Category Archives: Latin America & Caribbean

What we can learn from Brazil’s wastepickers

What we can learn from Brazil’s wastepickers | by Kyle Wiens

Excerpts: By the time the World Cup ends on July 13, experts estimate that World Cup spectators will generate a staggering 320 tons of trash. Enter the catadores—waste pickers who earn a living by collecting recyclables from the nation’s trash heap, men and women who will dig through the garbage and pick out each aluminum can, plastic bottle, and glass container. And while their jobs may seem humble, their sweat and solidarity are helping to transform Brazil into a true world power in recycling.

Illustrations by Ben Sanders

Illustrations by Ben Sanders

The movement to organize waste pickers in Brazil began in São Paulo in 1980, when the Catholic Church helped start the Association of Paper Pickers, but it only came into the spotlight nine years later, when association members began protesting on behalf of their right to collect material from public roadways. The association’s work inspired other cities around Brazil to start similar organizations, which (among other things) is helping to end child labor in Brazilian dumps.

A Future in Recycling

In 2009, filmmaker Sean Walsh spent a month following Claudinês Alvarenga, a carroceiro, or cart hauler, for his documentary Hauling. Alvarenga, a father of 27, drove the streets of São Paulo in an old Volkswagen bus, recovering materials from curbsides, businesses, and dumpsters. He fixed what he could, resold what was salvageable, and recycled all the rest.

“Haulers such as Claudinês and his family are the most vital and also the most marginalized group in this immense [recycling] industry,” Walsh says. “They are also the agents of a new environmental world order, which is growing ever more important to our sustainable survival.”

The truth is, catadores and carroceiros are remarkably good at what they do. Necessity has turned them into reuse masters, repair geniuses, and recycling experts. They can sort recyclables more precisely and comprehensively than a machine can, right down to different grades of paper. Because of catadores, Brazil is a world leader in recycling: The country has the highest recycling rates for used aluminum cans—around 98 percent—and is second in world for recycling PET, a plastic used in food packaging.

International conference on public services in the global South

Protesters  in Cape Town, June 2013, demanding better service delivery

Protesters in Cape Town, June 2013, demanding better service delivery. Photo: yazkam.wordpress.com

Cape Town, the city where “poo has become a politcial issue“, is hosting an international conference on “Putting Public in Public Services: Research, Action and Equity in the Global South” from 13-16 April  2014 .

Organised by the Municipal Services Project, the conference  brings together researchers, activists, labour representatives, development practitioners and policy makers from around the world working to promote progressive public services,  including water and sanitation.

The following presentations focus specifically on sanitation:

  • Dieter Wartchow (Brazil) – National sanitation laws in Brazil: An opportunity lost?
  • Melanie Samson (South Africa) – Including the informal, transforming the public: Insights from innovations in the waste sector
  • Federico Parra (Colombia) – Recognition of the ‘recicladores’ as public managers of waste in Colombia
  • Poornima Chikarmane (India) – Of users, providers and the state: Solid waste management in Pune, India
  • Mary Galvin (South Africa) – Dealing with shit in sub-Sahara Africa: The impact of “new” approaches to sanitation on human rights
  • Julieta del Valle (Argentina) – Guaranteeing access to public water and sanitation: ‘Acompañamiento social’ in Buenos Aires

Read more in the full programme.

Registration is free for observers but priority wil be given to people with a demonstrated interest in conference themes.

Registration deadline: 14 March 2014

Those unable to attend can follow debates via video streaming, podcasts and social media.

Conference websitemunicipalservicesproject.org/about-conference

Brazil: toilet protest on Ipanema beach against sewage pollution

In the wake of the World Cup and the Olympics, activists in Brazil are taking to the streets (and the beaches) demanding more investment in neglected public services like sanitation. Activist group Meu Rio (My Rio)  sat on lavatories on Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro to raise awareness about the dumping of untreated sewage into the sea. The group also laid out coloured silhouettes of common bacteria found in sewage on the sand.

My Rio sanitation protest poster

Some 70% of Rio’s sewage is said to be untreated as it flows into the sea off the beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and the Guanabara Bay, which will host several events at the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics. Source: Sky News, 26 Jan 2014

Microfinance as a potential cataylst for improved sanitation

. Summary of sanitation lending and product delivery models. Water for People

. Summary of sanitation lending and product delivery models. Water for People

Microfinance allows middle- and lower-income households to invest in desirable sanitation products, so that public funding can be freed up to reach the poorest, according to Water for People (WfP). In a new report [1], WfP reviews their experiences in piloting various lending models in seven countries: Bolivia, Guatemala, India, Malawi, Peru, Rwanda and Uganda.

The report provides lessons and recommendations for donors wishing to engage in sanitation microfinancing. The four key recommendations are:

  1. Think like a business
  2. Support lending institutions based on the microfinance climate and capacity needs
  3. Build an autonomous sanitation microfinance market
  4. Track progress and lessons

The report is part of WfP’s Sanitation as a Business (SaaB) program, funded by a Gates Foundation grant.

Read the full report

[1]  Chatterley, C. et al, 2013. Microfinance as a potential catalyst for improved sanitation : a synthesis of Water For People’s sanitation lending experiences in seven countries. Denver, CO,USA: Water For People. Available at: <http://www.waterforpeople.org/assets/files/sanitation-microfinance.pdf>

Source: Christie Chatterley et al., Microfinance as a potential cataylst for improved sanitation, Water for People, 27 Dec 2013

Latin American and Caribbean countries agree on joint sanitation monitoring

Sanitation in Guatemala. Photo: LatinoSan 2013

Delegates attending LatinoSan 2013 have agreed to set up a Latin-American and Caribbean Observatory on Sanitation. The observatory will monitor progress on sanitation in those countries that have signed up to the LatinoSan initiative. Sub-regional and national sanitation scorecards are already available online.

There will also be a Regional Meeting of Ministries of Sanitation every 2 years.

LatinoSan3-Declaration

These are two of  the commitments written up in the Panama Declaration at the conclusion of  the 3rd Latin American and Caribbean Sanitation Conference, LatinoSan 2013. The conference took place in Panama City from 29 to 31 May 2013.

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Latinosan Panamá 2013 – 3rd Latin American Sanitation Conference, 29-31 May 2013

The Republic of Panama is organizing the Third Latin American Sanitation Conference on 29-31 May 2013. The theme is:  “Universal Sanitation: New Challenges, New Opportunities”.

Latinosan is held every three years.

Latinosan 2013 consists of two events: a technical conference and a meeting of senior officials that will result in the Declaration of Panama.

Main topics:

  • the status of sanitation at regional and country levels
  • institutions and public policy
  • human rights and sustainable development
  • post-2015 goals: regional and global

For more information visit the conference website: latinosanpanama2013.com (Spanish only)

Preventing sanitation failure by using evidence-based behaviour change

Mass media campaign with loudspeaker rickshaw, Bangladesh. Photo: Eawag

Evidenced-based methods are more cost effective than traditional NGO awareness raising approaches to ensure sustained behaviour change in the WASH sector, says environmental psychologist Prof. Hans-Joachim Mosler.

Prof. Mosler

Two of his presentations on evidence-based behaviour change are now available online.  An accompanying guideline for behaviour change [1] was published in June 2012.

Mosler begins his first presentation with examples of failed sanitation and water projects. What they have in common is that they focus on hardware and neglect behaviour change. In one striking study, the construction of new school latrines actually increased health risks among girls because hygiene behaviour did not improve [2].

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Peace Corps/Peru – Build Your Own Soap Dispenser

Got Soap? A Volunteer in Peru put together this great tutorial on how to build your own soap dispenser.

Materials : 2 liter soda bottle, 3 liter soda bottle, 1 “closet bolt” or other bolt (1/4”x 2”), 5 of ¼” nuts, 2 rubber washers, Africano contact glue, screw(s) to attach holder to wall. Drill & bit. 

Remove bottle labels and cut off both bottle bottoms. Cut off top of the 3 L bottle, about 2” from cap, so that it creates a 2” diameter hole.

Mount the inverted 3L bottle on a wall or suspend by string as standard Tippy Tap.

Drill a clean 3/8” hole in the center of the 2 L cap. Smooth edges with steel wool or sandpaper.

Plunger assembly: Thread all nuts up to the bolt head, glue one rubber washer to inside of cap and the other to underside of bolt head (or nut), (contact cement MUST be slightly dry before assembly). Slide open end of bolt through cap hole and thread on bolt cap.

Put the cap on the 2L bottle and insert entire unit into the 3L holder.
Fill with liquid soap (thicker the better). You may coat the 2 washer contact surfaces with Vaseline for better seal.

Living without sanitary sewers in Latin America

Rojas, F. (2012). Living without sanitary sewers in Latin America – The business of collecting fecal sludge in four Latin American cities. World Bank, Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), Latin America and the Caribbean.

The present report spotlights the major challenges and the opportunities that lie ahead in fecal sludge management and summarizes the findings from four case studies that describe the current and potential market for sludge removal, collection, and disposal in peri-urban areas. These areas,
inhabited by a variety of ethnic, religious, and cultural groups,
typically struggle with high population density, insufficient land use planning, high citizen insecurity, and low coverage with basic services.

The report demonstrates how technical, financial, environmental, social, regulatory, political, and institutional factors interact to create supply and demand in four markets where coverage with sanitary sewerage services is below the regional average, namely: Santa Cruz (Bolivia), Guatemala City (Guatemala), Tegucigalpa (Honduras), and Managua
(Nicaragua).

Even though households in the four areas studied have onsite sanitation systems (latrines and toilets), fecal sludge and excreta often drain into the streets, and there is no control or treatment of the sludge, posing a risk for public health and the environment.

First ever National Sustainable Sanitation Conference in Haiti

Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods (SOIL) and UNICEF are organising Haiti’s first ever National Sustainable Sanitation Conference. It will be held in Port-au-Prince on 12-13 June 2012.

The conference aims to share information about innovative waste treatment technologies such as composting toilets and bio-systems, among NGOs and the Haitian government.

Agenda:

  • Overview of National Sanitation Strategy presented by DINEPA’s Sanitation Office (DA)
  • Presentations of lessons learned from previous projects and ongoing sustainable sanitation projects in Haiti
  • Ateliers focused on different components of sustainable sanitation
  • Stakeholder feedback
  • Open forum to discuss National Standards for Composting Toilets and Biogas
  • Production of a public document summarizing the findings of the conference

SOIL, US-registered non profit, has been promoting ecological sanitation solutions in Haiti since 2006.

For the full announcement and more information go to: www.oursoil.org/national-sustainable-sanitation-conference