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Food security and productive sanitation systems

Working Group 5

This working group aims to raise awareness for the reuse-oriented sustainable sanitation approach, its prospective contribution to global food security and to promote this approach on a large scale.


The concept of food security has been perceived by many as one of the fundamental rights of human beings. Unfortunately, the prevailing reality on the ground has foiled this international claim gravely. The FAO estimated in 2006 that 854 million people worldwide are chronically hungry due to extreme poverty and about 2 billion people lack food security intermittently due to varying degrees of poverty.

Considering the rising food and fertiliser prices, the increasingly limited global fertiliser and water resources and the continuous growth of the world population, the problem of food insecurity is likely to worsen in the coming decades.

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A large proportion of the population growth will take place in urban areas resulting in a substantial increase in the volume of urban wastewater and a significant increase in urban food demand. Facing the huge number of people to be fed and the existing natural limitations on earth, it appears reasonable and inevitable to approach the food security issue from a perspective of resource preservation and recovery.
A paradigm shift in sanitation towards a recycling-oriented approach is highly advisable to bring the limited nutrient resources back to the agricultural fields. This requires a renewed alliance between the agricultural and sanitation sectors, stressing resource recovery as a key requirement for sustainable sanitation concepts.


  • This working group aims to raise awareness for the reuse-oriented sustainable sanitation approach, its prospective contribution to global food security and to promote this approach on a large scale.
  • The group aims at bringing together all relevant organisations with global competence in agriculture (e.g. soil fertility, irrigation), sustainable sanitation and neighbouring disciplines, which are not yet fully involved in the sanitation discussions.

This will help to convey the sustainable sanitation approach to new groups and stakeholders.


The main deliverables of the group are a factsheet (Productive sanitation and the link to food security), flanked by a collection of case studies and a guide for farmers.

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Working Group Lead


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Xavier University, Philippines

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SEI, Sweden

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