Category Archives: Regions

Community-generated data crucial for implementing New Urban Agenda

Community-generated data crucial for implementing New Urban Agenda. CitiScope, Oct 20 2016.

Good urban planning can’t happen without a better understanding of informal settlements, advocates say.

Earlier this year, when the Liberian government wanted to demolish informal housing in the West Point section of Monrovia, local community members had a strong argument to dissuade them.


West Point, Monrovia. (Nick Fraser/flickr/cc)

Thanks to a slum profiling initiative done the previous year through Shack/Slum Dwellers International, the community knew that many of West Point’s rudimentary, wooden toilets — so-called “hanging toilets” because of how they are built over the water — were located where the demolitions would take place. The toilets likely would get destroyed too.

Destroying the toilets, they argued, would pose a public health threat.

“That was where we came with our data and said ‘no’,” recalls Bill Jlateh Harris, of Shack/Slum Dwellers International, who lives in West Point. “If you take away [toilets] you expose us to open defecation and disease outbreaks. We appealed to them, using our documents, to stop the demolition exercise. It worked. Those structures are still there, in fact. They were not touched.”

The data community members collected in West Point includes information about the number of taps and toilets in the area, as well as population figures. It is available online through the “Know Your City” campaign, a data initiative from Shack/Slum Dwellers international that provides community-generated data from more than 7,700 communities in 224 cities.

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Using microfinance to facilitate household investment in sanitation in rural Cambodia

Using microfinance to facilitate household investment in sanitation in rural Cambodia. Health Policy and Planning, November 2016.

Authors: Kimberley H Geissler-1, Jeffrey Goldberg-2 and Sheila Leatherman-3. Author affiliations: 1 – University of Massachusetts School of Public Health and Health Sciences, Amherst, MA 01003, USA. 2 – Office of Water, Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment, US Agency for International Development, Washington, DC, USA. 3 – Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

Improved sanitation access is extremely low in rural Cambodia. Non-governmental organizations have helped build local supply side latrine markets to promote household latrine purchase and use, but households cite inability to pay as a key barrier to purchase.

To examine the extent to which microfinance can be used to facilitate household investment in sanitation, we applied a two-pronged assessment: (1) to address the gap between interest in and use of microfinance, we conducted a pilot study to assess microfinance demand and feasibility of integration with a sanitation marketing program and (2) using a household survey (n = 935) at latrine sales events in two rural provinces, we assessed attitudes about microfinance and financing for sanitation.

We found substantial stated intent to use a microfinance institution (MFI) loan to purchase a latrine (27%). Five percent of current owners used an MFI loan for latrine purchase.

Credit officers attended 159 events, with 4761 individuals attending. Actual loan applications were low, with 4% of sales events attendees applying for a loan immediately following the event (mean = 1.7 loans per event).

Ongoing coordination was challenging, requiring management commitment from the sanitation marketing program and commitment to social responsibility from the MFI.

Given the importance of improving sanitation coverage and concomitant health impacts, linking functional sanitation markets to already operational finance markets has the potential to give individuals and households more financial flexibility.

Further product research and better integration of private vendors and financing modalities are necessary to create a scalable microfinance option for sanitation markets.

Fed up with no sewers, Pakistan’s slum residents go DIY

Fed up with no sewers, Pakistan’s slum residents go DIY | Source: Reuters, Oct 13 2016 |

In Orangi Town, home to an estimated 2.4 million people, residents have given up waiting for the government to install public services – and built them by hand

KARACHI, Pakistan, Oct 13 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – For Sultana Javed, one of dozens of residents living without proper sanitation on her street in the Orangi Town slum, the final straw came when her toddler daughter fell into the soak pit where the family disposed of their waste.


An aerial view of informal settlements in Orangi Town, Karachi on October 4, 2016. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Aamir Saeed

Since moving to the Gulshan-e-Zia area of the slum in Karachi nine years earlier, Javed had poured waste into the soak pit, a porous chamber that lets sewage soak into the ground and is often used by communities that lack toilets.

Javed, whose son caught dengue fever from mosquitoes near the pit outside their home, began mobilising others among 22 families on her street to install their own sewerage system.

“We are fed up with stench of wastewater and frequent mosquito-borne diseases like malaria and dengue fever. So, we have decided to lay a sewerage pipeline in our street on a self-help basis,” Javed, 45, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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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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Indestructible and smart: public toilet innovation in India

An interview with sanitation entrepreneur Mayank Midha.


Stainless steel GARV Ttoilets and Mayank Midha

As a child, Mayank Midha remembers how his mother and sister suffered during long distance journeys in India. They had to “hold themselves up” because there were hardly any decent public toilets on the way.

There is still a shortage of well-maintained public toilets in India, says Mayank. This affects women and girls most. Men can more easily urinate or defecate in the open.

Indestructible toilets

On 7 September 2016, Mayank Midha won the Sanitation Innovation Accelerator 2016, a search for an inclusive and sustainable solution for rural sanitation in India. The judges praised Mayank for developing an indestructible smart toilet, which is much cheaper than comparable models without comprising on quality.

Mayank has been in the manufacturing business for the past seven years. As an engineer with a post-graduate degree in rural management, he is interested in technical solutions for the poorest people at the “Base of the Pyramid” (BoP). After completing a project to manufacture telecom enclosure panels, he saw three spare panels lying in the factory. Their structure  made Mayank think, why not change some specifications and use them to construct Portable Smart Toilets?

After a year a prototype was ready in 2015 and in 2016 the stainless steel insulated GARV Toilet was born. Solar panels power LED lights and exhaust fans inside the toilet. Using stainless steel for the superstructure, toilet pans, and washbasins has multiple advantages: the units are vandal-proof, easy to clean and they don’t rust. This means a higher shelf-life with lower operating costs.

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Want to engage with wetland communities? Start with sanitation!

An interview with Dr. Ritesh Kumar of Wetlands International South Asia.

Loktak Lake fisherman, Manipur, India

Loktak Lake fisherman, Manipur, India. Photo: Sandro Lacarbona. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Every morning at four o’clock, thousands of men wake up to go fishing in Loktak Lake. When they return home in the early afternoon, their wives take the fish to the market.

Loktak Lake in Manipur is the largest freshwater lake in Northeast India. This unique ecosystem is both a source of water and livelihood for around 100,000 people living on and around the lake. Loktak Lake is famous for its phumdis or floating islands. The lake’s Keibul Lamjao National Park is the only floating park in the world.

Poor sanitation threatens livelihood

If the lake’s fishermen or their wives fall ill, or if there is less fish to catch, they earn less. In both cases, poor sanitation is often the culprit. Fishermen risk getting skin diseases from polluted lake water. The whole family gets sick if faecal waste leaches into their drinking water sources. Water hyacinths thrive on faecal nutrients, choking the lake and the fish.

Wetlands International worked in Loktak Lake for several years up to 2013. “We are ‘accidental learners’ when it comes to sanitation”, says Dr. Ritesh Kumar, Conservation Programme Manager – South Asia.

Providing twin pit toilets to fishing families seemed like a simple solution to improve their health and protect their livelihood.  “Later we realised that soil conditions caused faecal waste to leach into water sources”, Dr. Kumar tells me from his office in New Delhi’s Defence Colony. Moving the toilets away from the houses to rocky areas solves the leaching problem, but gives rise to others, Dr. Kumar admits. The toilets are less accessible for the ill, disabled and the elderly; women and girls feel less safe to use them after dark.

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The Inspiring Story of How Sikkim Became India’s Cleanest State

The Inspiring Story of How Sikkim Became India’s Cleanest State | Source: The Better India, Oct 4 2016 |

In this small north-eastern state, people have a sense of pride that their home state is India’s first open-defecation free state. 


National Sanitation Awareness Campaign organized at Geyzing

This record was reiterated in the recently conducted Swachhta (cleanliness) survey undertaken by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) on the condition of sanitation in Indian states. According to the report, all four of Sikkim’s districts rank among top ten districts in cleanliness and sanitation. About 98.2% households in Sikkim are equipped with clean toilets and 100% of the state’s population use the community or household toilet.

Sikkim began its cleanliness drive over a decade before Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission. It was 13 years ago in 2003 when the Pawan Chamling-led government launched its total sanitation campaign for the state.

The state government began by sensitizing people to adopt a holistic approach that would improve hygiene and sanitation, protect the environment and accelerate overall development in the state. Next, it constructed 98,043 household latrines, surpassing its own target of 87,014. Of these, 61,493 latrines were built for below poverty line (BPL) families.

There was also a conscious effort to install public filters for drinking water, build more public toilets and introduce a better drainage system in the major cities like Gangtok and Namchi.

Read the complete article.