Archive for October, 2012

October 16, 2012

New Global World Toilet Day campaign is launched – Do you Give A Shit?

Water, Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)
WaterSan Perspective
October 16, 2012

Do you Give A Shit? This is the tagline of the new global World Toilet Day campaign put together by the Water, Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and the World Toilet Organization (WTO). It’s slightly controversial. Very straight talking and means serious business.

Observed annually on 19 November, World Toilet Day is one of international of action that aims to break the taboo around the toilets – a topic no one likes to talk about – and draw attention to the existing global sanitation challenge.

The campaign’s e-notification

World Toilet Day was created to raise global awareness of the daily for proper dignified sanitation that a staggering 2.5 billion people continue to face.

Originally promoted by the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector (WASH) sector who understood far earlier the benefits of proper sanitation, good hygiene and clean drinking water has on the health and wellbeing, educational attainment, wealth not to mention just basic human dignity. Increasingly it is gaining recognition by the international development community as a key issue, but there is still a long way to go.

World Toilet Day Logo

Designed as an online campaign, World Toilet Day wants to cast its net far and wide to get the attention of not just those working on these issues already, but also decision makers and the public. Through its recently launched website (hyperlink website) it gives those interested in advocating for safer toilets– the perfect opportunity to do so. Through the website you can:
• Share the key campaign messages
• Advocate for better sanitation by hosting an event and register your activities on the interactive World Toilet Day map
• Promote World Toilet Day by using the logo, posters, banners, stickers and brochure
• Tell the world why You Give A Shit!
• Help the word on Facebook and Twitter.
• If you Give A Shit, then World Toilet Day invites you to join in, take action and spread the word.

You can get more information at:

October 15, 2012

Nanyuki Town Water Supply: A Pride to Its Residents

Sarah Tumwebaze and Joseph Ngome
October 15, 2012

Unlike other cities and towns in Kenya that experience acute water shortage daily, Nanyuki town residents are a happier lot. They have smiling faces because their water supply is running every day and they receive adequate and clean water for their domestic use and other industrial purposes. Almost every household has running water in Nanyuki.

The whole community in town wants the situation to remain like that and their commitment to have a continuous supply of water is demonstrated in their incessant reporting of people with illegal water connections living in their midst and in the neighborhood.

Nanyuki mall in Nanyuki town

According to Mr. Eric Bundi, the supervisor of Kenol Petrol Station located in Nanyuki Central Business District, whenever he sees an illegal water connection, he reports to the authorities. Bundi says: “I always go and inform officials at the Nanyuki Municipal Council.”

This is due to the perception of many urban inhabitants that the water supply service and management is still under the municipal councils. A trend that had since changed after the enactment of 2002 Water Act which had created water boards and water regulators to run water affairs in the country and thus established water companies in most of the cities and towns in Kenya.

A Lawyer with Transparency International, Kenya, Ms Saleen Malik, however, says that the municipal council is not the right body to report to on water issues. Town residents are not aware of the new development in water affairs in the country and still believe that water matters are handled by respective municipal councils. This is true because Mr Bundi points out that whenever he reports any water matter to the council, nothing is done.

Ms Malik explains: “It is good that the people try to report cases of illegal connections. But the reason they never get any response is because they go to the wrong body. The right place they have to report such cases is the National Water and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA) in Nanyuki.”

She explains that even when people know their rights, lack of basic information like who to report to denies them the ability to access such rights.

However, besides lack of information on where to report their grievances, the residents around the town council have an unperturbed attitude towards the water issue. The ‘I don’t care’ attitude is not in Nanyuki alone but also in other urban centres.

Mr. Bundi says that whenever he finds a broken pipe, he just passes by it without paying any attention. And he is not alone in this because majority of the residents feel that it is not their responsibility to report about leaking and bursting water pipes.

“I do not think it is my responsibility to report broken pipes. I suppose the person who is affected is the one that has to go and report such a case.” Mr. Bundi said. Just like Mr Bundi, Ms Angeli Maina, a Salon Proprietor in Nanyuki Town Council says that on many occasions she has seen broken pipes but has never thought that it was her responsibility to inform any one.

“I always pass by broken water pipes with people collecting the leaking water but I have never thought that I have responsibility to report such cases to anyone.”

Moreover, Ms Maina just like most of the resident interviewed by WIN during the field survey does not think that she can lodge a complaint in case of shortage in the water service delivery. She observed that in some instances they can go without water for days but still don’t complain.
“ In some occasions, we may go for two days or more without water. In such cases, we use the reserve we will have kept in our jerricans. But, when it runs out, we have to go to the nearby river and collect water,” Maina explains.

Most African cities struggle to provide access to water and sanitation to their soaring population

However, while she affirms that the water they get from the river, although untreated, helps them a lot. She also discloses that it is very dirty. “The water is brown and dirty but after going for two or more days without water, this type (brown water) is of a lot of use.”

Despite the fact that the situation would call for town residents to sound an alarm, they never bothered to inform the concerned authority. “Whatever the situation, we have to wait until the water starts flowing again. We do not think that we have to report such a case.” Both Maina and Bundi said.

The adamant attitude of the Nanyuki town residents towards the water situation in their area is augmented by the fact that most of them have running water in both homes and working places.
Mr Charles Ndelango, the Manager of Follinto Café which has been in operation for the last seven years in Nanyuki town says that for all that time, he has never seen water peddlers in the town.

“We have always had good water supply in this area and this explains why I have never seen a water peddler in this area for the seven years that I have operated this café.” he said.
Mr. Ndelango’s view was confirmed by WIN writers during the survey which found out that most businesses and residential areas in the town have running water.

A case in point is Ms Maina’s salon which is in a Kiosk but has running water and the butchers and restaurants visited had running water.

The residents have also fought the problem of corruption by ensuring that they pay their water bills through the bank and not giving money to any individual masquerading as water revenue collectors, Mr. Ndelango said

Nevertheless, Ms Malik says the residents of Nanyuki need to be educated about their rights as water users despite adequate water supply with minimal shortcomings.

October 14, 2012

EU-Funded Water and Sanitation Projects in Africa Not Sustainable, Say Auditors

Newton Sibanda
October 14, 2012

The majority of the water and sanitation projects funded by the European Union (EU) in six African countries are not sustainable, says the European Court of Auditors (ECA).

The European Commission (EC) maintains that most of the audited projects were approved before it had implemented quality control reforms.

The ECA)- EU’s spending watchdog, reviewed 23 projects in Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania. The projects represent an investment of over 400 million euro of which the EU provided 219 million euro. Total EU spending on water and sanitation in sub-Saharan Africa between 2001 and 2010 amounts to over 1 billion euro.

In their report, the auditors warn that the majority of projects will not be sustainable unless non-tariff revenue is ensured and institutional weaknesses are addressed. Less than half of the projects examined delivered results meeting the beneficiaries’ needs.

Vice chairman of the European Parliament’s International Development Committee Nirj Deva called the ECA report a “stinging rebuke” which “must act as a wake-up call for the Commission”. “This kind of sloppiness gives it [EU aid] a bad name”, Deva said.

Vice chairman of the European Parliament’s International Development Committee Nirj Deva

The response of the Commission, published as an annex in the ECA report, “is largely disappointing”, says IRC Programme Officer Stef Smits. The data presented in the report “would call for a more profound reflection on the approach taken”, he added.

The auditors also criticize the Commission for not making good use of its existing procedures to increase the sustainability of EU-funded projects. When asked whether projects approved after 2005, when the EC implemented quality support groups (QSG), were more sustainable, ECA Member David Bostock replied it was too early to tell.

October 6, 2012

Zambia: Eastern Water Procures Water Meters

Julius Mandaliza Phiri
October 06, 2012

Eastern Water and Sewerage Company Limited has procured 1,000 water meters at the cost of K234, 704,230 Managing Director, Mr Wamuwi Changani has confirmed the procurement.

Mr Changani says water meters had already arrived in the country and had been distributed to districts.

He notes that the water meters procured would ensure that all customers that had applied for new connections, which had been pending for many months, are connected. The water meters would also ensure that districts that had unmetered and inactive accounts were catered for. In addition, water meters will enhance the billing efficiency for all the accounts.

By using a good water mater, a utility company can accurately record the amount of water used in each property, instead of charging a flat rate for water use

Mr Changani says the Company would continue to maintain its policy of universal metering in all the distribution and production networks. ”The company is aimed at 100% metering ratio”, he said

The Managing Director further reveals that in addition to what had been procured, the Company would place another order for 1,000 water meters, replacements parts and components for repair of stuck and damaged water meters.

He stresses that the idea was to make sure that all customers were metered and warned customers who have the tendency of tampering with water meters that they would be prosecuted.

Mr Changani says the Company has set up a water meter repair system for quick responses to repair of meters deemed to be defective.

He discloses that the current water meters in Chipata were installed in the late nineties and are suspected of under reading consumption figures to the loss of the Company and for this reason they needed to be replaced. ”A meter needs to be replaced after 5 years”, he said.

Meanwhile Eastern Water and Sewerage Company Limited has introduced lockable valves on the meters to stop customers using the valve to open and close water and also to make it easy to deal with defaulters. Technical Manager, Mr Wilson Chifwima has said.
Mr Chifwima says the lockable valves were introduced in Chipata late last year.

Water meters allow bill payers and water companies to gauge whether a property has a leak in its water system

Mr Chifwima says before introducing the lockable valves the Company was receiving a lot of complaints on leakages at the meter point and when disconnecting customers who defaulted, the Company used to remove the meter. After the installation of lockable valves complaints of leakages had reduced as customers were no longer using the valves to open and close water.

On defaulting customers, he said it was now easy to disconnect the customer without removing the meter from the customer’s premises.

He discloses so far the lockable valves had been installed in Chadiza, Chipata and Mambwe. He says other districts would soon have them installed.

On the customer survey done in Chipata and Chadiza on the lockable valves customers welcomed the lockable valve, however, they demanded for more information on its use.

October 6, 2012

Gates Foundation Intensifies Sanitation Funding

WaterSan Prospective
October 6, 2012

The Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is inviting innovators to send letters of inquiry for round 3 of the Reinvent The Toilet Challenge.

Successful applicants will receive grants to design, prototype and test on-site, self-contained sanitation modules for individual families or neighbourhoods. Self-contained means no connections to piped water, sewerage or energy (electricity/gas) utility services.

Capital and operational costs should not exceed US$ 0.05/user/day. Designs should be able to deal with sanitary products like paper, cloth, sand, and other personal hygiene products and chemicals.

Melinda and Bill Gates

There is a two-step application process:

1.Submission of a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) in the form of a 5 page concept note by 8 November 2012, 11:00pm PST
2.Eligible applicants will be requested to submit a full proposal

For the full call, submission guidelines and online application go to:

October 6, 2012

Re-Inventing Toilet Talk in India with Cricket and Bollywood

Cliff Abenaitwe
October 06, 2012

India is taking sanitation to another level thanks to the campaign Nirmal Bharat Yatra (NBY) a brain child of WASH United and Quicksand Design Studio.

This campaign focuses on the utilization of three different but popular stake holders in India (cricket, Bollywood and government) to drum support for sanitation and hygiene projects. NBY was launched on September 28, 2012 at the India Habitat Centre with the minister of Drinking water and sanitation Jairam Ramesh and Bolywood star Vidya Balan who has been appointed ambassador and messenger among many others all in attendance.

Participants in the 28 September Nirmal Bharat Yatra launch included (l-r) Mr. Jitendra Shankar Mathur, Joint Secretary, Drinking Water and Sanitation and chair of the press conference; Honourable Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation, Mr. Jairam Ramesh; and Bollywood star Vidya Balan.

According to Thorsten Kiefer, Executive Director of WASH United, the NBY will travel 2,000 km through villages from Maharashtra to Bihar. “ This is a toilet and hygiene mela that harnesses the passion for cricket, the glamour of Bollywood, the fun of interactive games towards creating a masala of positive excitement around the long-neglected issues of sanitation and hygiene across India”, Keifer said. He notes that there is need for everyone to take on sanitation and hygiene with a sense of urgency and make it a national obsession.

“For this, we are happy to welcome on board Vidya Balan as our ambassador and messenger. In India, Bollywood, cricket and the Government are omnipresent and known by all. We must use these to change the situation positively.” Keifer enthusiastically noted.

We have looked at the things Indians really are passionate and excited about and transposed them into a sanitation and hygiene context Kiefer further reveals adding that what they are trying to do with the Yatra is to make toilets and hygiene cool and sexy. “NBY will more specifically, raises awareness of and facilitate behavior change around sanitation and hand washing with soap”, he further elaborated.

The Cost of Poor Sanitation Hygiene On India

Lack of adequate sanitation is a huge problem in India, which loses approximately USD $53.8 billion (>6.4% of its GDP) due to increased health costs, productivity losses and reduced tourism revenue due to inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene (Water and Sanitation Program of the World Bank, February 2011). In total, some 626 million Indians defecate in the open, making India the country with most people living without toilets in the world. This leads to severe problems spanning health, economics, human rights and the environment (UNICEF/WHO).

According to the Public Health Association, only 53 per cent of the Indian population wash hands with soap after defecation, 38 per cent wash hands with soap before eating and only 30 per cent wash hands with soap before preparing food (UNICEF).

The Issue at Hand and Way Forward

India is the reigning World Cricket Champion but with 626 million Indians using fields, vacant lots or railroad tracks as their toilet. India is also the world’s open defecation capital, resulting in more than 1,000 children dying from preventable diarrhea each day which is another world record.

Reflecting the great need to address India’s massive sanitation and hygiene crisis, the Yatra will see a high degree of involvement from the Minister of Drinking Water & Sanitation, Hon. Jairam Ramesh, and the Chief Ministers of several states. The Yatra works in close collaboration with the Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan (NBA), a government subsidization and awareness program that makes toilets affordable for poor and marginalized Indians. The Yatra’s key messages pertaining to toilet use, hand washing with soap and Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) will supplement the NBA’s emphasis on prioritizing household spending on sanitation.

“India has a godliness surplus and cleanliness deficit,” said Minister Ramesh. “The Government of India has tripled its allocation to sanitation and hygiene, so money is not the issue, since we will spend 1lakh 7000 crores,” he added.

This major new campaign with the support of high-ranking public officials, cricket stars, a Bollywood celebrity, and leading development professionals is seeking to cut these numbers significantly over 48 days among the 90 million Indians.

Ms. Balan the Bollywood super star who is the program ambassador and messenger said that she is proud and honored to be the messenger of the Government of India for the cause of bringing about a clean India. “After all, celebrities such as I can use our position and presence for a social cause to make a real difference in the lives of people in this country. I have chosen sanitation.” She added

Bollywood star Vidya Balan

Nirat Bhatnagar, principal at Quicksand, added that “The Yatra represents a totally new approach to sanitation and hygiene campaigning in India in that it fully focuses on fun, positive messaging and super star role models. Basically, the Yatra is re-inventing toilet talk!”

On the possibility of the program enjoying the support of some of India’s biggest cricket heroes, Bhatnagar said that “Cricket stars and Bollywood actors are among the most powerful role models in India. The Yatra is a unique opportunity for celebrities to use their fame to help tackle one of the most pertinent social issues of our country in a fun and positive fashion. We invite everybody to come on board and help us build a popular movement for sanitation and hygiene in India.”

The NBY started immediately after Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary (October 3, 2012) from Wardha, Maharashtra, and will culminate almost 50 days later in Bettiah, Bihar. It will be the first in a series of Yatras that WASH United and Quicksand are planning over the next four years to help end India’s sanitation and hygiene crisis.

Inside The Yatra
The Yatra carries the following goals:

•Reach at least 90 million people with sanitation messaging through local, regional, national and international media, at least 82.5 million of whom live in India.
•100,000 total attendees at the carnival event in the towns and villages.
•30,000 children trained in appropriate hand-washing and sanitation behaviour at schools using fun and innovative sports-based games.
•200 teachers and 1,500 pupils trained to continue the WASH United educational program after the event’s conclusion.
• More awareness of Menstrual Hygiene Management. Long a topic surrounded by silence, it is now recognized as vital in achieving equity and dignity for women and will be accorded the space it deserves at the event.

Why The Focus on Menstrual Hygiene

By tackling Menstrual Hygiene Management, the NBY also tackles an issue facing persisting taboos in India. More than 300 million women and girls in India use unsanitary material such as old rags, husks, dried leaves and grass, ash, sand or newspapers every month to try and contain the flow of menstrual blood, says Ms. Archana Patkar, Programme Manager at the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, a Yatra partner. These unhygienic measures during menstruation make women susceptible to infections and diseases pertaining to the urinary tract and reproductive system, reduce mobility and livelihood opportunities.

“Whilst global efforts on sanitation and hygiene have picked up momentum, women’s particular needs in sanitation continue to be forgotten or simply ignored,” Patkar says. “But women are the progenitors of the human race. Menstruation is therefore something of which they can and should be proud, so each and every one of us should work to improve the lives and life chances for women who do not have access to napkins and clean water and toilets with safe disposal facilities; who cannot talk about their experiences; or are not empowered to contribute towards a solution.”

October 2, 2012

Tanzania: Ecotourism – A Better Option for Communities Living Around Lake Natron

Mary Mwendwa in Tanzania
October 02, 2012

Local communities in Northern Tanzania stand a chance of economic gain though ecotourism than the proposed soda ash mining at Lake Natron, a study reveals.

A new Cost Benefit Analysis report projects that the return on investment over the next 50 years would translate in a loss of between $44, 354, 728 and $ 492, 142 , 797, if exempted from paying government taxes.

According to Dr. Reuben Kadigi, the economist who led the cost benefits analysis team, “at present levels of soda ash prices and investment costs the benefits of ecosystem conservation outweigh the benefits of soda ash mining.” “The soda ash plant would deliver far worse returns for local people. There will be losses of benefits from different uses,” he added. The economic case for soda ash mining is complicated by the fact that the quality of the mineral at Lake Natron is low.

Lake Natron is an important breeding site for Lesser Flamingos in the world. East Africa is a home to about 2.5 million pink flamingos, which is equivalent to three-quarters of global population. In East Africa, most of these beautiful pink birds are hatched at Lake Natron.

The Lesser Flamingos inhabit coastal and inland wetlands in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Tata Chemicals Industries put forward the initial proposal to construct a soda ash plant at the Lake in 2006, but withdrew in May 2008 following concerns over negative impacts on flamingo breeding , local livelihoods and environment.

Lake Natron is a wetland of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention. The lesser flamingo is classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List 2004.

Several tourists usually flock the area for flamingo watching. Mrs Sophia Ndakarr, the Chair of the Ngare Sero cultural boma says ecotourism gives the local communities better opportunities. “Tourists come to see our beautiful culture and enjoy nature. In the process our lives are better. We cannot say the same of a soda ash plant,” she notes.

Birdlife international through a campaign dubbed ‘Think Pink’ continues to advocate for a complete withdrawal of the soda ash project which it says will risk the endangering of the lesser flamingo and the integrity of Lake Natron ecosystem as a whole on which many local livelihoods depend.

The report shows that the Tanzanian public and local communities stand to gain between $1.28 and 1.57 billion in 50 years, if the Government of Tanzania invests in tourism, protection of the environment and promotion of local livelihood alternatives. Compared to soda ash mining, the people and environment would still tap greater benefits even if the Government continued managing and investing in the environment at current levels (business as usual).

“At the present levels of soda ash prices and investment costs, the benefits of ecosystem conservation outweigh the benefits of soda ash mining,” says Dr. Reuben Kadigi, the economist who led the Cost Benefit Analysis team.

“The soda ash plant would deliver far worse returns for local people. There will be losses of benefits from different uses,” he adds. The economic case for soda ash mining is complicated by the fact that the quality of the mineral at Lake Natron is low.

The report further shows that support for the soda ash mining proposal at Lake Natron is insignificant.

Up to 84 percent of 175 local community respondents consulted during the study were strongly opposed to the soda ash plans while 10 per cent were in support. The rest were neutral.

The study, which was undertaken between September 2011 and May 2012, looked at three possible options for Lake Natron: soda ash mining, business-as-usual and ecotourism and livelihood promotion.

Estimates of benefits and costs from the soda ash business were based on eight production options. The eight options were a combination of the amount of soda ash to be produced (that is either 500,000 or 1 million tonnes per year); annual increase in soda ash production (2% or 5%) and length of the project (17,38 or 50 years). Four of the options assumed that the investor would bear the costs of construction/rehabilitation of the Tanga-Lake Natron railway and the road from Arusha.

Lake Natron, one of the most alkaline lakes in the world, is a home to about 2.5 million lesser flamingos,

From the Cost Benefit Analysis study, only three out of eight soda ash scenarios seem to suggest some positive benefit to the investor but even these would require soda ash to be produced at 1 million tonnes throughout the project period.

“This level of soda ash production is not tenable for an ecologically sensitive environment like Lake Natron. It would also be technologically unrealistic” said Dr Fred Kilima who co-authored the report. “These scenarios require that the construction of basic infrastructure like roads and rail link be borne by externally and not by the investor.”

The report further points to another challenge to future natural soda ash production – the stiff competition it faces from the synthetic variety. China is a leading producer of synthetic soda ash. Tata Chemicals Magadi factory in Kenya has been feeling this competition and has at times operated at very low production levels.

“The Government of Tanzania should use the report to re-assess its long-standing desire to build a soda ash factory at Lake Natron,” says Mr. Deo Gamassa, the CEO of Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (BirdLife in Tanzania). He added that, “the Lake Natron communities are better off without the soda ash plant. Investment should now focus on promoting ecotourism which is now proved to be the economically better option.”

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