Toilets, trash and social status: the top 10 emergency hygiene challenges | Source/Complete article: Kathy Migiro, Thomson Reuters Foundation | Feb 17 2014
Excerpts: NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – More than 900 beneficiaries, field practitioners and donors named their most pressing gaps in emergency water, sanitation and hygiene promotion (WASH) services in a 2013 survey.
Congolese refugees gather around dry water taps at Bukanga camp, Uganda, July 17, 2013. REUTERS/James Akena
The Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF), which carried out the survey, plans to solve them through open innovation, where grants of up to $20,000 are given to the best new ideas.
Here are the top 10 gaps HIF will tackle (in no particular order):
1) Latrine lighting – In many refugee camps, latrines are not lit at night making them dangerous for women to use.
Challenge: To light communal latrines at night in a cheap and sustainable manner.
2) Space saving jerrycan – In emergencies, agencies traditionally buy and distribute jerrycans, which can mean transporting 15 or 20 litres of air. Collapsible jerrycans only last a couple of months before they start leaking.
Challenge: To design a 15 litre jerrycan, costing less than $5, with limited volume when stored, lasting one year.
3) Excreta disposal in urban emergencies – Earthquakes and floods often cut off urban water supplies and damage toilets. When large numbers of displaced people gather in safe places like schools, sanitation facilities get overwhelmed. Many agencies build raised latrines. But they need to be emptied frequently, with waste being dumped in purpose-built pits or rivers, creating health risks.
Challenges: To develop new products to provide safe excreta disposal in urban environments after disasters. Solutions should consider not only containment, but also emptying and disposal mechanisms.