Category Archives: Dignity and Social Development

Sanitation projects will go down the toilet unless we ask people what they really want

Sanitation projects will go down the toilet unless we ask people what they really want. The Conversation, November 27, 2016.

Countries have a lot of work to do to achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. But development projects don’t always go the way you expect.

A resettlement project in Laos provided taps and toilets as a way to improve hygiene and health outcomes for communities.

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Stages of water development project planning. GCI/UQ

Three years after resettlement a project team formed to address health issues found that the new brick toilet facilities were being used to store rice. The practice of “open defecation” was continuing in nearby farmland.

The community members explained that keeping rice dry and safe from animals was their highest priority. They also thought it was more hygienic for faeces to be washed away, rather than concentrated in one place such as a toilet.

How did this mismatch occur? There had been limited community participation, no awareness-raising and no sense of community ownership generated during the project planning. Getting these things right will be fundamental to achieving any of the development goals.

Read the complete article.

Which way’s up? – a closer look at the sanitation ladder

Which way’s up? – a closer look at the sanitation ladder. CLTS Blog, October 14, 2016.

Now that the first year of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is almost over, it’s no surprise that a lot of the conversation at the UNC Water and Health Conference this week has centred on how WASH-related targets (mostly within Goal 6) will be met and, in particular, how they will be monitored. jmp-ladders

The complexity (and sheer number) of targets appear to be nothing short of a monitoring nightmare, but one which many in the field have enthusiastically embraced as an opportunity to build on previous monitoring processes.

Representatives from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) kicked off the week with a presentation focused on the sanitation and hygiene targets. Of note is the introduction of a clearly defined ladder for reporting on the progress of hand washing – notably absent in the MDGs.

Most of the discussion was focused on the sanitation ladder and in particular the renaming of the category ‘shared’ to ‘limited service’ (at least, within the presentation!) which re-opened a long-standing debate about shared sanitation facilities. I recall a heated session at the 2014 WASH Conference in Brisbane, Australia, convened by Catarina Fonseca (IRC).

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The Perils of Writing about Toilets in India

The Perils of Writing about Toilets in India. IPSNews, November 6, 2016.

Journalist Stella Paul was midway through an interview about toilets when she found herself, and the women she was speaking to, under attack from four angry men.

“This man, he comes and he just grabs this woman by her hair and he starts dragging her on the ground and kicking her at the same time,” Paul told IPS.

She remembers thinking, “what is happening,” as another three men followed, beating the women, including Paul who was hit in the face.

“They are blindly just beating this woman.”

“Why? Because how dare you talk about getting a toilet when you are untouchable, you are Dalit.”

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Paul interviews Dalit women in Hamirpur – a district in Northern India. All of these women have been abandoned by their husbands who fled to escape drought. Credit: Stella Paul / IPS.

The attack took place while Paul – a 2016 recipient of the International Women’s Media Foundation Courage in Journalism Award and IPS contributor – was researching a story about women forced into dual slavery in illegal mines in South-East, India.

The women Paul was interviewing had been forced to work unpaid in the mines, but were trying to escape, some of them were attending school, and they had now found out they were potentially going to have their own toilet under a government sanitation scheme.

Read the complete article.

Cambodian street pickers turn waste into survival profits

Cambodian street pickers turn waste into survival profits. Channel News Asia, October 26, 2016.

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Sophana works through the night sorting through garbage in one of Phnom Penh’s busiest bar districts.

PHNOM PENH: On any typical night around the heaving bars full of tourists and female workers, street pickers lurk in the shadows.

They are children, their parents and the elderly. They are grimy, hungry and desperate.

Phon Sophana is one of them. He and his family, including his wife and two young children, live on the street, foraging a living by searching through discarded waste for items of value, normally plastic bottles and cans.

They work through the night, mostly in the darkness, but all around the clock if they have the stamina.

“There are a lot of competitors,” the 31-year-old said. “If I can go early enough, it would be lucky. If the others go before me, they would collect everything first.

“Life is tough here.”

Read the complete article.

Can collective action strategies motivate behavior change to reduce open defecation in rural India?

Can collective action strategies motivate behavior change to reduce open defecation in rural India? 2016. 

Authors:

  • Payal Hathi, research institute for compassionate economics (r.i.c.e.)
  • Dean Spears,Economics and Planning Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi; Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University; r.i.c.e.
  • Diane Coffey, Economics and Planning Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi; Woodrow Wilson School of Public andInternational Affairs at Princeton University; r.i.c.e.

The world’s remaining open defecation is increasingly concentrated in rural India. The Indian government’s efforts to reduce open defecation by providing subsidies for latrine construction have been largely unsuccessful in addressing the problem.

It is now clear that behavior change must be the priority if progress on ending open defecation is to be made. While community-led strategies have proven effective in various developing country contexts, there are serious reasons to question whether similar methods can work in rural India.

Through both quantitative and qualitative analyses, we find
that strict social hierarchies that continue to govern daily interactions in rural life today obstruct the spirit of cooperation upon which such methods rely.

Additionally, caste-based notions of purity and pollution make the simple latrines used all over the developing world unattractive to rural Indians. In acontext where people identify most closely with their caste and religious groups rather than their geographical villages, our findings suggest that a more nuanced understanding of the idea of “community” is required. More experimentation, both with community-led and other strategies, is
needed in order to effectively move from open defecation to latrine use in rural India.

Dying for a pee – Cape Town’s slum residents battle for sanitation

Dying for a pee – Cape Town’s slum residents battle for sanitation | Source: Reuters, Oct 12 2016 |

Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township is seen

Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township is seen in this picture taken October 4, 2016. Picture taken October 4, 2016. THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Johnny Miller

CAPE TOWN (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Siphesihle Mbango was just six years old when her friend, Asenathi, begged her to go with her to the toilet then ran outside alone – and was never seen again.

Now 12, Mbango tells the story with an intense, unflinching gaze but her hands, fidgeting nervously as she speaks, show the trauma is still raw.

“We were at the crèche and she wanted me to go with her,” but I told her I was busy, I was playing, I didn’t want to go and she went out by herself,” she said, at her home in a Cape Town slum.

“It was a long time she was away and when the teachers asked me, I told them she went to the toilet. They looked and looked for her for a long, long time. But then we lost hope. We never saw her again.”

Mbango shares a one-room shack with her grandmother and two younger siblings in Endlovisi, a vast sprawl of more than 6,600 corrugated iron shacks perched precariously over the sand dunes on the southeastern edge of the South African city.

Part of Khayelitsha, one of the world’s five biggest slums, Endlovini is home to an estimated 20,000 people who share just 380 or so communal toilets.

However, the family live in an area where there are no easily accessible toilets at all – and according to the community, residents have literally been dying for a pee.

Read the complete article.

Live Q&A: Menstruation is keeping girls out of school – what can we do?

Live Q&A: Menstruation is keeping girls out of school – what can we do? Source: The Guardian, October 7 2016 |

Starting menstruation is a major factor in girls missing school in developing countries. Join an expert panel on Thursday 13 October, 2-3.30pm BST to discuss how to work across sectors to prevent this 

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Studies have shown that improved access to sanitary products increases school attendance among girls in Kenya. Photograph: George Mulala/Reuters

“I still remember the shocked silence the first time I brought up the issue of menstruation,” said Archana Patkar at Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council during a recent Guardian panel discussion.

She was describing working with colleagues in education looking at reasons for the dropout of girls from school at around ages 11-13. “[There were] a lot of discussions on teacher quality, classrooms, inadequacy of material, inappropriateness of curricular, but nobody was talking about what happens to girls at that point,” said Patkar.

Now there is recognition that starting their periods, and inadequate toilets and sanitation supplies, is a huge factor in girls missing out on their education. The United Nations Children’s Fund found that one in 10 African girls skip school during menstruation, and some drop out entirely. Not having access or money to buy supplies even leads to girls feeling that they must engage in transactional sex.

So how can the education and the public health and water, sanitation and hygiene (Wash) sectors work together so that more girls complete secondary school? How can schools provide better sanitation facilities so girls aren’t afraid to go to school when they have their period? And how can girls get easier access to healthy sanitation products?

Join an expert panel on Thursday 13 October, 2-3.30pm BST, to discuss these questions and more.