Greywater use in the Middle East

Stephen McIlwaine (Editor), Mark Redwood (Editor)

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book follows a meeting held in Aqaba, Jordan, in 2007 and convened by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Centre for the Study of the Built Environment (CSBE). At that time, an effort was made to come to a consensus on what are the priority issues associated with greywater use, what kind of work existed on greywater use in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and where research could make further contributions. A series of projects on greywater use in home agriculture pursued by regional research institutes, such as the Inter-Islamic Network on Water Resources Development and Management (INWRDAM), the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees (PARC), and Birzeit University, were reviewed covering the years 1999–2007. In all, 35 participants attended, representing 17 different institutions, and were asked the following questions:

• What have we learned from these projects?
• How do we balance the economic and environmental benefits of greywater with the need to mitigate the potential health and environmental risks?
• How can we raise the profile of greywater amongst policy makers and promote its widespread use?

The meeting concluded by formulating and agreeing a statement summarizing participants’ concerns and aspirations regarding greywater research and implementation. This Aqaba Declaration on Greywater Use is reproduced in the book.

This book is a compilation of the learning that was acquired through these projects and refl ections on what managed greywater-use may contribute to water conservation. Moreover, given the 2006 publication of the WHO Guidelines for the Safe Use of Wastewater, Excreta and Greywater, the time is ripe for a renewed look at greywater.

The main conclusion of the efforts spent in researching greywater is that while its contribution to macro or regional water conservation will always be modest, it can nevertheless ease some of the more extreme exposure to problems of poverty resulting from water scarcity. We do not want to exaggerate the potential for greywater; it can not be a panacea for the crisis of water management. However, the mere fact that it is being practiced merits attention from researchers to maximize its benefits and reduce any associated risks. In addition to the use of greywater for agriculture, there are potential uses at a larger scale, for toilet flushing and landscaping, but these are not dealt with in this volume.

We are concerned for the future of water use in the MENA region. Without better demand management, the supply-oriented and technology-driven approach to meeting water needs will not deliver what is required to balance needs with the available resources. Excessive efforts by the authorities to regulate greywater use will miss the point that more effort is required at all levels to ensure that water is used efficiently, that it is reused wherever possible, and that its intrinsic value be reflected in policy.

Greywater is one small contribution to supplement the incomes of some of the poor in water-scarce environments and under controlled conditions it becomes an ingredient in the battle to reduce water waste.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherPractical Action Publishing
Commissioning bodyInternational Development Research Centre, Canada
Number of pages178
ISBN (Electronic)978 1 55250 466 6
ISBN (Print)978 1 85339 698 4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


Dive into the research topics of 'Greywater use in the Middle East'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this