Social knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions on wastewater treatment, technologies, and reuse in Tanzania

Gerubin Liberath Msaki, Karoli Nicholas Njau, Anna C. Treydte and Thomas Lyimo

This blog post was written by the author of a recent Water Reuse paper and summarises the key features of the research and its implications:

Our paper highlighted the social Knowledge, Attitudes, and Perceptions (KAP) on wastewater treatment, technologies used, community acceptance of reusing treated wastewater, and community understanding of the various likely risks of reusing treated wastewater. Growing human population, industrialization, and expansion of various economic activities have resulted in significant demand for water in recent years. This demand has increased the coverage of water supplies, resulting in increased production of municipal wastewater (Fukase and Martin 2017, Kilobe et al., 2013). The discharge of untreated wastewater into the environment, which may contain heavy metals, pathogenic microorganisms, radionuclides, nutrients, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products, contaminates land and water, causing significant harm to plants, domestic and wild animals, humans, and the entire ecosystem (Edokpayi et al., 2014).  Therefore, establishing the social KAP surrounding wastewater treatment for reuse and environmental conservation is critical. Previous studies focused on developing sustainable technologies for wastewater treatment in various environments, but very little on assessing communities' willingness to adopt and use these technologies, necessitating the conduct of social KAP research to link the use of developed technologies on a large scale for the purpose of achieving community and environmental sanitation, as well as meeting increased water demand thresholds.

We interviewed 327 respondents using questionnaire survey to establish the social KAP. We conducted Interviews between August 2020 and March 2021 with the assistance of a trained research assistant who was a local resident of the site being surveyed. In our paper, we found low acceptance for the reuse of treated wastewater for potable uses. Also the general knowledge, attitude, and perceptions (KAPs) over wastewater treatment processes, technologies, and the potential health risks of reuse were low.

In this paper, we discussed the social KAP for wastewater treatment, technologies used, reuse acceptance in various applications, as well as potential health risks and community knowledge in the context of the Tanzanian community and reflected on the international community. The paper provides information on community perceptions of wastewater treatment projects as an alternative source of water in the face of rising water demand due to population growth and climate change. This paper further discusses the value of community engagement into wastewater treatment project before being implemented into the field by regulating authorities.

Our future research will focus on assessing the factors that impede effective wastewater treatment at municipal levels by conducting an in-depth interview with key people involved in implementing wastewater treatment projects at the government level, as well as other key stakeholders. We also anticipate establishing the diverse benefits that can be derived from wastewater treatment systems once well planned and implemented, which will be used to initiate the adoption trends of wastewater treatment projects as a catalyst to environmental sanitation and resource recovery.


The article can be read in full over on the Water Reuse web page.

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