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  • Has solar power’s moment in Africa finally arrived?

    Ian Derbyshire

    May 13th, 2016

    Solar Powered Community in Africa

    Some rural areas of Zimbabwe are currently in a state of disaster after being hit by a severe drought. But there is hope that a new Practical Action project in the country using solar power to irrigate land could help overcome the problems that climate change is causing.

    A couple of hours’ drive from Gwanda in the south west of Zimbabwe, close to the border with Botswana, you come across an extraordinary sight. A bank of solar panels – 400 in total – make for a dazzling spectacle under Mashaba’s blazing midday sun.

    They constitute Zimbabwe’s largest off-grid solar farm and are heralding a new era in solar power for some of Africa’s most marginalised communities.

    For Winnie Sebata, 67, retired school teacher turned budding entrepreneur, energy access has come at a perfect time. “We really hope this project will change the lives of this community and the lives of people of Zimbabwe. So we are lucky to have been chosen. We are 8km from the border, so hopefully cross-border traffic will open up more business opportunities”.

    Electrification has given Mr & Mrs Sebata the chance to diversify their retail business, selling meat from local farmers, opening a hairdressers and providing a range of solar powered products to meet growing local demand.

    Practical Action is leading a consortium of public and private partners both to deploy the technology in Mashaba and develop a sound business model to establish viable mini grids. With the majority of up-front investment for the 99kW project being met by the European Union, the four year project to install and bed down the scheme is well under way.

    Apart from the Sebata’s business, the other early beneficiaries include the health clinic, the primary school, local smallholder farmers and several energy kiosks. By 2019, the grid will be serving more than 10,000 people in the surrounding area.

    Shepherd Masuka, Practical Action’s project technician

    Does solar power have the answer to drought in southern Africa?

    According to Shepherd Masuka, Practical Action’s project technician (pictured above), the imminent arrival of pre-payment meters to aid the collection of fees will enable users to be charged for their electricity usage, with subsidised rates for the school and the clinic. Reliable revenue will allow for on-going maintenance of the grid with an estimated payback period of between 8-10 years.

    The Mashaba scheme is just one of a growing number of such developments. A recent Economist article (Follow The Sun, April 16th 2016), highlighted the growth of solar power across the developing world with growing demand for energy, the falling price of solar panels (80% in the past five years) and technological improvements in generation and storage contributing to that growth.

    Lessons are still being learned about improving the policy environment, providing access to finance across the value chain and protecting consumer’s rights. But certainly for Mr and Mrs Sebata, their new business venture looks to have a very bright future indeed.

    For more information on Practical Action’s work towards universal access to modern energy services for all, visit us at

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  • Nepal earthquake: my country one year on

    Today marks the year anniversary since a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated my country. I have just returned from Ashrang – a village in Nepal that was near the epicentre of the earthquake. One year on, houses still lie in ruins and children are terrified – too scared to sleep.

    A house lies in ruins in the village of Ashrang, Gorkha, Nepal

    A house lies in ruins in the village of Ashrang, Gorkha, Nepal

    I still remember the last time I visited Ashrang in Gorkha back in 2014. I was up on the roof of one of the schools overseeing the entire village. The view was just amazing. I could not get enough of it.

    It was early morning and the sun was just peeking over the horizon. Kids were playing with a ball, dogs were barking and men were singing and laughing as they walked down the hill with a shovel and a plough. I sat there for a while gazing at the scene.

    Fast forward two years and I was at the same place but this time things had changed dramatically. Life here was at a complete halt. After the massive earthquake in April 2015, Ashrang was completely shattered.

    As I walked down the streets, I could see ruined houses left unattended and piles of rubble at every turn, as if it just happened yesterday.

    I spotted an elderly man sitting alone in front of a small transitional shelter (t-shelter). His clothes were shabby, eyes were blood-flecked and face was timeworn.

    Nepal earthquake victim Khadananda Bhatta, 79, in front of his shelter in Ashrang, Gorkha

    Khadananda Bhatta, 79, in front of his shelter

    Mr Khadananda Bhatta, aged 79, has been living under the t-shelter since his house collapsed in the earthquake.

    “One of my sons is in Canada and the other one is in Malaysia,” he said. I am waiting for their arrival. Until then I am taking refuge under this shelter.” His voice was weak and fragile.

    “Sometimes I go to bed on an empty stomach…Lately it’s too cold to even sleep at night.”

    “Sometimes I go to bed on an empty stomach because it is too much work for me to cook.  If I feel like eating, I cook; if not then I just ignore it. Lately, it’s too cold to even sleep at night; I can’t wait for the sun to come out.”

    I can see the feeling of despair and loneliness in his eyes. He is counting days until he is reunited with his sons but it seems to be a battle for him to keep going.

    I came across another small t-shelter where a family of eight people was taking refuge. I asked a mum who was holding a small baby about the earthquake.

    Sajida with her family inside her emergency shelter.

    Sajida with her family inside her emergency shelter.

    Mrs Sajida Khatun, aged 27, was eight months pregnant when the first earthquake struck. She was feeding her four-year-old son when suddenly everything started to shake. “I thought this was the end and I was going to die. The thing that bothered me the most was the baby inside me who hadn’t seen the outside world yet,” she said.

    The roof of the house started to crumble and the walls fell apart. Sajida grabbed her son and rushed towards the exit. Her in-laws and brothers in-laws were already out. They ran to the nearby open space and sat there as they watched their house turn into rubble. “It was very surreal,” she said.

    “The only thing that that kept me alive was hope.”

    There were many aftershocks that followed. Sajida recalls the following months to be the worst of her life. “The nights were long and cold and we had barely anything to eat. The only thing that that kept me alive was hope.”

    On 17 May she gave birth to a baby boy. There were continual aftershocks and they were still living under a tarpaulin. She was more worried about the baby than herself. “I tried to keep the baby warm by covering him up with whatever I could find, from bed sheets to rugs but I was not able to prevent him from getting jaundice,” she sobbed.

    For almost a week, she did not even get medicine for her little one. The village health post ran out of supplies. “We would wait inside the tarpaulin hoping for someone to appear with food and medicine supplies, it was like building a castle in the air,” she said. She was embittered against the odds of nature but was thankful to the relief effort shown by Practical Action and our partner Goreto-Gorkha.

    “If it was not for Practical Action, who knows, I wouldn’t be chatting with you at this very moment,” she said.

    Practical Action’s emergency relief and recovery work

    Practical Action emergency relief supplies arriving in a village in the Gorkha district at the epicenter of the earthquake.Practical Action emergency relief supplies arriving in a village in the Gorkha district at the epicenter of the earthquake.

    Practical Action emergency relief supplies arriving in a village in the Gorkha district at the epicentre of the earthquake.

    Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we were able to provide life-saving food, repair drinking water systems and footpaths and construct temporary shelters and toilets for more than 7,000 households at the earthquake’s epicenter. We also trained people in activities to improve their livelihoods.

    But what has worried me is people’s lives after we completed this recovery work. What will happen to Sajida and Khadananda? Will their lives be normal again? I am sure there are many people who have been having sleepless nights in extreme weather conditions, hoping for a better shelter and basic living standard.

    All they need is a simple house

    It is time for us to place ourselves in the shoes of the vulnerable ones and help them achieve what they deserve. I do not want to see their basic rights of human survival being denied nor do I want to see their hopes being washed away. We are not talking big here; all they need is a simple house with a basic living standard where one can enjoy a good night’s sleep.

    The monsoon season is not far away. The thought of children having to shelter from its deluge under just a few windblown tarpaulins fills me with sadness.

    People like Sajida and Khadananda have suffered so much, which is why it is vital to build earthquake-proof houses now. This is a once in a generation chance for people to build safer, stronger homes like the ones we had already built in the Kaski district, which withstood last April’s earthquake.

    Practical Action’s long-term work to rebuild lives in Nepal

    We’re embarking on the next phase of our earthquake work in Nepal – helping families Build Back Better. This not only means building homes that will withstand future earthquakes, but also stopping families from inhaling smoke from open fires in their homes that slowly kills them, by installing smoke hoods into the new homes.

    We will improve agriculture productivity and rural income, food and nutritional security. We also intend to rebuild and improve drinking water supplies and provide energy services.

    How you can help people Build Back Better in Nepal

    You can find out more on what we’re doing here. But we can only do this with your help. Please support our Build Back Better programme and give families like Sajida’s hope for the future.

    I hope to see the same smiling faces of those innocent kids, the never ending humours of those hardworking men, and the village that once was the beauty of Ashrang Gorkha. Amen!

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  • ‘Sunalo Sakhi’ : An experiment that needs further support

    Birupakshya Dixit

    April 4th, 2016

    “Sunalo Sakhi” is a small demonstration project started under the banner of Practical Answers at the beginning of 2016. The local partner CCWD happily agreed to partner with us for 3 months to implement the program in 15 slums of Bhubaneswar. This Bhubaneswar based NGO has strong grass root level presence and as this project was for a small period. We decided to use the already existed groups formed by the local NGO for the successful running of the project.

    The project focussed on educating adolescent girls on menstrual hygiene. Many development organizations have comprehensive programmes on and around this issue. But what made us different from others is the multi faceted campaigning through radio shows, podcasting, individual counselling, focused group discussion, and film screenings in slums and in nearby high-schools.

    We are happy to share that in Bhubaneswar we broadcast the first ever radio show exclusively on menstrual hygiene.

    Some of the notable achievements of this three month project are;

    1. Through radio we are reaching out to directly around 2000 young girls and women in 15 slums
    2. Through our community outreach programme we are reaching out to more than 3000 girls and women.
    3. Through film screening we are reaching out to more than 500 school going girls
    4. 15 Kishori Clubs have been revived with 386 members and many change agents have been identified to keep on sharing the knowledge with their peers

    As the radio has a 25 KM radius cover of Bhubaneswar it is reaching even more adolescent girls of the city than those in our project area. During the radio shows our community workers are ensuring their presence in the field where the adolescent girls are able to ask their questions through telephone calls and our resource person is immediately answering the questions.
    IMG_2637 (Cópia)

    It was really nice to hear the experiences of Usharani, Babita and Auropriya in the sharing workshop. Auropriya said that these shows helped her to prepare herself as she was about to attain puberty. Now she knows how to maintain hygiene during her periods. Usharani and Babita said that this has really helped many young girls as they were not able to ask anyone their concerns and the radio shows have addressed many of the issues of their fellow girls.

    The project has successfully identified many blind beliefs associated with menstruation and developed knowledge products to address those. There are 436 slums in the city and many girls are deprived of such knowledge. I must accept we need further resources to expand the programmes. Hence, we are exploring partnership with some of the like minded organizations. But there are a few key things that I hope the project team will work on:

    1. Sharing our recordings with other community radio stations managed by non-profits and requesting that they broadcast these in their operational areas
    2. Sharing the knowledge products with other organizations
    3. Ensuring Kishori club members keep sharing their knowledge with their peers.

    The sharing meeting opened up new windows to educate more girls in different regions. Using community radio across the state, this kind of programme can now reach out to thousands of other girls in need of resources.  Technology has now forward a step in witnessing a change in the hygiene practice of young girls and we wish to spread this knowledge with more communities.

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  • Eva’s inspirational work in Kitale

    Elizabeth Dunn

    March 17th, 2016

    Eva Nyamogo lives in Kitale in Kenya. She is a Community Mobiliser who works with her local community to improve their access to water and sanitation.

    Eva in KitaleThree years ago, Eva received training from Practical Action on good hygiene practices, solid waste management and administration and management skills. This training has changed her life as she has the power and skills to work with her community to change their lives forever.

    For the past three years, Eva has worked tirelessly to improve the conditions for her community. Before, they had no access to safe and clean drinking water. She said that people would have to walk 4 miles, every day; just to collect water from the stream, which was unclean and unsafe. People were often unwell and she explained that “they thought it was normal to be sick.”

    The community now have access to a water kiosk, which provides clean water- for a small fee – every single day. Not only this, the time they spent collecting the water put immense strain on the women who would have to carry it back. The hours it took to collect water could have been spent getting an education or starting a business.

    “I want women’s work to be easier. I want them to get a better education by reducing the time they take to collect water.”

    Women, men and children would also be forced to defecate outside because there were no toilets, but Eva has managed to change this. Not only do the community now have access to clean water, they also have a toilet block, complete with showers. Eva has been instrumental in establishing the facility, which has grown to provide a laundry washing service to the local mechanics and it even has reliable energy.

    Access to water and sanitation has completely changed life for people in Eva’s community, their health has dramatically improved because they are no longer drinking unclean water, they have a better understanding of good hygiene and they no longer have to defecate outside, which has brought dignity to the community members.

    Thanks to your support, Practical Action has been able to work with Eva to empower her and help her to transform lives. She added “When you change people’s lives, you feel happy and because of Practical Action, we now talk to the county government.”


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  • Five unique fundraising ideas

    Stacey McNeill

    March 9th, 2016

    Breaking news guys…fundraising can be tough. We get it. Your potential donors are bombarded with demands for their hard earned cash from breakfast to bedtime, so making your fundraising request cut through the noise can seem impossible. We’ve put our heads together and come up with some donation-driving schemes which are a little bit different, to keep your potential donors interested and stop you from losing your mind.

    If you’re burnt out by bake sales and run down by races, why not try one of our unique fundraising ideas?

    • Used book sale.

    used book saleBasically, it’s easier to make people give money if they’re getting something in return, so try dipping your toe into the world of second hand book-selling. Have an epic clear out of all your old books, and encourage your colleagues, friends and classmates to the same. There are few things more liberating than finally getting rid of that book on French philosophy you bought to impress the cute guy on your commute (just us?).

    Once you’ve gathered your spoils, set up a stall in your workplace, or outside your house, and be prepared to haggle. You could even leave out some Practical Action literature alongside the books, so everyone knows that the proceeds are going to a great cause.

    • Karaoke evening.

    Karaoke evenings are the cheesy chips of social occasions – you either love them, hate them, or you won’t go near them until you’ve had a few drinks. Whichever camp you fall into, getting your friends together for a night of caterwauling and showing-off is a great way to raise money.

    If you’re based in London, we’d recommend booking your event with Karaoke Network, a comprehensive compendium of karaoke venues, including bars, clubs and restaurants. The song list has everything from Gangnam Style to Gangsta’s Paradise (though we’d probably choose to belt out some Britney).

    Prices on Karaoke Network start from £4 per person, so charge slightly more than that for tickets and your event has the potential to raise a lot of money. It’s worth a try, as how often do you get to embarrass yourself on a night out and feel good about it the next day?

    • Language fines.

    If you work in any kind of office environment, you’ve probably been subjected to corporate slang at one time or another, whether it’s someone wanting to “touch base” or someone else suggesting you “blue sky this”. In order to end this sickening behaviour forever, and raise some money for charity in the process, introduce fines for particularly egregious jargon use. Hey, it’s worth running this idea up the flagpole and grabbing some low hanging fruit (sorry).

    • Put on a festival.

    put on a festival

    Fancy yourself a bit of an Emily Eavis? Hosting your own music festival involves a heavy dose of mud, sweat and tears, but it will probably be an experience you’ll never forget.

    We spoke to Emily at the Nozstock festival who gave us their top tips on putting on a festival, to help you throw a charity event to rival Live Aid.

    ‘Festivals are all about balancing many plates at once. The biggest challenge is keeping true to your vision, when there are so many amazing different directions you could go in. At Nozstock The Hidden Valley, we have always been devoted to being a festival that anyone can come to. We’ve had 4 generations of one family at the festival and we want to keep it that way.

    Apparently, event organisation is in the top 5 most stressful jobs. To keep your head is key. Do whatever it takes to get perspective when things get stressful – take the dog for a walk, sit in a quiet place for a minute, make a nice comprehensive list, remember that it’s not life or death – it’s about having fun. Manage all that and you’ll probably be fine!’

    • Clean miles.

    For a fundraising opportunity that’s super relevant to Practical Action, get your friends and family to sponsor you for every “clean mile” you travel. That’s basically a mile in which you use no energy to get from a to b – sounds doable right?

    Cycling is one of the best ways to do this, and we’d recommend using an app to keep track of your progress.  Strava is popular, and with good reason. The streamlined, clean interface lets you know how many miles you’ve cycled or run, as well as your speed and how many calories you’ve burned. You can even share the results of your rides on social media so you can humblebrag about how much energy you’re saving. Practical Action are committed to ending energy poverty so you’ll be raising awareness too.

    Whatever route you decide to take with fundraising, good luck! If you have any more unique fundraising ideas, why not share them with us on Twitter?

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  • Practical Action’s favourite 5k runs

    Stacey McNeill

    February 23rd, 2016

    Sponsored runs are one of the easiest ways to fundraise – all you really need is a good pair of trainers runningand the tenacity to hound friends, family and colleagues for money. However, if you’re only used to tackling the distance between the fridge and the sofa, a long run can seem pretty daunting.
    We’d suggest trying a 5k run to begin with. Short enough to be achievable yet still challenging enough to be rewarding, a 5k charity run is perfect for beginners and is guaranteed to make you feel great about yourself. Raising money for charity and getting fit?! I’m sorry, your halo is blinding me.

    We’ve scoured the country to bring you our favourite 5k runs, which combine stunning scenery with a friendly, fun atmosphere. All you need to do is sign up and get fundraising!

    South-East – Windsor 5k Fun Run

    • Where: Windsor
    • When: 19th March

    Located in the hallowed grounds of Eton College, the Windsor and Eton Fun Run is a family friendly dash just fifteen minutes from London. Eton College hosted the rowing and canoeing events in the London 2012 Games, so whether you’re an Olympian or just limping along you’ll be racing in iconic surroundings.

    South West – Supernova 5k

    • Where: Bournemouth
    • When: 1st October

    A run with the visual aesthetic of a rave, the Bournemouth Supernova 5k is a pretty unforgettable experience. Runners are supplied with LED wristbands and encouraged to wear fluorescent clothing, and the run takes place at dusk, creating a moving spectacle of light.

    Midlands – Spire Bushey 5k

    • Where: Hertfordshire
    • When: 3rd July

    Winding through and around the charming town of Bushey , the Spire Bushey 5k is a relaxed run through leafy (or should that be Bushey?) scenery. The best thing about this run is that it’s part of the annual Bushey Festival, so once you’ve cooled off you can enjoy local music, art and food.

    North West – John West Spring 5k

    • Where: Liverpool
    • When: 30th April

    Probably the only race to have samba band entertainment partway round the course, the John West 5k takes the concept of the “fun run” seriously. After you’ve slogged through beautiful Sefton Park, you can unwind with face painting and a free massage – one of which will probably be exactly what you need.

    North East – Great North 5k

    • Where: Newcastle
    • When: 10th September

    Don’t feel quite ready for the Great North Run, but fancy soaking up the atmosphere anyway? Try the Great North 5k. The UK’s leading half marathon is preceded by a 5k run which gives you the scenic drama of running over the Gateshead Millennium Bridge in a starter pack distance. It also means you won’t be all sweaty when you go celeb-spotting at the main event later in the weekend. (Mo Farah’s been known to make an appearance).

    Are there any great 5ks near you? Let us know and we can include them!

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  • Transforming lands, transforming lives

    Nazmul Islam Chowdhury

    December 15th, 2015

    In Bangladesh, the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers are both vital and threatening to nearby inhabitants. Monsoon rains cause these great rivers to swell, often flooding villages and fields.

    However, during the other months, drought leaves crops, livestock and communities praying for water. Land is scarce, population density is high and poverty and food security are major concerns, especially in the face of this seasonal feast and famine.

    The pumpkin harvest

    It is in this environment that Practical Action’s Pathways From Poverty project was launched in 2009 in the north west part of Bangladesh to lift 31,850 households out of poverty.

    The project goal is to reduce the vulnerability of men, women and children to the physical, social and economic effects of river erosion, flooding and other natural disasters in the five districts in northwest Bangladesh. It aims to help those whose villages and farms have been lost through river erosion and are forced to live illegally on flood protection embankments. We offer these communities a wide range of technological support programmes in agriculture, fisheries, livestock, food processing, light-engineering, disability, education, health and nutrition to improve their ability to manage productive livelihoods, including our sandbar cropping project.

    A life changing innovation to eradicate extreme poverty

    The sandbar cropping project started with the objective “something is better than nothing” but today it has transformed the lives of the landless poor through access to barren transitional sandy land.

    Sandbar cropping is a ground-breaking approach to ensuring these harsh landscapes provide for their inhabitants. After each rainy season, large islands of sand appear in the main rivers of Bangladesh. These ‘lands’ are common property resources that generally tend to disappear during the following wet season and, until now, have not been used for any productive purpose. However, this project has successfully used this ever-changing landscape to demonstrate that the growing of pumpkins in small compost pits dug into the sand is both possible and profitable. Large-scale irrigation is not necessary as the land is close to the river channel.

    From 2005 to 2014, a total of 15,000 farmers, many of who were women, produced over 80,000 tonnes of pumpkins worth £5.5million at farm gate price by utilising 7,973 acres of sandbar land…and the technology is now spreading to new areas, with a further 15,000 individuals benefiting from it in north west Bangladesh.

    Transforming barren landscapes

    pumpkin storeThe pumpkins produced on these sandbars can be stored in people’s houses for over a year. They help poor households both in terms of income generation and year-round food security and lean season management. Sandbar cropping has transformed a barren landscape, and these ‘mini deserts’ have now been turned into productive, green fields.

    This innovative cropping technology opens up otherwise unproductive lands and is ideally suited to adoption by displaced and landless households. The technology appears to be low risk, yet shows an impressive financial return. Sandbar cropping is so simple and yet, to our knowledge, no one had thought of this application until the project was first experimented with in 2005. The technology would seem to have a much wider application in other dry areas and could even become an important coping strategy in some areas both at home and abroad adversely affected by climate change.

    Revolutionary socio-economic changes for millions

    Anwar with pumpkinAn earmarked policy for the erosion-affected communities to use transitional sandy land for 5-6 months of a year can bring revolutionary socio-economic changes for millions on production, processing and marketing chain on the ground.

    Barren land management will enable food production to meet the demand of local, regional and national markets. It will support families by ensuring year-round food security and nutrition, income and employment.  It will reduce dependency on external relief and migration to urban areas in search of employment.

    The tested innovation can be disseminated in a number of erosion prone districts in Bangladesh to benefit hundreds of thousands of the poor embankment dwellers, affected by river erosion.

    Want to help?  You can donate to Practical Action’s Pumpkins Against Poverty appeal.  This is matched pound for pound by the UK government until 31st December, doubling the impact of your donation.

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  • Coping with frequent flooding

    Katharine Wrigley

    December 11th, 2015

    The weather is always a great conversation topic for us here in the UK.  And when it is as extreme as Storm Desmond in the north of England, our hearts go out to those affected. But listening on the radio this morning to Marcus Davidson of Corbridge in Northumbria, I couldn’t help comparing his experience with those of families in Bangladesh.

    Shaylo and her son Gias are just one of hundreds of thousands of families in Bangladesh living with the everyday reality of devastating floods.  Not just once, but almost every year.  They’ve moved five times, not because they were moving into a nicer part of town or so they could have an extra bedroom; but because the floods have destroyed their home.

    I really can’t imagine what it must be like to rebuild your home on what seems to be an annual basis; and not just the functional structure of a house, it’s all the other bits that make it your home. The little trinkets that are filled with memories: the drawing your child has brought home from school where you kind of look like a potato – but you don’t mind because it was a present from them to you, so you love it anyway. How do you start over again and again with all that? And climate change will make these events more frequent.

    The experience of losing your home and personal treasures to flooding is equally bad for families in England and in Bangladesh. It is in the aftermath that make things are so much worse for Shaylo.  She has no insurance or savings, there is little local authority support or helpful service providers to help her get her back on her feet.  She is reliant on the support of her community, most of whom are as poor as she is.

    Shaylo Balo, 50, Bangladesh


    Marital status: Widow

    Job: Labourer, seasonal

    Dependents: Gias, aged 14

    An average working day for Shaylo involves some physical labour during the harvest season. She could be cutting mud for roads or husking peanuts, and will take home 80 taka (less than £1) for a 12 hour day.

    Shaylo usually gets one meal a day, consisting of potatoes or rice. Like any mother would, Shaylo often gives up that meal to make sure Gias is getting enough food.

    Shaylo is expecting this year to move for the sixth time in six years. Her home is usually built using materials left behind from the floods, and she and Gias will do the work to rebuild themselves.





    How can we help these families get themselves out of this desperate situation?

    InfographicWhat on earth can you grow in sand left behind by floods? This summer, despite having perfect soil and great weather conditions for them, I failed miserably at growing some courgettes. I say growing, but what I really mean is replanting a courgette plant from a pot into my garden. Anyway, the fruits of my labour were pitiful and barely worth mentioning. So, again I ask – what can you grow in sand?

    As a charity focused on using really simple technology for problems just like this, Practical Action has a solution. Pumpkins. Yep, that’s right. The humble pumpkin is the hero of this story, usually only brought out for Halloween or Thanksgiving, to be carved or turned into a pie, and no doubt thrown away afterwards. Pumpkins grow really well in sand. Not only that, they then provide the much needed nourishment families in Bangladesh are struggling to get – and can also provide a source of income for them. What’s more, the seeds can be regrown, so it’s a long-term, sustainable solution to the problem.

    £38.26 is all it takes to give a family everything they need to start growing their own pumpkins in Bangladesh. Less than £40. I’ve been known to spend twice that on my vain attempts to de-frizz my hair, or on a new pair of shoes that have some kind of sparkly element to them. Less than £40 can change lives in Bangladesh.

    I would urge you to read more about this wonderfully simple solution and about how you can help to change their lives, and really know you’ve helped someone who needed it.

    Make your donation here

    UK-AID-Donations&flag-RGBThe UK Government will be matching your donations, pound for pound up until 31 December, so if you donate now, your impact will be doubled – and the number of people that can be helped will be doubled too.

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  • What if you don’t have a toilet, build one now !

    Ananta Prasad

    November 23rd, 2015

    “Eagles come in all shapes and sizes, but you will recognize them chiefly by their attitudes.” – E. F. Schumacher

    The curiosity was quiet evident on the faces of hundreds of people knowing the fact that, they were being gathered to celebrate World Toilet Day. People in general do not like to talk about ‘shit’ and that has been a global challenge now. Amidst the number of popular days such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Water Day and many others we celebrate one more addition is now for Toilet Day and yet people have apprehension about that.

    Yes, in a country like India where more than 50 per cent people defecate in open, talking about ‘shit’ is treated as shitty here. In such a contest there are instances and places where defecating in open is being treated as social and cultural practice. In many villages women actually get chance to mingle with themselves while they go toilet to open field at the dawn.

    Mobile-Toilets-in-IndiaBreaking the barrier of such myths, Practical Action has been advocating for better sanitation practices. In its major initiative in urban wash, in India Practical Action has started intervening in the faecal sludge management for two major urban municipalities. Newly launched Project Nirmal is targeting on a holistic approach to fight against the menace of poor sanitation practices and also exhibiting a model faecal sludge disposal mechanism in both the cities.

    So on 19 March 2015, two major events were organised on the eve of World Toilet Day in both the cities such as Angul and Dhenkanal. women SHG members, school children and civil society members joined in large numbers to mark the occasion. In Angul, the Municipality Chairperson and other council members along with the executive officer graced the occasion and shared how the importance of toilet in public life is now a much-talked topic and why it is needed to have toilets.

    Issues starting from girls and women defecating only during dark like before sunrise and after sunset leading to social security is now a concern everywhere. There are instances of molestation of young girls midnight and also instances of life loss by insects such as snakes and other insecticides.

    There have been constant health hazards such as diarrhoea and children in india are being growing stunted because of open defecation. All these things were the points of discussion while the district collector and municipal chairperson and other senior officials in Dhenkanal urged to build toilet as an essential part of daily life. Like mobiles and other necessities toilet is something which every household must have and all the guests vowed for a message of toilet for all.

    This was also added by Practical Action representative talking about the proper disposal mechanism of human excreta and faeces by setting up a proper faecal sludge management system in both the cities with the help of municipalities and efficient community participation.


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  • Practical Action’s unsung heroes

    Carol Reesby

    October 16th, 2015

    Heroes come in many forms, and each individual will have their own definition of a hero. Some may think it’s a soldier fighting for their country; a firefighter entering a burning building; or the crew of a lifeboat launching into rough seas – heroes who risk their lives for others.

    toiletBut there is another type of hero – the unsung hero! Someone whose daily life may seem pretty unremarkable but who help to change the lives of thousands of people by one simple act – being a Practical Action supporter.

    It’s hard to believe in the 21st Century that people still have no access to basic services such as clean drinking water and sanitation facilities, have no electricity and still cook over open fires, are undernourished, and cope with the devastation of natural disasters. Our supporters are helping to change this. By supporting the work of Practical Action our unsung heroes make a difference to people living in extreme poverty in the developing world.

    Last year our supporters enabled us to change the lives of 1.2 million people. They helped to improve access to water and sanitation services for over 240,000 people; give 200,000 people access to sustainable electricity services; help 650,000 people improve their food security and livelihoods; and reduce the risk of disaster to 60,000 people – changes that could not happen without their support.

    This remarkable group of people are our heroes!  Their one small but beautiful act of generosity enables Practical Action to make a huge impact on the lives of millions of people. Without them our work wouldn’t be possible.

    To our many supporters we say a huge ‘Thank you’ – you really are amazing people and our unsung heroes!

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