Category Archives: Middle East & North Africa

Treat your sanitation workers well

There are two contrasting stories this week on the treatment of sanitation workers: in China a local restaurant treats 180 of them to a free lunch, while in Gaza they go on strike after having received no pay for over six months.

More than 180 sanitation workers in Chengdu, Sichuan province enjoyed a free lunch courtesy of a local hotpot restaurant.

More than 180 sanitation workers in Chengdu, Sichuan province enjoyed a free lunch courtesy of a local hotpot restaurant. Photo: weibo.com

Sanitation workers in China get low pay, have poor working conditions and work long hours. Mr. Li, a restaurant owner in Chengdu, decided it was time to show some appreciation for their hard work, especially now as temperatures were dropping. He offered over 180 local sanitation workers a free lunch; they were “encouraged to order whatever they wanted, including alcohol”, writes Dina Li in the Shanghaiist.

The free lunch was also a compensation for the mess created when Mr Li opened his new restaurant and employees distributed more than 100,000 leaflets, most of which ended up on the streets for sanitation workers to clean up.

Waste piles up in Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza Strip, as a result of strike by sanitation workers.

Waste piles up in Al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza Strip, as a result of strike by sanitation workers. Photo: Mohammad Asad, MEMO

How differently sanitation workers are treated in the Gaza Strip. Since the formation of the Palestinian unity government in June 2014, they have not received any pay. This has spurred a strike with severe consequences for the health care system. The accumulation of large piles of waste and garbage has forced the Al-Shifa Hospital to stop all work in their operation and emergency rooms.

Deputy Minister of Health, Yusuf Abu Al-Reesh warned of dangerous health conditions inside the hospitals and medical centres in Gaza since staff from the private sanitation companies went on strike.

Source:

  • Dina Li, Chengdu hotpot restaurant treats over 180 sanitation workers to free lunch, Shanghaiist, 5 Dec 2014
  • Gaza sanitation workers’ strike stalls hospital operations, Middle East Monitor, 4 Dec 2014

My toilet: global stories from women and girls

You are invited to view an exciting new exhibition by WSUP, launched to mark World Toilet Day.

My Toilet documents women and girls and their toilets to build a visual representation of the day to day reality and the effect this has on their lives, both positive and negative.

Keyla, 4, by her toilet in Bolivar, Ecuador. Photography Karla Gachet. Panos Pictures for WSUP.

Keyla, 4, by her toilet in Bolivar, Ecuador. Photo: Karla Gachet, Panos Pictures for WSUP.

The images and stories show that, although the type of toilet changes from country to country, the impacts have recurring themes. Having can mean a better chance of education, employment, dignity, safety, status and more. Wherever you are in the world, a toilet equals far more than just a toilet.

Get involved on social media!
Help spread this message by sharing a picture of yourself holding up a sign with the hashtag #ToiletEquals followed by a word, or a few words, to describe what having a toilet equals for you and for millions of others around the world. All the tweets and pictures will be shown on the My Toilet website.

Visit the exhibition!
Images from 20 countries, spanning every continent, will be exhibited at The Royal Opera Arcade Gallery, London SW1Y 4UY. The gallery is open to the public from 17 – 22 November 2014, 10am – 5pm daily. Entry is free. We hope to see you there!

Deprived of water and sanitation in Gaza

We don’t want another catastrophe besides the one we already have. Fatma (43) mother of 9 children

Since the start of the Israeli assault on Gaza on 7 July 2014, codenamed “Protective Edge”, the water and wastewater infrastructure in Gaza has been heavily affected by Israeli airstrikes and shelling.

Main water supply and wastewater as well as electricity infrastructure has been hit. As a result services have been cut or severely disrupted, affecting the entire population in Gaza.

Up to 25 per cent of Gaza’s population were displaced. The 1.8 million people in Gaza, living in homes and shelters have extremely restricted access to water and sanitation.

Fatma, 45, was displaced with her family and sought shelter at a school in Ash Shuja’iyeh. She speaks in a Thirsting for Justice campaign video about the problems with water, sanitation and hygiene that her family faces amongst the many other displaced.

Photo: EWASH

Thirsting for Justice is an initiative of EWASH, the Emergency Water Sanitation and Hygiene group in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Waste not: Egypt’s refuse collectors regain role at heart of Cairo society

Waste not: Egypt’s refuse collectors regain role at heart of Cairo society | Source/complete article: The Guardian, March 27 2014 |

Excerpts – Zabaleen waste pickers are finally being re-integrated into the city’s services, a decade after they were sidelined.

A family at work in the Mokattam area of the Egyptian capital Cairo, where zabaleen collect, separate, sell or reuse rubbish. Photograph: Bernat Armangue/AP

A family at work in the Mokattam area of the Egyptian capital Cairo, where zabaleen collect, separate, sell or reuse rubbish. Photograph: Bernat Armangue/AP

For the waste pickers that have traditionally made a living sifting through the mountain of discarded litter that blights the streets of Cairo, there has been scant cause for celebration these past 10 years. Marginalised by a 2004 Mubarak goverment directive that placed household waste collection in the hands of multinationals, their existence has been one of ever increasing struggle for steadily declining return.

But change is afoot. Government acceptance that the corporatisation of waste disposal in Egypt‘s capital has been a resounding failure has paved the way for the formal integration of the zabaleen – who, for more than half a century, went door to door gathering the vast majority of household waste in Cairo – into the city’s official refuse collection system.

For a community that has served Cairo well, the government’s U-turn offers a deserved chance to change their lives for the better. Before 2004, the zabaleen would take the rubbish they collected back to their homes on the edge of the city, sort through it, and make a living from selling the salvaged materials to factories and wholesalers. The remaining organic waste would be fed to their pigs, whose meat also brought them a steady income.

But 10 years ago, this informal arrangement came to an abrupt end when the Mubarak government contracted four corporate firms to do the work instead – cutting the 65,000 zabaleen out of the process, and wrecking their collective livelihood. The aim was to professionalise the capital’s waste management.

Government officials now admit that approach was flawed from the start, and for the first time are starting to make the zabaleen‘s role official, giving them uniforms and vehicles.

“The others have failed, be they the government or the foreign companies, and now [the zabaleen] should get a turn, having been sidelined for so long,” said Laila Iskandar, Egypt’s environment minister, who has prioritised the issue since her appointment in July. “They are the people who have the longest experience in refuse collection.”

Cairo: Finding its own way in waste collection

Cairo: Finding its own way in waste collection – Danish Architecture Centre | Source/complete article: Sustainable Cities, Jan 2014

Excerpts – For decades, much of Cairo’s waste has been resourcefully collected and reused by a poor working class known as the Zabbaleen. After a failed attempt to modernise and sanitize this system by bringing in foreign waste-collecting companies, some major advantages to developing a sustainable, economically logical and uniquely Cairo waste-collecting system have become clear.

Skraldebyen Ezbet El Nakhl, Af Creap, 9. maj 2005, Flickr, Creative Commons, Foto # 13067241

Skraldebyen Ezbet El Nakhl, Af Creap, 9. maj 2005, Flickr, Creative Commons, Foto # 13067241

Since the 1950’s, a group of lower class garbage collectors known as the Zabbaleen have wandered the city of Cairo, Egypt, using donkey carts to pick up waste left on the streets. After bringing this waste to their homes that collectively make up Cairo’s “garbage city” the waste it is sorted and eventually turned into quilts, rugs, pots, paper, livestock food, compost, recycled plastic products such as clothes hangers, and much more. Reusing and recycling about 85% of all waste that they collect, the Zabbaleen have far surpassed the efficiencies of even the best Western recycling schemes, which, under optimal conditions, have only been able to reuse 70% of all material.

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Assessment of Beliefs and Practices Relating to Menstrual Hygiene of Adolescent Girls in Lebanon

Assessment of Beliefs and Practices Relating to Menstrual Hygiene of Adolescent Girls in Lebanon. International Journal of Health Sciences and Research (IJHSR), 2013; 3(12): 75-88.

Authors: Tania Santina, Nancy Wehbe, Fouad M. Ziade, Mona Nehme.

Abstract
Introduction: Poor menstrual hygiene prevents achieving the several Millennium Development Goals. The aim of this study was to assess menstrual hygiene practices based on sociocultural beliefs of adolescent girls in Lebanon.

Methods: A community-based cross-sectional survey was conducted, in 2010, among 389 post-menarcheal adolescent girls aged 13 to 19 years, at five high schools in Sidon city and suburbs, using a cluster randomized sampling and self-completed questionnaires. Collected data was analyzed by using descriptive and inferential statistics.

Results: Of 389 participants, 89.5% did not follow all menstrual hygiene practices recommended, they adopted menstrual practices based on the dominant sociocultural beliefs found in the Lebanese society about these matters: 66.9% and 16.5%, respectively, did not shower in the first three days of menstruation or during all days of menstruation, and activity restrictions included physical (70.3%) and social (18.2%) activity and diet (35.5%).

A significant association was found between describe menstrual hygiene practices based on sociocultural beliefs and type of school, religion, both parents’ education levels, as well as family monthly income. Logistic regression analyses indicated that significant variables predicting describe menstrual hygiene practices based on sociocultural beliefs were mother level education (OR = 2.8; P < 0.001), and religion (OR = 0.7; P = 0.002).

Conclusion: Findings indicate the need for health school education programs during puberty; they also can help design appropriate intervention strategies.

Will a “cottage industry” approach make emergency WASH more sustainable?

Al Madad hygiene and sanitation project in Aqbiyeh

Al Madad hygiene and sanitation project in Aqbiyeh, Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Photo: Al Madad Foundation & AUB Association

An NGO is employing a self-help “cottage industry model” to introduce water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)  services in refugee camps. Instead of relying on handouts, refugees are offered a steady wage to participate in the improvement of their own living conditions.

The NGO promoting this approach, is the Al Madad Foundation, a UK registered charity since 2001, based in London. The Foundation is active in two main areas:

  • education and literacy programmes for refugee and disadvantaged children
  • sustainable relief in emergencies

The Foundation’s Director is Aya Haidar, a Lebanese multimedia artist/activist with an MSc in NGOs and Development.

In Lebanon, the Al Madad Foundation is partnering with the AUB Association’s Community Project Development Unit to improve water, sanitation and hygiene within the country’s Syrian refugee communities. Under the supervision of qualified architects and civil engineers from the AUB Association, refugees will be employed to help dig holes, build toilets, pipe laying, and installing septic tanks and drainage systems.

The Foundation thinks this “cottage industry model” could eventually be extended to other fields such as education, by employing refugee women, many of whom are qualified teachers.

The Foundation chose to focus on WASH services in the camps, not only to “minimise avoidable morbidity and mortality” but also to “minimise the resulting impact upon the local Lebanese environment, including fresh water, ecosystems and the impact upon agriculture”. Hygiene promotion and awareness raising will go hand-in-hand with the provisions of water and sanitation infrastructure.

The UK government is considering implementing cash-for-work (CFW) programmes for both Syrian refugees and vulnerable Lebanese as part of their new £50 million (US$ 77 million) humanitarian aid initiative [1].

Oxfam implements a CFW initiative, that includes latrine construction, in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp, the world’s largest refugee complex housing more than 400,000 people. Men and women are paid between 250 and 500 Kenyan Shillings (about US$ 3 – 6) $ per day depending on their skill levels [2].

The most well-known CFW aid programme was implemented by Mercy Corps in post-tsunami Aceh, Indonesia.  At its peak the seven-month programme employed nearly 18,000 participants and disbursed over US$ 4.5 million in direct payments [3]. Based of their experience in Indonesia and other countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan, Mercy Corps published a CfW manual in 2007 [4].

[1] DFID, £50m UK support to Lebanon as refugee numbers soar, Gov.UK, 18 Jul 2013

[2]  Cash-for-work in Kenya: Building latrines at Dadaab camp, Oxfam, 15 Aug 2011

[3] Doocy, S. et al., 2005. The Mercy Corps Cash for Work Program in post-tsunami Aceh. Available at: http://preventionweb.net/go/2171

[4]  Mercy Corps, 2007. Guide to cash-for-work programming. [online] Portland, OR, USA: Mercy Corps. Available at: <http://www.mercycorps.org/files/file1179375619.pdf>

Source: Al Madad Foundation – Lebanon Emergency Aid Report 2013