Category Archives: Latin America & Caribbean

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.

NEW BLOG! Community-run aqueducts in Colombia promote public policy for scaling up public finance for WASH, By Valeria Llano-Arias

adaca4Community-run aqueducts in Colombia promote public policy for scaling up public finance for WASH

  This blog describes a particular case of an association of community aqueducts in Colombia and the advocacy process to demand increased public investment and support to their work as water service providers.

You can read the blog  here

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).


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


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

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.