Category Archives: South Asia

Despite initial hiccups, Swachh Bharat mission scores on health report card

Despite initial hiccups, Swachh Bharat mission scores on health report card. ThePrint, October 4, 2017.

Narendra Modi participating in a construction of a twin toilet pit in Varanasi on 22 September.| Source: @NarendraModi

Narendra Modi participating in a construction of a twin toilet pit in Varanasi on 22 September.| Source: @NarendraModi

Study reveals health indicators for children, women have shown improvement in areas that have become open defecation-free under Swachh Bharat in the past year.

Even as questions are being raised over the Narendra Modi government’s track record of delivering on the Swachh Bharat mission, there is one report card where the PM’s pet project seems to be scoring well — the state of health report.

A study, undertaken by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on behalf of the drinking water and sanitation ministry to assess the health impact of the Swachh mission in rural areas, reveals that health indicators for children and women have shown considerable improvement in areas that have become open defecation-free (ODF) in the past one year.

The report, accessed by ThePrint, shows that the cases of diarrhoea among children are 46 per cent more in non-ODF areas; there are 78 per cent higher cases of worms in stools of children in non-ODF areas; 58 per cent higher cases of stunting among children and 48 per cent more cases of women with lower body mass index (BMI) than those in non-ODF areas.

The study observes that “becoming ODF had a positive impact on child’s health and nutrition, evident from the fact that the health and nutritional indicators of the children and mothers belonging to the ODF areas were comparatively better than their non-ODF counterparts”.

Read the complete article.

Focus on Swachh Bharat – Water Currents

Focus on Swachh Bharat – Water Currents, October 2, 2017.

The Prime Minister of India launched the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission on October 2, 2014, to improve the level of sanitation and cleanliness by October 2, 2019, marking the 150th birthday of Mahatma Gandhi. Swachh Bharat has two components: Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) for rural areas and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) for urban areas.

In the city of Visakhapatnam (Vizag), India, improved sanitation facilities in schools are helping female students. Photo Credit: USAID/India

In the city of Visakhapatnam (Vizag), India, improved sanitation facilities in schools are helping female students. Photo Credit: USAID/India

To date, this campaign has rallied all corners of Indian society toward its ambitious sanitation goals, including enlisting Bollywood stars and prominent athletes to create awareness.

USAID partners with the Government of India to help drive changes in water and sanitation that make cities cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous by harnessing expertise and innovation. For example, USAID/India and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation support the Government of India’s efforts to eliminate open defecation and sustainably provide sanitation services.

This collaboration has resulted in 1078 out of 4041 cities being certified as open defecation free (ODF), helping improve the living conditions of more than 150 million people. USAID also partners with local civil society, U.S. universities, and the private sector, including the Coca-Cola Company, Google, and the Gap Inc. to address India’s water and sanitation challenges.

Featured below are select presentations, blogs, videos, and articles that highlight the wide-ranging accomplishments, trends, and challenges of Swachh Bharat.

Challenges and Progress 
National Policy on Faecal Sludge and Septage ManagementMinistry of Urban Development, February 2017. This national policy focuses Government of India efforts beyond ODF status to management of the entire fecal sludge and septage cycle.

Swachh Bharat Mission Highlights for the Year 2016-17Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation, 2017. This report gives an update on the number of ODF villages, new initiatives to promote community participation, and other information.

Read the complete issue.

How Public Private Partnerships are Making a Crappy Market Safe Across Bangladesh

How Public Private Partnerships are Making a Crappy Market Safe Across Bangladesh. August 30, 2017. By Sarah Miers – Skoll Foundation, By Lucien Chan – Skoll Foundation.

In Bangladesh, nearly half of 55 million urban residents lack the sanitation infrastructure to properly process human waste. The result: massive amounts of raw waste is unsafely dumped, fouling the environment and posing major public health risks. There’s an urgent need to find safe and affordable ways for waste to be collected and treated. dhaka

Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) works alongside local providers, enabling them to develop their own services, build infrastructure, and attract the funding needed to reach low-income communities. Since its inception in 2005, WSUP has helped nearly 14 million people access clean water and sanitation services across six countries. Earlier this summer, we spent a week investigating WSUP’s SWEEP program, a public-private partnership (PPP) for fecal sludge management (FSM), which resulted in a $2 million investment from the Skoll Foundation to expand across 4 cities and serve 6.8 million people by 2021.

Dhaka is the only city in the country with any sewage infrastructure (just 20 percent coverage), and nearly all non-sewered households rely on manual sweepers–workers who remove the waste at high risk and with little equipment–to empty their on-site pit latrines or septic tanks. More hygienic, mechanical emptying options are limited. Due to failures across the sanitation value chain (containment, emptying, transport, and treatment), nearly all waste is not effectively treated or safely disposed, most often being dumped directly into storm water drains or the environment.

Read the complete article.

Nearly a Billion People Still Defecate Outdoors. Here’s Why

Nearly a Billion People Still Defecate Outdoors. Here’s Why. Nat Geo Magazine, August 2017.

The problem isn’t just a lack of toilets—it’s a lack of toilets that people want to use. The result: millions of deaths and disease-stunted lives.

At 65, Moolchand, bandy-legged and white-haired, has no problem rising for his predawn hunts. In fact he revels in them.

“I hide along the lane with my flashlight,” he says in a low, excited voice, gesturing down the main road of Gaji Khedi village, in India’s Madhya Pradesh state. “And I look for people walking with a lota.”

At a community toilet complex in Safeda Basti, one of Delhi’s many slums, women wait their turn for the single functioning latrine—while covering their noses against the smell of feces left by someone who couldn’t wait. Many people skip the hassle of city-run facilities altogether and do their business in rubble-strewn lots.

At a community toilet complex in Safeda Basti, one of Delhi’s many slums, women wait their turn for the single functioning latrine—while covering their noses against the smell of feces left by someone who couldn’t wait. Many people skip the hassle of city-run facilities altogether and do their business in rubble-strewn lots.

A lota is a water container, traditionally made of brass but these days more often of plastic. Spied outdoors in the early morning, it all but screams that its owner is headed for a field or roadside to move his or her bowels—the water is for rinsing.

“I give chase,” Moolchand continues. “I blow my whistle, and I dump out their lota. Sometimes I take it away and burn it.” Moolchand sees himself as defending a hard-won honor: The district has declared his village “open defecation free.”

“People get angry and shout at me when I stop them,” he says. “But the government has given villagers lots of help to construct a toilet, so there is no excuse.”

Read the complete article.

Shared toilets as the path to health and dignity

Shared toilets as the path to health and dignity. World Bank Water Blog, July 19, 2017.

Mollar Bosti is a crowded slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh, home to 10,000 people: garment workers, rickshaw drivers, and small traders, all living side-by-side in tiny rooms sandwiched along narrow passageways.

With the land subject to monsoon flooding, and no municipal services to speak of, the people of Mollar Basti have been struggling with a very real problem: what to do with an enormous and growing amount of human faeces.

Traditionally, their ‘hanging latrines’ consisted of bamboo and corrugated metal structures suspended on poles above the ground, allowing waste to fall straight down into a soup of mud and trash below. Residents tell stories of rooms flooded with smelly muck during monsoons; outbreaks of diarrhoea and fever would quickly follow.

But conditions have improved for much of the slum. With help of a local NGO, the residents negotiated permission for improvement from a private landowner, and mapped out areas of need. Today, they proudly show visitors their pristine, well-lit community latrines and water points. They report fewer problems with flooding and disease.

Read the complete article.

We make fake poo in a laboratory – to improve sanitation in Bangladesh

We make fake poo in a laboratory – to improve sanitation in Bangladesh. Phys.org, July 12, 2017.

Across the world, almost three billion people do not have the luxury of a flushing toilet. Instead they rely on static sanitation systems, like pit latrines to deal with their waste. As these are not often connected to a sewer, they require manual emptying and disposal.

Poor understanding of the risks involved means that untreated sludge is often thrown into nearby fields and rivers. The impact of this can be devastating.

Manual emptying. Credit: sswm.info

Manual emptying. Credit: sswm.info

Yet is is estimated that every dollar invested in better sanitation returns up to US$5.50 in social and economic benefits. These come through increased productivity, reduced healthcare costs and prevention of illness and early death.

A crucial part of improving sanitation lies in researching and developing simpler, more efficient ways of treating sludge in places where a sewerage and centralised waste water treatment is not available.

My research is part of a partnership with the engineering firm Buro Happold (BH) who were asked by WaterAid Bangladesh to find a sludge treatment technology which was effective, practical and affordable.

After considering options which included biogas and pit additives – products used to try and reduce sludge volume – the company opted for unplanted drying beds. They are simple in design and make use of the reasonable amount of sunshine in Bangladesh.

Read the complete article.

Global Sanitation Fund reports improvements in sanitation and hygiene for millions of people

People-centred, nationally-led programmes empower millions to end open defecation, improve sanitation, and increase dignity and safety

Geneva, 28 June 2017 – A new report shows that WSSCC’s Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) has supported governments and thousands of partners across 13 countries, stretching from Cambodia to Senegal, to enable over 15 million people to end open defecation.

 

As the funding arm of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), GSF-supported programmes are contributing to the Council’s vision of universal access to sustainable and equitable sanitation and hygiene across countries throughout south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Focused on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 6.2, GSF focuses on improving sanitation and hygiene in the poorest and most marginalized communities, thereby contributing to associated development goals for education, health, women’s empowerment, climate change and urban development.

The 2016 GSF Progress Report highlights activities and results achieved from the inception of the Fund to the end of the year. Cumulative results to 31 December 2016 include:

  • 15.2 million people have been empowered to live in ODF environments, just over the target of 15 million.
  • 12.8 million people have gained access to improved toilets, 16% more than the target of 11 million.
  • 20 million people have gained access to handwashing facilities, 81% more than the target of 11 million.

Read more or download the report in English or French