Research and expertise

I am an hydrologist adopting an interdisciplinary perspective to research the nexus between water, agriculture and development.

Current research activity

My doctoral research focuses on the faecal contamination in informal vegetable value chains of LMICs, and reducing its impact on the health of smallholder farmers, food vendors and consumers.

Recently completed research projects

  • 2020: Can water and nutrient recovery increase food security in poor urban areas of Vitoria and Florianopolis, Brazil? Modelling the flows of greywater, roof rainwater harvesting, source separated urine to irrigate and fertilize community gardens, using System Dynamics. Master of Sciences thesis.
  • 2019/2020: Evaluation of varying density of mulch on a crop of grain Sorghum (Sorghum bicolor (L.) Moench) with its harvest residue to improve the soil water balance and secure a harvest and improve food security in South African rainfed smallholder agriculture, using AquaCrop. Master of Sciences project.
  • 2019: Integrating Remote Sensing to provide agro-meteorological trends and feed a local-scale Early Warning System. A case study of the uMngeni Resilience Project: Upscaling from ward to district level. Master of Sciences internship.

Recent Publications

Drechsel, P.; Qadir, M.; Galibourg, D. The WHO Guidelines for Safe Wastewater Use in Agriculture: A Review of Implementation Challenges and Possible Solutions in the Global South. Water 2022, 14, 864. https://


After initial training in forestry, I worked in various positions giving me insight into a wide range of water-related issues. Thus, I spent almost 20 years in France and abroad, accompanying farmers to re-implement hedges to reduce soil erosion and develop sustainable fertilization to reduce nitrate's impact on water resources, implementing WASH projects, and managing decentralized wastewater treatment systems. These experiences contributed to my developing an interest in the continuum water is drawing between people and their environment and, more particularly, in the rationale of water and nutrient recycling.

I then completed an MSc in Water & Agriculture (AgroParisTech Montpellier, France). This curriculum helped to formalize my previous experiences. It also allowed me to work with researchers in South Africa and Brazil during internships focusing on resilience and food security of vulnerable communities, using early warning systems, modeling tools, and remote sensing products.

This background led me to undertake this doctoral research focusing on the use of wastewater and other sanitation wastes as resources in agriculture. The irrigation of food crops with more or less treated wastewater is widely practiced around the world. It strengthens smallholder farmers' resilience, improves food and water security among vulnerable communities. It also contributes to increasing the soil's organic carbon content, regenerating soil fertility, and adapting to climate change. It also faces several challenges, including human health risks. I am interested in using participatory approaches to investigate the perceptions of stakeholders and institutions involved in informal vegetable value chains liable to faecal contamination. This approach should enable them to identify the institutional and behavioural changes and the proposition values that will lead to the sustainable adoption of safer practices throughout the sani-agri-food system.

Key collaborators

My research activities are conducted with a range of academic and stakeholder partners, including the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the University of KwaZulu Natal (South Africa)