Tag Archives: mobile phones

India census: more people have a mobile phone than a household toilet

Nearly half of India’s 1.2 billion people have no toilet at home, but more people own a mobile phone, according to the latest census data.

Only 46.9% of the 246.6 million households have lavatories while 49.8% defecate in the open. The remaining 3.2% use public toilets.

Census of India 2011 – Availability and Type of Latrine Facility: 2001-2011

Census 2011 data on houses, household amenities and assets reveal that 63.2% of homes have a telephone. More than half the population – 53.2% – have a mobile phone.

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CLOO – new app uses social media to share toilets

This app turns any private toilet into a public toilet accessible to friends & friends of friends using social media connections, with the aim to solve the problem of too-few easily accessible toilets in cities. CLOO allows registered users to charge a small fee for the use of their toilet.

CLOO was developed by Hillary Young & Deanna McDonald.

For more info go to: www.cloo-app.com

India, New Delhi: using Facebook and SMS to keep the city clean

With this photo on Facebook local resident Akshay Arora asks the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) to "kindly send some one and get it clean this Toilet/Urinal". One day later on 7 April 2011, MCD replied: "Your complaint reference no. is 02/0704/SP"

The Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) launched its Facebook page in January 2011 and an integrated SMS service in March 2011 to enable public monitoring of garbage collection sites and public urinals/toilets in areas under its jurisdiction.The first experiences were positive as illustrated by the example of 22-year-old Piyush Goyal posted his complaint of garbage spilling over from the dump in his area.

On January 8, he clicked pictures of the seven dirty ones in South Delhi’s R K Puram area and posted them on Facebook. And the next day, he says, he saw the pictures of clean dhalaos uploaded by the MCD.

“There is lot of transparency through this way. The man who actually cleans it asked me why I uploaded the pictures. So the information is going from top to the bottom,” says Goyal.

MCD additional commissioner (engineering) Anshu Prakash added:

“This system is increasing transparency, fixing accountability and putting everything under public scrutiny. And none of us like to be ashamed in public. So people have started working at the bottom”.

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Battling cholera with NFC RFID-tracked drinking water in Haiti 

Deep Springs International (DSI), a non-profit organization based in Pennsylvania, USA, and Nokia Research Center (NRC), Palo Alto, California, are teaming up to ensure the supply of clean drinking water in Haiti with NFC (near field communication) technology.

DSI has been delivering water treatment systems (which essentially consist of a covered 19-liter bucket with a spigot at the bottom) and a locally manufactured chlorine solution it has labeled Gadyen Dlo (Creole for "water guardian") since 2007.. Photo: Michael Ritter, DSI

Water treatment kits are being provided to track chlorine levels in household drinking water using NFC-enabled cell phones. NRC provided the health workers with approximately 50 Nokia 6212 NFC-enabled phones while UPM RFID supplied UPM BullsEye™ NFC tags with NXP Mifare Ultralight chip. Joseph “Jofish” Kaye, Senior Research Scientist, NRC, initiated the project together with David Holstius, a student and Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health, who developed the software application for mobile phones.

Families in the most rural areas in Haiti will have one water treatment kit consisting of a five-gallon (19 litre) plastic bucket with a lid and spigot. The RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags are attached to buckets for storing the treated drinking water and delivered to families together with a chlorine solution and written instructions for using the kit. When DSI’s water technicians visit their homes, they check whether they are using the kits properly and provide additional chlorine solutions. The technicians will read the tags using NFC cell phones loaded with software guiding them to ask relevant questions about the water being tested. They then send the data to DSI’s headquarters via SMS. The software application uses the Frontline SMS platform.

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India: land of many cell phones, fewer toilets

Rafiq Nagar, Mumbai. Every family has a cell phone, but no safe sanitation. Photo: Guy Walder, http://www.guywalder.com

In the wake of President Obama’s visit to India, AP journalist Ravi Nessman writes that “he will find a country of startlingly uneven development and perplexing disparities, where more people have cell phones than access to a toilet”.

Interestingly, Nessman ends his article by suggesting that the spread of cell phones could empower slum dwellers to demand better sanitation services.

The Mumbai slum of Rafiq Nagar has no clean water for its shacks made of ripped tarp and bamboo. No garbage pickup along the rocky, pocked earth that serves as a road. No power except from haphazard cables strung overhead illegally.

And not a single toilet or latrine for its 10,000 people.

Yet nearly every destitute family in the slum has a cell phone. Some have three.

[...]

It is a country buoyed by a vibrant business world of call centers and software developers, but hamstrung by a bloated, corrupt government that has failed to deliver the barest of services.

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Mobile phones ‘dirtier than toilet handles’

Mobile phones in the UK are covered with up to 18 times more living bacteria than the flush handle on a men’s lavatory, research suggests.

Bacteria can linger on a mobile phone surface. Photo: Which?

Swabs and analysis of 30 mobile handsets found that seven had high or warning levels of environmental bacteria, according to consumer group Which? One contained such an intense concentration of bacteria, including faecal coliforms, that anyone using it could have faced a serious stomach upset.

Which? said the findings suggest millions of UK mobiles would exceed the recommended acceptable levels of bacteria.

While not immediately harmful, elevated levels of bacteria indicate poor hygiene and can act as a breeding ground for more serious germs.

Hygiene expert Jim Francis told Which?: “The levels of potentially harmful bacteria on one mobile were off the scale. That phone needs sterilising.”

The tests showed how easily bacteria could linger on the surface of a phone, which could be passed on to other people if they held the handset to look at photos or other applications.

Which? advises that phones can be cleaned with an alcohol wipe.

Source: Telelgraph, 28 Jul 2010

Kenya: cell phones, Google Apps help bring basic sanitation and more transparency

Nuru International, a US-based nonprofit focused on pioneering holistic, sustainable solutions to poverty, is using some Google platforms and Nokia phones to increase sanitation in Kuria, Kenya.

The organization has registered a Kenyan web domain name and created an account with Google Apps, providing access to each of the 60 Kenyan staff members. GPRS-enabled handsets have been purchased for about $40 apiece, and using these phones they can email one another very inexpensively.

“We’re using the best technology available to reach our farmers. Nokia made a great phone. Safaricom built a strong GPRS network. Opera coded a superb browser. And Google made a truly remarkable suite of applications. They’re all unintentionally working together with Nuru. According to our motto, we’re bringing the best of the best to serve the poorest of the poor.” Said David Carreon, Nuru Healthcare Project Manager.

“We use the phones during data collection for sanitation and hygiene and also the Community Healthcare Workers instead of writing use the phone to submit data. “ Said Nelly Andega, Nuru Health Care Manager.

The teams use the cameras on the phone to photograph and video the sites they’re supervising and upload the images, keeping a permanent and searchable record of all their supervision activities. And, the use of Google Sheet is keeping their organization paper free, further reducing the cost of operations from supplies to office space.

Read more about the technologies used in David Carreon’s blog post “Farmers Fighting Poverty with Nokia Google Opera and Safaricom“, 20 May 2010

Another unexpected advantage of the use of cell phones is increased transparency. Google forms on the phone are now used to register attendance at important trainings. “Even the Water and Sanitation Representatives [volunteer community educators] have come earlier”, says Eliza, a Water and Sanitation Field Manager. “They know that the phone records the time that I submit whether they are on time, late or absent. So, they don’t even ask me to change their records anymore. With the phones, there is no cheating.”

Web site: Nuru International – Water & Sanitation

Source: Jaymi Heimbuch, Planet Green, 21 May 2010 ; Nicole Scott, Nuru Water and Sanitation blog, 01 Jun 2010

Greater access to cell phones than toilets in India: UN experts call for sanitation for all by 2025

A new UNU-INWEH report offers 9-point prescription for achieving Millennium Development Goal for Sanitation by 2015.

Far more people in India have access to a cell phone than to a toilet and improved sanitation, according to UN experts who published a 9-point prescription for achieving the world’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for sanitation by 2015.

They also urge the world community to set a new target beyond the MDG (which calls for a 50 percent improvement in access to adequate sanitation by 2015) to the achievement of 100 percent coverage by 2025.

Recent UN research in India, the world’s second most populous country, shows roughly 366 million people (31 percent of the population) had access to improved sanitation in 2008.

Other data, meanwhile, shows 545 million cell phones are now connected to service in India’s emerging economy. The number of cell phones per 100 people has exploded from 0.35 in year 2000-01 to about 45 today.

Worldwide some 1.1 billion people defecate in the open. And data show progress in creating access to toilets and sanitation lags far behind world MDG targets, even as mobile phone connections continue to a predicted 1 billion in India by 2015.

Says Zafar Adeel, Director of United Nations University’s Canada-based think-tank for water, the Institute for Water, Environment and Health: “It is a tragic irony to think that in India, a country now wealthy enough that roughly half of the people own phones, about half cannot afford the basic necessity and dignity of a toilet.”

“Popular education about the health dangers of poor sanitation is also needed. But this simple measure could do more to save lives, especially those of young people, improve health and help pull India and other countries in similar circumstances out of poverty than any alternative investment. It can also serve as a very significant boost to the local economy.”

The new UNU report cites a rough cost of $300 to build a toilet, including labour, materials and advice. Worldwide, an estimated $358 billion is needed between now and 2015 to reach the MDG for sanitation – some of this funding is already mobilized at national and international levels.

“The world can expect, however, a return of between $3 and $34 for every dollar spent on sanitation, realized through reduced poverty and health costs and higher productivity – - an economic and humanitarian opportunity of historic proportions,” adds Dr. Adeel, who also serves as chair of UN-Water, a coordinating body for water-related work at 27 UN agencies and their many global partners.

[I]f current global trends continue [there will be] a 1 billion person shortfall from the MDG sanitation goal in 2015 — in all, 2.7 billion will lack access. So, while the world will miss the MDG target, the absolute number of those without access to sanitation will actually go up.

The problem is a major contributor to water-borne diseases that, in the past three years alone, killed an estimated 4.5 million children under the age of five — a death toll roughly equal to the population of Ireland or Costa Rica.

“This report [1] notes cultural taboos surround this issue in some countries, preventing progress,” says Zafar Adeel, Director of UNU-INWEH. “Anyone who shirks the topic as repugnant, minimizes it as undignified, or considers unworthy those in need should let others take over for the sake of 1.5 million children and countless others killed each year by contaminated water and unhealthy sanitation.”

The UNU-INWEH report synthesizes information from a wide range of UN and sources:

  • Of the estimated $358 billion cost to meet the MDG target, $142 billion is needed to expand coverage (mostly to rural areas) and $216 billion to maintain existing services (mostly in urban areas)
  • For all of Africa to meet the water and sanitation MDGs, the number of people served must double from the 350 million served in 2006. At current rates of progress in Sub-Saharan Africa, the sanitation MDG might not be met until 2076
  • An estimated 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases
  • Once girls reach puberty, lack of access to sanitation becomes a central cultural and human health issue, contributing to female illiteracy and low levels of education, in turn contributing to a cycle of poor health for pregnant women and their children

The report offers nine recommendations:

  • Address sanitation in the context of global poverty and in concert with the other MDGs as part of an overall strategy to increase global equity;
  • Make sanitation a primary focus within the broader context of water management and access to safe water;Integrate sanitation into community life – holistic, community-based and communitydriven.
  • Empower local communities (not just households) to identify needs, change behaviour, create demand for ownership and overcome obstacles such as land tenure;
  • Make coordinated, long-term sanitation investments focused on both “software” (usage) and “hardware” (facilities). To make monitoring more valuable, integrate failures and successes associated with sanitation delivery in community-based evaluations;
  • Redefine “acceptable” sanitation access within the context of gender, economic realities and environmental constraints;
  • Adjust the MDG target from a 50 percent improvement in access to adequate sanitation by 2015 to 100 percent coverage by 2025;
  • Co-ordinate the responses of national NGOs to the sanitation crisis and enhance communication, especially regarding lessons learned, to form an effective and vocal sanitation advocacy group;
  • Design new business models to develop markets at the bottom of the pyramid and deal with the apexes of the water-sanitation-hygiene triangle concurrently;
  • Recommit to official development assistance equal to 0.7 percent of GDP and, within this framework, commit 0.002 percent of GDP to international investments in sanitation.

Says Dr. Adeel: “As president of the G8 in 2010, Canada has announced it will champion ‘a major initiative to improve the health of women and children in the world’s poorest regions,’ making this the top priority of the leaders’ meetings in June. Better nutrition and immunization are foremost among the remedies cited.”

“We would urge, however, that providing decent sanitation be emphasized among the simple, inexpensive solutions available, as it would do more to save the lives than any other possible measure.”

Says report co-author Corinne Shuster-Wallace of UNU-INWEH: “Sanitation for all is not only achievable, but necessary. There is a moral, civil, political and economic need to bring adequate sanitation to the global population.”

[1] UNU-INWEH (2010). Sanitation as a key to global health : voices from the field. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health. Read the full report

Source: UNU-INWEH, Apr 2010

More mobile phones than toilets

“The number of mobile subscriptions in the world is expected to pass five billion this year [2010], according to the International Telecommunication Union, an intergovernmental organization. That would mean more human beings today have access to a cellphone than the United Nations says have access to a clean toilet”.

While the author’s intention of this quote is to show how widespread and popular mobile or cellphones have become in developing countries in a relatively short period, it will also raise the question why the sanitation sector  has been unable to emulate this success.

Read the full article: Anand Giridharadas, New York Times, 08 Apr 2010

Uganda: resident demolishes latrine over phone

Residents in Kitagata sub-county were shocked when a man demolished a neighbour’s latrine over a mobile phone recently. The man, only identified as Byamugisha had gone to answer nature’s call from a neighbour’s latrine.

As he was leaving, his phone slipped through his hands and fell in the latrine. He begged neighbours to assist him to get his phone to no avail. Not wanting to lose the phone, he demolished the latrine and got out his phone. He however refused to reconstruct it. This prompted the owner to report the matter to the LC officials.

The local council chairman ordered Byamugisha to construct the latrine or he would be taken to Police and jailed. He has since not been seen in the village.

Source: New Vision Online, 27 Nov 2009