Category Archives: Africa

The Consequences of Deteriorating Sanitation in Nigeria

The Consequences of Deteriorating Sanitation in Nigeria | Source: Council on Foreign Relations Blog, July 23, 2015 |

This is a guest post by Anna Bezruki, an intern for the Council on Foreign Relations Global Health Program. She studies biology at Bryn Mawr College.

According to the final report on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) released earlier this month, more than a third of the world population (2.4 billion) is still without improved sanitation.

Children play at a slum in Ijegun Egba, a suburb of Nigeria's commercial capital of Lagos, July 2, 2008. (Courtesy Reuters/George Esiri)

Children play at a slum in Ijegun Egba, a suburb of Nigeria’s commercial capital of Lagos, July 2, 2008. (Courtesy Reuters/George Esiri)

The target to halve the global population without adequate toilets by 2015 has not been reached. Consequently, sanitation has been pushed on to the post-2015 sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Although India is perhaps the most widely cited failure, accounting for roughly half of open defecation worldwide, it is at least making progress toward the SDG target. The same cannot be said for Nigeria. Lacking the political infrastructure to reform sanitation and faced with security and political concerns that overshadow development goals, Nigeria is struggling to reverse the trend.

Unlike in India, where the percentage of people with access to a toilet shared by only one family increased by eighteen points between 1990 and 2012, that percentage declined in Nigeria from 37 to 28 percent.

This incongruity is best illustrated by the fact that there are more than three times as many cell phones in Nigeria as people who have access to adequate toilets. This means thirty-nine million defecate outside, sixteen million more today than in 1990.

Poor sanitation contributes to diarrheal diseases and malnutrition through fecal contamination of food and water. One gram of feces can contain one hundred parasite eggs, one million bacteria, and ten million viruses.

Diarrheal diseases kill approximately 121,800 Nigerians, including 87,100 children under the age of five each year. Eighty-eight percent of those deaths are attributed to poor sanitation. Poor sanitation is thought to strain the immune system to the point that permanent stunting and other manifestations of malnutrition can result.

More than 40 percent of Nigerian children under the age of five are stunted, and malnutrition is the underlying cause of death in more than 50 percent of the approximately 804,000 deaths annually in the same age range.

The impact of inadequate toilets goes beyond hazardous exposure to feces. A survey conducted by WaterAid, a nonprofit organization focusing on providing safe water and sanitation access, in a Lagos slum revealed that the 69 percent of women and girls without access to toilets are at higher risk of verbal and physical harassment when they relieve themselves.

The effects of poor sanitation are also costing Nigeria economically. The Nigerian Water and Sanitation Program estimates that poor sanitation costs the country at least three billion U.S. dollars each year in lost productivity and health care expenditures.

While estimates vary, in 2011, Nigeria invested approximately $550 million, less than 0.1 percent of GDP, on sanitation, a number which has likely decreased since then. This is less than a quarter of the approximately $2.3 billion annually that would have been necessary to meet the MDG target.

It will take more than money and infrastructure to fix Nigeria’s sanitation. Even if investments were to sufficiently rise, the lack of a single government entity with complete responsibility for sanitation within the government, as well as widespread corruption and a lack of community support, would likely hamper efforts.

Providing latrines without first creating demand within the community has failed repeatedly, including in India, where latrines have been repurposed for extra storage. There are also other problems, like a treasury emptied by corruption and the war on Boko Haram, that top President Buhari’s agenda.

While these are immediate threats that require intense focus, sanitation is an essential long-term investment that will help Nigeria grow.  

African Ministers renew commitment to sanitation and hygiene

The AfricaSan4 conference (25-27 May) ended with a declaration defining the vision and aspirations of the African Ministers in charge of hygiene and sanitation.

AfricaSan4-2

African ministers in charge of sanitation and hygiene under their umbrella body African Ministerial Council on Water (AMCOW) have expressed their commitment to achieve universal access to adequate and sustainable sanitation and hygiene services and eliminate open defecation by 2030. They reinforce their committment by promising to increase annually the sanitation and hygiene budget lines “to reach a minimum of 0.5% GDP by 2020″. This is contained in a declaration issued by the ministers at the closure of AfricaSan4 in Ngor, Dakar, Senegal.

The declaration acknowledges that while 133 million people living in Africa have gained access to sanitation since 1990, over 500 million still lack access and many more still defecate in the open.

The Ministers’ commitments address a wide range of issues that must be tackled to improve sanitation and hygiene including: political leadership; financing; monitoring and evaluation; equity and inclusion; research and learning among others. The Ministers also call upon all stakeholders to play different roles to achieve the vision. The commitments contained in the Ngor Declaration 2015, replace the eThekwini commitments of 2008.

Lydia IRC UgandaBy Lydia Mirembe, Communication and knowlegde management advisor | IRC Uganda

This news item was originally published on the IRC website, 29 May 2015

Urban Sanitation in Bo City, Sierra Leone: A Study on Knowledge, Attitude and Practices

A Summary on Urban Sanitation in Bo City, Sierra Leone: A Study on Knowledge, Attitude and Practices, 2015. 

Authors: Bockarie Abdel Aziz Bawoh, Welthungerhilfe M&E Officer; Swaliho Koroma, Bo City Council Waste Officer

Coordinated by Raphael Thurn, Welthungerhilfe Project Advisor

Published in April 2015 by Bo City Council and Welthungerhilfe Bo, Sierra Leone

Contact wash@welthungerhilfe.de to request the full report.

Conclusions and Recommendations
This study has shown that the general level of knowledge of people about proper solid and liquid waste management is in many areas not profound enough to ensure systematically behavioural changes in the future. Furthermore the indiscriminate disposal of solid and liquid waste by local households is common and widespread. It needs to be understood that the existing sanitation facilities
of households are often not meeting minimum standards3. The capacities and infrastructure of the public and private sector to efficiently address these challenges are insufficient to ensure the provision of quality services to the residents of Bo City. There is also very little knowledge and information about concepts like reuse, recycling, waste minimization and separation.

Strategies to improve household solid and liquid waste management in Bo City and its environs are recommended to consider these identified deficiencies. One focus should lie on increasing the knowledge on health and environmental implications of inadequate solid and liquid waste management. It will be prudent to encourage community involvement in waste management whereby the communities have a sense of responsibility towards their own health and environment. Another aspect is to improve government involvement through provision of sufficient funds, equipment (especially for sludge emptying), capacity building and manpower, and to create an enabling environment for private investments in solid and liquid waste management including the waste collection, transportation, trading, reuse and recycling sector. Information needs to be disseminated on methods and practices of reuse and recycling and local markets for waste traders and recyclers need to be further developed. Steps taken in these directions could help to achieve improved sanitary conditions in Bo City and its environs and also reduce the spread of preventable diseases.

Water and sanitation in health centres in Mali – podcast

Water and sanitation in health centres in Mali – podcast | Source: The Guardian, April 28, 2015 |

Lucy Lamble presents this edition of the Global development podcast, looking at how the lack of water and sanitation is affecting health centres in Mali. Just 20% of the country’s health facilities provide clean water.

Photo from WaterAid

Photo from WaterAid

She visits Diatoula, 15km south-east of Bamako, a community of 1,000 people which has one health centre, and hears from Nurse Vinima Baya about how they cope with the lack of water within the facility, with patients and their families gathering buckets of water from the village well.

At Kalabancoro town on the outskirts of Bamako, Lucy visits a clinic opened in 2013, which has done much to improve healthcare for local residents – but where staff still have to buy safe drinking water or ask patients to bring it in.

We hear from experts including Mamadou Diarafa Diallo, WaterAid’s country representative in Mali, and Maggie Montgomery, from WHO’s Water, Sanitation and Health unit, on the problems the country faces in improving access to safe water.

Public Finance for WASH initiative launched

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Today sees the launch of Public Finance for WASH, a research and advocacy initiative aiming to increase awareness of domestic public finance and its critical importance for water and sanitation provision in low-income countries. Check out our website www.publicfinanceforwash.com.

This is a collaborative initiative between IRC, Water & Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP), and Trémolet Consulting. A key aim is to offer easy-to-read but rigorous information about domestic public finance solutions: our first three Finance Briefs are now available for download from our website, and over the coming year we will be building a comprehensive resource library.

And just to make sure we’re on the same page: what exactly is domestic public finance? Essentially, it’s money derived from domestic taxes, raised nationally (e.g. by the Kenyan government) or locally (e.g. by Nairobi’s municipal government). This money is going to be critical for achieving the water and sanitation SDGs: so how can we all work together to ensure that what we’re doing is supporting (not inhibiting) the development of effective public finance systems? And how can public finance be spent in ways that catalyse the development of dynamic markets for water and sanitation services?

To find out more, please check out the website. If you’d like to become involved in any way, get in touch!

Why Latrines Are Not Used: Communities’ Perceptions and Practices Regarding Latrines in a Taenia solium Endemic Rural Area in Eastern Zambia

Why Latrines Are Not Used: Communities’ Perceptions and Practices Regarding Latrines in a Taenia solium Endemic Rural Area in Eastern Zambia. PLoS Neg Trop Dis, Mar 2015.

Authors: Séverine Thys , Kabemba E. Mwape, et al.

Livestock owners from small scale farms are most vulnerable for Neglected Zoonotic Diseases (NZD) in developing countries and their risk behavior leads to more intense and complex transmission patterns. Studies in Africa have shown that the underuse of sanitary facilities and the widespread occurrence of free-roaming pigs are the major risk factors for porcine cysticercosis. However the socio-cultural determinants regarding its control remain unclear. We hypothesize that via a bottom-up culture-sensitive approach, innovative control strategies can be developed that are more adapted to the local reality and more sustainable than current interventions.

By assessing the communities’ perceptions, practices and knowledge regarding latrines in a T. solium endemic rural area in Eastern Zambia, we found that more than health, seeking privacy underlies motivation to use latrines or not. The identified taboos related to sanitation practices are in fact explained by the matri- or patrilineal descent and because men are responsible for building latrines, sanitation programs should focus more often on men’s knowledge and beliefs. In order to contribute to breaking the vicious cycle between poverty and poor health among livestock owners in developing countries, disease control strategies should always consider the socio-cultural context.

Trémolet Consulting – Toilets on Credit, 2015 (video)

Published on Feb 3, 2015

Can microfinance help increase access to sanitation? Today, 2.5 billion people do not use proper sanitation facilities. Essential services for maintaining latrines and treating faecal sludge are also underdeveloped. In many places, toilets can cost up to one year of income for poor households. Private operators of sanitation services do not have enough capital to acquire more equipment and respond to growing demand.

Since 2010, Trémolet Consulting and research partners based in Kenya MicroSave have been exploring the potential of microfinance for helping sanitation markets to develop. The research, funded by SHARE/DFID, culminated with an action-research in Tanzania in which financial institutions were trained to provide financial services for sanitation. This film explains why microfinance should be explored further, and potentially, included in sanitation programmes.

The film also presents what has been done in Tanzania under the action-research and takes the views of households, sanitation entrepreneurs, microfinance institutions and researchers.