Tag Archives: sanitation promotion

Learning by Doing: Working at Scale in Ethiopia

In the Amhara Region of Ethiopia, the Learning by Doing Initiative (LBDI), a joint project between the Government of Ethiopia, the Amhara Regional Health Bureau, USAID’s Hygiene Improvement Project (HIP), and the Water and Sanitation Program, started at large scale and then expanded, growing from an initial 93,000 households in four districts to include 5.8 million people in 94 districts.  LBDI resulted in 2.8 million more people stopping the practice of open defecation.

In  Learning by Doing: Working at Scale in Ethiopia, Kebede Faris and Julia Rosenbaum summarize key strategies and lessons from LBDI. Continue reading

Viet Nam: hygiene promotion should build on community action

The path down to a stream where children defecate. Viet Nam, Lao Ca province. Photo: Danida

More affordable sanitation technologies and participatory community interventions will make future hygiene promotion more effective, say two PhD-fellows Xuan Le Thi Thanh and Thilde Rheinländer. They have spent 16 months in ethnic minority communities in the Northern Province Lao Cai to do research on hygiene and sanitation promotion in the Danida-funded research project SANIVAT (Water Supply Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion in Vietnam). SANIVAT supports research and capacity building on the impacts of water, sanitation and hygiene interventions and investigates how people perceive hygiene, health risks and hygiene promotion.

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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

Renowned musician from Nepal releases sanitation song

Ani Choying Drolma

A famous female musician from Nepal has released a sanitation campaign song on World Water Day 2010.

Ani Choying Drolma (1971) is a Buddhist nun and musician well known for her rendition of Tibetan Buddhist chants and feast songs. With the proceeds of her concerts and CDs she established the Nuns’ Welfare Foundation, which helps educate young girls in Nepal. Read an article about her by Keri Douglas in Ode.

In 2006, with support from Water for the World, Germany, Ani Choying built a water reservoir to improve the lives of the women of Seti Devi village in Nepal.

Listen to Ani Choying’s sanitation song here. The lyrcis are by Durga Lal Shrestha and Nhyu Bajracharya wrote the music.

India, Himachal Pradesh: good response to sanitation awareness campaign

The hill state of Himachal Pradesh is surging ahead on the path of becoming completely free from open defecation by the end of 2010.

There has been a tremendous increase in rural sanitation coverage from less than 30 per cent in 2001 to over 80 per cent in 2009. The campaign to stamp out open defecation is eliciting encouraging response from the rural masses and yielding a positive outcome.

The gram panchayats, which achieve 100 per cent sanitation coverage in terms of individual household toilets, schools and anganwadis, defecation-free and clean environment are being provided fiscal incentives. As many as 22 gram panchayats (village councils) were given the “Nirmal Gram Puraskar” in 2006-07 and the number rose to 245 in 2007-08 and 253 in the following year. Gram panchayats receiving the incentives could use the funds for maintaining sanitation facilities in their respective areas. The blocks and districts could use the funds to set up monitoring mechanisms for sanitation. However, the gram panchayat is derecognised if it fails to maintain the ODF status.

The maximum number of 125 Nirmal panchayats was in Mandi, followed by 29 in Kangra, 23 in Shimla, 25 in Hamirpur, 15 in Solan, 13 in Sirmaur, 7 in Chamba, 8 in Bilaspur, 3 each in Kullu and Lahaul and Spiti, one each in Una and Kinnaur. They were given cash rewards ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh A sum of Rs 3.65 crore would be disbursed among the ‘Nirmal Gram Panchayats’ so that the remaining panchayats were also inspired to follow their footsteps. The government has decided to honour the people who contribute in the implementation of total sanitation programme in their respective areas.

The government has also started the ’Maharishi Valmiki Sampuran Swachhata Puraskar’ to help achieve the goal of safe and hygienic sanitation facilities for all and to motivate the panchayati raj institutions. School sanitation reward scheme and Mahila Mandal Protsahan Yojna has also been started.

Source: The Tribune, 21 Feb 2010

WSSCC gets US$ 2.1 million from Gates Foundation for hygiene and sanitation promotion

The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) has received nearly $2.1 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support its efforts at improving access to safe sanitation and promoting good hygiene practices for people in developing countries. These funds, provided over the next two years, will enable WSSCC to carry out its global networking, knowledge management and advocacy work programmes.

“We are thrilled and honoured to be selected by the Global Development Program of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for these funds,” said WSSCC’s Executive Director, Jon Lane. “The foundation’s support will help us to carry out our work programme, to increase global and national awareness of these important issues, and to have a positive impact on peoples’ lives.”

The foundation is the first non-state donor to WSSCC, joining the Governments of Australia, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States as supporters of the organisation.

Specifically, WSSCC will use the Gates Foundation grant to:

  • enhance coordination and collaboration through WSSCC’s National WASH Coalitions
  • circulate knowledge and information in the areas of sanitation, hygiene and water
  • influence the development and implementation of national policies, and
  • increase awareness and influence the global policy debate on sanitation and hygiene.

Source: WSSCC, 19 Feb 2010

Rotary tackles uncomfortable topic

Rotary International’s membership magazine The Rotarian has featured many provocative humanitarian concerns on its cover in the past few years, but it hit a new mark in the January [2010] issue.

The cover features a schematic drawing of a man and a woman, the type that is found on public restroom doors, and the words, “Billions of people have nowhere to go. What a mess.”

The article by Rose George tells in excruciating detail what it’s like in places where there is literally nowhere to do what human beings do several times a day except the side of the road or beside a tree in the woods. This “problem no one wants to talk about” is actually one of the world’s major health problems, she argues, affecting 2.6 billion people who have no sanitary toilets.

Why? Because the bacteria in human feces left out in the open are carried about on hands and feet into living spaces. “It finds its way into food and drink, with desperate consequences,” George writes. “Diarrhea — 90 percent of which is caused by contaminated food or water — kills up to two million people a year, most of them children.”

Diarrhea kills more children under age 5 than AIDS, tuberculosis or malaria. “In graphic terms,” she explains, “diarrhea’s death toll is equivalent to two jumbo jets full of children dying every four hours.”

Even so, the taboo nature of the topic and cultural differences that prevent uneducated people from accepting the convenience of a sanitary toilet are tough to break through. George notes that the framers of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals included sanitation in the goals with reluctance, even though preventing diarrhea would enhance the eagerly embraced goals of universal primary education, eradicating extreme poverty and hunger and reducing child mortality.

Money and government concern won’t solve the problem alone, however. George tells of a failed attempt by the Indian government to introduce new sanitary latrines in the 1980s. They went unused “at least for their intended purpose,” she writes. “Maybe because they were nicer than people’s houses, so they were turned into extra storage spaces or temples.” She explains that installing new “hardware” has to be accompanied with “software”: human psychology and language to get people to embrace the sanitary toilet and abandon the old ways.

Rotary Clubs have been involved in public sanitation almost since the first club was established by Paul Harris in Chicago in 1905. The club’s very first public service project in 1907 was building “comfort stations” outside Chicago’s City Hall. Many clubs have supported international sanitation projects, the most successful of which are done in partnership with local leaders.

[The Rotary Foundation has granted more than US$4.7 million for water and sanitation projects over the past five years. An accompanying article by Jenny Llakmani, describes some of Rotary International’s sanitation projects and the technology options used].

Eco squat toilet. (1) Fecal collection (2) Urine collection (3) Washing area (4) Bamboo fertilized by wash water (5) Bamboo superstructure

We expect this cover article will get lots of Rotary Clubs talking about sanitation projects in remote corners of the world. George suggests enlisting celebrities “who happily promote a clean and shiny water faucet in a dusty village, with a photogenic child in tow, but don’t bother to take a few steps over to the latrine that has enabled that child to go back to school and prolonged her life.”

Need a new cause, Brad and Angelina? Or how about Tiger Woods? After all, he’s taking a break from golf and needs to rehabilitate his reputation.

Seriously, we hope this provocative Rotarian cover story brings attention to an uncomfortable subject that sorely needs addressing. Think about it. If the indoor toilet in your home or place of work mysteriously disappeared, where would you go?

Source: Independent Mail, 30 Dec 2009