rural areas of Egypt, Yemen and Tunisia.
Include community in the planning and management of the progect.
Include key stakeholders in the project implementation and monitoring
Give gender issues and involving women due attention and adequate training and familiarization with the overall need of the project so that less harmful chemicals and agents are thrown into the drains.
Since the end of project implementation in 2009, INWRDAM is still developing from its own financial resources and enhancing the design to be more simpler and more practical. There is, however, a great need of support from two main stake holders to make this initiative more successful and spread over the whole rural and peri-urban communities of the MENA Region. First, there is a need of more support at the governments level and such support must include a good portion of government subsidy to greywater activities. Second, there is a need of international donors support to continue research and scale up of greywater treatment units taking into consideration the need for developing site and beneficiaries selection criteria that suits the local conditions of each country.
The Inter-Islamic Network on Water Resources Development and Management, Amman, Jordan (INWRDAM)
Eng. Shihab Najib Al-Beiruti
Head of Services and Programs Section,
Inter-Islamic Network on Water Resources Development and Management (INWRDAM)
P. O. Box 1460, Jubieha: Amman PC 11941, Jordan
Tel. (office): 00962-6-5332993
Tel. (Mobile): 00962-7-96770421
Most recent official update is the greywater booklet published by INWRDAM entitled: Studies of IDRC Supported Research on Greywater in Jordan Conducted by INWRDAM. Other supporting materials include a typical greywater design, posters and selected images related to greywater research and activities in Jordan.