Saturday, November 19, 2011
Between 1990 and 2008, the share of the world's population that had access to basic sanitation increased only 7%, to 61% of the world's citizens. In many developing countries, mobile phone penetration is expanding at a faster rate than sanitation. In Tanzania, for example, half the country's citizens have mobile phones, but only 24% use an improved sanitation facility.
Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of World Toilet Day, a day set aside not simply as a celebration of this most venerable and useful of technologies, but as a way to draw attention to the crisis and some possible solutions.
This sanitation crisis is not only an affront to dignity. It results in the release of hundreds of tons of feces and urine each day directly into rivers, lakes, landfills and oceans, creating an immense human and environmental health hazard. Every day more than 4,000 young children die from sanitation-related illness. Fully half of the hospital beds in the developing world are occupied by people whose ailments can be traced to poor sanitation.
Full story: www.cnn.com/2011/11/19/opinion/davis-toilet-day/index.html?hpt=op_t1
Friday, November 11, 2011
Valentina Zuin, Leonard Ortolano, Manuel Alvarinho, Kory Russel, Anne Thebo, Odete Muximpua and Jennifer DavisJournal of Water and Health Vol 9 No 4 pp 773–784 © IWA Publishing 2011 doi:10.2166/wh.2011.031
ABSTRACT: In sub-Saharan Africa only 35% of the urban population has access to a piped water connection on their premises. The majority of households obtain water from public standpipes or from neighbors who are connected to the municipal network. Water resale is often prohibited, however, because of concerns about affordability and risks to public health. Using data collected from 1,377 households in Maputo, Mozambique, we compare the microbiological quality, as well as the time and money costs of water supply from individual house connections, public standpipes, and water obtained from neighbors. Households with their own water connections have better service across virtually all indicators measured, and express greater satisfaction with their service, as compared with those using other water sources. Households purchasing water from their neighbors pay lower time and money costs per liter of water, on average, as compared with those using standpipes. Resale competes favorably with standpipes along a number of service quality dimensions; however, after controlling for water supply characteristics, households purchasing water from neighbors are significantly less likely to be satisfied with their water service as compared with those using standpipes.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Abstract: Whereas Tanzania has seen considerable improvements in water and sanitation infrastructure over the past 20 years, the country still faces high rates of childhood morbidity from diarrheal diseases. This study utilized a qualitative, cross-sectional, modified Photovoice method to capture daily activities of Dar es Salaam mothers. A total of 127 photographs from 13 households were examined, and 13 interviews were conducted with household mothers. The photographs and interviews revealed insufficient hand washing procedures, unsafe disposal of wastewater, uncovered household drinking water containers, a lack of water treatment prior to consumption, and inappropriate toilets for use by small children. The interviews revealed that mothers were aware and knowledgeable of the risks of certain household practices and understood safer alternatives, yet were restricted by the perceived impracticality and financial constraints to make changes. The results draw attention to the real economic and behavioral challenges faced in reducing the spread of disease.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
The Stanford Program on Water, Health & Development works with partners in low- and middle-income countries to (1) strengthen the scientific basis for decision-making in the water and sanitation sector, particularly with reference to non-networked populations, (2) enhance capacity within developing countries for sustainable water and wastewater management, (3) provide unique training and learning opportunities for faculty and students at Stanford and partner universities, and (4) improve the health and well-being of households in some of the world’s poorest countries.
For more information, see h2o.stanford.edu
Friday, August 26, 2011
"Coast Water Services Board has unearthed a cartel involving some water kiosk owners in Mikindani, Mombasa who conspire to create an artificial shortage in the area.
"The water board boss Andy Tolla said some of the water kiosk owners have been filling their huge underground water tanks and wait untill the pipes run dry before selling the water for as much as Sh7 per 20-litre jerrican."
Ksh 7/20 liters is equivalent to US$3.73 per cubic meter--about 2.7 times what my family pays per unit volume for in-home water supply services. The successful rent-seeking by kiosk operators thus illustrates the claim that researchers have been making for some time: Even urban poor families are willing to pay considerable amounts of money for water supply services. (This is not to be confused with the normative question of whether charging such high prices is an acceptable thing to do, which is a separate issue.)
But the curious thing here is the proposed solution:
"Tolla however said measures have been put in place to break up the cartel. He said new regulations that are being implemented will effectively stop the practice.
In the new policies, water companies like the Mombasa Water and Sewerage Company will regulate water kiosks. The companies will decide how many kiosks are needed in what areas. Licences will only be given to water kiosks where the companies deem absolutely necessary."
Given the obvious challenges with regulation of the kiosk sub-sector, wouldn't the most cost-effective solution to collusion be increasing, rather than decreasing, competition? Won't the restriction of license supply, and the concentration of power over who gets them into a few hands, simply create opportunities for new types of rent-seeking (and reduce the availability of water supplies to households)?
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Thursday, August 4, 2011
Amy J. Pickering, Jennifer Davis and Alexandria B. Boehm
Journal of Water and Health Vol 9 No 3 pp 429–433 © IWA Publishing 2011 doi:10.2166/wh.2011.138
Emmet Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources, School of Earth Sciences, Stanford University, Jerry Yang & Akiko Yamazaki Environment & Energy Building, 473 Via Ortega, Room 247 MC: 4020, Stanford, CA 94305, USA E-mail: email@example.com
Environment and Water Studies, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, USA. Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, Stanford, USA
Handwashing education and promotion are well established as effective strategies to reduce diarrhea and respiratory illness in countries around the world. However, access to reliable water supplies has been identified as an important barrier to regular handwashing in low-income countries. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer (ABHS) is an effective hand hygiene method that does not require water, but its use is not currently recommended when hands are visibly soiled. This study evaluated the efficacy of ABHS on volunteers' hands artificially contaminated with Escherichia coli in the presence of dirt (soil from Tanzania) and cooking oil. ABHS reduced levels of E. coli by a mean of 2.33 log colony forming units (CFU) per clean hand, 2.32 log CFU per dirt-covered hand, and 2.13 log CFU per oil-coated hand. No significant difference in efficacy was detected between hands that were clean versus dirty or oily. ABHS may be an appropriate hand hygiene method for hands that are moderately soiled, and an attractive option for field settings in which access to water and soap is limited.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
The signatories should be applauded for their efforts to raise the profile of the sustainability challenge in W&S investments, and for taking the first steps to give more emphasis to sustainability in their program and project design.
It would also be helpful to see in the charter a frank recognition of (and a commitment to addressing) the many incentives that work against sustainability in the sector--including professional incentives in organizations such as those signing on to the charter.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
H. Schaffer-Boudet, D.C. Jayasundera, and J. Davis. 2011. “Drivers of conflict in global infrastructure projects: Experience from the water and pipeline sectors.” Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, Vol. 137, (7): 498-511. DOI: 10.1061/(ASCE)CO.1943-7862.0000333.
Abstract: Despite the considerable scholarship focused on infrastructure investment in the developing world and the substantial sums of money spent each year on developing-country infrastructure, little attention has been given to understanding the drivers of conflict that shape the trajectory and cost structures of these massive investments. The manifestation of conflict among stakeholders in infrastructure projects ranges from the renegotiation of contract terms by project partners to popular protests among consumers of privatized services. The principal objective of this research is to identify combinations of country, project, and stakeholder factors that are associated with the emergence of legal and political conflict within natural gas and oil pipeline projects and water supply concessions and leases. The analysis includes data from 26 infrastructure projects spanning 31 countries and uses an analytical approach derived from Boolean algebra. Country-level characteristics, such as extent of democracy and rate of international NGO membership, are found to be important elements in the recipes for conflict among water supply projects but not for pipeline projects. Local impacts such as service price increases (water supply) and limited provision of oil and gas to the project host country (pipelines) are also important drivers of conflict for both subsectors. The involvement of one or more international financial institutions is also associated with the emergence of conflict in projects. Contrary to expectations, public consultation is associated with conflict in both subsectors. Overall, the study findings suggest that several factors associated with conflict in infrastructure projects can be minimized with careful project design.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
UNITED NATIONS, 21 June 2011 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, along with UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake, Ugandan Minister of Water & Environment the Hon. Maria Mutagamba, and His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange, today launched the Sustainable Sanitation: Five-Year Drive to 2015 , a push to speed up progress on the Millennium Development Goal target of improving global sanitation by 2015.
The launch took place at United Nations Headquarters in New York, with members of the Secretary-General s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation and other dignitaries in attendance.
The Millennium Development Goals include a target of halving, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation. With 2.6 billion people half of the population in developing regions still without access to improved sanitation, the target is lagging far behind, and without urgent and concerted action globally it will be out of reach.
On 20 December 2010 the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling upon the UN Member States to "redouble efforts to close the sanitation gap". The resolution established a global push, "Sustainable Sanitation: The Five-Year-Drive to 2015", to focus attention on the Goal and to mobilize political will, as well as financial and technical resources. The resolution also made history by calling for an end to open defecation, the most dangerous sanitation practice for public health.
Over 1.1 billion people have no sanitation facilities at all, and practise open defecation. According to UNICEF, inadequate and dirty water, poor sanitation, and improper hygiene are the main causes of diarrhoea, which each year kills at least 1.2 million children under five. The organization says diarrhoeal diseases are mainly excreta-related; therefore it is crucial to protect people from contact with feces. Improvements in sanitation can lead to an almost 40% reduction in illnesses caused by diarrhoea.
Achievement of the sanitation goal, UNICEF says, will have far-reaching and lasting effects on the health and well-being of millions of people.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
US discriminates on right to safe water and sanitation, says UN expert
The United States must do more to eliminate discrimination in access to safe drinking water and sanitation, an independent United Nations expert reported today, citing wide disparities that adversely affect people of colour and Native Americans.
“I am concerned that several laws, policies and practices, while appearing neutral at face value, have a disproportionate impact on the enjoyment of human rights by certain groups,” said UN independent expert Catarina de Albuquerque, who is mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to examine human rights obligations for access to safe drinking water and sanitation.
Quoting a study on the racial impact of water pricing and shut-off policies of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission, she noted that for every 1 per cent increase in Boston ward’s percentage of people of colour, the number of threatened cut offs increases by 4 per cent.
At the end of her first fact-finding mission to the country, she also highlighted the fact that 13 per cent of Native American households have no access to safe water and/or wastewater disposal, in sharp contrast with 0.6 per cent in non-native households.
“Access to water and sanitation is further complicated for indigenous people in the US depending on whether they are part of a federally recognized tribe or not,” she said, noting that under international standards, tribal existence and identity do not depend on federal recognition or acknowledgment of the tribe.
“I call for legal action to change the status of unrecognized and terminated tribes to enable all American Indians to gain the respect, privileges, religious freedom, and land and water rights to which they are entitled,” she stressed, calling on the US to ensure that water and sanitation are available at a price people can afford.
Ms. de Albuquerque underscored that ensuring the right to water and sanitation for all requires a paradigm shift with new approaches that promote human rights, are affordable and create more value in terms of public health, community development and global ecosystem protection.
She also urged access to water and sanitation for homeless people, stressing that local statutes prohibiting public urination and defecation, “while facially constitutional are often discriminatory in their effects.
“Such discrimination often occurs because such statutes are enforced against homeless individuals, who often have no access to public restrooms and are given no alternatives,” she said.
She welcomed the fact that the US has recently joined a consensus at the UN on a resolution recognizing that the right to water derives from the right to an adequate standard of living.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Times of India: Yudhvir Rana, TNN, Feb 22, 2011, 04.18am IST
AMRITSAR: A word of caution from the Himachal Pradesh government for its employees. They can lose their annual increment, face penalty and be charge-sheeted if they do not have a toilet at their homes.
With a view to make Total Sanitation Campaign Scheme a result-oriented drive, the Chamba administration instructed all its government employees to ensure that they construct a toilet in their homes if they wanted to avoid penalties and departmental action against them.
Full story: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Want-raise-build-toilet-at-home-says-Chamba-order/articleshow/7543963.cms
Thursday, February 17, 2011
and following household activities
Amy J. Pickering, Timothy R. Julian, Simon Mamuya, Alexandria B.
Boehm, Jennifer Davis
Objective: To characterize mechanisms of hand contamination with
faecal indicator bacteria and to assess the presence of selected
pathogens on mothers’ hands in Tanzania.
Methods: A household observational study combined with repeated
microbiological hand rinse sampling was conducted among 119 mothers in
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. All hand rinse samples were analysed for
enterococci and Escherichia coli, and selected samples were analysed
for genetic markers of Bacteroidales, enterovirus and pathogenic E.
Results: Using the toilet, cleaning up a child’s faeces, sweeping,
cleaning dishes, preparing food and bathing were all found to increase
faecal indicator bacterial levels on hands. Geometric mean increases
in colony forming units per two hands ranged from 50 (cleaning dishes)
to 6310 (food preparation). Multivariate modelling of hand faecal
indicator bacteria as a function of activities recently performed
shows that food handling, exiting the household premises and longer
time since last handwashing with soap are positively associated with
bacterial levels on hands, while bathing is negatively associated.
Genetic markers of Bacteroidales, enterovirus and pathogenic E. coli
were each detected on a subset of mothers’ hands.
Conclusions: Escherichia coli and enterococci on hands can be
significantly increased by various household activities, including
those involving the use of soap and water. Thus, faecal indicator
bacteria should be considered highly variable when used as indicators
of handwashing behaviour. This work corroborates hands as important
vectors of disease among Tanzanian mothers and highlights the
difficulty of good personal hygiene in an environment characterized by
the lack of networked sanitation and water supply services.
The Effects of Informational Interventions on Household Water
Management, Hygiene Behaviors, Stored Drinking Water Quality, and Hand
Contamination in Peri-Urban Tanzania
By Jennifer Davis, Amy J. Pickering, Kirsten Rogers, Simon Mamuya, and
Alexandria B. Boehm
Abstract: Safe water storage and hand hygiene have been shown to
reduce fecal contamination and improve health in experimental
settings; however, triggering and sustaining such behaviors is
challenging. This study investigates the extent to which personalized
information about Escherichia coli contamination of stored water and
hands influenced knowledge, reported behaviors, and subsequent
contamination levels among 334 households with less than 5-year-old
children in peri-urban Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. One-quarter of the
study participants received information about strategies to reduce
risk of water- and sanitation-related illness. Respondents in another
three study cohorts received this same information, along with their
household's water and/or hand-rinse test results. Findings from this
study suggest that additional work is needed to elucidate the
conditions under which such testing represents a cost-effective
strategy to motivate improved household water management and hand
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
By KUMIKO MAKIHARA
Published: February 1, 2011
“There’s a beautiful, beautiful goddess in the toilet. Clean it every day, and you’ll be beautiful like the goddess.”
Tokyo So sings Kana Uemura, her rich, melodious voice soaring in the ode to her deceased grandmother. In a nearly 10-minute-long ballad, Uemura describes her regret over drifting apart from the old woman who encouraged her to overcome a reluctance to scrub the bowl.
Despite the scatological subject matter, that song was one of the biggest hits in Japan last year. Or perhaps I should say, because of the subject matter.
Toilets hold a special place for the Japanese. They are pinnacles of high technology, personal comfort and even national pride. At last year’s Shanghai Expo, INAX Corporation displayed their gold-plated Regio model in an exhibit titled “World’s Top Lavatory.” According to a government survey, more than 70 percent of Japanese households have a high-tech toilet, commonly called a Washlet after the brand name of the major manufacturer TOTO.
Full story: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/02/opinion/02iht-edmakihara02.html
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Samples taken from public restrooms and ATMs were found to contain pseudomonads and bacillus, bacteria that are known to cause sickness.
ATM keypads are as dirty as public toilet seats, according to a recent study by British researchers. Researchers first took swabs from keypads of ATMs around England then took similar swabs from the seats of public toilets and compared the bacteria.
The samples from both locations were found to contain pseudomonads and bacillus, bacteria that are known to cause sickness.
''We were interested in comparing the levels of bacterial contamination between heavily used ATM machines and public lavatories,” said Dr. Richard Hasting, microbiologist for BioCote. “We were surprised by our results because the ATM machines were shown to be heavily contaminated with bacteria; to the same level as nearby public lavatories.
''In addition, the bacteria we detected on ATMs were similar to those from the toilet, which are well known as causes of common human illnesses.''
BioCote carried out the swab tests after they conducted a survey which revealed people consider public lavatories to be the biggest health risk. ATM pin pads and cash machines ranked tenth place in the survey as health risks.
''It's ironic that while people perceive chip and pin pads to be the least dirtiest, our swabbing experiments have actually shown them to be dirtier than public lavatories,” Hasting said.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Times of India
Beijing Diners in China are overcoming their reservations by flocking to a new toilet-themed restaurant where business is booming.
Customers at the Modern Toilet restaurant, in Kunming, Yunnan province, eat on seats converted from toilets.
Urinals hang on the walls as decorations and signature dishes include 'excrement ice cream', 'toilet bowl hot pot' and 'fried poo sticks'.
Owner Xu Liang says the restaurant has proved more popular than expected with students, in particular, keen to try the experience.
"We had a survey before opening, and 20 per cent of people wanted to try it, 60 per cent weren't sure, while only 20 per cent found the idea unacceptable," he said.
"Sometimes unusual combinations can work. A toilet and a restaurant are complete opposites but combined together they make for a unique experience."
Regular customer Yang Siwen, a university student, has eaten at the restaurant three times since it opened two weeks ago.
"I originally went in because I thought it was a toilet but then discovered it was a restaurant and decided to give it a try," she said.
Friday, January 14, 2011
Panic as water supply cut over a Sh70m debt
The water supply for the entire lower Coast Province was on Friday disconnected over a Sh70 million debt.
The Water Resources Management Authority disconnected supplies at the Baricho Water Works, sparking panic. Beach hotels, currently enjoying more than 95 per cent bed occupancy, were particularly hard hit.
Coast Water Services Board (CWSB) chief executive Andy Maro Tola told journalists that the authority was owed more than Sh40 million.
The authority, however, said it is owed Sh70 million.
“We are disputing this amount,” said Mr Tola. The authority descended on the water works in the morning and cut off supply.
The Baricho Works supply water to Malindi, Watamu, Kilifi, Mtwapa and parts of Kisauni District.
On Thursday, the authority disconnected supplies at the Marere, Msambweni and Tiwi water works, which serve the South Coast.
Mr Tola said the CWSB is owed millions of shillings by government institutions.
Paid outstanding bills
But the authority’s chairman, Mr Francis Nyenze, said: “The board collects lots of money from district water companies, why don’t they pay their debts?”
Malindi Water and Sewerage Company chief executive Johnson Randu said they had paid all their outstanding bills to the water board.
“We are caught between a rock and a hard place,” he said.
Kenya Hotel Keepers and Caterers Association National chairman Titus Kangangi said the authority and the board should engage in talks since water consumers pay promptly on demand.
U.S. orders more testing of chromium-6 in tap water
The Environmental Protection Agency has asked local US communities to test more carefully for hexavalent chromium, a probable carcinogen.
After preliminary health studies, the EPA opted Wednesday to classify the chemical known as chromium-6 as one likely to cause cancer in humans when ingested over the course of a lifetime.
It adopted a rule of a maximum 100 parts per billion, and urged managers of water systems with their source in ground water be tested two times a year, versus four times a year for systems with surface water sources.
"EPA's latest data show that no public water systems are in violation of the standard," the agency said in a statement.
Still, a private US environmental group has found that drinking water in many American cities contains hexavalent chromium, The Washington Post reported last month.
The study by the Environmental Working Group — the first nationwide analysis measuring the presence of the chemical in US water systems — found hexavalent chromium in the tap water of 31 out of 35 cities sampled.
Of those, 25 had levels that exceeded the goal proposed in California, which has been aggressively trying to reduce the chemical in its water supply.
Hexavalent chromium has long been known to cause lung cancer when inhaled, and scientists recently found evidence that it causes cancer in laboratory animals when ingested. It has been linked to liver and kidney damage in animals, as well as leukemia, stomach cancer and other cancers.
A widely used industrial chemical until the early 1990s, hexavalent chromium is still used in some industries, including chrome plating and the manufacturing of plastics and dyes. The chemical can also leach into groundwater from natural ores.
The chemical compound was first made famous in the hit 2000 Hollywood movie "Erin Brockovich" about the eponymous environmental crusader.
Kenya: Researchers Seek Ways to Improve Water Supply Using Mobile Phones
Nairobi — Researchers are working to use the mobile phone to enhance water management in Kenya.
A team of experts from the University of Oxford, Rural Focus Limited (Kenya) and ZamDex in Zambia hopes to use the opportunities the handset presents.
The Smart Water Systems will exploit innovations in metering and communications to improve water supplies and management.
By the end of this year more Kenyan households would have mobile phones than access to enough safe water, but this can change.
"Africa may soon lead the world in the adoption of new technologies to address its oldest problem -- insufficient access to water," they said.
The group's work is financed by the UK through the Department for International Development.
The team has fingered Kenya and Zambia as being "particularly interesting case studies" and a workshop will take place today in Nairobi.
Present will include Ministry of Water and Irrigation as well as water services boards staff, service providers, mobile telephone operators, banks and donor agencies.
Water Services Regulatory Board CEO Robert Gakubia said the smart water systems could improve Kenya's water supplies.
"There is no transparency without information, which means that information is key to good governance in the water sector."Mr Gabukia is expected to deliver a keynote address.
The goal of the workshop is to provide a platform on how smart water system can lead to increased accountability and improved water supply and the problems in achieving these.
The experts reiterate that the approach would lead to smart metering and payment using mobile banking.
"Smart water system offers the potential to improve the lives of millions of Kenyans who are able to pay for their water provided they receive it in a sustainable, affordable and acceptable manner," an expert said.
The system would improve water conservation by discouraging waste since data would provide information on availability and use.
Finance and operations would be improved by reducing un-accounted revenue. A pilot phase is planned as the second stage of the project.
Study Compares Alcohol-Based Hand Rubs to Traditional Hand Washing
Researchers conducted a study to see whether disinfection with an alcohol-based hand rub is more tolerable than traditional handwashing with mild soap and water, according to a study published in the American Journal of Infection Control.
The study was conducted through the summer and winter at nine healthcare sites and included 1,932 assessments. Results from the study showed traditional handwashing is a risk factor for skin dryness and irritation. On the other hand, alcohol-based hand rubs caused no skin irritation or dryness and could possible have a protective effect.