Category Archives: Dignity and Social Development

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.

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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 


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.

What numbers tell us about Open Defecation in India

What numbers tell us about Open Defecation in India | Source: The Hindu, Oct 2 2016 |

As per the most recent Swachhta Status Report in 2015, more than half of the rural population (52.1 per cent) of the country still defecates in open. 


Behaviour change is a key priority of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan as sanitation is a behavioural issue. Photo: Special Arrangement

As per the most recent Swachhta Status Report in 2015, more than half of the rural population (52.1 per cent) of the country still defecates in open.

Eliminating Open Defecation in India by 2nd October 2019 – the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi – is one of the key aims of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan movement launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi two years ago on Gandhi Jayanti.

As per the most recent Swachhta Status Report of the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), in 2015, more than half of the rural population (52.1 per cent) of the country still defecates in open —a major public health and sanitation problem.

How does India compare with other countries?

India fares poorly. According to data compiled by r.i.c.e, Sub-Saharan Africa, which had 65 per cent of the GDP per capita of India, had only about half of the rural open defecation compared to India.

In Bangladesh, only 5 per cent of rural people defecate in the open, significantly lower than that in India.

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Broken glass and needles: the waste pickers scraping a living at Jordan’s landfills

Broken glass and needles: the waste pickers scraping a living at Jordan’s landfills | Source: The Guardian, August 27, 2016 |

At Al Huseyniyat landfill, Syrian refugees salvage recyclables illegally. Efforts to formalise their work offer hope 


Muhammed Abu Najib Temeki, 48, a father of nine from Deraa in Syria, pushes a cart of recyclable waste towards an Oxfam recycling centre in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. Photograph: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

Without warning the bulldozer accelerates, cutting through mounds of waste at Al Huseyniyat landfill in northern Jordan. A lingering stench intensifies as the machine scoops up an armful of rubbish, discharging clouds of flies over a group of people rifling through bin bags nearby.

No one notices the disturbance. Their gazes are trained downwards as they sift through the morning’s waste. “We look for plastic, aluminium, metal, clothes – anything we can sell or keep, or sometimes eat,” says Mohammed Ali, an Egyptian who makes a living salvaging recyclables from the site.

Ali manages a team of 15 waste pickers – men, women and children – most Syrians from nearby Za’atari refugee camp. They earn around 10 Jordanian dinar (£10.90) a day. “It’s not a lot but I make enough to manage on,” says Nawras Sahasil, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee who supports his wife and two children on the 250 dinars a month he earns from the landfill.

Like most people here, Sahasil does not have a work permit. While the Jordanian government has gone some way towards easing restrictions on employment for Syrian refugees, the vast majority are still working illegally. Now, a number of organisations in Jordan are looking to formalise the work of waste pickers and harness their role as recyclers to address the country’s mounting rubbish crisis, while developing sustainable solutions for processing waste in the future.

Read the complete article.

Using psychology to change deadly bathroom habits in India

Using psychology to change deadly bathroom habits in India | Source:, Aug 28 2016 |

In two cities in eastern India, Pamela Dalton’s team walks around pointing Nasal Rangers – devices resembling oversized hair dryers – into half-completed community toilets.

Then they sniff.


DEBASMITA MOHANTY Jayalalita Lenka, a surveyor on the Potty Project team, uses a Nasal Ranger to record the odors in a community toilet under construction in Bhubaneswar, India.

Dalton is an experimental psychologist from Philadelphia whose specialty is how people perceive and respond to odors. The odd-looking devices collect chemical data on aromas of all kinds, before and after the toilets are open for use. The goal: Get more people to use the facilities.

 People don’t want to relieve themselves indoors, Dalton said, and the intensity of bad smells is part of the problem. While the smell of human waste is diluted outdoors, without proper sanitation, it concentrates indoors, sending residents to relieve themselves elsewhere.

Poor sanitation is a leading cause of child mortality and disease in the developing world. India has the highest rates of what officials call open defecation, according to the World Health Organization. Many residents of urban slums come from villages where they may never have seen a modern toilet, and have no idea that waste can be infectious.

“People just defecate wherever,” said Dalton, a faculty member at the Monell Chemical Senses Center. “They’re used to going outside.”

So Dalton’s team, which is overseeing construction of dozens of new community toilets, is trying to make the new facilities more appealing. Part of that is studying the current state of stench.

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Margaret Batty/WaterAid – Poor globally being failed on sanitation

Margaret Batty/WaterAid – Poor globally being failed on sanitation | Source: The Guardian, Aug 14 2016 |

WaterAid shares the global concern for the world’s top athletes dealing with the sewage in Rio’s bays (Report, 4 August). But the heavily contaminated waters don’t only put at risk the health of Olympians, it’s clear they also adversely affect the millions of people facing this faecal nightmare, day-in and day-out.


Rubbish along the edge of Guanabara Bay, Rio, the venue for the Olympic sailing events. ‘These Olympic Games have put the spotlight on one of the most urgent yet beatable crises of our time. World leaders must address it,’ writes Margaret Batty of WaterAid. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty

Despite Brazil being an upper-middle income country, nearly 2% of Brazilians, or 3.5 million people, have no access to clean water, and 17%, or 35 million people, live without good sanitation. In Rio alone, 30% of the population is not connected to a formal sewerage system. It is a travesty that anyone should have to live like this.

Sadly, Brazil is not alone in facing a water and sanitation crisis. One in three people globally live without decent toilets, and one in 10 are without clean water. These Olympic Games have put the spotlight on one of the most urgent yet beatable crises of our time. World leaders must address it.

The UN global goals for sustainable development were agreed by these leaders last year. The challenge now is to put those promises into action, ensuring that everyone, everywhere has clean water and sanitation by 2030.
Margaret Batty
Director of global policy and campaigns, WaterAid

Rio’s waste pickers: ‘People spat at us but now we’re at the Olympics’

Rio’s waste pickers: ‘People spat at us but now we’re at the Olympics’ |Source: The Guardian, Aug 6 2016 |

Rio authorities partner with Coca-Cola to fund the Rio Olympics waste pickers programme, putting a spotlight on one of Brazil’s most marginalised professions 


Rio 2016’s waste pickers. Photograph: Luiz Galerani

Claudete Da Costa started working as a waste picker with her mother when she was 11 years old, collecting recyclable goods in Rio de Janeiro to sell to scrap merchants.

“We were ashamed,” she says. “People saw us and spat at us, thought we were thieves.”

Today, 36-year-old Da Costa’s outlook has changed. She is the Rio de Janeiro representative for Brazil’s National Movement of Waste Pickers, whose mission is to improve workers’ rights and increase recognition of the contribution made by one of Brazil’s most marginalised professions.

This month, Da Costa and 240 other pickers from 33 of Rio’s waste collecting co-operatives – autonomous groups that collect the city’s rubbish throughout the year – are formally contracted to handle recyclable waste during the Olympic Games.

The pickers will be spread across three of the four Olympic sites – Maracana, Olympic Park and Deodoro – where they will collect recyclable goods such as plastic bottles and aluminium cans, and take them to a depot to be sorted, stored and sold on by the co-ops to scrap merchants.

Read the complete article.