The new economy of excrement. Nature, September 13, 2017

The new economy of excrement. Nature, September 13, 2017

Entrepreneurs are finding profits turning human waste into fertiliser, fuel and even food.

On the outskirts of Kigali, Rwanda, septic trucks full of human excrement bump and slosh their way up orange dirt roads to their final destination: the Nduba landfill. Until recently, the trucks would spill their contents into giant open pits.

Will Swanson for Nature Semi-dried sludge on its way to becoming fuel at the Pivot plant in Rwanda

Will Swanson for Nature. Semi-dried sludge on its way to becoming fuel at the Pivot plant in Rwanda.

But since 2015, workers in green jumpsuits have greeted them outside a row of sheds and plastic-roofed greenhouses, ready to process the faecal sludge into a dry, powdery fuel.

The facility is called Pivot, and its founder is Ashley Muspratt, a sanitation engineer who lived in Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda for more than seven years before moving back to the United States last year. Muspratt insists that Pivot is not a treatment plant.

It’s a business. Its product powers local industries such as cement and brick plants. “I describe us as dual sanitation and renewable-fuel company,” Muspratt says. “Our model really is to build factories.”

Muspratt is part of a growing band of entrepreneurs trying to address one of the biggest challenges in public health — poor sanitation — and to turn a profit doing it. According to a report published by the World Health Organization and United Nations children’s charity Unicef in July, 2.8 billion people — 38% of the world’s population — have no access to sewers and deposit their waste in tanks and pit latrines (see ‘Sanitation across nations’).

Read the complete article.

In Haiti, a Building Fights Cholera

In Haiti, a Building Fights Cholera. New York Times, September 12, 2017.

Next month marks the seventh anniversary of the cholera outbreak that ravaged Haiti. The disease, which can cause death within hours if left untreated, came less than a year after Haiti was rocked by an enormous earthquake that left hundreds of thousands dead and millions injured, displaced and destitute.

Haiti is prone to earthquakes and tropical storms — the island was spared the worst of Hurricane Irma last week — but the cholera outbreak was an anomaly; the disease had never before struck Haiti. It was brought in, it is widely believed, by United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal.

A child with cholera symptoms being examined in the Cholera Treatment Center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Credit Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press

A child with cholera symptoms being examined in the Cholera Treatment Center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Credit Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press

One of the world’s most infectious waterborne diseases, cholera spreads quickly and has proved extremely difficult to contain in Haiti. Over 10,000 have died and nearly a million have been stricken to date.

But one organization has managed to nearly eradicate it in a large slum in Port-au-Prince that lacks clean water and sanitation.

One of the game changers that would surprise most people, including global health experts, was actually a building.

It wasn’t just any building, but a very intelligently and beautifully designed one: the Cholera Treatment Center, operated by Les Centres Gheskio, an acronym that stands for the Haitian Group for the Study of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and Opportunistic Infections.

Read the complete article.

Guardian series on the first 1,000 days

Sept 7 – Surviving without thriving – but all is not lost for the world’s ‘stunted’ children

About 159 million under-fives suffer impaired growth and brain development, but now a study is challenging the view that nothing can be done to help them. Feeding interventions alone are not enough. Environmental factors have to be addressed too.

A quarter of all stunting is linked to chronic diarrhoea in the first two years and almost 90% of cases are the result of a lack of clean water, sanitation and hygiene. Air pollution and the use of biomass fuel play a part. Perhaps better gender parity will prove most significant. If stunting begins in the womb, then clearly maternal health is key: shorter mothers are more likely to have stunted children.

Sept 6 – The first 1,000 days: Jay Rayner explains their impact on a child’s future – video

Good nutrition, healthcare and sanitation are crucial to a child’s early development. Without these, a child’s brain won’t develop properly. They will have a lower IQ and they will grow up shorter than they should, a condition known as stunting. The Observer’s food critic, Jay Rayner, explains how a child’s future is determined by the first years of life.

Recent WASH research – September 7, 2017





Emergency WASH – Water Currents

Emergency WASH – Water Currents, September 5, 2017.

The current cholera crisis in Yemen is just the latest example of the need for practical evidence-based recommendations and updated research on WASH in emergency settings.This issue focuses on case studies, recent research, and innovative approaches to implementing WASH services in emergencies, and includes links to recent publications about water treatment, menstrual hygiene management, container-based sanitation, among other topics. Also featured are links to relevant websites and select WASH news items, including several on the cholera epidemic in Yemen. watercurrentsissue

Publications and Videos 
WASH Interventions in Disease Outbreak ResponseOxfam, February 2017. This synthesis identifies, combines, and evaluates existing evidence from 47 studies on the impacts of 10 different WASH interventions during disease outbreaks in 51 humanitarian contexts in 19 low and middle-income countries.

Short-Term WASH Interventions in Emergency Responses in Low and Middle-Income CountriesInternational Initiative for Impact Evaluation, February 2017. WASH interventions are used in nearly all emergency contexts, but limited evidence is available to support best practices and effective use. This literature review synthesizes findings from 106 studies to assess the effectiveness of 13 specific interventions.

Read the complete issue.

WASH in Schools: What next, after 100% coverage?

On 15th August 2015, the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MoHRD), Government of India, announced all schools in the country had toilets. In just a matter of months, nearly half a million toilets were made to reach the magical figure. A year before, the onus of ensuring adequate water and sanitation facilities, and imparting hygiene education, in schools had been shifted completely to MoHRD from the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS). This was to streamline WASH in Schools, fix responsibility and ensure resources.

Under the Swacch Vidyalaya (SV) programme, 417,796 toilets were made or fixed in a year

Of this, were new toilets 266,017; the rest were dysfunctional that needed to be fixed. There are a total of 1,448,712 schools in India. Private companies, according to the SV website, built 3416 toilets while public sector companies made 141636. Most work was to be done by the government. However, it seems private sector engagement has been under-reported as a perusal of the websites of companies that have implemented WASH in Schools (WinS) shows much higher figures; some of them do not figure on the SV website.

However, independent verifications of MoHRD’s claims[1] have shown there are still ‘uncovered’ schools. The largest study in 2016 by Pratham, an NGO working on education issues, shows even in 2016 3.5% schools did not have a toilet, and 27.8% were unusable[2]. The blind-spots are handwashing stations, the quality and frequency of hygiene education imparted to children and menstrual hygiene management facilities and education.

Against this background, the India Sanitation Coalition will hold a thematic online discussion about WASH in Schools in India. The discussion will run from 4 September – 23 September 2017 on the SuSanA Discussion Forum.

This discussion seeks your inputs on how to take WinS to an acceptable level where boys and girls have separate and adequate toilets, hand-washing facilities, hygiene is addressed in schools, and adolescent girls have usable menstrual hygiene facilities.

The issues we would seek your inputs on are:

  1. Discussion kick-off featuring two case stories from the Hindi Water Portal: What innovations have you come across in WinS by the government, companies or NGOs that are worth emulating? Mahesh Nathan from World Vision India will lead this topic (4 – 8 September)
  2. How has shifting the responsibility for WinS to MoHRD affected the condition of facilities and hygiene? What challenges remain and how can they be overcome? Arundhati Muralidharan, WaterAid, will lead this topic (9 – 13 September)
  3. How can companies contribute to WinS? What are examples of successful WASH contributions by companies? (14-18 September)
  4. Is the current monitoring system under DISE adequate and how can it be improved and tied to the SDGs? Srinivas Chary from the Administrative Staff College of India will lead this topic (19 – 23 September)

During the discussion, regular summaries of forum entries will be posted to keep you updated on our conversation. Coordination will be done by Nitya Jacob (SuSanA India Chapter Coordinator).

To join the discussion, follow:

And to read the first contribution by Mahesh Nathan, click on:

Copy of Addressing infrastructural barriers to MHM in schools to support inclusive and quality learning for all

[1] Studies by various development agencies and newspaper reports on status of WiNS that have indicated a large percentage of the surveyed toilets are dysfunctional even though most schools have toilets. Handwashing facilities are largely absent

[2] Annual State of Education Report, 2016. ASER Centre, Pratham, New Delhi.

Equality and non-discrimination (EQND) in sanitation programmes at scale (part 1)

Equality and non-discrimination (EQND) in sanitation programmes at scale (part 1 of 2), August 2017Frontiers10coverSarah House, Sue Cavill and Suzanne Ferron. CLTS Knowledge Hub.

A well-facilitated Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programme that pro-actively considers and involves people who might be disadvantaged has been shown to have many benefits.  A lack of this can and will often have negative impacts and make programmes and ODF unsustainable.

This issue of Frontiers of CLTS looks at who should be considered potentially disadvantaged, how they can effectively participate and what may be needed to address diverse needs in order to make processes and outcomes sustainable and inclusive.

Using a range of examples from GSF programmes that were part of a recent study on Equality and Non-Discrimination, it explores the challenges that may occur and concludes with suggested good practices that will strengthen the processes to the benefit of all.