Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

16 October 2024

World Food Day

Bohdan Popov

“Wastewater is a valuable resource. We need to bring it back into the cycle of substances."


Some 15 years ago, Bohdan Popov lived in a picturesque place high on a mountain meadow in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine. The river near his house was a clean and transparent and he could even drink from it, which he adored. But when Bohdan had to move a little farther downstream, to his surprise the river water was dirty and had a chemical taste. Noticing these changes became the beginning of a new focus in Bohdan’s life: to improve water safety in his region and in Ukraine.  

Today, Bohdan is the director of a network of ecological research stations in Ukraine, where he finds simple and inexpensive solutions for collecting, storing and purifying water. The first of this kind of station was opened near Rzhyshchiv in Kyivska oblast back in 2019.  

Since the escalation of the war in Ukraine, the station has become a hub for internally displaced people, and Bohdan organized training for them on water use and storage for regenerative agriculture. 

"There are many ecological solutions available to people. But they are normally expensive to adopt, so many people cannot afford to buy them,” he explains. “That is why I try to produce solutions that everyone can use without significant investment."  

That includes a new wastewater treatment system he calls a "biojug". It uses good bacteria and biochar substrate as a filtering agent that purifies wastewater. At the same time, the biochar absorbs valuable nutrients that can later be used as a soil fertilizer.   

"We don’t need to get rid of wastewater,” Bohdan stresses. “Wastewater is a valuable resource. We need to bring it back into the cycle of substances."   

He has already implemented five of such systems in Ukraine. In addition, he’s developed systems for rooftop rainwater collection and a “dry toilet” that uses composting techniques. 

To collect rain water and limit loss from evaporation, Bohdan also encourages people to accumulate water in soil, biomass or a tank. 

"Due to climate change, drier conditions await us,” he says. “We have to fight for every drop of water that falls on our territory. Do not let it just run away.”