Category Archives: Research

Survey on sanitation in flood-prone areas – George Washington University

Dear WASH colleagues,

I am a masters student at the George Washington University (in the U.S.). As part of my thesis, I am collaborating on research that aims to better understand the options for sanitation in flood-prone areas. The aims of the study are to identify best practices, barriers, and technical methods for the implementation of sanitation in flood-prone areas. If you have had experience working on sanitation in flood-prone areas, I would greatly appreciate you sharing your experiences.  If you are willing, I invite you to participate in the following brief online survey: Survey on Sanitation in Flood Prone Areas

In addition to the online surveys, I will be conducting in-depth qualitative interviews with individuals who work on sanitation in flood-prone areas in Cambodia.  If you have implemented a sanitation project in a flood-prone area in Cambodia, and you’re interested in being part of the study, please let me know and I will forward you the informed consent form to enroll you in the study. The interview should take less than 30 minutes and can be conducted over skype, Google hangout, or over the phone, at your convenience.

Finally, if you believe that you know of someone who would be suited for this study, please feel free to forward me his or her contact information.  I appreciate your time and assistance, and please let me know if you have any questions or comments. I look forward to hearing from you!

Jason Lopez, MPH Candidate – Global Environmental Health
The George Washington University
+1 (202) 999-8226
Skype: jas.lop l LinkedIn


How Bangladesh turns toilet waste into high-value compost – in pictures

How Bangladesh turns toilet waste into high-value compost – in pictures |Source: The Guardian, Feb 27 2015 |

Scientists in Bangladesh are working on ways to treat toilet waste in rural areas and use it to develop safe, nutritious compost for food crops. Led by the school of civil engineering at Leeds University, the Value at the End of the Sanitation Value-Chain (VESV) project aims to help reduce reliance on imported inorganic fertilisers and provide potential business opportunities for waste transporters and compost producers in a country where access to sanitation is now widespread but challenges of managing waste remain.

Farmers tend their cabbage crops in Manikganj district. Bangladesh has benefited from major improvements in rural sanitation with the spread of pit toilets – holes dug in the ground. guardian-sanitation

These bypass the problem of installing sewerage infrastructure in densely populated rural areas, but the challenge is what to do with the waste when the pits are full. If treated carefully, this waste could provide a local source of organic matter and plant nutrients such as nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. All photographs by Neil Palmer/IWMI.

Feb/March 2015 selected studies on sanitation, hygiene & handwashing


Household-Level Risk Factors for Influenza among Young Children in Dhaka, Bangladesh: A Case-Control Study(Abstract/order)

To identify household-level factors associated with influenza among young children in a crowded community in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Case households were more likely than controls to have crowded (≥4 persons) sleeping areas and cross-ventilated cooking spaces. Case and control households had similar median 24-hour geometric mean PM2.5 concentrations in the cooking and sleeping spaces. Handwashing with soap was practiced infrequently, and was not associated with pediatric influenza in this community. Interventions aimed at crowded households may reduce influenza incidence in young children.

Getting the basic rights – the role of water, sanitation and hygiene in maternal and reproductive health: a conceptual framework. (Full text)
WASH affects the risk of adverse maternal and perinatal health outcomes; these exposures are multiple and overlapping and may be distant from the immediate health outcome. Much of the evidence is weak, based on observational studies and anecdotal evidence, with relatively few systematic reviews. New systematic reviews are required to assess the quality of existing evidence more rigorously, and primary research is required to investigate the magnitude of effects of particular WASH exposures on specific maternal and perinatal outcomes.


Editorial – Prioritising clean water and sanitation (Free full text but registration required)
Sanitation is the single greatest human achievement with regard to health, yet in much of the world it is underappreciated or inaccessible. Talha Burki investigates. “Currently, the popular approaches to sanitation place a lot of responsibility on individuals and households and not as much on governments”, adds WaterAid’s Yael Velleman. In the UK, it was legislation that led to universal access to improved sanitation. “Ultimately, it was political will and public finance that pushed that drive—I wonder whether we now expect low-income countries to do something we have never done ourselves”, said Velleman. Pollock advocates a return to a health-for-all approach, attending to the building blocks of public health, such as sanitation and nutrition, and directing major investment into infrastructure and monitoring systems. “I can’t understand why we’re prioritising clinical trials in Africa, and not prioritising clean water”, she told The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

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Bill Gates – This Ingenious Machine Turns Feces Into Drinking Water

Bill Gates – This Ingenious Machine Turns Feces Into Drinking Water | Source: Gates Notes, January 5, 2015|

An excerpt – I watched the piles of feces go up the conveyer belt and drop into a large bin. They made their way through the machine, getting boiled and treated. A few minutes later I took a long taste of the end result: a glass of delicious drinking water.

The occasion was a tour of a facility that burns human waste and produces water and electricity (plus a little ash). I have visited lots of similar sites, like power plants and paper mills, so when I heard about this one—it’s part of the Gates Foundation’s effort to improve sanitation in poor countries—I was eager to check it out.

Why would anyone want to turn waste into drinking water and electricity?

Because a shocking number of people, at least 2 billion, use latrines that aren’t properly drained. Others simply defecate out in the open. The waste contaminates drinking water for millions of people, with horrific consequences: Diseases caused by poor sanitation kill some 700,000 children every year, and they prevent many more from fully developing mentally and physically.

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Innovation in Urban Sanitation: FaME and U-ACT Research in Sub-Saharan Africa

In Sub-Saharan Africa sanitation needs of the majority of the urban population are met by onsite sanitation technologies such as pit latrines. As part of the SPLASH sanitation research programme the FaME (Faecal Management Enterprises) and U-ACT Project researched innovative solutions to increase access to sustainable sanitation services. Building on this research Sandec/Eawag  has recently started the SEEK Project (Sludge to Energy Enterprises) researching co-processing of faecal sludge and other urban waste streams into fuel pellets and with these electricity through gasification.

Sandec Eawag – Behind the Data: The People Who Make Research Happen

Published on Sep 12, 2014 -“Behind The Data: The People Who Make Research Happen” is a short documentary, highlighting the work that was done in rural communities by the people who were instrumental in collecting and recording data for a sanitation-based research project. We aim to show the fundamental value of each person’s role in achieving the ultimate research objectives.

Measuring the Safety of Excreta Disposal Behavior in India with the New Safe San Index: Reliability, Validity and Utility

Measuring the Safety of Excreta Disposal Behavior in India with the New Safe San Index: Reliability, Validity and Utility. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(8), 8319-8346.

Marion W. Jenkins 1,2,*, Matthew C. Freeman 3 and Parimita Routray 2
1 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California Davis, One Shields Ave., Davis, CA 95616, USA
2 Environmental Health Group, Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK
3 Department of Environmental Health, Rollings School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.

Abstract: Methods to assess household excreta disposal practices are critical for informing public health outcomes of efforts to improve sanitation in developing countries. We present a new metric, the Safe San Index (SSI), to quantify the hygienic safety of a household’s defecation and human feces disposal practices in India, where behavioral outcomes from on-going public expenditures to construct household sanitation facilities and eliminate open defecation are poorly measured. We define hygienic safety of feces disposal as capture in a hygienic sanitation facility.

The SSI consists of 15 self-report items and two sub-scales, Latrine Use Frequency and Seven-Day Open Defecation Rate. Households are scored on a standardized scale from 0 (no defecation safely captured) to 100 (all defecation safely captured). We present results of a pilot study in Odisha, India to apply the Index to assess excreta disposal behaviors among rural households and evaluate the reliability and validity of the Index for estimating the rate of correct and consistent sanitation facility usage of household with an improved latrine.