Category Archives: Latin America & Caribbean

Now available on WSUP-website for free download: masters-level professional training module “Water and Sanitation for Urban Low-Income Communities”

WSUP/WEDC have developed a teaching resource on urban WASH that is now available online for free, It aims at helping the urban WASH sector to professionalize. We hope it will be helpful for academics and practitioners to use or adapt if they feel it can be of value to them.

In short: this is a masters-level professional training module called “Water and Sanitation for Urban Low-Income Communities”. It was primarily designed to give engineering masters students in low-income countries an overview of things they need to know in order to apply their technical skills in low-income communities, and that’s how WSUP and WEDC are currently using it, in partnership with universities in Africa and Asia. But of course it may be adaptable to other teaching contexts.

It’s designed for classroom delivery, over about 45 hours of contact time. It’s made up of 16 thematic units, and within each unit the materials essentially comprise a Powerpoint presentation plus Lecturer Notes outlining the unit’s aims and content, and providing guidance on how to deliver the class. Some units are flexible in content, to enable adaptation to local contexts.

It can be delivered as an off-the shelf package; or you might want to cut-and-paste parts of it into your own materials; or you might simply use it as guidance in developing other materials.

It’s absolutely free to download, but we do ask that you fill in a brief Use Request Form explaining who you are and how you might use it: evidently, it’s useful for us to be able to communicate this to the funder of the work (DFID).

See www.wsup.com/programme/resources/

For information, we expect to have a French-language version available within the next few months.

The module was developed by (alphabetical order): Louise Medland, Guy Norman, Brian Reed, Pippa Scott, Regine Skarubowiz, and Ian Smout; inputs also came from Richard Franceys and Valentina Zuin.

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!

My toilet: global stories from women and girls

You are invited to view an exciting new exhibition by WSUP, launched to mark World Toilet Day.

My Toilet documents women and girls and their toilets to build a visual representation of the day to day reality and the effect this has on their lives, both positive and negative.

Keyla, 4, by her toilet in Bolivar, Ecuador. Photography Karla Gachet. Panos Pictures for WSUP.

Keyla, 4, by her toilet in Bolivar, Ecuador. Photo: Karla Gachet, Panos Pictures for WSUP.

The images and stories show that, although the type of toilet changes from country to country, the impacts have recurring themes. Having can mean a better chance of education, employment, dignity, safety, status and more. Wherever you are in the world, a toilet equals far more than just a toilet.

Get involved on social media!
Help spread this message by sharing a picture of yourself holding up a sign with the hashtag #ToiletEquals followed by a word, or a few words, to describe what having a toilet equals for you and for millions of others around the world. All the tweets and pictures will be shown on the My Toilet website.

Visit the exhibition!
Images from 20 countries, spanning every continent, will be exhibited at The Royal Opera Arcade Gallery, London SW1Y 4UY. The gallery is open to the public from 17 – 22 November 2014, 10am – 5pm daily. Entry is free. We hope to see you there!

What we can learn from Brazil’s wastepickers

What we can learn from Brazil’s wastepickers | by Kyle Wiens

Excerpts: By the time the World Cup ends on July 13, experts estimate that World Cup spectators will generate a staggering 320 tons of trash. Enter the catadores—waste pickers who earn a living by collecting recyclables from the nation’s trash heap, men and women who will dig through the garbage and pick out each aluminum can, plastic bottle, and glass container. And while their jobs may seem humble, their sweat and solidarity are helping to transform Brazil into a true world power in recycling.

Illustrations by Ben Sanders

Illustrations by Ben Sanders

The movement to organize waste pickers in Brazil began in São Paulo in 1980, when the Catholic Church helped start the Association of Paper Pickers, but it only came into the spotlight nine years later, when association members began protesting on behalf of their right to collect material from public roadways. The association’s work inspired other cities around Brazil to start similar organizations, which (among other things) is helping to end child labor in Brazilian dumps.

A Future in Recycling

In 2009, filmmaker Sean Walsh spent a month following Claudinês Alvarenga, a carroceiro, or cart hauler, for his documentary Hauling. Alvarenga, a father of 27, drove the streets of São Paulo in an old Volkswagen bus, recovering materials from curbsides, businesses, and dumpsters. He fixed what he could, resold what was salvageable, and recycled all the rest.

“Haulers such as Claudinês and his family are the most vital and also the most marginalized group in this immense [recycling] industry,” Walsh says. “They are also the agents of a new environmental world order, which is growing ever more important to our sustainable survival.”

The truth is, catadores and carroceiros are remarkably good at what they do. Necessity has turned them into reuse masters, repair geniuses, and recycling experts. They can sort recyclables more precisely and comprehensively than a machine can, right down to different grades of paper. Because of catadores, Brazil is a world leader in recycling: The country has the highest recycling rates for used aluminum cans—around 98 percent—and is second in world for recycling PET, a plastic used in food packaging.

International conference on public services in the global South

Protesters  in Cape Town, June 2013, demanding better service delivery

Protesters in Cape Town, June 2013, demanding better service delivery. Photo: yazkam.wordpress.com

Cape Town, the city where “poo has become a politcial issue“, is hosting an international conference on “Putting Public in Public Services: Research, Action and Equity in the Global South” from 13-16 April  2014 .

Organised by the Municipal Services Project, the conference  brings together researchers, activists, labour representatives, development practitioners and policy makers from around the world working to promote progressive public services,  including water and sanitation.

The following presentations focus specifically on sanitation:

  • Dieter Wartchow (Brazil) – National sanitation laws in Brazil: An opportunity lost?
  • Melanie Samson (South Africa) – Including the informal, transforming the public: Insights from innovations in the waste sector
  • Federico Parra (Colombia) – Recognition of the ‘recicladores’ as public managers of waste in Colombia
  • Poornima Chikarmane (India) – Of users, providers and the state: Solid waste management in Pune, India
  • Mary Galvin (South Africa) – Dealing with shit in sub-Sahara Africa: The impact of “new” approaches to sanitation on human rights
  • Julieta del Valle (Argentina) – Guaranteeing access to public water and sanitation: ‘Acompañamiento social’ in Buenos Aires

Read more in the full programme.

Registration is free for observers but priority wil be given to people with a demonstrated interest in conference themes.

Registration deadline: 14 March 2014

Those unable to attend can follow debates via video streaming, podcasts and social media.

Conference websitemunicipalservicesproject.org/about-conference

Brazil: toilet protest on Ipanema beach against sewage pollution

In the wake of the World Cup and the Olympics, activists in Brazil are taking to the streets (and the beaches) demanding more investment in neglected public services like sanitation. Activist group Meu Rio (My Rio)  sat on lavatories on Ipanema beach in Rio de Janeiro to raise awareness about the dumping of untreated sewage into the sea. The group also laid out coloured silhouettes of common bacteria found in sewage on the sand.

My Rio sanitation protest poster

Some 70% of Rio’s sewage is said to be untreated as it flows into the sea off the beaches of Copacabana, Ipanema and the Guanabara Bay, which will host several events at the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics. Source: Sky News, 26 Jan 2014

Microfinance as a potential cataylst for improved sanitation

. Summary of sanitation lending and product delivery models. Water for People

. Summary of sanitation lending and product delivery models. Water for People

Microfinance allows middle- and lower-income households to invest in desirable sanitation products, so that public funding can be freed up to reach the poorest, according to Water for People (WfP). In a new report [1], WfP reviews their experiences in piloting various lending models in seven countries: Bolivia, Guatemala, India, Malawi, Peru, Rwanda and Uganda.

The report provides lessons and recommendations for donors wishing to engage in sanitation microfinancing. The four key recommendations are:

  1. Think like a business
  2. Support lending institutions based on the microfinance climate and capacity needs
  3. Build an autonomous sanitation microfinance market
  4. Track progress and lessons

The report is part of WfP’s Sanitation as a Business (SaaB) program, funded by a Gates Foundation grant.

Read the full report

[1]  Chatterley, C. et al, 2013. Microfinance as a potential catalyst for improved sanitation : a synthesis of Water For People’s sanitation lending experiences in seven countries. Denver, CO,USA: Water For People. Available at: <http://www.waterforpeople.org/assets/files/sanitation-microfinance.pdf>

Source: Christie Chatterley et al., Microfinance as a potential cataylst for improved sanitation, Water for People, 27 Dec 2013