Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Circular Sanitation Economy: Disruptive Innovation Festival Panel – Toilet Board Coalition

The Circular Sanitation Economy: The Commercial Case and Economics for the Biological Cycle in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Disruptive Innovation Festival and panel with our TBC experts and businesses.

Request for feedback on Water Currents

Dear Colleagues:

It is important to receive feedback from subscribers to Water Currents to make it relevant and useful to you. We would appreciate your comments and any suggestions you may have for improvements. watercurrents

Surveyhttps://waterckm.typeform.com/to/H714qb

Water Currents Issues

Thank you

 

State of Urban Water and Sanitation in India – USAID

State of Urban Water and Sanitation in India. USAID, October 2017.

The State of Urban Water and Sanitation in India report emerges from a three-year (2014-2017) collaborative program funded by the USAID and undertaken by TERI University, Coca-Cola and TERI on ‘Strengthening Water and Sanitation in Urban Settings of India’ and encapsulates the journey India has undertaken in the urban water and sanitation sector. urban.png

The report aims to be a comprehensive collection and analysis of past and current policies and programmes and provides insights into the reasons for several gaps that become apparent when the sector is viewed holistically.

Contents:

  • Executive Summary
  • Chapter One: Introduction

Section A – Policies

  • Chapter Two: Assessment of National-level Policies and Programmes in India’s Urban Water and Sanitation Sectors
  • Chapter Three: Regional Assessment of Urban Water and Sanitation Policies and Programmes

Section B – Progress

  • Chapter Four: Living Without Sanitation Choices in Urban Slums
  • Chapter Five: Analysis of City-level Sanitation Scenario
  • Chapter Six: Three Years of Urban Sanitation under Swachh Bharat Mission
  • Chapter Seven: The Sanitation Value Chain: Missing Links and the Way Forward for Urban India

Section C – Possible Solutions

  • Chapter Eight: The Need of the Hour: Leveraging Corporate Engagement for Urban Sanitation
  • Chapter Nine: Drinking Water Supply for Urban Poor: Role of Urban Small Water Enterprises
  • Chapter Ten: Financing Options for Urban Sanitation in India
  • Chapter Eleven: Recommendations

Improving Handwashing in Humanitarian Crises: Methods for Researching Handwashing Practices and Behavior

Improving Handwashing in Humanitarian Crises: Methods for Researching Handwashing Practices and Behavior. by Sian White, Research Fellow, Hygiene and Behaviour Change, The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. CAWST Blog, October 11, 2017.

This year CAWST has been working with Action Contre Faim (ACF)and The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) to better understand handwashing practices among internally displaced people.

Working together on this project, this partnership brings together our experience and networks in academic health research, humanitarian operational experience in WASH and Mental Health, and development of educational material.

Left: A participant draws two images of himself, making one intentionally messy to symbolise his life falling apart. Right: The research assistant plots milestones on the timeline as the participant narrates her story.

Left: A participant draws two images of himself, making one intentionally messy to symbolise his life falling apart. Right: The research assistant plots milestones on the timeline as the participant narrates her story.

The general objective of the research is to develop deep understandings of the determinants of hand hygiene in emergency settings so as to contribute to the development of rapid and effective intervention tools; the ultimate goal of the research will be to equip emergency responders with the knowledge and tools to intervene rapidly and effectively on hygiene behaviour. The full findings of this research, including practitioner resources, will be available in 2018.

In this blog post, Sian White, the project’s lead researcher, shares four research methods she has been using and what these have revealed so far.

Read the complete blog post.

Microplastics and human health—an urgent problem

Microplastics and human health—an urgent problem. Lancet Planetary Health, October 19, 2017.

Microplastics come from many sources: synthetic clothing fibres, dust from tyres, road paints, and the breakdown of larger items. Orb Media’s recent investigation has brought the issue of microplastics in the environment into sharp focus. The analysis of tap water samples from around the world found that a high proportion of drinking water is contaminated with microscopic fragments of plastic (83% of samples collected worldwide, but up to 94% in the USA). Microplastic contamination seems more widespread than we perhaps knew, and they are regularly being ingested by people worldwide. Most concerning is how little is known about the effects of microplastic consumption on human health.

It is no small problem. As of 2015, 6300 million tonnes of plastic waste have been generated, around 9% of which was recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% ended up in landfills or the environment. The issue of large plastic items polluting the world’s oceans is well known, leading to policies that aim to limit the production and use of plastic bags and bottles, and increase recycling. However, a key problem with plastics is that they are essentially indestructible; rather than being biodegraded, they break down into smaller and smaller pieces, eventually becoming microscopic fragments. We should no longer just be concerned with large plastic items clogging up oceans and waterways, but also more attention needs to be paid to these tiny fragments and their effects on planetary health.

The tapwater study is not the first to indicate that microplastics are being consumed by humans. A 2014 study of German beer brands found that microplastics were present in all of the samples, and a Parisian study showed microplastics not just in water but also in the air. Microplastics are also routinely ingested by fish and shellfish. But the apparent widespread presence of microplastics in tapwater is particularly concerning because it points to substantial contamination of terrestrial and freshwater—as well as marine—ecosystems.

The ubiquity of microplastic contamination can no longer be denied. To mitigate this global problem, several actions need to be taken, and quickly. First, the amount of plastic being released into the environment must be drastically reduced. Some policies have already been formulated with this goal in mind, for example, many countries have made it illegal for retailers to give away plastic bags for free, and deposit schemes for plastic bottles are in place in parts of the USA and Europe. However, progress on this front has been slow and piecemeal.

To speed up progress on reducing plastic waste, manufacturers of plastic could be forced to take responsibility for the damage wrought on the environment; this is beginning to happen through extender producer responsibility (EPR) laws, which require plastic producers to fund and manage recycling and disposal of their products. EPR laws are already being used in the USA for electronic products such as phones, televisions and batteries that contain lead, mercury, and cadmium; many states now require manufacturers of these products to support their recycling and disposal at the end of the product’s lifespan. Consumers should also be encouraged to change their behaviours to reduce the amount of plastic consumed.

Even with concerted global effort, the amount of microplastics in the environment will continue to grow, and the question remains—what impact will this have on human health? The concerning answer is that no-one knows. To date, there have been no studies of the effects of microplastic consumption by humans.

Designing robust studies to look at this issue will be difficult—observational, population-based studies will be open to confounding, while experimental studies will be impractical (ethically, if nothing else). The deleterious effect of current levels of microplastics might be small, by contrast with the known risks of industrial pollutants such as heavy metals or black carbon, so teasing out the effect at the population level will be hard, and will require a sophisticated surveillance system. If an effect exists, people living in areas of high plastic contamination will develop greater disease burdens as levels continue to rise. Disease-reporting systems need to be linked to pollution databases to ensure any effect is identified early, and action taken quickly.

Solving a problem of this magnitude will not be an easy task. Public education, product innovation, and industry leadership along with strong commitment from local, national and international governments, are urgently needed to reduce the use of microplastics and to understand the effects of these particles on both ecosystems and the human body.

Read the complete article.

The “Look it up Club” got me hooked: Sanitation Wikipedia needs you, too.

By Diane Kellogg, Chair Sanitation Wikipedia Project

My father always said:  “Your ticket off the chicken farm is your education.” My parents did their part.  They enrolled us in the “Look it up Club” by buying the World Book Encyclopedia, one book at a time—A through Z.   To any question we asked, our parents’ answer was the same:  “You’re a member of the Look it up Club aren’t you? Look it up.”

Education mattered so much that “I have homework” could get you out of gathering eggs after school.  As a result, all five of “the McKinney Kids” got good grades.   Still, I wanted off that chicken farm badly.  More degrees could get you even farther from the chicken farm, right?

I got so far from my practical roots that I actually ended up warning my students against looking it up.  At least not on Wikipedia.  The “pedia” of today couldn’t possibly be as good as the encyclopedia, right?  Anyone and everyone can add “stuff” to Wikipedia, so how could it be any good?

Was I ever wrong. 

You can’t get anything past the Wikipedia Warriors out there on the planet.  Yes, anyone can add things, but there will be an army of eyes on your work.  The article on cholera, for example.  A total of 244 people have the cholera article on their “watchlist.”  Many of those have probably asked Wikipedia to notify them by e-mail when “changes were made to an article you’re watching.”   If you make an assertion without referencing credible sources or insert your own opinion, you will hear from someone.  Wikipedia specializes in facts.  Objective facts.  Wikipedia’s standards keep going up.  It’s the best kind of crowd-sourcing:  the best version of the article is what sticks.

What bothers me is that some of the articles on sanitation are so unreadable:  Out of 100 points possible on the Flesch Readability Score, the page on “diarrhea” gets a 38.  And get this:  2700 people click on that article every day.  Multiply that by 365 days in a year, and you’ve got to wonder.  I wonder if those clickers are finding what they’re looking for.  Mothers in Mali with a sick baby want to know how much time they have to get fluids into that little body. Shouldn’t that diarrhea article be more easy to read and understand?

I’ve done penance in various ways.  I’ve assigned a few Wikpedia articles so students will know I am no longer snooty about the quality of what can be found there.  I’ve edited a few Wikipedia articles where I thought the experts were making concepts more obscure and complex than they needed to be.  (Thankfully, the Wikipedia Warriors said “Thank you: that makes the point more clear.”)  I’ve even asked colleagues to assign their students to do original research on WASH topics to see if they could find more recent information to add to articles.

Now I’m chairing a SuSanA drive to improve WASH content on Wikipedia ahead of World Toilet Day on 19 November 2017.

It’s that readability thing that has me so motivated.  Our goal is to raise the average readability of all WASH articles to 60-70.  The average is now 37.    (You can check the readability of your own writing at this link.)  In the spirit of  practice what you preach, I just did that for my blog:  65.

On World Toilet Day, we will award $500 Honorariums to especially dedicated Sanitation Wikipedia volunteers.  Click  on this page to join the team or email Wikipedia@SuSanA.org to offer a few hours of your time.  We make it fun.

 

 

Salamatu Garba on the Continuing Impact of Water and Development Alliance in Nigeria

Salamatu Garba on the Continuing Impact of Water and Development Alliance in Nigeria. Global Waters, September 22, 2017.

“The whole success of this project was because of the dignity it brought to the community….women now command respect. Women in the community have dignity. The girls now go to school.” 

Photo Credit: Salamatu Garba

Photo Credit: Salamatu Garba

Salamatu Garba is making waves across Nigeria. As the Executive Director of the Women Farmers Advancement Network (WOFAN), she has spent 25 years working to empower Nigeria’s rural women and is coming off an especially big year in 2016 — she became an Ashoka Fellow for Nigeria (designating her as a global change leader) and was nominated to the steering committee of the Netherlands-based Women for Water Partnership thanks to her work improving rural water, sanitation, hygiene, and food security.

In her recent conversation with Global Waters Radio, Garba remembers the moment her life’s mission became clear, in the early 1990s. “I stumbled across one of my village women — pregnant, with loads of wood on her head, coming from the farm [with] some livestock — and I stopped to chat with her,” she recalls. “And she told me the life of a woman is nothing more than being subservient to a man, give birth, get pregnant, and that is it until God takes your life.” Garba’s interaction with that woman — whom she later learned died during childbirth — remained seared in her memory and drove her to found WOFAN to address the plight of Nigeria’s rural women and advocate for community improvements that would enhance their quality of life.

Read the complete article.