Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New paper on container-based sanitation

With support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we have been able to publish this as an open-access article! Feel free to disseminate.

Container-based sanitation: Assessing costs and effectiveness of excreta management in Cap Haitien, Haiti

Sebastien TilmansKory RusselRachel SklarLeah PageSasha KramerJennifer Davis
  1. doi: 10.1177/0956247815572746Environment and Urbanizationvol. 27 no. 1 89-104


    Container-based sanitation (CBS) – in which wastes are captured in sealable containers that are then transported to treatment facilities – is an alternative sanitation option in urban areas where on-site sanitation and sewerage are infeasible. This paper presents the results of a pilot household CBS service in Cap Haitien, Haiti. We quantify the excreta generated weekly in a dense urban slum,(1) the proportion safely removed via container-based public and household toilets, and the costs associated with these systems. The CBS service yielded an approximately 3.5-fold decrease in the unmanaged share of faeces produced, and nearly eliminated the reported use of open defecation and “flying toilets” among service recipients. The costs of this pilot small-scale service were higher than those of large-scale waterborne sewerage, but economies of scale have the potential to reduce CBS costs over time. The paper concludes with a discussion of planning and policy implications of incorporating CBS into the menu of sanitation options for rapidly growing cities.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Want to pass the Water for the World Act?

The Water for the World Act has now passed both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The next step in both the Senate and the House is to bring it up for a full floor vote, then send it to President Obama's desk for signature.
There are a very few days remaining in this session of the U.S. Congress, however. Some sector specialists fear that the bill will die if it doesn’t pass both the House and the Senate in the next few working days.

If you want to help advocate for the passage of the Water for the World Act, you can:
1) Contact your Representative and each of your Senators. Ask them to support the bill, and to bring it to the floor of the House/Senate for a vote. You can find contact information for your representative and senators here: https://www.congress.gov/members
2) Forward this message to others 

A copy of the Senate version of the Act can be found here: 
Talking points about the Act that were prepared by the NGO Water Advocates can be found here:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Congratulations to the re.source, winners of a 2014 US Environmental Protection Agency P3 award!

In many of the world’s overcrowded urban slums, residents must choose between open defecation, crowded public toilets or expensive private pit latrines that can't be emptied safely. A Stanford team working on a sustainable solution recently won a $15,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the opportunity to compete for up to $75,000. See the full story here.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Congratulations to the Lotus Water team, winners of the 2014 Reed Elsevier WASH Alliance Prize!

The WASH Alliance prize of $15,000 was awarded to the Stanford Program on Water, Health and Development. Researchers have designed a community-scale, fully automated chlorine dosing device for shared water points in low-income urban settings that requires neither reliable electricity nor 24/7 supply to function consistently. Support from the Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge will allow them to be able to construct, install and maintain 150 devices serving 10,000 people in Dhaka, Bangladesh. These installation sites will be used to evaluate health impacts and test the viability of different potential business models.

See the Lotus Water website for more information about this ambitious project!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Forbes article on sanitation "software" vs. "hardware"

"Why a toilet alone won't do the job" -- Jessica Altenberger
Our own re.source is mentioned toward the end of the piece!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Sustainable Development Goals: Proposed stand-alone goal for water & sanitation, refining indicators

Global targets related to water and sanitation access were comprised within Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 7 of "ensuring environmental sustainability." For the post-2015 period, a more focused goal of "ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all" was proposed on July 19. The text of this goal and associated targets in the current proposal is:

Proposed goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
6.1 by 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all
6.2 by 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all, and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations
6.3 by 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater, and increasing recycling and safe reuse by x% globally
6.4 by 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity, and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
6.5 by 2030 implement integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate
6.6 by 2020 protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
6.a by 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water and sanitation related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies
6.b support and strengthen the participation of local communities for improving water and sanitation management
(The complete proposal can be found here.)

These goals and targets will undergo further revision in the months ahead. Equally important is the finalization of associated definitions and indicators for monitoring during the SDG period. What do we mean by "adequate and equitable sanitation," "untreated wastewater," and "sustainable withdrawals"? How should these ideas be measured for global monitoring? The Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) recently released a draft report outlining proposed indicators for the 17 SDG targets under consideration, but it has lots of "to be determined" placeholders, particularly regarding industrial waste discharges, wastewater/biosolids re-use, and water resources management.

The good news is that the debate over definitions and indicators is happening now, before the launch of the SDG period on January 1, 2016. As SDSN Executive Director Guido Schmidt-Traub noted in a recent blog post, the indicators used to monitor progress toward the MDGs were finalized several years after the adoption of the goals. Let's hope that the WASH community can agree on targets, indicators, and definitions that are both ambitious yet practical and useful for decision-makers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

New paper on video surveillance of handwashing in schools

Amy J. Pickering, Annalise G. Blum, Robert F. Breiman, Pavani K. Ram, Jennifer Davis

Published: March 27, 2014
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0092571

Findings from this study suggest that video compares favorably with the 'gold standard' of structured observation in terms of generating reliable data on hand hygiene behavior. Video is also potentially superior to observation in terms of cost (person-time for data collection and coding/data entry), particularly with quality control efforts such as double coding.