AQUACYCLE My Autobiography - Farmers have their say on World Water Day


I rather fondly remember how a desperate-sounding voice on World Water Day 2021:

AQUACYCLE, AQUACYCLE please come in haste

For all water is too precious to waste!

from a water stakeholder in the region of the world you call the Mediterranean, had caused me to call on my siblings, MEDISS, MENAWARA, NAWAMED and PROSIM, by going into poetry mode!

Actually, I now realize that this event spurred on my creators to found out more about the reasons of this stakeholder’s anxiousness. Of course, my creators are well aware that rainfall in the region has been steadfastly decreasing in the last two decades, and of climate experts’ projections that point to an even further increased scarcity of renewable fresh water resources in years to come.

Given this year’s theme of World Water Day “Groundwater - Making the Invisible Visible”, my creators decided to invite farmers in Lebanon, Spain and Tunisia to have their say about their dependence on groundwater and whether this dependence has been influenced by the impacts of climate change.

Sergio and Maria Isabel’s cucumber cultivation extends over 22000 square metres

In Spain, Samira Nahim from PSA-CIEMAT met up with Sergio and Maria Isabel, who till the land in the Almería region. They run an intensive cucumber cultivation which extends over 22000 square metres. The cultivation period runs from October to the end of February, but cucumbers are only harvested in the last three months with an average production of 8 kg of cucumber per square metre. To save water, they installed a drip line irrigation with inbuilt irrigation drippers. The irrigation takes place every other day, for about 30 minutes. The water already incorporates fertilizers and for each irrigation about 15000 litres of water are used. Their source of water is groundwater which is sold and distributed to them by a community of irrigators.


At this moment we have water availability, but we are afraid that in the future this aquifer will dry up. Moreover, due to fact this is an intensive agriculture we are also afraid of its contamination due to the (intensive) use of fertilizers as happened previously with another aquifer.

Khitem Mensi, Sonia Jbeli and Anis Ghattassi from the Tunis International Center for Environmental Technologies (CITET) met up with Hasnia Hamrouni, a woman farmer who tills the land in the Bent Saidane locality which belongs to El Fahs, Governorate of Zaghouan in Tunisia. Her farmland, which covers about 2 hectares, produces beans, peas, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, onions, olives, and almond. Due to the increasing scarcity of rain, she explained that her farm land is nowadays irrigated only with groundwater drawn from a well.

Hasnia Hamrouni’s farming land extends over 2 hectares
Previously, there was water thanks to the availability of rainwater but now it is reduced under the effect of climate change. In recent years we have noticed that the soil has become dry, the level of the water table has decreased: sometimes we can’t irrigate the entire field in the face of the low flow of water.

Tawfik al-Naboulsi and Khoder Kahil from the Lebanese University (UL) met up with Mohamed Bahri, who tills the land in North Lebanon. Mohamed is 60 years of age and has been working in agriculture since he was about 18 to 20 years. The area of his reclaimed land is 25 dunums, and he also has the same area or a little more, but it needs to be reclaimed so that he can invest and cultivate it. His crops are all kinds of fruit trees: apple, pear, cherry, kiwi, peach, and apricot. He also grows avocado and citrus for his household needs. He invests in about 7 greenhouses or more in a year, which enables him to grow also lettuce in winter time. A dunum is a unit of land area enclosing about 1000 square metres.

Mohamed has about 3 dunums of greenhouses planted with lettuce
We used to have strong water abundance. For example, it used to snow seven times a year, and now it snows only once. Our 15-inch channel springs are now 3 inch or even less. We benefit from the water of springs and wells. What is currently happening is tantamount to witnessing desertification.

My creators had organized that the interviewers took with them a promotional leaflet, which illustrates my design and informs about the benefits I am expected to bring about. Following this introduction, the farmers were asked about their opinion about the use of treated domestic effluent to meet their irrigation requirements, and thereby sustain their livelihoods. The farmers had this to say:

We are ready to use the water supplied by AQUACYCLE if it is of good quality and brings no risk on the level of production and the quality of crops.
Yes, we are open-minded and we would agree irrigate with urban wastewater if it gives good quality to my crops and it is not very expensive as we must take into account that farming is a business. Almería being a coastal region, another alternative would be for us to use a mixture of groundwater with desalinated water, but this would considerably increase on our water bills. Moreover, as another positive aspect, we are aware of the saving of fertilizers which this alternative would bring about.
For the reuse of treated sewage and wastewater, if there is a reliable source, an entity that secures the issue (of safe reuse in agriculture) in a correct and scientific way, and a method that does not have either an environmental impact or any other impact. I speak as a farmer, this is my culture, and I do not know how to further elaborate the issue, the details are up to those concerned. Wastewater instead of being wasted, can bring benefits in several ways, first it can be used for irrigation, and we can have organic fertilizer and also, we can avoid the pollution of the environment and many other things. This topic serves the community, I think, it’s a necessary service, necessary for the community now and in the future.

To mark World Water Day 2022, snippets from the interviews have been collected in video clip on AQUACYCLE’s dedicated YouTube channel, which can be accessed through this link.