Mansoor Ali


Mansoor Ali works with Practical Action and has 26 years of experience in basic services for poverty reduction. He worked in 18 countries. Current projects include Kenya, South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Nepal and Zimbabwe.

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Posts by Mansoor

  • Global Handwashing Day in Kenya

    October 15th, 2012

    What difference we made? I asked our team members and partners in Nakuru, where we are leading this with the Ministry of Public Health. They said that traditionally it used to be a high level meeting, when politicians and senior government officials come and deliver speeches. We have taken this day to the lowest income areas and involved the community. Brought new methods, technologies and approaches. It fits very well with our sanitation programme in Nakuru. We saw a very high turnout of people and a good media coverage.

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  • Does Olympics and our efforts have a relationship?

    July 26th, 2012

    The British summer finally arrived and London is busy and colourful.

    The Olympics are very visible – they are everywhere. The more I am thinking about this, the more I admire its details.

    It is a time when 203 countries come together, represented by more than 10,000 athletes, and forget their differences.

    To me, this year’s Olympics says a lot about our oneness or may be I am feeling this more.

    Firstly, the Olympic Park and the infrastructure improvements took place in East of London – a relatively deprived area of London. Despite some challenges, people are happy about this.

    Secondly, the opening ceremony is directed by Danny Boyle, the director of the well known film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ about slums dwellers. We are expecting that the opening will have a core message on oneness – our diverse unity.

    Many organisations are supporting Olympics, but what is more inspiring is this feeling that in London that ‘we need to make it a success’. We are the host. I was in London yesterday and this feeling is everywhere and in everyone. An amazing number of volunteers, 70, 000 are giving their time for these games. The actual applications may be five times more than this. You could estimate the financial, love and happiness values of their times.

    Working in international development, we positively feel the message of Olympics more deeply. The message of our oneness, the importance of our love, the value of our respect to each other. The importance of thinking beyond ourselves – the 70,000 volunteers. This is about together make it happen. I always wish that all these values could be replicated and used for our efforts to reduce global poverty. Wishing all the best to the 2012 Olympics and to those who regularly work on the values of unity and oneness. In this one world.

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  • Third European Report on Development (2011-12)

    May 24th, 2012

    This report is released recently and considered to have a major say in the development policy. This is available at;

    While, I am still reading it, but out of excitement, can’t stop myself writing this blog. Part of my excitement, is to see a number of priorities in the report which Practical Action has been asking for, piloting in our countries of work and building capacity of our partners.

    First of all, the report is asking for an integrated thinking on water, land and energy, so called – The WEL Nexus. This is at the heart of what we do, as one action in a place may have a positive or negative impact at another place, group or another time. All is interlinked.

    Second is putting forward an agenda for change, an agenda of inclusive growth. The growth which could increase livelihoods of the poor and most importantly making the private sector business model more inclusive.

    Then finally, what I really liked about the report is what it is saying on the combination of public and private sector actions. Not just leaving this to the markets to sort out. My reading and reflection continue and will update you in my next blog.

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  • The day when we all learn and share

    May 21st, 2012

    Wednesday 23rd of May is an important day for Practical Action staff. Officially, it is called a review day and I call it a day of collective learning and sharing. The whole organisation and everyone, dedicate this day to look back and reflect. I love this day for many reasons. The most important reasons is this is about the quality of our work and its impact. It brings everyone together. We all become ‘learners’. Without any doubt, we could not move forward if we do not reflect back and learn. This is also a day, when we celeberate our achievements. Looking forward!

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  • Simple solutions to complex problems

    May 9th, 2012

    Conflicts between moving populations with livestock and settled farmers groups are common in many parts of the world.

    Practical Action Sudan has developed and tested an approach to mark the pastoralist routes more clearly and have negotiated this with the farmers around the routes.

    This involved complex negotiations but led to something simple, which works. The routes are marked with colored poles and provides a visible mark for all the parties involved. This approach has great potential to reduce conflicts.

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  • Sanitation is off-track

    April 20th, 2012

    Recent UN meeting declares sanitation as the most-off track MDG. The following link has more details.
    Global sanitation target under threat

    Lack of access to improved sanitation is an obvious example of technology in-justice. Global effort is needed to build the sector and address the issue.

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  • Challenges of urban sanitation

    March 23rd, 2012

    Practical Action has launched a project to improve sanitation situation in the slum areas of Ronda and Kiptembwo in Nakuru, Kenya, which will benefit 190,000 women and men.

    Both the slums have very poor status of sanitation, with no toilets available and where they are available, they are used by at least 50 people.

    Both the slums have areas where open defecation is common. This creates serious health risks. The project will be pioneering the approach of Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), in an urban context.

    Practical Action will be working with Umande Trust on this project and supported by the Municipal Council of Nakuru. The project will use participatory approaches through community health workers to enable tenants and landlords to improve their sanitation system.

    This process of demand creation will then be supported by introducing affordable technologies and financial systems. A commercial bank has already shown interest to support the project through soft loans. Currently the project is carrying out baseline surveys and developing monitoring indicators. The project is well supported by the local water company, the Ministry of Health and other NGOs working in Nakuru.

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  • Is Sanitation tariffs really an Issue?

    December 2nd, 2011

    Yes, but provided they exist for the majority of urban population, who are now more than 50% of slum dwellers in towns and cities of developing countries. Our work in Kenya and partners work in 5 other African Countries show that pro-poor tariffs is a totally neglected areas in many countries. Promiting people’s choices and control over technologies in urban areas is becoming a major challenge. This is due to many reasons including government control and nature of technologies. Therefore our attention is on the conditions under which technologies are delivered and tariffs is one of those important conditions. In many cases government standards and tariffs are far from the capabilities of the poor people. This means influencing decision makers on affordable systems is still an important part of our work.

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  • Participatory planning is more than a planning tool!

    November 21st, 2011

    Please take a look at our new Technical Brief on participatory planning with slum dwellers.

    Our recent experience in Kenya suggests that participatory planing has a potential to overcome social and econmic injustice if it creates a local ownership. It plans a development which is people-centered.

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  • What is special about 19th November?

    November 19th, 2011

    This was at the back of my mind, as I came out of the toilet.

    This may be another ‘World Toilet Day’ for more than 2.5 billion waiting to receive access to improved sanitation.

    Sanitation is a challenge in urban slums

    2008 was declared as the International Year of Sanitation as more than 2.5 billion people lack safe sanitation and each year millions of children die from diarrhoeal diseases and cholera.

    Sanitation was declared a major challenge in international development. Sanitation is not just about physical infrastructure or technologies, as attitudes and behaviours play a major role in sanitation choice and use.

    Initially, toilet were considered a simple human need which does not need rocket science as far as technology is concerned.

    Later, many NGOs and international agencies found that sanitation is not about constructing toilets and its impact on health is not about its use only. It needs a change in behaviour and habits and requires hygiene education.

    Children and women are worst affected by poor sanitation. Young girls stop going to school because of the lack of toilet facilities needed during their menstrual cycle and children are scared of using toilets designed for adults. Even in technology, the cost of construction, affordability and standards are some of the major challenges which require social research. To achieve positive health impacts, the entire community needs to have toilets and people must use them regularly. This means working at the village and neighbourhood levels, not just with the households.

    For our colleagues in Kenya, this day is more exciting than many of us, as they are preparing to start a new programme on urban sanitation in Nakuru, based on the principles of Community-Led Total Sanitation.

    In the early 1990s, some NGOs in Bangladesh and India worked on an approach called the Community-Led Total Sanitation approach (CLTS, 2008). The CLTS methods were developed to talk openly about ‘shit’ and create a feeling of disgust and shame among groups, such as villagers. The roots of CLTS are found in participatory approaches (Chambers, 2008) already tested and successful.

    The CLTS acted as a trigger and the whole village took the responsibility of constructing toilets and declaring the village as Open Defecation Free (ODF). This was a major social breakthrough to solve a problem which had previously been considered as a health and engineering problem. The outcome of total sanitation was achieved through the understanding and facilitation of social processes only. The next challenge is to enable social scientists and engineers to work together, to integrate the software and hardware of the CLTS approach to move up to the next rung in the ladder. Kamal Kar, is one of the main drivers in spreading the CLTS movement and a recent book by Lyla Mehta, ‘Shit Matters’ published by Practical Action Publishing, captures deeper research questions.

    I feel CLTS has a potential to change the game in sanitation and to reach a stage when we do not remember 19th November, as another day of hopelessness.

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