Category Archives: South Asia

Webinar on the Sustainability of USAID/Indonesia’s Urban Water Utility Services Activities

Webinar on the Sustainability of USAID/Indonesia’s Urban Water Utility Services Activities

How sustainable are outcomes several years after water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects have closed? ESP-Indonesia-pdam-1024x512

In this webinar, Leslie Greene Hodel (Senior Advisor, Water CKM Project) presents findings from the second in a series of USAID Water Communications and Knowledge Management (CKM) Project ex-post evaluations on the Indonesia Environmental Services Program (ESP), implemented by DAI between 2004 and 2010.

Seven years after the close of the project, the evaluation team used a mixed-methods design, including utility service level and performance data as well as qualitative interviews, to examine the enduring influence of selected ESP achievements in improving urban water utilities’ service levels as well as utilities’ management capacity and financial stability.

The evaluation also verified the present status of a microcredit program designed to improve access to the poor. Lessons from this evaluation are intended to inform improvements to ongoing USAID urban WASH activity design in Indonesia and beyond.

Link to the webinar and the evaluation.

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Toilets need water, Indian women suffer under ODF drive

Toilets in households have only increased the drudgery of village women as they have to fetch water from faraway sources for toilet use, writes Amita Bhaduri, Programme Director of the Society for Promotion of Wastelands Development (SPWD), in an article posted on the Indian Water Portal.

Rajasthan is all geared up for the open defecation free (ODF) status well before the national deadline of October 2, 2019. According to the assistant engineer of the nagar parishad, Resha Singh, 4.75 lakh [475 thousand] toilets have been constructed since October 2, 2014 in Alwar district which is about to be declared ODF.

Paari, a 45-year-old woman of Ghevron ki dhaani village in the district got a toilet at her household under this toilet construction drive. She does not have to go far away to find a place for her sanitary needs anymore. She is, however, unhappy and exhausted from the numerous trips to the water source she has to make to get water in the toilet. Her feet are aching from treading the path filled with rocks and thorns without any footwear for protection.

Water access and women's donkey work

Read the full article

SACH Impact Incubator seeks applications from Indian WASH & waste management social ventures

sach-impact-logo

Subhash Chandra Foundation, the philanthropic initiative of Rajya Sabha MP and Essel Group Chairman, Subhash Chandra has launched ‘SACH Impact’ Incubator, in partnership with LetsEndorse, to support early-stage social ventures aspiring to solve the problems of millions of Indians.

Two annual cohorts of resolute social entrepreneurs shall be constituted every year, with each one working on one of the 8 focal areas (Education, Healthcare, Clean Energy, Agriculture, Inclusion, Waste Management, Livelihood, WASH), aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The programme aims to equip them with market access for pilots, financial support to do so, necessary mentorship, knowledge networks & more, to take their solutions to the next level and prepare them to scale and serve the large Indian population.

Ventures with already developed testable versions of their innovative product/technology/software or those which have just begun conducting pilot tests on-the-ground and have the potential to make transformational impact on the society can apply online through this link: http://bit.ly/SachImpact before 25th June, 2018

Swachh Bharat cities: What the parameters of cleanliness are

Swachh Bharat cities: What the parameters of cleanliness are. India Today, May 2018.

Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri released Swachh Survekshan 2018, the Modi government’s cleanliness and sanitation survey report.

While Jharkhand emerged as the best-performing state in terms of cleanliness, Indore in Madhya Pradesh was adjudged the cleanest city in the country, according to the survey released yesterday.

Swachh Survekshan – a survey conducted to rank cities on various sanitation and cleanliness parameters – was launched in 2016. It was conducted among 73 top cities of India.

It was followed by Swachh Survekshan 2017 that covered 434 cities.

The third round of Swachh Survekshan was conducted in January and February, covering all 4041 statutory towns in India.

Read the complete article.

WSUP webinar: demystifying the enabling environment for urban sanitation

Demystifying the enabling environment for urban sanitation: case studies from Bangladesh, Kenya and Zambia 

Tuesday 10th April, 1pm – 2.30pm BST

Register here

WSUP is hosting a webinar to explore what an enabling environment for urban sanitation really looks like. Despite its evident importance to achieving scale, the components of a well-functioning enabling environment for urban sanitation are weakly understood.

Join us on April 10th to hear how we are working to strengthen enabling environments across WSUP locations.

Speakers:
Amirul Hasan, WSUP Business Development Lead, Dhaka (Bangladesh)
Sibongile Ndaba, WSUP Business Development Lead, Lusaka (Zambia)
Emanuel Owako, WSUP Project Manager, Kisumu (Kenya)

This webinar will share the lessons from a 5-year programme – funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – which aimed to catalyse the market for on-site sanitation services in Bangladesh, Kenya and Zambia, through the development of flexible public-private arrangements.

We will begin the session by introducing a new framework for conceptualising and evaluating the enabling environment, grounded in WSUP’s experience of implementing urban WASH programmes in six countries.

Our speakers will then share their experiences of strengthening key components of the local enabling environment – ranging from institutional mandates, regulatory effectiveness and service provider capacity to infrastructure, technology, affordability and consumer behaviour.

Participants will also be introduced to “The Bottom Line”: a new online simulation which brings to life some of the challenges faced by sanitation businesses.

Click here to register.

Is Bollywood’s Pad Man movie too good to be true?

Checking the facts and assumptions about menstrual hygiene in developing countries.

Mensrual hygiene painting-crop

Painting by students of the Dr. M.M. den Hertogschool, The Hague, on the importance of menstrual hygiene management and school WASH. Photo: IRC

March 8th was International Women’s Day. Which approach to menstrual hygiene management fits best with this year’s theme urging everyone to #PressforProgress on gender parity? Is it pressing for access to affordable menstrual products or is there more to it?

A few weeks ago, I joined a group of my female colleagues and family to watch “Pad Man”, the Bollywood film inspired by the life of Arunachalam Muruganantham.  He is an acclaimed Indian social activist and entrepreneur who invented a low-cost sanitary pad-making machine. Muruganantham famously tested sanitary pads on himself, using a bladder with animal blood, while riding his bicycle. “Pad Man” is a feel good, uplifting movie. We left the cinema dancing to the tune of the Pad Man Song.

Too good to be true?

But then, a few days later an IRC colleague from India referred us to a blog that claimed to tell the “real story” about the man, who “shot to fame by selling shame”. The author, Sinu Joseph, is Managing Trustee of the Myrthi Speaks Trust, a Bengaluru-based social activist group working on issues including menstrual health and sanitation. Sinu had initially been involved in distributing Mr. Muruganantham’s sanitary pads until angry mothers complained that she was “trying to get rid of some cheap stuff by dumping it” on their daughters.

Fact check

Sinu counters several of the “facts” mentioned in “Pad Man”, which are also regularly quoted in the media. The first is that Indian women use ash, sand and husks as menstrual absorbents and consequently suffer “from Reproductive Tract Infections for want of a Pad”.  Sinu has found no evidence of this, both from her own experience and the literature. In fact, she says there is no evidence linking the use of menstrual products such as cloth to any menstrual disorder.

Second is the widely quoted statistic that only 12% of Indian women use sanitary napkins. Wrong again, says Sinu: the National Family Health Study of 2015-16 found that the real number is 57.6% , 48.5% in rural, 77.5% in urban areas. Finally, there is no evidence that girls in India drop out of school owing to menstruation and the lack of sanitary napkins. Similar findings emerged from a 2010 study in Nepal, which at the time was not welcomed by the pro-sanitary napkin development lobby.

A developing country problem?

The evidence Sinu refers to, comes from a review of 90 papers, which Myrthi Speaks conducted in 2016. The review not only dispels the “facts” mentioned above but also challenges the assumption that developing countries have a greater prevalence of menstrual disorders than in the West. In fact, the review found that the opposite is true. In developed nations, a higher percentage of adult women and adolescents suffer from heavy bleeding and painful or irregular periods than in developing countries.

Shame

So why has the real-life Pad Man attracted so much uncritical support? Is it because this unlikely hero, an uneducated man, took it upon himself to elevate Indian women from their shameful state? Indeed, most of the women in the Pad Man movie are portrayed as ignorant, led by superstition. In Sinu’s words, “shame has been sold to us in a nice package with celebrity endorsements”.

Glorifying traditional practices?

Sinu has been criticised for promoting the traditional practice of seclusion, which she says provides women who are part of joint families “privacy and comfort during menstruation”. A 2015 blog by Eco Femme, an Indian social enterprise producing washable sanitary pads, said that Sinu neglects those women who experience being excluded as degrading. Harrowing stories about the illegal Nepali practice of Chhaupadi, where girls are forced to spend their periods in cattle sheds, come to mind. The Pad Man film similarly condemns the segregation of women during menstruation.

Interestingly, Arunachalam Muruganantham, Sinu Joseph, Eco Femme, along with many development agencies all claim that they understand women’s needs. Whose view do you support? Or have they all got it wrong?

This blog was originally posted on the IRC website.

Update, 21 March 2018

On 16 March 2018 a TEDxKLETech talk by Sinu Joseph on the “Super science behind Menstrual practices” carried the following warning by TEDx “This talk contains several assertions about Ayurveda that are not supported by studies in gynecological medicine. While some viewers might find advice provided in this talk to be helpful as a complementary approach, please do not look to this talk for medical advice”.

A systems approach to sanitation – iDE Bangladesh

Bangladesh is a global success story in sanitation, reducing open defecation from 34% in 1990 to less than 1% today. But despite this initial progress, nearly 40% of the country still lacks access to improved sanitation.

To tackle Bangladesh’s sanitation problem iDE takes a comprehensive systems approach to increase improved sanitation coverage.

iDE’s interventions facilitate different actors in the market system, leveraging existing skills and resources, building connections from the local to the national level, and coordinating across public, private, and development sectors to create a complete ecosystem that enables the sustainable, inclusive delivery of improved sanitation products and services.