Bangladesh has reduced open defecation (OD) to 1%. But this ratio is not the same in some of the hard-to-reach and rural areas. A significant number of the population still practices open defecation, in some area this is as high as 24%. Gowainghat, a beautiful riverside sub-district in Sylhet is one such area struggling to achieve OD free status (DHS, 2012). Practical Action, Bangladesh have taken an initiative to stop OD in some these areas only through self-motivation of the community people.
Community approaches to total sanitation (CATS) in Dhaka and Sylhet
UNICEF and Practical Action, Bangladesh have a jointly designed project, Community Approaches to Total Sanitation- CATS, which commenced in October 2014 in 34 unions of 6 sub districts in Dhaka and Sylhet Divisions.
The project’s aim is to sustainably improve sanitation and hygiene behavioural change in 500 communities through applying the CATS approach in close coordination with local government. Major tasks include capacity building of stakeholders including natural leaders, district authorities and water and sanitation committees. In addition we have been linking local sanitation entrepreneurs with microfinance institutions, the department of health, and department of public health and engineering (DPHE) and raising awareness to generate demand in the population.
Through the CATS approach, the project has declared 500 communities Open Defecation Free (ODF) by March 2016 and received certificates from respective Unions and DPHE. The certification process included, three inspection visits to the community by a certification team, who observed improved sanitation and behaviour change achieved by the communities themselves. The team confirmed and certified a community’s ODF status with sustainable visible changes including behaviours and by reviewing the community’s action plan documents.
Communities have installed around 22,000 new toilets and 23,000 unimproved/ improved toilets through motivation alone, leveraging local resources and establishing linkages with local sanitation entrepreneurs and microfinance institutions.
As a result, more than 300,000 people now live in an open defecation free environment and benefit from better health and hygiene that will change their lives and livelihoods forever.
A strategy was developed to hand over this approach to stakeholders such as local change agents, health staff, DPHE and WatSan committees based in the community at all levels. A participatory online monitoring mechanism is being used by these stakeholders along with training on a mobile based online monitoring system to carry forward the motivational task after the project ends. Knowledge materials and other information on CATS approach (hard and soft copies) have been developed at the local level by both formal and informal institutions for easy access of the communities, individual users, development practitioners and researchers. The improved and healthy sanitation practices of these communities have already been copied in adjacent communities by self-motivation to improve their sanitation situation.1 Comment » | Add your comment
February’s beautiful few days kept me in the mid-west Terai. This part of Nepal is filled with the unusual beauty and especially Gulariya of Bardiya is at nature’s special rank. The sun’s radiance and crops spreading far and wide feed your eyes with a greenish-yellowish colour symphony, red-silk cotton trees catching up with you every next minute, give pleasure to the mind and heart. Gulariya holds unique flora and fauna; it is widely known for the Krishnasars (black bucks).
Gulariya is a cluster of diversity and has a unique indigenous way of life. With so much of nature’s generosity and cultural wealth, this place is a heaven on earth. But nature and culture’s lushness do not always make a land fortunate. Many reasons including illiteracy, lack of infrastructure, poverty, natural hazards such as flooding, among others have been a barrier to development in many parts of Gulariya. However, many parts are moving ahead too. While on a field trip, I spent some time in this beautiful village named Gujrana, a settlement of Gujars, a Nepalese ethnic/minority Muslim community.
After a 30 minutes drive on the highway from the main town, our course diverted to an unpaved road. We drove off leaving billows of dust behind us. I looked back at the billows and contemplated how this short dusty ride made quite a big difference to the Gujars. The road we were driving over was a long awaited one for the Gujars and ‘WE’ walked shoulder to shoulder with them to bring the road to their village. I was proud to be driving on the road which finally connected the village to a brighter future.
Road that brought sigh
Upon arrival at Gujrana, the village’s warmth gave us a big hug. Unlike other poor communities, Gujrana has a different personality. A neat, tidy and well managed little village, Gujrana also has an abundance of nature’s beauty. The people I met there had stories to tell about the road. Some shared the road linked them to higher education, some were just happy because access to hospital was easier, some said the road just pulled markets nearer, and the others were grateful that life essential infrastructures and services were now within their reach.
The first ambulance entered the village only in 2015 and this very road took it there. Before last year, it gave the villagers distress to have their lives at risk because an ambulance could not cross the mere 800 metres of distance. Many shared experience of rushing patients on bamboo made stretchers over muddy trails until they met the main road where ambulances waited.
Less than one kilometer of distance and the entire village had been pushed back by half a century. Gujrana’s facelift is mainly attributed to the road. It is not black-topped yet but is wide and well maintained. Thanks to the financial support of UK government’s UK Aid match fund through DFID, Practical Action could reach to the Gujars with Safa & Gulariya project and as part of the project, the idea of Community Action Plan (CAP) came to the Gujars which remained instrumental in bringing the road to them.
The whole time at Gujrana, I was surrounded by bright children inquisitive about the camera I was using. They mostly responded by big smiles but their inquisitiveness and curiosity allowed me to anticipate their bright futures.
The Gujar children went to school by walking few hundred metres from home. Before the road was there, the monsoons were way too hard on them. The muddy and slippery trails led to regular absence of school-goers. Many children would get back home with cuts after tripping and some were badly injured too. In poor communities like Gujrana, only light of hope for the children’s bright future is their education and failure to attend schools can hamper them from what they can be. A few children timidly said me they don’t miss schools anymore because the way to school is ‘walkable’.
Better road is better economy and better life
Tractors can finally reach the fields of Gujars now. The road has brought technology in the farmers’ backyards directly showing results in their yields. The labour involved in agriculture has dropped tenfold and harvests have increased. Most importantly, they can now easily get their produce to the nearby markets loading on ox carts, horse carts and tractors, even in the monsoon. Selling their produce takes less efforts and they have been able to make good savings. All thanks to the newly arrived road; many Gujars’ living standards have gone up.
What’s CAP all about?
Government of Nepal (GoN) has a provision of accepting community-led proposals for their local development as part of 14 step planning process under Local Governance and Community Development Programme (LGCD). The municipalities and Village Development Committees (VDCs) accept a participatory plan of action from different communities. This Community Action Plan (CAP) involves the community people directly in selection of community problem, prioratisation of them and proposal to the locally based governance body, VDC or municipality offices. However, most of the poor and marginalised communities commonly remain unaware of many provisions and services introduced by the government due to many gaps; gap in education, gap in information, gap in knowledge, among others. CAP’s provision is also unknown to many. Many times, merely knowing about CAP is also not about everything; there needs to be capacity to develop CAP. Gap in such capacity is also hurdle to many small developments communities themselves can lead.
Using various instruments like: social map, seasonal calendar, situation analysis, problem tree analysis Practical Action with partner Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO) involved the Gujars in rapid CAP developing exercises. At initial stages, it was bit of a challenge to teach Gujars such serious proposition. But our social mobilisers did all it takes to simplify everything using local resources as metaphors drawing maps in the mud, creating different games and showing dramas in the local dialect, communicating more and more ̶ door to door and at a personal level, among many more techniques.
The CAP approach actively involved the villagers in preparing an inclusive and priority based plan of action. It played a crucial role in unique team building, identification of village needs, preparing plan of action and dragging municipality’s attention to address them. Team building bound the Gujars and adjoining village dwellers in a thread of unity to jointly work in bringing road to their doorsteps. Besides Gujrana, the intervention has enhanced capacities of 10 communities of Gulariya Municipality in participatory planning and has helped them develop their Community Action Plans (CAP).
A GREAT BEGINING
It’s really interesting how developing simple skills can bring such significant change in their lives. While harnessing my Gujrana understanding, I caught a moment to speak to its Chairperson, Nokhe Gujar. Responding to my query about how he felt about the change in his village, he expressed his views.
“The change has brought the village out of captivity of backwardness. We felt imprisoned without a road. Our children missed schools and we ourselves had difficult time to sell our produces in the market. CAP has helped us understand our needs and get the municipality address them. Nowadays, we sit for regular meetings to discuss our problems and we make strategies to solve them. We develop our priorities and design CAP on our own. Even in future we will be able to plan our development on our own.”
Over a year’s rigorous teaming up with Gujars and they were able to get themselves a road. However, it does not end right here on the road. It’s just a stepping stone and is a great beginning. With that capacity, they can shape further community level developments themselves in future. And if other parts of Gulariya repeat the experience, the facelift of entire Gulariya is certain. With the nature’s abundance and rich cultural heritage that Gulariya holds; people participated development can open many doors of opportunities for the Gulariya and its people.
Someone rightly said, give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime!1 Comment » | Add your comment
Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) being the need of the hour, planners and policy makers must invest time and energy in research. As this is completely new to India and yet to develop a market and demand, I got an opportunity to visit Indah Water Konsortium, Malaysia to see their faecal sludge and sewage treatment sites.
INDAH WATER KONSORTIUM SDN BHD (IWK) is the national sewerage company wholly-owned by Minister of Finance Incorporated and operates as a private company under the Company’s Act. It is responsible for providing sewerage services, operating and maintaining over 5,750 public sewage treatment plants and 13,000km networks of sewerage pipelines since April 1994 when it was awarded a concession to provide nationwide sewerage services. It is also entrusted with desludging over 1 million septic tanks and managing the sludge that is generated.
They have a mixture of modern as well as early age technologies and are planning to replace all the old technologies with modern mechanical systems over the next few years. Along with some of their senior staff I visited Mechanical Dewatering Unit, Sludge Drying Bed, Trenching site, Geo tubes, Imhoff Tank, Aerated Lagoon, CSTP and SBR. Being a non-technical person, I won’t go into the details but rather, highlight the learning and outcomes that every planner in India trying out FSM should keep in mind.
Highly mechanized equipment is the standard feature of most of the treatment sites at present. There are several logical reasons for going for mechanical treatment plants, however one important reason is such plants do not require much land. Usually the land costs are very high in Malaysia. But one needs to accept that mechanical plants really need technically competent people to manage, operate and maintain them.
The energy in form of electricity they use is huge. I learned that 40% of the treatment unit’s expenditure is on electricity. This adversely affects the business model of FSM. I also visited Imhoff Tanks which are a zero energy based treatment technology. However as the mechanical units have many advantages over older technologies they have to go for these. In this context, solar or green energy could be used to increase sustainability and make it an economic business model.
Initially IWK had not taken into consideration the use of end products like the dried sludge and the treated water. Now they are facing problems disposing of the dried sludge though they are able to release the treated water to the river and have started reusing the treated water in few of their offices. I was told that given a chance to begin again they would start with proper planning for the reuse of the end product. In such a scenario it’s very important to plan out the disposal of all the output. Reuse for something meaningful is something the planners must look at. In our projects in India, we are looking at using sludge as manure and there are other possibilities as well. But to a great extent the prior planning of reusing treated sludge or waste water is something which will change the fate of the FSM plan.
The fixed tariff for providing treatment services did not increase at a rational rate over the years. The government could not increase the cost because of the fear that people might not react positively. So the company faced a severe loss. However, the government decided to take over responsibility and took over the company, originally started as private company. This means the government decided to subsidize the whole business for political reasons, which creates an important question as to whether there was a business plan!
Three of their units are making profit because the users are able to pay a higher amount for services like emptying and transportation as most of their users are commercial buildings. But is it possible in an Indian context? Centralised systems if not privatised may suffer losses. If privatised, could be properly regulated to serve all classes of people, adding another dimension to FSM in India.
Building legislation is something we can think of in a country like India. Here is Malaysia, a builder who constructs more than 30 houses has to provide a treatment plant and hand over it to IWK to maintain and operate. This helps ensure the availability of an adequate number of treatment plants in most of the locations which ultimately help the environment.
The relationship between the local authorities and the federal government is worth discussing. Previously, sanitation was the job of local authorities but when this treatment plan was built the federal government took over responsibility. Now the local authorities are taking no interest in the work. Sometimes getting land for different process of treatment is becoming difficult. In a country like India, where a 3 tier system exists, planners need to ensure they keep all of them engaged in the work. The system should be developed in such a way, people responsible for the FSM must be accountable anda social audit is a must for the same reason.
I was amazed to see the work they are doing. While open defecation is unknown to Malaysia I belong to a country where around half the population are practising open defecation, half the toilets are used as store rooms and whoever uses the toilet is not bothered about their sludge treatment. But this visit really gave me a hope. If we can become OD free as our Prime Minister has proclaimed, then we need a reality check with our sludge management systems and policies. Practical Action and some other organizations have started the process but we have a long way to go and much still to be done.2 Comments » | Add your comment
The 19th of June is Father’s Day, so I thought what better time to share some stories of some amazing fathers that Practical Action has worked with around the world, only made possible because of our kind and generous supporters.
5. Anthony Ndugu, Kenya
Before Practical Action began working with Anthony, a pit latrine emptier in Nakuru, Kenya, he was shy and felt ashamed of the job he did. He didn’t feel respected by his community and would often come home covered in waste. He even felt too ashamed to tell his son what his job was. Now, Practical Action has provided him with protective clothing and the tools to carry out his vital role safely, he is proud of his job and feels that the community finally recognises how important it is.
“The family are so happy, they are fed and my children can get an education.”
By buying a Practical Present today, you could help Fathers just like Anthony. A Sweeper Safety Kit could help sweepers like Anthony, from a similar project in Bangladesh, to stay safe from disease whilst they carry out the important task of protecting their community.
4. Richard Tlou, Zimbabwe
Richard is 46 years old and lives in Mphaya village in the Gwanda district of Zimbabwe. He has been blind for 5 years. Life is tough for Richard and his wife. They have three of their own children and also care for his brother’s children. For as long as he can remember, he hasn’t had access to clean and safe toilet facilities. This means that they have no other choice but to relieve themselves in nearby bushes causing health risks for the community and a lack of dignity for all. For Richard, this was especially hard. Having lost his sight, he had to rely on someone to take him and he could not see if there were people passing by. But Richard now has regained his dignity. Through Practical Action’s support, he is the proud owner of his own clean and safe toilet and his family are now protected from the risk of disease.
“It has given me my dignity and will improve the health of my family.”
By buying a Practical Present today, you could help fathers just like Richard. A gift of Marve-loos training from you could help train toilet builders, enabling families in Zimbabwe to earn a living to provide for their children as well as ensuring they and their communities are safe from disease.
3. Winnie Sebata, Zimbabwe
Winnie is 67 years old and lives in Mashaba, a rural village in the Gwanda district of Zimbabwe. All of his children are grown up but he is now caring for his 3 nieces who are orphans. Up until his retirement, Winnie was a primary school teacher, but now he works in his wife’s shop in the business centre of Mashaba. This shop is now benefitting from being connected to Zimbabwe’s largest off-grid solar plant, built by Practical Action, in an area that previously had no access to electricity. Not only does the shop now provide local members of the community with an opportunity to access electricity, Winnie and his wife have now also been able to expand their business, providing employment to local people and generating additional income with which he can care for his orphaned nieces.
“We really hope this project will change the lives of this community and change the lives of people of Zimbabwe.”
By buying a Practical Present today, you could help Fathers like Winnie. Energising Education could help provide energy to a school in Zimbabwe, giving children a brighter future.
2. Adam Ibrahim Mohamed, Sudan
Adam is a farmer in North Darfur, Sudan. He is 52 years old and married with children. He lives in Zam Zam village, an arid area of Darfur where farmers struggle to grow their crops because of the lack of water. But that has all changed. Practical Action has helped Adam and others like him by constructing a dam, which provides vital water to enable him to grow his crops. He can now grow enough to feed his family and even has enough to sell, so he can generate an income and send his children to school.
“As fathers, we have responsibilities; feeding our families, sending our children to school. Our life has improved and our children will continue to get an education.”
By buying a Practical Present today, you could help Fathers just like Adam. A Super Sapling could help farmers in this drought-prone area to re-build their communities and plan a brighter future for their children.
1. Your Dad!
Order a Practical Present from Practical Action today and tell your Dad why you think he is number 1! When you order a Practical Present, you will be making a real difference and changing the lives of people around the world and at the same time, you can let your Dad know how special he is to you.No Comments » | Add your comment
Practical Action, Bangladesh, ITN BUET, DSK and The Daily Star jointly organized a national round table on faecal sludge management (FSM) on 17th May, to meet the second generation sanitation challenge. Around 25 senior representatives attended representing government, civil society, the private sector, donors, networks and think tanks.
The first roundtable on FSM in Bangladesh started with a welcome by the Hasin Jahan, Country Director of Practical Action. She highlighted the engagement of ‘beyond WASH’ stakeholders to meet this new challenge. The Director of ITN BUET presented on the evolution from open defecation to FSM, the extent of the problem and the recently developed National FSM Institutional and Regulatory Framework to define who and how to handle this second generation challenge.
The current FSM market is driven by traditional sanitation workers in cities and municipalities but their operational safety, security, hygiene, wages, recognition and inclusion are all big issues. Some municipalities, supported by NGOs, have developed a sanitation action plan and demonstrated Vacutag machines and trucks for the collection and transportation of sludge and treatment plants using solar drying. These pilots identified a set of challenges which include appropriateness of technologies and associated business and management models for sludge collection, transportation and treatment. Sanitation consumers behavior and awareness is also a big issue for construction of appropriate containment and the safe disposal of sludge. The top challenge is the capacity (technical, financial, regulation and partnership management with private sectors) constraints of the cities and municipalities to develop, maintain and improve FSM systems.
Environmental hazard or organic fertilizer?
The managing director of Faruk Fertiliser, an organic fertilizer business of 500 ton/year wants to see faecal sludge as an asset. He said the supply/distribution network of more than 20,000 dealers, wholesalers and retailers of fertilizer across the country is very organized but a key problem is that organic fertilizer is a very regulated product and there is a lack of awareness among farmers/land owners about its use. Farmers are more concerned with increasing production, than improving the texture of their soil.
Different speakers mentioned the huge subsidy paid by the Government of Bangladesh for chemical fertiliser (both in in country production and imports) but gives hardly any support to organic fertilizers. A few NGOs are working on the transformation of organic solid waste and faecal sludge into organic fertilizer but the scale is too small to attract the participation of a private sector operator. Speakers also said that the Government could be a big buyer of organic fertilizer if they decided to make it 1% of their annual targets which will be around 400,000 tons. They also emphasized the participation of MFIs/Banks to support small holders farmers to promote the use of organic compost.
Request for immediate attention of National Government
Speakers requested the Government of Bangladesh to review and approve the National Institutional and Regulatory Framework and develop a National Plan of Action and set milestones/targets immediately along with the necessary operational guidelines and standards.
The National Plan should adopt an inclusive approach with coordinated functional partnerships between government agencies, the private sector and civil society organisations. It should advance research to explore innovative pro poor technologies, business models to address the whole service and the value chain of FSM, capturing evidence and sharing learning and knowledge for capacity building.
Speakers also emphasized the extensive engagement of the media for awareness raising and changing behavior to stop the unauthorized disposal of sludge.2 Comments » | Add your comment
In order to support our understanding of ‘wellbeing’ Practical Action is supporting doctoral research at University College London, Development Planning Unit. Stephanie Butcher is looking at the connections between urban services and citizenship, to support wellbeing in informal settlements.
Stephanie Butcher is a PHD candidate at University College London’s Centre for Urban Sustainability and Resilience and Development Planning Unit. These reflections emerged as a part of a wider project conducted by the MSc Social Development Practice programme at the DPU.
What do we mean by wellbeing?
Wellbeing is a golden thread which weaves its way through all our work at Practical Action, but what do we mean by ‘wellbeing’?
Critically it’s about people getting their basic material needs met. Our work in areas such as food security and access to energy and clean water, are all key to improving material wellbeing. But wellbeing is more than this. It’s about the degree of control people have over their lives and the quality of relationships within their communities. What this means for Practical Action, is that it’s not just what we do that’s important, but also how we do it as well. People participating in decisions and taking control of their own development is critical and central to the way we work.
What innovations can address the next generation of urban water challenges?
In 2015, I spent time with residents of the Kondele neighbourhood, one of the many informal settlements of Kisumu, Western Kenya. This community benefitted from an innovative type of water service delivery, called the Delegated Management Model (DMM), implemented as part Comic Relief funded work, and delivered by Practical Action under the 2008-2013 ‘People’s Plans into Practice’ programme in Kisumu, Kenya, with local partners Shelter Forum and Kisumu Urban Apostolates Programme.
In Kisumu, the Kisumu Water and Sewerage Company (KIWASCO) agreed to begin working in informal areas, providing cheaper water to a ‘master meter’ in the settlement. The responsibility for this meter was given to a managing community group, who use a network of small pipes to deliver to individual houses or community kiosks. For the utility, this creates incentives to work in hard-to-monitor informal areas, as it no longer has to police illegal connections and leakages. For Kondele residents, both the master meter and community kiosks are new business opportunities, as water can be sold down the network at a small profit.
What was most striking in Kondele was that the managing water meter group was linked with an elected body of representatives, called the ‘Neighborhood Planning Association’. Practical Action used participatory planning tools to support these associations in agreeing and voicing their priorities for service improvements. Practical Action’s intervention also particularly encouraged women, people with disabilities, and youth to participate as kiosk operators and in the planning association.
Conversations with residents demonstrated a range of positive outcomes of this model.
It helped the growth of the water network, generated employment and income opportunities for entrepreneurial residents. It allowed for more flexible service delivery.
Residents experienced many positive contributions to their wellbeing, including perceived health benefits; greater community interaction; improved quality and quantity of water; and economic benefits from subsidised tariffs.
Yet I was also struck by how this model was working in the wider Kenyan environment, especially given the shifts towards the commoditization of services, and decentralization of service delivery.
In Kisumu, an emphasis on cost-recovery in the Kenyan water sector meant that some of the most vulnerable residents were less likely to access the services. Master meters were most often placed in areas of higher economic potential, so that they could run as sustainable businesses. This meant they tended to be located in denser, wealthier, or roadside locations, leaving behind some of the poorer interior areas of the settlement. Tenants especially noted the rapid increase in rents with the improvement of services, creating real trade-offs in whether to live closer or farther to improved services.
Second, while decentralization allowed for coverage in informal areas, the old risks from leaks and illegal tappings suddenly became the concern of the community group. While leaders expressed a sense of ownership, this increase in responsibility did not always come with an increase in authority. Ongoing disputes made it clear that the Kondele association did not feel they could fully hold the utility accountable in partnership agreements.
Finally, gender aspects were improved but there’s more to be done. For many, the emphasis on women’s participation created options to participate in extra income-generating activities and water forums. However, where gaps did exist in coverage, it was still largely women and young girls that bore this burden as ‘household managers’, walking farther distances to collect from DMM sources, or squeezing household resources to pay more from private vendors.
Some reflections on the Delegated Management Model
- The DMM was possible because of a supportive policy environment in Kenya, which encouraged spaces of citizen participation.
- Emphasizing cost-recovery might prevent access for the most vulnerable. The location of master meters, household income, and rental status meant that not all residents benefitted equally. This suggests that some master meters might need to be placed in less economically viable areas to reach lower-income residents. Likewise, reaching agreements with landlords to maintain rental prices plays a crucial role in supporting tenants.
- Practical Action’s support linking the water group with the elected Neighbourhood Planning Association supported ownership and democratic practice. This was critical. As in other neighbourhoods of Kisumu meter management has been opened to private individuals, potentially moving away from management by a community-based organisation. While this is intended to stimulate competitive service delivery, there is a critical difference between the empowerment of savvy entrepreneurs, and that of an elected community body.
- Capacity building measures for both utility staff and community groups remain key. The experience in Kondele demonstrated the wider benefits experienced through the trainings of Practical Action’s ‘People’s Plans into Practice’. Yet there is also still room for engagement with utility staff—and particularly in establishing clear channels of accountability
- Social and cultural norms continue to influence water services. This calls for further research on the different ways water management occurs at the neighborhood and household level for women and men, addressing perceptions which reinforce identity-based inequities.
- Download the full paper
- Watch a webcast of the paper
- Read more about Practical Action’s work on WASH in urban areas
What are your experiences? Feel free to get in touch and post comments below.
 This was a key question posed by the 2015 Reducing Urban Poverty Student Paper Competition, hosted by the Wilson Centre , World Bank, Cities Alliance, and IHC global, at which I presented these reflections.No Comments » | Add your comment
Saturday 28th May is Menstrual Hygiene Day, a really important day to raise awareness of good menstrual hygiene and to break some of the taboos that surround something that affects half the population of the world!
It’s sad that in 2016, women and girls are still made to feel ashamed by a natural bodily function. Girls are often held back from achieving their full potential as they are unable to attend school and it’s shocking to think that in some communities, girls are made to sleep in sheds, away from their home, when menstruating. It shouldn’t be this way.
In August last year, I travelled to Bangladesh to see some of our work and to meet people who Practical Action is supporting. In Bangladesh, menstrual hygiene remains a taboo topic, sanitary products are rarely available and young girls are often too afraid to ask.
I met 25 year old Danier who told me what it was like to be a woman in her community. She explained how women are considered ‘unclean’ during their periods, sanitary products are not available and girls are forced to hide away and use rags to soak up the blood. These rags are used over and over again. Washing and drying the rags is difficult, as they shouldn’t be seen by anyone. During this time, girls don’t attend school, because they are too afraid of blood leaking onto their clothes.
But this is beginning to change. Danier spends her mornings – along with other women from her village – making and selling biodegradable and good quality sanitary products. The women not only make the products, they also encourage other women and girls to use them and are starting to break the silence around the issue. The women earn a small income from making the pads, which they are able to use to help pay for their education.
Before this project, Danier explained that everyone was using rags but now, most of them are using the products she and her friends make!
“I’m happy, I even use the product. I am helping other girls. No longer do they have to feel shy.”
I was touched by how the project had empowered Danier. She felt she had a voice and was making a difference to the girls in her community. Menstruation should not be a taboo subject. Women and girls across the world should not feel ashamed by their periods. Hygiene education and sanitary products should be available to all wherever you live in the world.
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Being world famous for its spiritual importance and religious tourism Puri is not an unknown city for all. However, the issues in the city are being ignored continuously. The city witnesses a flow of more than 50 lakh people in a year. This number is huge and so as the issues that are close to the factors that affect the climate of this small historic city in eastern India.
This is further to the global action towards changing climate pattern and philanthropic efforts, Vasudha Foundation initiated a workshop among the city based thinkers, environmentalists, practitioners in partnership with Practical Action Foundation. The workshop “Sustainable and Climate Resilient Puri-Resources and Actions” witness a good number of diverse audiences working in Puri from different domains.
Concerns related to water, sanitation, health and hygiene was major as shared by the participants. Issues related to proper drainage system, treatment of waste water, rain water harvesting was the suggestion which most of the experts focused on. A major concern was also raised regarding the ground water depletion of the city and its preparedness for tackling such crysis in future have emerged as a challenge now.
Similarly making the city with proper green cover was raised by many thinkers during workshop. Valuable suggestions like road side and beach side plantation, enough mangrove plantation were suggested to tackle the scorching heat at this east coastal city. It is noted, the city used to be alternate capital once upon a time during summer because of its weather which is just history now.
In order to reduce the carbon emission and pollution, few concrete suggestion came which was doable and available government officials also appreciated the same. Promoting cycling, restrictions on diesel and petrol run rickshaws and to introduce electronic auto rickshaws was among few suggestions. To have a check on the unwanted death of sea fishes and tortoise, some thinkers also suggested on battery or solar run fishing boats inside the sea which was highly appreciated by many.
But while discussing all these, the governance and civic engagement was something which seem hurdle for every possible development and actions. Hence, the workshop concluded with key action points so as to have a proper enforcement of existing laws and have a proper coordination of all line departments.
This workshop was jointly organised by GermanWatch, Vasudha Foundation and Practical Action with support from Commonwealth Development Knowledge Network with an objective assess the finance needs for Climate Compatible Development (CCD) in second-tier cities like Puri and analyse the extent to which existing sources can meet those needs and what innovative local, national and international sources, including direct access modalities for cities under the Green Climate Fund.
The workshop was attended by people from the hotel industry, fishermen community, different key government departments and civil society members of Puri City.No Comments » | Add your comment
There has been encouraging evidence in influencing inclusive urban governance necessary to face future challenges of unplanned rapid urbanization taking place in most developing countries including Bangladesh. Rapid growth of slums is an obvious part of unplanned urbanization. Bangladesh experienced the fastest urbanization compared to other middle income countries, with 6% growth rate per year since independence (UPPR, UNDP, 2011). The urban population was 30% in 532 urban centers (2001), which is likely to be 50 million by 2021 and may exceed 60 million by 2031 (CUS 2008, Bangladesh Urban Forum, 2011).
Urbanization is a process of development. However, unplanned urbanisation creates a lot of pressures on urban infrastructural services, like, water, sanitation, electricity, drainage facilities, etc. (UPPR, UNDP 2011) as they are often excluded from urban planning and development interventions. Besides pressures on infrastructural services, such rapid growth of unplanned urbanization and slums creates social problems that resulting in suffering for the city dwellers and urban governments.
The urban poverty rate is 21.3 %, while, 7.7% are extreme poor (HEIS, 2010). However, the urban extreme poor, mostly migrated from rural to urban areas are the main sources of laborers in different urban sectors and the urban economy now contributes 60% of the national economy. But slum dwellers suffer from multiple problems of housing, employment, water and sanitation. So, planned urbanization inclusive with the slum dwellers and low income settlement people is very vital.
Practical Action has worked in 82 communities (slums) across 6 cities in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka from 2012-2016 with partners following a participatory planning process in collaboration with municipalities. A regional workshop was held on 28 February 2016 in Dhaka to mark the end of the project by sharing its learning and experiences, which, showed remarkable changes on the empowerment and living conditions of the extreme poor. The project was funded by the European Union and UK Aid.
This blog is mainly based on the experiences and learning of Bangladesh (Faridpur and Jessore Municipalities). It is relevant to mention that the IUD-I project was implemented in Faridpur Municipality only from 2006-2009. The project covered 30 slums (24 in Faridpur and 06 in Jessore) with 10,962 people (5511 female and 5451 male). Most of them are day laborers, van/rickshaw pullers, cleaners, sweepers, pit-emptiers. Of those, a good number of the laborers are engaged in cleaning for the municipality, hospital/clinics and other Government offices. Open defecation is 6% and 8% respectively, in Faridpur and Jessore Municipalities.
Participatory planning is an effective tool in mobilizing, engaging and integrating a wide range of stakeholders including community, GO-NGOs and municipality. It followed steps like community mobilization, formulation of a Settlement Improvement Committee (SIC) formulating Community Action plans (CAPs) and building a Community Improvement Federation (CIF) in streamlining them in the governance, planning and delivery process of infrastructural services. SIC representatives formulated the Community Action Plan (CAP)/year based on assessment and their priority ranking with existing resources, those included identifying community problems, needs, actions and strategies for implementation. SICs, from the needs assessment, their prioritizing, validation and formulating CAP, engaged representatives of municipalities and relevant stakeholders and finalized the CAPs.
The process has made the opportunity of participation and empowered the urban poor to reach inclusive urban governance. The CIF (with representatives of all SICs) is now empowered to represent and influence the municipality, district and upazila level Local Government Institutions, IGA, education and other support services. Representatives of SICs and CIFs actively participate in municipality level meetings of TLCC, PRAP, GAP and WMSC and contribute to decision making process including government relief operations during disasters like floods, winter clothes distribution, etc.
For the first time in the history of Jessore Municipality, the socially excluded Harijan community participated in a budget sharing meeting. All CAPs formulated by SICs are compiled and again shared and validated by the representatives of municipality, which they integrate with their own plan and make inclusive budget allocation.
Under PRAP and Gender Action Plan (GAP), the Faridpur Municipality has approved BDT 1,72,00,000.00 for urban poor people for infrastructure services in the fiscal year 2014-15, which, is higher than the previous allocation of BDT 1,45,70,000.00 of 2013-14 and BDT 1,22,00,000.00 of 2012-13, which reveals the increased investment by the Municipality for the people living in urban slums, their participation and representation in urban governance and contributing to the urban development process. The Mayor of Faridpur has given a room for CIF Secretariat at the Municipality building, which has strengthened poor peoples’ participation and empowerment in inclusive urban governance process and contributing to the urban development, spporting SDG Goal 11 that specifically focus on inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for integrated and sustainable human settlement. The process is adopted in Government UPPR and UGIIP II projects, which need to be scaled up and mainstream throughout the entire urban governance process to the cause of a more safer city and urban lives of the city dwellers.No Comments » | Add your comment
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.
Three 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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