Category Archives: South Asia

#CleanUpIndia: #Sanitation “All Stars” discuss plans to make India #opendefecation free

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken up sanitation as a special cause. He would like to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary in 2019 by declaring India open defecation free. A noble goal, but is it realistic? The political will and financial commitment is there but can the shift in mindset from building infrastructure to behaviour change and ensuring toilet use and safe disposal be made?

As part of its #CleanUpIndia initiative, TV channel CNN – Indian Broadcasting Network (CNN – IBN) invited an “all star” cast of sanitation celebrities to discuss the Swach Bharat or Clean India campaign that Modi intends to launch in October 2014. What do they think needs to be done to clean up India for good?

In the line up are:

and invited guests:

Rose George – What is life like when your period means you are shunned by society?

What is life like when your period means you are shunned by society? by Rose George, WaterAid Blog, July 2014 |

Journalist Rose George reports on her visit to WaterAid Nepal, where she saw the impact of menstrual taboos on women and girls.

Excerpts – For Radha dinner is served at 7. She crouches down behind a shed, a good distance from her house, then waits.

She knows what the menu will be: boiled rice, the same as yesterday and the day before. She knows that it will be her little sister who serves it, throwing the rice onto her plate from a height, the way you would feed a dog.

Radha Bishwa Karma serving food behind the toilet. Credit: WaterAid/Poulomi Basu

Radha Bishwa Karma serving food behind the toilet.
Credit: WaterAid/Poulomi Basu

In Jamu, Radha’s village in western Nepal, her status is lower than a dog’s, because she is menstruating.

She is only 16, yet, for the length of her period, Radha can’t enter her house or eat anything but boiled rice. She can’t touch other women – not even her grandmother or sister – because her touch will pollute them. If she touches a man or a boy, he will start shivering and sicken.

If she eats butter or buffalo milk, the buffalo will sicken too and stop milking. If she enters a temple or worships at all, her gods will be furious and take their revenge, by sending snakes or some other calamity.

Here, menstruation is dirty, and a menstruating girl is a powerful, polluting thing. A thing to be feared and shunned.

 

The Bangladesh Paradox: exceptional health and sanitation advances despite poverty

Dr. Mushtaque Chowdhury from BRAC on the Bangladesh public health miracle, aid or trade, arsenic, floating latrines and the post-2015 development agenda.

Dr. Mushtaque Chowdhury from BRAC presents the "Bangladesh Paradox", International Water House, The Hague, Yje Netherlaands, 30 July 2014

Dr. Mushtaque Chowdhury from BRAC presents the “Bangladesh Paradox”, International Water House, The Hague, The Netherlands, 30 July 2014

By Cor Dietvorst and Vera van der Grift, IRC
Originally posted on the IRC web site, 01 August 2014

Bangladesh has made tremendous progress in the fields of health and sanitation. With a population of 149 million, it now has the highest life expectancy; the lowest fertility rate and the lowest mortality rate of children under five in South Asia (excepting Sri Lanka), although it spends less on health care than most neighbouring countries. Only 10% of the population in Bangladesh practices Open Defecation (OD) compared to 50% in India.

It is one of only six countries that are on track to achieve Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 on reducing child mortality and improving maternal health.

Emerging from the war of liberation in 1971, Bangladesh embraced a new more liberal identity, which manifested itself in a change in societal attitudes towards women, and girls’ education in particular.

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India: Big push for small cities

By Prakhar Jain (email) and Aditya Bhol

The run-up to elect a new government brought sanitation to the fore of public conversation in India. Last month, Prime Minister Modi declared sanitation as a national priority, announcing ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’, a sanitation programme dedicated to creating clean India by 2019 as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary. Whether or not this plan succeeds may depend on whether it is simply a repackaged programme such as the ‘Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan’ that was focused entirely on building toilets in rural India, or a renewed commitment to improve sanitation in both the rural and urban areas.  As India urbanizes, demand for effective and sustainable sanitation services will increase. India, with 11% of the world’s urban population currently, accounts for 46% of global urban open defecation [i]. While other developing countries like China, Vietnam, and Peru have already achieved open defecation free (ODF) status in urban areas, India still lags behind. The situation is particularly abysmal in small cities (population below a million) where close to 17% of the population defecates in the open as compared to 4% in large cities (population greater than a million) [ii]. The 2011 national census has shown that these small cities represent more than 91% of total urban open defecation in the country. If we are to catch up, the key is to immediately turn our attention towards small and medium-sized cities.

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Poor Sanitation in India May Afflict Well-Fed Children With Malnutrition

Poor Sanitation in India May Afflict Well-Fed Children With Malnutrition | Source: by Gardiner Harris, New York Times, July 13, 2014.

Excerpts: A long economic boom in India has done little to reduce the vast number of children who are malnourished and stunted, leaving them with mental and physical deficits that will haunt them their entire lives. Now, an emerging body of scientific studies suggest that many of the 162 million children under the age of 5 in the world who are malnourished are suffering less a lack of food than poor sanitation. sanitation-nytimes

Two years ago, Unicef, the World Health Organization and the World Bank released a major report on child malnutrition that focused entirely on a lack of food. Sanitation was not mentioned. Now, Unicef officials and those from other major charitable organizations said in interviews that they believe that poor sanitation may cause more than half of the world’s stunting problem.

“Our realization about the connection between stunting and sanitation is just emerging,” said Sue Coates, chief of water, sanitation and hygiene at Unicef India. “At this point, it is still just an hypothesis, but it is an incredibly exciting and important one because of its potential impact.”

This research has quietly swept through many of the world’s nutrition and donor organizations in part because it resolves a great mystery: Why are Indian children so much more malnourished than their poorer counterparts in sub-Saharan Africa?

WSUP animation – welcome to the world of urban WASH programming!

How do you design and implement an effective urban WASH programme? In WSUP’s recent publication “The Urban Programming Guide” we set out the many activities involved, from planning and capacity building to improving services and promoting behaviour change. This short animation brings the publication to life and takes you on a virtual tour of some of these activities in action: enjoy the ride!

You can download the Urban Programming Guide for free from our website.

The toilet tripod: Understanding successful sanitation in rural India

The toilet tripod: Understanding successful sanitation in rural India. Health Place. 2014 Jun 19.

O’Reilly K, Louiss׳ E.

Building toilets and getting people to use them is critical for public health. We deployed a political ecology approach specifically to identify the multi-scalar political, economic, and environmental factors influencing toilet adoption in rural India. The research used ethnographic and technical methods in rural villages of West Bengal and Himachal Pradesh over the period September 2012 to May 2013. The elements of successful sanitation adoption depended on three factors (i.e., toilet tripod):

  • (1) multi-scalar political will on the part of both government and NGOs over the long term;
  • (2) proximate social pressure, i.e., person-to-person contact between rural inhabitants and toilets;
  • (3) political ecology, i.e., assured access to water, compatible soil type, and changing land use.

This research contributes to studies of sustainable development and global public health by developing a theory and framework for successful sanitation.