Potential future research: connecting water quality to food safety

Connecting water quality to food safety


This post is a preliminary notes on our discussion about relationship between water quality and food security (safety). We are writing a proposal for SSEAC University of Sydney Grant (A/Prof Willem Vervoort).

Currently we are re-writing this proposal to be submitted formally to Journal of Regional and City Planning.

Diarrhoea is the 6th most common disease in Bandung area. The annual number of diarrhoea case has been relatively stagnant in the last five years. Recent study announced the double burden of malnutrition occurs in Indonesian children. It describes the prevalence of both under nutrition and over nutrition in the same place at the same time. Therefore children and women suffer the most in this health situation.

The following are several facts about diarrhoea case in Bandung:

  • Diarrhoea is the 6th prevalence disease in Bandung in the last 5 years.
  • The percentage of water accessibility is still low, as the State-Owned Water Company (PDAM) covers only 40% of the total water demand, leaving most of the population to self-provide themselves with groundwater wells. However, although the water consumption has been seemingly fulfilled by the wells, but the environmental constraints related to groundwater quality and well construction haven’t been well understood. Many dug wells sit not far from public or private toilet sewerage system. Most of the customers also have dug well in their home as complementary water source.
  • A total of 70.094 diarrhoea cases was recorded in 2012. The top five districts were: Bandung Kulon, Astanaanyar, and Coblong (source). More than half of the number were < 5 children.
  • Only 70% of total household has basic private sanitation.
  • Dugwells have been the main or the alternate source of water for household.
  • Only 70% of the households have proper waste water sewerage.

To combat this situation, the official via Office of Health (Dinas Kesehatan/Dinkes) in the provincial and city level have continuously run Clean and Healthy Life Style Program (Program Hidub Bersih dan Sehat/PHBS) over the years. Such condition brings an interesting question to many researchers:

  • has the PHBS program covered all aspect in food security?
  • are there problems in water quality at source, eg: correlated with water-aquifer interactions or possible industrial or domestic contaminations
  • are there problems in water transmission from source to households that interfere in food processing/cooking stage?

A quick review on water quality in food security

There are two comprehensive reports or review on food security Indonesia at national level:

  1. Indonesia scope: A presentation by Fardiaz and Sparingga (2016) from National Agency for Drug and Food Control (BPPOM-RI) link
  2. Indonesian scope: A presentation from Wordltap (2009) link.
  3. International scope: a paper that discusses between food security and water quality (Marcheggiani et al., 2015).
  4. A guideline on general farm and agricultural good practices from British Columbia Canada link.

From the references we can draw several existing condition about food security at international and national level, and how its relationship with water quality:

  1. Water quality takes an important role in food preparation and processing from raw materials (eg: paddy fields) to processing of finish (ready to eat)product. However it doesn’t included in the campaign material: clean, separate, cook, chill to fight bacteria growth (see Figure 1).
  2. Indonesia has published law and department to set the standard of food security and law implementation. However, again raw or source water quality has never put as one of the consideration.
  3. As one of the impact, there is no practical guidelines to set common perception about clean water.



Figure 1 Fight bacteria diagram (source)

We found an explicite guideline on connecting water quality with food production (see Figure 2)

D_Charts - Identifying Risks__5-34.inddFigure 2 Diagram of relationship between water source, water quality, and food security (source).

In this image the government of BC Canada have set up a nice example how to control water quality from source to farming and poultry site, to food processing, and food prepartion.

However we come up with this hypothetical diagram.


Potensial future research

The objective of this research cluster grant proposal is to gain some indications of:

  1. correlations between water quality and diarrhoea case
  2. quality of water transmission protection to food security
  3. the perceptions of the participants in assessing their water sources and how they protect it as safe as possible for their family, and to propose counter measure to increase the quality of water supply and sanitation system.

With limited sum of fund, the nature of this project is to map existing data and new water quality data in some selected areas (based on district or ‘kecamatan’).


Two approaches will be conducted:

  1. quantitative study by applying GIS and spatial statistical analysis to explore: the relationships and patterns between parameters in different locations and temporal analysis to observe data behavior.
  2. qualitative study using limited questionnaire by inviting the participation of the citizen of Bandung area (based on district or ‘kecamatan’). The area will be chosen based on the average socio-economic status, determined by Human Development Index data in each Kecamatan. This study aims to explore the perceptions of the participants in assessing their water sources, how they protect it, and how they manage water transmission from source as safe as possible for their family.

Anticipated project outcomes

We will gain critical insight into the current policy on food security, especially the aspects involving water quality. This valuable information will be an important source of information for the government of City of Bandung and West Java Province in their next steps to push down the number of diarrhoea case.

Specific outputs of study:

  • Open data map of water quality and diarrhoea status
  • Presentation at appropriate local and provincial meetings (December 2017)
  • Publication of at least one research paper in a high quality international journal and in an Indonesian journal (January 2018).

Aside from the specific outputs we have stated above, we plan to disseminate the findings through:

  1. media (media release), with the help of the University of Sydney Media Team and also Indonesian media (after publication of papers)
  2. private contact with journalists with whom we have existing links in order to aid dissemination of findings
  3. various forms of social media


Marcheggiani, S.; Spurio, R.; Cimarelli, L.; Tito, D.; Mancini, L. Scientific Symposium “Small Solution for Big Water-Related Problems: Innovative Microarrays and Small Sensors to Cope with Water Quality and Food Security”. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2015, 12, 15400-15408.link.

Fardiaz, D. and Sparingga, R. Food safety control system in Indonesia: past, present, future. National Food Security Conference (organized by Wageningen University). 2016. link

Wordltap. Food Safety Indonesia. World Technology Access Program. Presented in Michigan State University’s WorldTAP International Short Course. 2009. Available from Slideshare. link.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s