Category Archives: Dignity and Social Development

#InDeepShit

By Ingeborg Krukkert, Lead Asia Programmes | Sanitation and hygiene specialist, IRC

Human beings are being used to plug the gaps in failing sanitation systems – Bezwada Wilson.

#InDeepShit is the title of an event I attended on Saturday 22 April 2017. Talking about toilets and who is able to use one – or not; talking about who cleans them and how – sometimes literally with their hands deep in shit. I know this does not sound like an event a sane person would like to join on their day off. But you are mistaken! And I was not the only one. Around 80 young and critical people in the room showed that this was an event important enough to spend their free Saturday morning on.

I was triggered by the quote on the invitation saying: “Any human cannot clean somebody’s shit for the sake of roti. This is Independent India?”. The quote is from Bezwada Wilson, an Indian activist against manual scavenging. He was one of eight very interesting speakers invited to address the meeting. They covered a wide range of challenges: from barriers disabled people face when wanting to use a toilet (“we can’t hire you because we do not have a toilet for you”), to safety issues for transgender people (“we have progressive laws on paper, but this is not what I encounter in real life”), to accountability and manual scavenging.

Nine years

Almost nine years ago Bezwada Wilson was an inspiring and eloquent speaker at the IRC Symposium on Urban Sanitation for the Poor. Nine years and the same problems still need to be addressed. At that time he said: “sanitation is much broader than simply toilets. Effective sanitation also requires hygiene education – people have to change their practice as well as get access to toilets. It is inevitable that the main focus is on the early part of the chain (building toilets), but there is increasing awareness that the most difficult problems relate to the removal of faecal sludge […]. In many cities, treatment, disposal or reuse is not managed” and – as Bezwada Wilson put it so eloquently in his presentation during the symposium: “human beings are being used to plug the gaps in failing sanitation systems”.

Bezwada Wilson

Bezwada Wilson

Nine years later, this is exactly what is happening with the Swachh Bharat Mission. With the hard deadline of 2019 to reach the target of a toilet for every household, state and districts seem to have no choice but to focus on constructing toilets and on doing it fast. More than 700 million toilets to go…. There is no time to focus on use, no time to focus on what is happening with all that human waste after using the toilet, no focus on what happens when the pit is full, and no focus on who is emptying the toilet or how it is done.

Nine years of activism and there is still manual scavenging. Bezwada Wilson has not changed; he seems more motivated than ever. And with reason! It’s not only about dignity, safety is a huge issue too. Workers are dying, even in 2017, he points out referring to the recent sewage plant accident in Noida.

Chief Executive VK Madhavan from WaterAid India, however, also sees positive developments. He acknowledges that we cannot change where we are born, or in which family or caste. So true and yet so easy to forget: that privilege – or not – is no contribution of us as individuals, no contribution at all. What we can do is provide a space to those who are denied to speak up or to interact with the government. That is why WaterAid India together with Youth Ki Awaaz organised this event. Youth Ki Awaaz is India’s largest platform where young people can publish their stories to drive impact.

And this is what Bezwada Wilson has also done. He is founder and National Convenor of the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), a national movement committed to the total eradication of manual scavenging and the rehabilitation of all scavengers for dignified occupations. SKA was instrumental in eradicating manual scavenging in as many as 139 districts in India since 2009. He created a change of perspective. And he is not alone. Mrs Lali Bai, a former manual scavenger, also shared her experiences with us. She is now an activist and founder of Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, a national campaign for dignity and eradication of manual scavenging. For a long time many of us, including government officials, ignored or even denied the existence of manual scavenging. But there are many examples that manual scavenging is still going on as this picture from Cambodia shows.

Manual scavenger in Cambodia (photo by Danny Dourng)

Manual scavenger in Cambodia (photo by Danny Dourng)

Any shortcuts to change?

In India more and more authorities start to acknowledge the problem. Our role is to provide space to make this happen. It all goes terribly slowly though and I asked the panel if there is no shortcut to change. Nobody could answer that question. Can you?

The blog was originally posted on 24 April 2017 on the IRC website.

World Bank targets smarter sanitation communication for rural Ethiopia

By Peter McIntyre, IRC Associate

The World Bank in Ethiopia has commissioned a rapid survey of what motivates people to upgrade their latrines, with the aim of delivering behaviour change communication materials with greater impact.

Ethiopia Worldbank_bcc_launch_2_addis_230317

Sanitation rapid survey launch meeting Addis Abeba, 23 March 2017 (Photo: Sirak Wondimu)

The survey is being conducted in four regions, with the main target audiences being adult women, male heads of households, opinion leaders and existing sanitation businesses.

The aim is to pilot and produce materials that emphasise the dignity, prestige and status of having improved sanitation, rather than focusing only on health messages.

The WB decided a new approach was needed after Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) figures for 2016 suggested that only 4% of rural households in Ethiopia have improved toilets facilities while a further 2% have facilities that would be considered improved if they were not shared. This is well below the Joint Monitoring Program figure of 28% for improved latrines (although we understand this may be revised down to around 14%). Indeed, according to DHS, although access to some form of sanitation has risen, access to an improved latrine has declined in percentage terms over the past ten years. Most latrines in rural areas (55%) do not have an effective slab or lid while more than a third of rural households (39%) practise open defecation.

The Government of Ethiopia has a flagship programme to increase use of improved latrines to 82% by 2020.

At a launch meeting in Addis on 23 March 2017, social market consultant, Addis Meleskachew, said that this initiative will develop a memorable brand for marketing materials that will encourage the private sector to provide materials and will attract rural families to buy them.

Dagnew Tadesse,Hygiene and Environmental Health Case Team Leader for Ministry of Health, welcomed the initiative to attract business but emphasised that the GoE approach is based on a comprehensive health education strategy with multiple messages including hygiene awareness, handwashing and safe food, and said that these important messages should not be abandoned.

Jane Bevan, rural WASH Manager at UNICEF Ethiopia offered to share extensive data that UNICEF has collected for its country programme on attitudes to sanitation, which has identified the high cost of concrete slabs as a significant obstacle. She presented examples of low cost options for upgrading sanitation in a pilot project in Tigray region. It was agreed to collate all existing KAP studies and relevant data including research by SNV.

Monte Achenbach from PSI and John Butterworth from IRC spoke about the work being started by USAID Transform WASH to market innovative sanitation models. John Butterworth said there is a need to make people aware of what is available and to get materials to where they are needed.

The World Bank research is being conducted by 251 Communications.

This blog was originally posted on 5 April 2017 on the IRC website.

At stake in Johannesburg’s ‘recycling wars’: more than trash

At stake in Johannesburg’s ‘recycling wars’: more than trash. Christian Science Monitor, April 2017.

Informal and formal sectors of the economy work side-by-side in many African nations – but can they work together?

APRIL 11, 2017 JOHANNESBURG—In another lifetime, Louis Mahlangu was an electrician. It was a good job, challenging and respectable, the kind of profession that could make his family proud. wastepickers

There was just one problem.

“There was no work,” he says. No matter how hard he looked, Mr. Mahlangu was barely finding enough jobs to scrape by. Then his sister invited him to tag along to her job. The hours were good, she promised, and the pay – well, it was better than anything he was likely to earn replacing wiring in suburban houses.

And so he put on a pair of rubber rain boots, hiked to the top of a squelching mountain of Johannesburg’s garbage, and began digging for plastic.

Twenty-two years later, he’s still there, along with thousands of others like him, collecting dinged Coke bottles and pulverized yogurt cartons discarded by the city’s residents and selling them on to private recycling companies. At his peak, Mahlangu says, he made up to $1000 each month, a respectable wage in a country where the newly proposed minimum wage is around $250 per month.

Read the complete article.

Resources from Exploring how to address on-going taboos and silence around MHM for girls in school

Below are links to some interesting resources and contacts from the SuSanA discussion that might be useful for WASH in schools and Gender:

Exploring how to address on-going taboos and silence around MHM for girls in school

http://forum.susana.org/component/kunena/282-theme-1-breaking-the-taboo-around-mhm/21022-exploring-how-to-address-on-going-taboos-and-silence-around-mhm-for-girls-in-school

Sophie Durrans, SHARE – In relation to this discussion I thought some of you might be interested in SHARE’s policy brief on MHM. It highlights the work we’ve done on this subject to date, where we think the gaps remain and what we’d recommend for policymakers and practitioners. You can download the policy brief here: http://www.shareresearch.org/research/menstrual-hygiene-management-policy-brief 

Claudia Wendland, WECF – In our Water and Sanitation Safety Plan Compendium (www.wecf.eu/english/publications/2017/Revised-Compendium.php) we have Part C which is a Train the teachers giving guidance to teachers how to realise an interactive education on water and sanitation and to make children change agents. Module C5 is about MHM: www.wecf.eu/download/2017/01-January/WSSPPublicationENPartC.pdf

Rachel Starkey | Transformation Textiles – From the feed-back of this great day with BCW, Transformation Textiles made these resources available on a FREE MHM mobile app, so that anyone anywhere could down-load these same resources and re-create their own mini-MHM festival. We were invited by IsraAID to teach refugee women in the Kakuma Refugee camp the same material. As expected, these women adapted, improved upon our materials and made it their own.

Camilla Wirseen, founder of The Cup Foundation and co-founder of a sanitation solution called Peepoo. The Cup Foundation works with trainers who are almost peers to the girls they train. They are all young women, 20-30 years old who have shared similar challenges to the girls they train and grown up in similar environments. We also include the environment surrounding the girls. We train boys aged 13-16 years in schools, parents, teachers and elders (informal leaders) to fight the taboo, and in support of the girls.

Aditi Gupta talks about taboos and silences regarding MHM in India and her Comic “Menstrupedia” in her TED talk on “A taboo-free way to talk about periods”

WSSCC’s first 2017 Webinar session : Inadequate Sanitation and Stress

WSSCC’s first 2017 Webinar session : Inadequate Sanitation and Stress. WSSCC, April 4, 2017.

The hour-long discussion centred around a presentation on the sanitation-related stress experienced by women in the state of Odisha in India.

Globally, about 2.4 billion people have inadequate access to sanitation facilities and one billion people practice open defecation. In India, about 300 million women and girls have no choice but to defecate in the open. WSSCC-Logo.png

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the biomedical impacts of poor sanitation access have received considerable attention. However, there remains limited understanding of the psychological and social impacts of inadequate sanitation for women and girls.

In March, WSSCC kicked off its 2017 webinar series, with a session dedicated to exploring the psycho social stress related to poor sanitation that adversely affect the lives of women and girls. The discussion was based on a WSSCC study,  Sanitation-related psychosocial stressors during routine sanitation practices among women, which looks into  the practices of adolescent, newly married, pregnant and adult women in urban and rural settings, and in indigenous communities, in the state of Odisha in India.

Dr. Kathleen O’Reilly, Associate Professor at Texas A&M University presented the findings with the study’s researcher Dr. Krushna Chandra Sahoo from the Asian Institute of Public Health. The session was moderated by Archana Patkar, Head of Policy at WSSCC.

Read the complete article.

 

SHARE – Understanding Gendered Sanitation Vulnerabilities: A Study in Uttar Pradesh

Understanding Gendered Sanitation Vulnerabilities: A Study in Uttar Pradesh, 2017. SHARE Project.

The aim of this study was to understand rural women and girls’ age-specific experiences of using and accessing sanitation. The study focused on the accessibility of latrines and the conditions of sanitation experienced across age, religion, caste, etc. Share_Logo_MAIN_STRAP_RGB

The study objectives were informed by research indicating that women and girls have unique needs, and that these needs vary between urban and rural environments.

Specifically, we were interested in assessing the gender, caste, and age-specific experiences of SRPS that rural women and girls experience, and to suggest ways that SDG indicators and guidelines for Swachh Bharat Mission—Rural (SBM) in India might be adjusted to be more sensitive to the unique needs and stresses of rural women and girls without access to sanitation.

Duncan Mara – The elimination of open defecation and its adverse health effects: a moral imperative for governments and development professionals

The elimination of open defecation and its adverse health effects: a moral imperative for governments and development professionalsJournal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development, February 2017. 1.cover-source

In 2015 there were 965 million people in the world forced to practise open defecation (OD). The adverse health effects of OD are many: acute effects include infectious intestinal diseases, including diarrheal diseases which are exacerbated by poor water supplies, sanitation and hygiene; adverse pregnancy outcomes; and life-threatening violence against women and girls.

Chronic effects include soil-transmitted helminthiases, increased anaemia, giardiasis, environmental enteropathy and small intestine bacterial overgrowth, and stunting and long-term impaired cognition. If OD elimination by 2030 is to be accelerated, then a clear understanding is needed of what prevents and what drives the transition from OD to using a latrine.

Sanitation marketing, behaviour change communication, and ‘enhanced’ community-led total sanitation (‘CLTSþ ’), supplemented by ‘nudging’, are the three most likely joint strategies to enable communities, both rural and periurban, to become completely OD-free and remain so.

It will be a major Sanitation Challenge to achieve the elimination of OD by 2030, but helping the poorest currently plagued by OD and its serious adverse health effects should be our principal task as we seek to achieve the sanitation target of the Sustainable Development Goals – indeed it is a moral imperative for all governments and development professionals.