Category Archives: Latin America & Caribbean

U.N. Admits Role In Haiti Cholera Outbreak That Has Killed Thousands

U.N. Admits Role In Haiti Cholera Outbreak That Has Killed Thousands | Source: NPR, Aug 18 2016 |

In the fall of 2010, months after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, a new disaster began: a cholera outbreak that killed thousands of people and continues to sicken people across the country.

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Cholera patients are treated at the Cholera Treatment Center in the Carrefour area of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, in December 2014. The Caribbean country’s cholera outbreak started in 2010. Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

Experts determined that the source of the disease was a U.N. peacekeeping camp. And now, nearly six years later, the United Nations has admitted it played some role in the deadly outbreak.

At a briefing Thursday, U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said that over the course of the past year, “the U.N. has become convinced that it needs to do much more regarding its own involvement in the initial outbreak and the suffering of those affected by cholera.”

He said the U.N. would announce new actions to address the issue within the next two months.

“Our legal position on this issue has not changed,” Haq said, adding that the U.N. was not describing any of its actions as “reparations.”

Read the complete article.

 

 

I get height with a little help from my friends: herd protection from sanitation on child growth in rural Ecuador

I get height with a little help from my friends: herd protection from sanitation on child growth in rural EcuadorInt. J. Epidemiol. (2016), doi: 10.1093/ije/dyv368, First published online: March 2, 2016.

Background: Infectious disease interventions, such as vaccines and bed nets, have the potential to provide herd protection to non-recipients. Similarly, improved sanitation in one household may provide community-wide benefits if it reduces contamination in the shared environment. Sanitation at the household level is an important predictor of child growth, but less is known about the effect of sanitation coverage in the community.

Methods: From 2008 to 2013, we took repeated anthropometric measurements on 1314 children under 5 years of age in 24 rural Ecuadorian villages. Using mixed effects regression, we estimated the association between sanitation coverage in surrounding households and child growth.

Results: Sanitation coverage in the surrounding households was strongly associated with child height, as those with 100% coverage in their surroundings had a 67% lower prevalence of stunting [prevalence ratio (PR) 0.32, 95% CI 0.15-0.69] compared with those with 0% coverage. Children from households with improved sanitation had a lower prevalence of stunting (PR 0.86, 95% CI 0.64-1.15). When analysing height as a continuous outcome, the protective effect of sanitation coverage is manifested primarily among girls during the second year of life, the time at which growth faltering is most likely to occur.

Conclusions: Our study highlights that a household’s sanitation practices can provide herd protection to the overall community. Studies which fail to account for the positive externalities that sanitation provides will underestimate the overall protective effect. Future studies could seek to identify a threshold of sanitation coverage, similar to a herd immunity threshold, to provide coverage and compliance targets.

 

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 

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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.

A Cheap, Easy Fix to Rio’s Sewage Problem

A Cheap, Easy Fix to Rio’s Sewage Problem | Source: The Atlantic, Aug 4 2016 |

The reason so much sewage is flushed directly into Rio’s Guanabara Bay, city officials have argued, is that it’s too difficult to lay pipes in much of the city. The favelas are crowded and carved into steep mountainsides.

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Barros uses cups to demonstrate how the biodigester works. (Olga Khazan / The Atlantic)

They can be dangerous. Environmental activists, meanwhile, contend there’s not enough government will behind sanitation projects.

But there is one solution that gets around these issues: A cheap, seven-foot, cement dome that treats sewage with little more than some rocks, plants, and, well, coprophagic bacteria.

I learned about this contraption, called a biodigester, on a December reporting trip to Rio. On a scorching hot day, I took a cab up a mountain in the city’s northern zone, where I met Otavio Barros, the leader of the Vale Encantado community.

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Trash and treasure in Brazil’s Jóquei landfill – in pictures

Trash and treasure in Brazil’s Jóquei landfill – in pictures | Source: The Guardian, July 6 2016 |

The Lixão do Jóquei is one of the largest open landfills in Latin America. Under a 2010 federal law, all solid waste in Brazil should be put in modern landfills that have been lined to stop toxins soaking into the soil. brazil

Jóquei, which does not meet those requirements, is scheduled to be closed this year, but hundreds of people still make a dangerous living from scavenging amid its mounds of trash.

Exact numbers of people working at the site are hard to come by. According to municipal authorities, about 600 people sort rubbish here, but the workers themselves, known as catadores, put the figure at more than 2,600.

Read the complete article.

Methane production for sanitation improvement in Haiti

Methane production for sanitation improvement in HaitiBiomass and Bioenergy
Volume 91, August 2016, Pages 288–295.

Authors: Stephanie Lansing, Holly Bowen,  et. al.

There is a great need for decentralized anaerobic digestion (AD) that utilizes wastewater for energy generation. The biochemical methane potential (BMP) of Haitian latrine waste was determined and compared to other waste streams, such as grey water, septage, and dairy manure.

Average methane (CH4) production for the latrine waste (13.6 ml ml−1 substrate) was 23 times greater than septage (0.58 ml ml−1 substrate), and 151 times greater than grey water (0.09 ml ml−1 substrate), illustrating the larger potential when waste is source separated using the decentralized sanitation and reuse (DESAR) concept for more appropriate treatment of each waste stream.

Using the BMP results, methane production based on various AD configurations was calculated, and compared with the full-scale field AD design.

Methane potential from the BMP testing was calculated as 0.006–0.017 m3 person−1 day−1 using the lowest and highest latrine BMP results, which was similar to the values from the full-scale system (0.011 m3 person−1 day−1), illustrating the ability of BMPs to be used to predict biogas production from sanitation digesters in a smaller-scale setting.

Brazil official links inadequate sanitation to Zika outbreak

Brazil official links inadequate sanitation to Zika outbreak | Source: Yahoo News, Feb 11, 2016 |

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s minister of cities says there is a “strong link” between the country’s woeful sanitation system and the current outbreak of the mosquito-borne Zika virus.

Gilberto Kassab said Wednesday that while the country has made progress over the past decade, sewage and water delivery systems leave “much to be desired,” and promised that basic sanitation will continue to be a government priority.

Sewage often flows through open channels into stagnant waters, and a lack of piped water service leads many Brazilians to rely on tanks that create a habitat for the Aedes aegypti mosquito that transmits Zika, which has been linked to a rare birth defect called microcephaly which can leave babies with long-lasting health and developmental problems.

Kassab conceded the virus spread “has a strong link with the absence of sanitation,” in quotes carried by the O Estado de S. Paulo daily.

His comments came at a news conference in the capital by the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, which issued a statement blasting the government over water treatment, sewage and the collection of rubbish. The conference’s head, Sergio da Rocha, said “the lack of basic sanitation is among the principal causes for the proliferation of mosquitoes.”

Trata Brasil, a Sao Paulo-based pro-sanitation organization, says 35 million Brazilians, or around 18 percent of the population, do not have regular access to tap water. The group estimates that more than 60 percent of sewage nationwide flows untreated into waterways and onto the country’s famed beaches.

Sanitation has become a hot-button issue here ahead of this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as officials have acknowledged they will be unable to fulfill promises to clean up waterways where aquatic sports are to be held. An Associated Press investigation last year found Rio’s Olympic water venues are rife with sewage, with such high viral levels that experts say they represent a serious health risk to the approximately 1,400 Olympic athletes slated to compete in them.