Lake Nokoué, Benin. Photo: Pacôme Tomètissi
Journalist Pacôme Tomètissi wants to revisit the fishing communities of Lake Nokoué in Benin to examine the sustainability of a 5 million euro EU-funded water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) project. You can support his endeavour via the crowdfunding new website Spot.Us at:
In 2010 Pacôme wrote a story about WASH initiatives that were helping to stop pollution of the scenic lake. Poor sanitation was threatening the health and livelihoods of the fishing communities.
Posted by Lauren Ward in Explorers Journal on May 2, 2012.
Three National Geographic Emerging Explorers have teamed up for a one-of-a-kind project in Africa. Sasha Kramer of SOIL will integrate her group’s work transforming human waste into a valuable agricultural resource and Dino Martins’ natural pest control efforts into the farming communities in northern Benin where Jennifer Burney of SELF has installed solar powered irrigation systems. This collaboration is made possible by the Blackstone Ranch Institute which offers an annual challenge grant for the most innovative new projects proposed by two or more National Geographic Emerging Explorers.
Here are some highlights from the journey to date, written by SOIL visionary and Emerging Explorer Sasha Kramer for the official SOIL blog:
April 24, 2012 — Late last night and early this morning the SOIL team arrived safely in Cotonou, the capital of Benin, after a grueling journey across the world (more grueling for some than others). Anthony Kilbride (one of the SOIL engineers) and I had relatively simple itineraries, flying from Port au Prince to Guadeloupe to France on directly on to Benin. Bobo Magloire, our Sanitation Director, on the other hand was unable to obtain a French transit visa (a common struggle for Haitians) and had to fly from Port au Prince to; Panama; Havana; Madrid; Casablanca; Lome; and finally to Cotonou – a journey which took nearly 55 hours! Despite the challenging journey Bobo arrived in Benin looking as fresh as the moment he left Port au Prince. In his words he “feels that he has come home to the land of his great great grandparents.” Indeed, Benin was the birthplace of Haiti’s liberator Toussaint Louverture, who led the slave revolt which eventually defeated Napoleon’s army and made Haiti the first free black republic in the world, leading the way for the liberation of slaves around the globe.
Down the Toilet
April 25, 2012 — Today we had one of the highlights of our professional careers, or at least it was one of my finest hours. In an attempt to demonstrate the possibility of converting human waste into compost the SOIL team, together with our hosts ADESCA, paid a visit to the local primary school. But this was not your usual school visit. We were looking for proof that human wastes can be transformed into soil, and what better place to find that proof than deep in the ground in an old latrine.
Sasha and Bobo descend into the Great Unknown. Photo courtesy of Sasha Kramer.
Because the conversion of poop to soil can take at least a year, and we are only here in Benin for 3 weeks, we thought the best way to show that the process works would be to excavate an old latrine that had been closed for at least one year. After some research we learned that the local primary school had a set of latrines that have been sealed for the past 4 years. We went out on a limb and did something that we have never tried before, climbing down into a latrine and digging in to see what sorts of riches might await us.
Impact evaluation of drinking water supply and sanitation programmes in rural Benin: The risk of vanishing effects, 2011.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB), the Netherlands in cooperation with BMZ (German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development).
During the period 2008–2010, the Evaluation Departments of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in cooperation with KfW Entwicklungsbank jointly conducted an impact evaluation of the rural water supply and sanitation programmes in Benin being supported by the donor community.
Some of the main findings:
1 – The provision of new water points leads to a substantial increase in the use of improved water points as the main source of drinking water, both during the dry season and the rainy season and both for non-poor and poor households. It also substantially increases the number of litres per capita per day collected, although poor and large households consume less per capita. Nevertheless, a considerable share of households continues to use traditional water sources, instead of or in addition to the newly installed water point.
Experiences from Rural Benin: Sanitation Marketing At Scale, 2011. World Bank.
Sanitation marketing is a sustainable approach to household sanitation uptake at scale. While efforts in Africa to use marketing are underway in several countries, success stories have yet to be shared. In Benin, the Directorate for Hygiene and Basic Sanitation within the Ministry of Health has championed the development and operation of a highly innovative rural sanitation marketing programme.
Within the first one-and-a-half years promotion cycle under national roll-out launched in 2005, the programme has resulted in a 10 percentage point increase in improved sanitation coverage from a baseline of 6.2% across 80,000 monitored households. Besides the one in ten households in enrolled communities that has completed construction, a further 2 to 3 out of every ten households is either planning or in the process of building an improved family latrine by accessing market-supplied materials and services. While already impressive these figures likely underestimate the full impact of this marketing intervention for reasons which are explained.
You are invited to view Jay’s photo album: Environmental Health Photos: Benin, Kenya, Ethiopia and Indonesia (2009):
At least 50 cholera cases have been recorded in Benin’s capital Cotonou since 24 July, according to local hospital officials.
These cases have been reported in the capital’s eastern districts of Enagnon, Dedokpo, and Segbeya, neighbourhoods that lack clean drinking water, waste disposal services, and indoor plumbing.
The Benin government has renewed an education campaign on sanitation and what to do at the first signs of cholera infection.
Dr. Paul Yada, an epidemic specialist at the African regional office of the World Health Organization (WHO), said [...] countries’ responses to cholera outbreaks tend to be fast, but that follow up is poor.
“After an epidemic, people stop these education campaigns. The problem is, you cannot change someone’s behaviours in one week. You cannot stop teaching about sanitation just because the rains stop. This needs to go on year round. “
Last year, toward the end of Africa’s rainy season, ministers of health from across the continent signed an agreement to develop comprehensive action plans to fight cholera.
Yada says none have been submitted to WHO’s regional office in Congo Brazzaville for funding.
Read more: IRIN, 13 August 2008