The overall goal of this study was to analyse the welfare effect of improved wastewater treatment with the view of making policy recommendations for sustainable urban and peri-urban irrigation agriculture in Kenya. This goal was achieved by investigating three specific objectives. The first objective was to assess the farmers’ awareness of health risks in urban and peri-urban wastewater irrigation. Second objective was to analyse the factors that affect the choice of low-risk adaptations in reuse of untreated wastewater for irrigation. The third objective was to estimate the value that urban and peri-urban farmers who practice wastewater irrigation impute to improvements in specific characteristics of the wastewater input in agriculture.
In order to achieve the first objective, an ordered probit model was used to identify the factors that influence farmers’ awareness of health risks in untreated wastewater irrigation. The model was fitted to data collected from a cross-sectional survey of 317 urban farm households in the Kibera informal settlement of Kenya. Results of this study show that gender of household head, household size, education level of household head, farm size, ownership of the farm, membership to farmers’ group, and market access for the fresh produce significantly affect awareness of farmers about health risks in wastewater irrigation. Therefore, there is need for awareness programs to promote public education through regular training and local workshops on wastewater reuse in order to improve the human capital of the urban and peri-urban farmers.
To achieve the second objective, the study used a multinomial logit model to analyse the farmers’ choice of low-risk adaptations in untreated wastewater irrigation. A survey of 317 urban and peri-urban farmers was conducted and measures for risk-reduction in wastewater reuse were analysed. The urban and peri-urban farmers were found to have adopted low-risk wastewater irrigation techniques such as cessation of irrigation before harvesting, crop restriction and safer application methods. Results of the study show that adoption of risk-reduction measures is significantly influenced by the following factors: household size, age of the household head, education of household head, access to extension, access to media, access to credit, farmers’ group membership, and risk awareness. Also, marginal analysis of the coefficients confirmed the socio-economic characteristics are key determinants in adoption of low-risk measures in wastewater reuse. The study recommends that policies in support of low-risk urban and peri-urban irrigation agriculture should disaggregate farmers according to their socio-economic and institutional characteristics in order to achieve their intended objectives.
To achieve the third objective, the study employed the discrete choice experiment approach to estimate the benefits farmers impute to improvements in attributes of the wastewater irrigation input, whose aim is to reduce the health risks associated with untreated wastewater irrigation. Urban and peri-urban farmers who practice wastewater irrigation drawn from Motoine-Ngong River in Nairobi were randomly selected for the study. A total of 241 farmers completed the presented choice cards for the choice model estimation. A random parameter logit model was used to estimate the individual level willingness to pay for wastewater treatment. The results show that urban and peri-urban farmers are willing to pay significant monthly municipality taxes for treatment of wastewater. Conclusion of this study was that, quality of treated wastewater, quantity of treated wastewater and the riverine ecosystem restoration are significant factors of preference over policy alternative designs in wastewater treatment and reuse.