Archive for November, 2015

More than a toilet

Monday, November 30th, 2015 by

When we crossed the streets of Baji Persia of Gulariya Municipality to reach Shalik Ram’s house in Neelkamal Tole, the only thing that bothered us was the billows of dust behind our vehicle. Unlike villages in the terai, the southern plains of Nepal, the pathway was neat and clean, with no signs of pile of poos – and no bad smell either.

Shalik Ram Murau’s small family comprising two young sons and wife live in a long house, a not so familiar sight for a visitor from Kathmandu.  It is exceptionally long. The house is shared by Shalik Ram and his four brothers, with separate rooms and kitchens for each family. The children from all five households were playing in the common courtyard when we reached there.

Shalik Ram Murau is a happy man to have a toilet of his own. (c) Practical Action/Swarnima Shrestha

Shalik Ram Murau is a happy man to have a toilet of his own. (c) Practical Action/Swarnima Shrestha

Return on investment
More interesting to me was a row of five concrete toilets to the north of the house – two of them equipped with septic tank while the rest three with cement rings. It looked odd to me to have five toilets in a row – each costing more than NRs 19,000 (1USD = NRs 100). The cost, for an average earning family in Nepal, is way too much.

It was Shalik Ram’s wife’s turn to douse my curiosity, “Every house in our tole now has a toilet.” “Why to have a common toilet if you have a separate kitchen and a separate house?”

Only few months back the entire tole, a village sub-division, had only four toilets. Now there are 36 toilets, one for each household. In fact, Shalik Ram’s family completed building concrete toilets first and then constructed the long house replacing the old mud house.

And the investment is paying back. Shalik Ram built the toilet last April and till now he has been lucky to evade once-a-month visit to the doctor’s. Falling sick was a normal thing for the two boys then and he had to pay NRs 200 at the least. Some visits even costed around NRs 1000. The savings will help him pay back the loan he took to build the toilet.

Flood-resistant loos
Another interesting aspect was the elevation at which the toilets stood. On being asked, Shalik Ram replied curtly, “To avoid the floods from entering the toilets.” Smiling, his wife added, “Didn’t you notice the plinth level of our house?”

Neelkamal Tole is flood-prone and the area gets inundated during the monsoons. So, all the houses and toilets in the settlement have been built on a higher elevation.

No more embarrassment
Though a matter of mortification our conversation turned to the situation prior to installation of toilets. “To avoid being seen by people, we used to go to the nearby fields or orchards early in the morning,” said Shalik Ram. To this, his better half added, “For women, it was more difficult – we used to go to the place where no men came.”

Days of embarrassment are over for Shalik Ram's wife and son. (c) Practical Action/Swarnima Shrestha

Days of embarrassment are over for Shalik Ram’s wife and son. (c) Practical Action/Swarnima Shrestha

However, it was worse when someone suffered from diarrhoea. There was no choice than to run to nearby fields. During the monsoon and floods, it was much more difficult to get a safe place to empty bowels.

Then there is the danger of snakes in the dark. The terai is home to poisonous snakes like kraits, cobras and vipers. As per the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division, 12,000 people are bitten by snakes annually and out of which 2,000 are from the terai.

Now with toilets in every house, they don’t need to go outside to answer the call of nature. “Now, whenever I feel like visiting a lavatory, I rush to my house,” Shalik Ram chuckled. “This new habit doesn’t allow me to go elsewhere.”

Involvement of all
While we were talking, a man from neighbouring tole joined us and complained that people are not using toilets as planned. Before we could say anything, Shalik Ram said, “Fine them and they would start using toilets.” The fear of fine imposed by W-WASH-CC, the ward water, sanitation and hygiene coordination committee for the defaulters has helped control the open defecation practices.

Janaki Ghimire, a social mobiliser involved in the WASH movement in Neelkamal Tole informed that NRs 7,000 has already been collected as fine. The hard work and perseverance of social workers like Janaki is another crucial factor furthering the open defecation free (ODF) movement.

The “no sanitation card, no facilities” approach of the municipality has further helped this movement. Now, the residents need to show their sanitation card to get a citizenship card or a passport and even to register the birth of their children. The sanitation card has become a must-have possession and the only way to get it is to build a toilet.

Bandwagon effect
Being caught in the act is now more shameful according to the family. Earlier, everybody in the village used to go out in the open and it was like a daily chore for all. Since most of the people started building toilets, the peer pressure increased and thus started the bandwagon effect of building toilets.

As Shalik Ram stood to bid goodbye, we noticed his crippled leg. Polio attacked him when he was a year-old and since then he has been facing difficulty to walk properly. For him, the toilet is not just another facility. It means more to him.

Gulariya Municipality, together with Practical Action and Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO), declared the area ODF on 25 May 2015.

Will COP21 deliver a Paris Protocol?

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015 by

Have the global negotiations for a new climate agreement switched from a marathon to an egg and spoon race?

We are now in the final leg of the marathon negotiations for a new climate agreement. At the last meeting in Bonn, the negotiators were expected to intensify their pace, but by the end of the meeting it was clear no one had sped up, if anything the pace had slowed. We are now entering the final sprint to the line. In 5 days the 21st Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place in Paris. Without a sprint finish it is unlikely that an effective Paris Protocol will be signed.

Great Climate RaceThe Great Climate Race is just one example of what communities around the world are doing to tackle climate change. A fund raising run/walk to raise money for community solar power, because climate change is a race against time!

So what are the core stumbling blocks in the way of delivering a Paris Protocol?

The first barrier is a long standing one around whether developed and developing nations should be treated differently. The issue known as “differentiation” remains a significant hurdle. To be effective the new agreement must build on the original convention text around common but differentiated responsibilities. But it must update the text to match today’s reality and be dynamic to evolve as the world changes. Historical emissions must not be ignored, but the changing dynamics of global emissions means that the text must be flexible enough to respond to changing circumstances.

The second barrier is around finance. For poor and developing nations allocating sufficient resources will be vital to deliver the agreement. At the Copenhagen COP in 2009 developed countries committed to mobilise jointly USD 100 billion dollars a year by 2020. A lack of clarity around these contributions, double counting of existing development assistance and the role of the private sector all continue to hinder progress in this respect.

Egg-and-spoon raceThirdly, Loss and Damage continues to divide parties. Some countries hope to see it embedded within the heart of the agreement, while others suggested it should be removed. Lack of action to reduce emissions will lead to a greater need for adaptation. Lack of finance for adaptation will lead to accelerating Loss and Damage. The logic is clear, but still Loss and Damage fails to receive the recognition and importance it deserves.

The Paris COP is supposed to light the way for governments to finally deliver an effective global response to the threat of climate change. However, to avoid another failed UN sponsored global conference it will be vital for politicians to put in the additional legwork to make the Paris Protocol a reality.

We don’t just want an agreement, we need a robust agreement that delivers. Human rights, gender equality and the issue of a just transition must be central to the agreement. A human rights centred agreement offers a holistic approach that makes the connections between the economic, social, cultural, ecological and political dimensions, and links what we are doing to tackle climate change with the Sustainable Development Goals and the Sendai Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction.  Is this too much for our children to ask for?

Further information

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

Monday, November 23rd, 2015 by

“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.

 

Planners must focus on faecal sludge management

Monday, November 23rd, 2015 by

With cut throat competition among Indian cities to become Smart Cities, there have been many aspects of urban planning which need to be addressed and adhered to. As per the Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP 2010), India contributes to 58% of the world’s population defecating in the open. And according to census in 2011, an overwhelming 170,000 households (48.33 per cent) or 800,500 people in the slums of Odisha defecate in the open.

A massive campaign by the Swachh Bharat Mission has, however, led the discussion on toilets for all. The State and the Central Government is also in mission mode to set the milestone for building toilets though all are silent on dealing with the output the toilets are going to produce.

World-Toilet-Day-logo_big

Many researchers and health and hygiene experts assert that an effective disposal mechanism for excreta is yet to be emphasised.

“A good disposal system is a necessity. Otherwise, excreta to be released form thousands of toilets will still be in the air and create more health hazards,” according to the experts. The disposal facilities like septic tanks, dry latrines, bucket latrines and communal toilets accumulate faecal sludge, which needs to be removed periodically. If this sludge is not properly managed, negative impacts on the urban environment and on public health may result.

According to experts, there might be environmental pollution caused by the effluent of not regularly de-sludged septic tanks or community toilets. Faecal sludge being used in unhygienic way in agriculture is another concern.

All these problems can be avoided by a proper management of faecal sludge, which may include adequate de-sludging of sanitation facilities, safe handling and transport of sludge, treatment of sludge, and its safe disposal or reuse.

According to a study, if one truck of sludge is exposed unsafely then it is equivalent to 5,000 people defecating in the open.

“In this context, if we go along with the mission of toilets for all, there will be a huge scarcity of water and solid faecal sludge disposal will be the next problem we will have to face. Looking at the smart approach of our urban planners and urban development practitioners, now it is highly essential for all urban settlements to come up with the solution to deal with solid faecal sludge,” was the view of an expert.

There have been experiments in faecal sludge treatment in many countries including Nepal, Bangladesh, Philippines, Argentina, Ghana and Brazil.  Even in India there have been few experiments in Bangalore. But as yet no urban local body has come up with a proper plan of action.

World Toilet Day 2015: good news and bad news

Wednesday, November 18th, 2015 by

But Mummy, I CAAAAN’T WAIT – the familiar cry for anyone with children. Fortunately we live in a place where a safe, clean toilet our children can easily use, with soap and water on hand, is never far away.

But this basic human right is not available to everyone. #wecantwait is the theme for this year’s World Toilet Day on 19th November.

BAD NEWS: The 2015 JMP report finds that 2.4 billion people are still without access to improved sanitation facilities and 946 million still defecating in the open. Schools and health centres also frequently lack these basic facilities.

GOOD NEWS: Globally, progress has been made, and we should celebrate this. In 1990 only 61 countries had more than 90% of their population with access to improved sanitation. In 2015, there are 97 countries that have reached that milestone.

BAD NEWS: However, in urban areas of sub-Saharan Africa the situation has worsened over the last few years, as provision of sanitation has failed to keep up with population growth. There was a decline in water or sanitation coverage in urban areas in 14 out of 46 countries between 1990 and 2015. There are large inequalities in access within urban areas according to wealth, and while in many countries, the gap is closing, that is only happening slowly.

We know this matters because the health burden of poor sanitation in urban areas can be particularly acute. It has been linked to child malnutrition and stunting as a result of recurrent bouts of diarrhoea. The difficulties for women to find a safe, dignified place to use a toilet and in particular to deal hygienically and discretely with menstruation are often enormous.

GOOD Beautiful toiletNEWS: is that governments and donors have been trying to catalyse change, and put more focus on sanitation. The Sanitation and Water for All partnership brings together over 90 country governments, external support agencies, civil society organisations and others to catalyse political leadership and action. The last set was agreed in April 2014, with commitments made by 43 countries and 12 donors.

Many of the country commitments were about strengthening the enabling environment, and so did not focus on particular targets or segments of the population. On the other hand, countries were encouraged to focus in particular on reducing inequalities and improving sustainability. In three-quarters of country overarching visions there was a recognition of the elimination of socio-economic or geographic inequalities, and 27 countries made a total of 58 commitments to eliminating inequalities.

BAD NEWS: However there were still only 34 commitments (11%) which mentioned the word ‘urban’ and only 6 (2%) which made specific reference to poor urban communities or urban inequalities. One commitment referred to tackling faecal sludge management which is a key part of the urban sanitation challenge.

In September this year, the global community adopted the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 6 tackles water, sanitation and hygiene, and within that Target 6.2 is about sanitation:

Target 6.2: By 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.

To be measured as: Percentage of population using safely managed sanitation services

Which means: Population using a basic sanitation facility (current JMP categories for improved sanitation) which is not shared with other households and where excreta is safely disposed in situ or transported to a designated place for safe disposal or treatment

This goal is ambitious. We have a long way to go in achieving even basic sanitation for all, and only 15 years to achieve it. At the next high level meeting of SWA in April 2016, we would love to see more commitments with a specific focus on the urban poor, and on the safe disposal, transportation and treatment of excreta.

Practical Action has been working on these issues on the ground for a number of years, and has decades of experience of working with the urban poor in Africa and Asia. We have exciting work on faecal sludge management in particular with urban poor communities in South Asia. We are committed to sharing our learning ensuring a wider adoption. Based on this experience we are calling for:

  • The SDGs, to measure and prioritise access to basic sanitation for all, while in urban slums in particular, work towards safely managed sanitation which will actually lead to improved health.
  • Data disaggregation which helps us understand the global progress (or lack of it) on sanitation for the urban poor – welcoming the work already done on this by JMP
  • More countries and donors to make commitments specifically for the urban poor in the next round of Sanitation and Water for All and at the South Asian Conference on sanitation in January 2016.
  • More and better quality engagement with civil society organisations in sanitation planning at national and local levels

50 years of Practical Action

Monday, November 9th, 2015 by

IMG_2263 (Medium)Practical Action is celebrating our 50th Anniversary. We’re celebrating working together with people, huge impact, great technological innovation, people’s lives changed. For me it’s the stories of those individuals who have worked together with Practical Action that are the real testament to our work.

People like John who I met in Gwanda, Zimbabwe and who started working with us in January this year. Rainfall in Zimbabwe is increasingly erratic and he wanted to know about planting techniques that would increase the resilience of his crops. When I met him in May the news was good and bad.

 IMG_2256 (Medium)Good – the crops planted using the new pit and mulch technique were flourishing. From what I could see the technique involved digging rows of small pits, with slightly raised sides to keep in rainfall, planting in the pit and then mulching – if well enough mulched as well as needing less water the crop required very little if any, weeding.
  Bad – The rains had proven fickle, not arriving as normal but with downpours too late in the season to support the traditionally planted crops that had started to grow. His standard planted crop was ruined.

IMG_2259 (Medium)

John said to me “this year’s not good enough. I have failed, this season I have failed. From this improved way of planting I will get about 30 sacks – the rest of the crops are no good, I will get nothing”.

But even as he was despairing of this year’s crop (the agro ecological approach to harvest would help the family get through – but only just) he was already preparing and getting ready for next year’s planting and looking ahead to the future.

IMG_2255 (Medium)It’s hard work to plant like this but it is an advantage. I will continue to expand pit cultivation. It delivers good results and it improves, rather than destroys soil structure – this is important”. John’s story is a great example of the tangible impacts of Practical Action’s work. His work also exemplifies our agro ecological approach to farming – looking to improve productivity and returns while at the same time caring for the environment.

Listening to John and his wife Patience I was hugely impressed by their determination and resilience. And pleased that we had been able to help – a little bit this year, and hopefully much more into the future.

However Practical Action’s 50th Anniversary is not a time only for congratulation and celebration , it’s a time to remind ourselves that our work is needed yet more.

 I’ve just been asked what makes our work different? My answer:
• Recognising the important role of technology
• That development and environment are not separate – but for sustainable development we need to work on both
• Importance of local ownership
• Equality – that for our world to change there needs to be more equitable sharing of resources.
• Recognising the importance of work – people want to be part of, to lead their own development.
• Urbanisation – working both in cities and protecting and supporting rural livelihoods.

What enthuses me most about Practical Action is our practical approach – working to help end poverty and protect our planet.   But more about that next time …

A centuries old fisheries governance system is alive and well

Sunday, November 8th, 2015 by

Much effort has been made to build sustainable governance for fisheries. However, fisheries resources are still in grave peril, consequently, the livelihoods of fishers are negatively affected.

Governing common pool resources continues to be a challenge and thus far has proved a failure and a disappointment. Some argue that “the solution” for governing common pool resources is privatization. Of them, fisheries are a much talked about subject.

Contrary to this view, small scale fishers in some places have Photo 02demonstrated their capacity to govern fishery resources responsibly and sustainably. Despite the fact that much literature has been documented on how fisheries governance works at local, household and community levels, today governments, development workers, researchers and scientists are struggling to build sustainable fisheries governance. It is obvious something is amiss. What is it? Does it have something to with the activity of building governance or lack of understanding of the factors that underpin the sustainability of governance systems? Given this, it is imperative that we look at the factors that have contributed to long standing self-governance systems in fisheries in order to explore the potential and conditions for these local institutions to sustain governance functions for extended periods. The following case is from Sri Lankan lagoon, which tells us about a traditional fisheries self-governance system that has existed for generations.

Chilaw lagoon is located along the North Western coast of Sri Lanka. It is believed that Chilaw’s traditional Stake-net (“Kattu Del”) fishery originated between 1460 -1464 and it continues to date.  More than 500 fisher families in Chilaw lagoon are totally dependent on stake-net fishery. This system was first registered by a Gazette notification in 1936 and with subsequent amendments re-Gazetted in 1986 and 1996 respectively.

Stake-net fishery is a self-governance system, not a just a community-based fisheries management system. Why is this called a governance system?  While the term management has reference to action related to activities, the term governance implies direction-driven management and decision making. And, the self-governance system adds dimensions that are absent in fisheries management. This governance system is built on the social, ethical and religious values of the fisher community. Environmental conservation is a primary concern. The stake-net fishing is carried out according to the cycle of the moon. On full moon days, fishers experience best fish catch and they operate all the stake-nets assigned to a group whereas in the interim, during the waxing and waning of the moon, they reduce the fishing traps. Most importantly, the fishing traps catch prawns that go out of the lagoon with tide-out. This natural phenomena is largely affected by the appearance of the moon.  The values in their governance system are

  1. Equity ensuring that measures are in place for equal distribution of fish harvesting among the fisher groups
  2. Environmental sustainability making provision for succeeding generations to continue harvesting fish as a reliable means of livelihood
  3. Stewardship ensuring that fisher groups maintain Ownership, Responsibility, Accountability and Reward towards governing the lagoon ecosystem. This is transferred from generation to generation.
  4. Maintaining peace among the groups is managed according to religious values.
  5. Social well-being is sustained by contributions to the church for social well-being of the community
  6. Transparency is ensured by decisions that are arrived at collectively and communicated formally and clearly to all concerned.
  7. Democracy in practice is followed by ensuring that rules and management actions are drafted and adopted based on the consensus of the majority.
  8. A mutually agreed upon system of Inclusion and exclusion has been adopted to reduce fishing pressure to ensure sustainability

The unique stake-net group’s collaborative use of the Chilaw lagoon’s shrimp resources and its proven resilience is an example that merits emulation. This system of self-governance has endured for four centuries and continues to provide a means of livelihood to eight groups of shrimp fishers. This indicates that similar self-governance systems can be replicated among other lagoon communities in Sri Lanka or elsewhere. This is in contrast with mere management practices that are action oriented but short-lived. Importantly, this shows the critical role played by values and a time-tested governance system to ensure sustainability of lagoon resources and livelihoods of lagoon fishers.

The Sustainable Lagoons and Livelihoods project in Sri Lanka has been working with 18 lagoons to build fisheries governance. Chilaw lagoon is one of them. Through working with Chilaw lagoon fishers, the project identified the local governance system and began to further legally strengthen this self- governance into a decentralized collaborative fisheries governance process with all stakeholders who are representing different decision making levels; collective, operational, policy and constitutional on one interactive platform to make unified decisions on the utilization of the Chilaw lagoon ecosystem. This is driven by their own time-tested values and principles.

This short video describes their system further.

Sustainable Lagoons and Livelihoods Project (SLLP) is funded by Big Lottery Fund, UK and jointly implemented by Practical Action Sri Lanka and Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources

Sumit Dugar of Practical Action Consulting is awarded the young scientist award

Friday, November 6th, 2015 by

Sumit Dugar from PAC Nepal has just been awarded the young scientist award at the annual conference of the international society for Integrated Disaster Risk Management (IDRiM) 2015 for his paper on PAC’s Disaster Risk Reduction work in Nepal : How Often Will a 1 in a 1000 Year Flood Occur – The 2014 Karnali Flood in West Nepal

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Contributing to the elaboration of the National Plan of Action on Gender and Climate Change in Peru

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015 by

One of the most important outcomes of the COP20 in Peru last year was the development of the Lima Work Program on Gender and Climate Change which establishes a plan of activities to promote gender sensitivity in climate change policy and practice. Inspired by diverse discussions around gender at the 2014 COP, the Government of Peru took the ambitious decision to develop a National Plan of Action on Gender and Climate Change (PAGCC); a unique effort among South American countries.

Over recent years, Peru has laid some solid legal foundations that should facilitate the integration of gender dimensions into the country’s development initiatives. These include passing the National Law for Equal Opportunities between Men and Women in 2007 (Ley de Igualdad de Oportunidades Entre Mujeres y Hombres), and the development of the National Plan for Gender Equality 2012-2017 (Plan Nacional de Igualdad deGénero – PLANIG) and the 2014 National Climate Change Strategy (Estrategía Nacional ante el Cambio Climático), among others.

It is acknowledged that in the development of public policies, strategies and national plans in Peru and beyond, gender equality is often overlooked and the objectives rarely respond to the specific needs of women, men, children and elderly people. [1] It is therefore a key objective of the PAGCC to mainstream gender across national policies and initiatives related to climate change mitigation and adaptation in Peru. Specifically, the plan focuses on the following eights areas:

  1. Forests
  2. Water Resources
  3. Energy
  4. Food Safety
  5. Solid Waste
  6. Health
  7. Education
  8. Disaster Risk Management.

The development of the PAGCC began in December 2014 and involves numerous government agencies and civil society groups from across the country, led by the Department of Climate Change, Desertification and Water Resources in the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations. Representatives from several of these agencies and groups were invited by Practical Action Consulting to a workshop to kick-off the CDKN-funded research project ‘Gender Equality and Climate Compatible Development: Drivers and challenges to people’s empowerment’ in April 2015.

Peru is one of the three countries, along with Kenya and India, which has been selected for the research project coordinated by Practical Action Consulting with the support of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS). This research seeks to establish a deeper understanding of how and to what extent gender approaches can contribute to climate compatible development (CCD) with a special focus on urban contexts. It is hoped that the lessons and recommendations from the research will contribute to the design and implementation of CCD actions and policies on in the countries studied and beyond.

The case study in Peru provides an opportunity to explore the role of the gender approach in disaster risk reduction by examining the experiences of two Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Networks (Redes de Gestión de Riesgos, Desastres y Cambio Climático, known as GRIDES) in the Andean cities of Cajamarca and Ancash. The GRIDES provide a space where civil society representatives can engage and influence decision-makers to incorporate the issues of risk management and climate change into regional development plans

Throughout this year PAC has been invited to contribute to the development of the National Plan on several occasions, in particular by helping to strengthen understanding around the benefits of gender approaches to disaster risk reduction. As a result, the draft PAGCC cites the work of the GRIDES as an example of how gender approaches can be integrated into DRR efforts.

GRIDES photo 1

On 13thOctober 2015, the Ministry of Environment organised an expert workshop in Lima designed to collect expert contributions for the final draft text of the PAGCC. Among 30 participants, with the majority representing government agencies, Lili Illeva was one of only five representatives from civil society invited to attend the workshop.

Her contributions centred on gender and DRR and a key priority was to share some of the initial lessons coming out of the CDKN research. These included:

  • Women living in urban and rural areas of Peru experience different socio-economic impacts as a result of climate change, especially in terms of food security. For example, women in Cajamarca told us that in rural areas they have the opportunity to grow their own food, however when they migrate to cities, if they do not find a way of generating income for just one day (which often happens as a result of disaster events), they are quickly exposed to food insecurity.
  • Urban women demonstrate different strategies for adaptation and disaster response compared to urban men and rural women, especially women who have migrated to urban areas. Often the traditional knowledge they have is not relevant for urban challenges and many capacity building initiatives fail to respond to their specific needs.
  • In the urban context, women are perceived to be more vulnerable than men to climate change, disasters and emergencies in particular because they are responsible for preparing food, providing water to their families and protecting children from increasing health risks.
  • At the same time, urban women could be perceived as more resilient than men to disasters. For example, urban women seek out new knowledge and take into account future risks, such as potential food and water scarcity or how to protect children from new diseases.
  • While recognising that in the urban context both men and women play an important role in DRR, women are particularly pro-active in the transmission of new knowledge (such as disaster evacuation plans) to family members.
  • Urban women also demonstrate high levels of participation in community DRR initiatives, such as disaster simulations and post-disaster recovery.
  • There is a need to develop understanding and awareness around the relationships between gender and climate compatible development (including DRR) in urban contexts, especially amongst urban populations, civil society and decision makers.

It is hoped that the outcomes of this research will continue to inform the design and implementation of the PAGCC, as well as strengthen the mainstreaming of gender in development initiatives in Peru and beyond.

The final results and recommendations from the research will be presented in a country report and policy brief to be published early 2016.

GRIDES photo 2


Lili Ilieva is a researcher in climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction at Practical Action Consulting Latin America and member of the technical team in the CDKN-supported research project ‘Gender Equality and Climate Compatible Development: Drivers and Challenges to people’s empowerment’.


[1] Ministry of Women and Vulnerable Populations, presentation at the 3rd expert workshop for the preparation of PAGCC

Solar Power Cart: One stop solution for post cyclone energy need

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015 by

We tend to think of development, not in terms of evolution, but in terms of creation. ~ EF Schumacher

Based on a trolley (3-wheeler) this new innovation of a Solar Power Cart “Soura Ratha” can produce up to 1KW green energy which will provide hassle free power supply in emergency situations. On the eve of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Day and Odisha Disaster Preparedness Day, the first prototype of the Soura Ratha is publicly displayed at the Exhibition unveiled by the Chief Minister Mr. Naveen Patnaik here at Bhubaneswar. It is noted that during disaster, once charged, this innovation can provide emergency energy for continuous 72 hours.

IMG_5824 (Cópia)It was the occasion of National Day for Disaster Reduction, 29th October when the team Energy, Practical Action, Odisha decided & influenced its partners to demonstrate a model of Solar Power Plant on wheels, the first of its kind in the state. The Solar Power Cart so developed was displayed b state level function at Bhubaneswar, which was inaugurated by the Honourable Chief Minister of Odisha. The project was taken up in collaboration with Climate Parliament and sponsored by Odisha Renewable Energy Development Authority (OREDA) & Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA). The design & development partner was Desi Technology Solutions, a private firm who had been partnering with Practical Action since long

The cart is designed to meet the energy requirement in the inaccessible disaster prone areas in specific & as required by the community in general. It is proposed to be placed at the Cyclone Shelters already built by OSDMA and operate from there as per local need. The idea is that the solar panel and the battery bank along with the appliances would be loaded on a hand pulled cart and can be taken to various unreached areas and provides energy solution such as illumination, water pumping, clear water logging by pumping out the stagnate water in emergency, charging of mobile phones, running emergency communication equipment etc.

Designed technically to serve at the Cyclone shelter centres, it is well equipped and first of its kind innovation. The senior officials from state administration appreciated the initiative during their visit today and this may be considered for a larger level implementation in the state. This has technically be designed to be stationed at Cyclone Shelter centres which the government can plan to take it forward.

IMG_5782 (Cópia)“Accessing energy and power for basic needs like charging mobiles or emergency lights or using water pumps for water was always a challenge post disaster. Even during Phailin in 2013, there was complete power back-out in most of the places in Ganjam District for more than a week. To address this issue and to be well prepared before disaster, this new innovation will be much helpful and ideal,” adds Mr Sanjit Behera, Energy Expert from Practical Action.

In addition this Solar Power cart has additional features such as the movability is not dependent on any fuel and it’s a hand pulled cart easily installed and can also be dismantled as and when required. This is a compact solution loaded with appliances and can provide services like Illumination, water pumping, charging of mobiles, laptops and charge lights etc. This has an indigenous and futuristic design which can work both in Solar and grid power. “Though it has scope to further modification, but it is of low cost looking at its usage and needs easy maintenance,” said Mr Behera from Practical Action.

Now the cart had been displayed at a state level annual science exhibition organised by Sri Aurobindo Bigyan Parishad where more than 500 students & parents from all across the state participated and learnt about the cart, the real use & utility of solar energy for humankind. The cart is also roaming around the city educating the masses about its usage and use during emergency.

This innovation has also been featured in different publications such as The Hindu, The New Indian Express, The Pioneer, The Orissadiary and many more.

Written By Sanjit Ku Behera.