Haladete-East is a village located 40 km North from the city of Kassala, Eastern Sudan. It is a home of over 4800 people, from which 2850 are women. This is a story of an amazing water initiative that benefited not only one family but the entire village of Haladete-East!
Access to water has always been a serious problem in Haladete-East. Because there was no water nearby, people had to walk every day nearly three hours, through deserted roads, to collect water. Their only source of water was a remote hand-pump that was unreliable. The walks to collect water were tough and because of the heavy weight, only limited amount of water could be brought back to the village. Because of this, water could only be used to absolute necessities such as cooking and drinking.
To solve the problem, Practical Action launched a project called Aqua for East. The project, funded by DFID, aimed to improve the water security for the benefit of the whole community. To do this, Practical Action needed to build a water tank that would be big enough to provide water for 4800 people!
The first step in the project was to identify a location with a steady underground water supply (through hydrological studies and water catchment surveys). This ensured that the water supply would not run dry – even during the driest times. Once the right location was selected, Practical Action build the water tank, including two different distribution stations. One station was for women and the other for men. Each station included six water taps.
What makes this project so special, is the substantial community engagement. With the help of Practical Action, people living in the village established a Water Committee that looked after the management of the water distribution, including financial management and preparations should a damage occur.
Because of the Aqua for East initiative, the life of the people living in Haladete-East is now easier, healthier, more dignified and joyful. To summarise:
1. People do not need to walk long distances to collect water anymore. They now have an easy access to clean water for drinking, cooking and cleaning. In addition, small scale farming and animal farming have benefited from the secured water supply.
2. The initiative has had a tremendous impact on improved hygiene. Villagers are now able to wash their hands and shower more often, to do laundry and clean their homes. Furthermore, the food is less contaminated and diet more healthier due to in-house cultivated vegetables.
3. More girls are going to school instead of collecting water. In addition, they have more time to socialise and participate in income generating activities.
Nafish O’shak, one of the villagers, said: “Before, the community health promoters used to give us strong hygiene advice, but without water we could not do what we were advised to do. Now we have sufficient water and we are very hygienic. Our clothes, food and houses are extremely clean.“
Is that a revolutionary impact or what?No Comments » | Add your comment
Roxana Añez is a Bolivian woman and a mother of nine children. She lives in small indigenous community in Tacana Altamarani which is located on the river Beni, three hours downriver from San Buenaventura.
Roxana, an intelligent and driven woman, has always wanted to study and increase her knowledge for the benefit of herself and her community. Unfortunately, because of the social and cultural norms, it has not been possible. Like in many other indigenous communities in Bolivia, a woman’s role is to ‘serve’ her husband and children. This meant that Roxana, like other women in Altamarani, had to spend her days walking to the river bank and back to collect water and to do the washing. After these daily chores, there was no time left for anything else.
“That was our life. To climb up that ravine under the burning sun, with all the bottles of water and clothes that needed washing.”
In 2014, the course of Roxana’s life suddenly changed. This was the year when heavy rains and flooding tormented the little community in Altamarani. Because of the flooding, the people in the community lost over 80 per cent of their crops. In addition, their access to clean water was cut – leaving the whole community on the brink of survival.
Practical Action, in partnership with Christian Aid, responded to the emergency. Based on the analysis of the situation, they quickly identified, that the primary need in the area was clean water. Because of the flooding, the water was difficult to access. In addition to this, the water in river Beni was contaminated, causing severe health problems.
In order to solve the problem, Practical Action installed a solar-powered water pumping system which is a great technology for emergency response because it does not require any fuel costs. Thanks to this new technology, people in Altamarani now have access to clean water at their homes.
Because of the installed water pumping system, Roxana no longer spends her days walking to the river bank and back. This means that she finally has time to educate herself and to do other things she has always dreamt of. Shortly after the pumping system was built, she participated in the agroforestry knowledge exchange programme that thought her new, sustainable ways of farming.
“I have now returned to my community to put all that knowledge into practice. I wish everyone had the opportunity to leave and participate in these kind of activities, so they can learn. I want to keep learning.”
Because of her knowledge and eagerness to learn, Roxana is now one of the leaders in her community. Together with her husband, she owns a farm that produces fruits and medical plants. In the future, Roxana wants to keep on learning and developing herself for the benefit of the community.
Did you enjoy this story? If yes, go to our Mother’s Day site and meet other inspiring women just like Roxana!
Want to help women like Roxana this Mother’s Day? Our Practical Presents Charity Gift shop offers some amazing Mother’s Day gifts that are designed to transform lives. More information here.No Comments » | Add your comment
Talking about shit for a week in India — a fascinating context to present our sanitation work! India, a country that has undertaken a huge and ambitious national scale clean-up campaign (‘Swachh Bharat’ /’Clean India Mission’), hosted the 4th Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) Conference in Chennai this February. In total, 1,100 practitioners, governments and private sector representatives from all over the world participated in the conference. This was a truly unique sharing and visibility opportunity for our organisation. As a result, we ran out of our latest Technology Justice paper on Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) on the second day of the conference!
During the FSM4 conference, we shared lessons from the preliminary operation of the business model we are implementing in Faridpur, Bangladesh, as part of the ‘Public Private Partnerships (PPP) for Sustainable Sludge Management Services’ project (Gates Foundation – DFID funding). We also provided the community of practice with some key insights on the relevance of business modelling and market-based solutions in FSM, and received some excellent feedback from the participants, because we were addressed the following issues:
Why working on FSM — The dreadful economic and health costs of poor sanitation
The World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program estimates the economic costs of poor sanitation in Bangladesh to be USD 4.2 billion each year. This was equivalent to 6.3 per cent of Bangladesh’s GNP in 2007! This shows that the health impacts dwarf the economic costs. In Bangladesh, open defecation has remarkably decreased to only 1 per cent (from 34 per cent in 1990). However, in most secondary towns, like Faridpur, there are no sewers. Residents rely on on-site sanitation, combined with unsafe FSM practices. In addition, 90 per cent of the sludge in Faridpur was not safely emptied or transported when we first assessed the situation in 2014. The absence of drainage or emptying facilities in the low-income settlements results in overflowing toilets, which simply leads to the problem of open defecation reoccurring! This is the main reason why we developed our programme in Bangladesh. This project now mixes hardware (e.g. treatment plant) and software solutions (e.g. private entrepreneurs and municipality partnership around FSM business).
A national FSM framework to fill the legal vacuum in Bangladesh
The health and economic risks presented above are what we call a “second-generation sanitation challenge”. Bangladesh has achieved 99 per cent access to sanitation. However, the key challenge now is: how can both, public and private sector actors, safely manage all the sludge that is contained in these new on-site systems. Practical Action and ITN-BUET (our partner University) work on developing viable business models for the problem. In addition, we have been developing a National Institutional and Regulatory Framework for FSM. This was inexistent in Bangladesh but is now being approved. This framework will significantly clarify roles for the municipalities in charge. It is now complemented by the strategic policy advocacy and knowledge dissemination; role played by the newly created National FSM Network, including I/NGOs, CSOs, government, private sector and industries. Practical Action was a key founder of this network.
Lessons and highlights from the FSM4 Conference:
- Awareness raising and demand generation are the key to kick-start new FSM businesses.
- Early indications show, that pit-emptiers in Faridpur are now seeing an increase in demand. As a result, faecal waste is now safely disposed at the treatment plant. While some projects have tended to underestimate activities such as street drama, cycling events, cleanliness drives, quiz contests and cycle rallies. These have proven to be the central drivers of a progressive increase in revenue from pit-emptying. Further, they create a sense of ownership and environmental awareness. Increased demand for a trustworthy service demonstrates good potential for uptake of such models.
- A cross-subsidised tariff system is required to attain a responsive service in these cities.
- Income that pit-emptiers get from fees cannot fully cover the cost of collecting, transporting, treating and disposing the sludge. This is why business models explore the possibilities to have other sources of revenues; such as a smart subsidy from the Municipality, and sales of co-compost from sludge in medium-long term.
- Taking a system’s approach helps seeing the bigger picture and to forsee interconnected issues.
- Looking at FSM as a system (i.e. including all stakeholders, rules, norms beyond the mere service chain household-to-treatment plant) allowed the project team to see hidden strengths and blockages that would only have been uncovered later on. By doing so, the Faridpur project could:
- Build on the informal sector as an existing and relatively efficient service provider and
- Understand conflictive incentives in providing pit-emptying services.
- Looking at FSM as a system (i.e. including all stakeholders, rules, norms beyond the mere service chain household-to-treatment plant) allowed the project team to see hidden strengths and blockages that would only have been uncovered later on. By doing so, the Faridpur project could:
- Practical Action is good at facilitating participatory and inclusive design of partnerships between Municipalities and the private sector, e.g. between FaridpurMunicipality, formalised pit-emptiers, and a treatment plant operator. Years of collaboration with municipalities have helped to build trust, and therefore, to facilitate the design of such business models that are flexible, modular and adaptable to how demand for pit-emptying evolves over time.
Outstanding questions and food for thought:
- The multi- stakeholder’s steering committee, set up in Faridpur Municipality to oversee the performance of the service, will play a key role in rolling out and scaling up the service – is it possible to use this model in other Water & Sanitation projects to ensure ownership and to take this approach to scale?
- We should have a better understanding of pro-poor sanitation services in our projects. Our projects are focusing on scale and profitability, however the question of the affordability of emptying services for the poorest in Faridpur was raised by our peers.
- Could we not complement our systems and business approach with a “Rights-Based Approach”? Human rights based approaches (HRBAs) are successfully used to build citizens’ capacity to claim this basic right to the Government.
More information about why our Sanitation work matters: Watch our Bangladesh Director Hasin Jahan’s TED Talk.
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Practical Action, in collaboration with Kassala Women Development Association Network (KWDAN), organized an environmental sanitation campaign in four villages in the Talkok area, Toiat, Temegrif, Tahjer Kanjer and Bariay.
The slogan for the campaign was ‘Environmental sanitation is everyone’s responsibility!’
The campaign was launched in Twaite village on 30 January and continued for two days, before moving on to the other villages. The first day in Twaite proved a success with the local community adopting the ideas.
The organisations that participated in this campaign were the HAC, Practical Action, Kassala Women Association Network, and Talkok Health Office. It was a good idea to start in the boy’s school because children are the future, we rely on them.
Children were motivated by the campaign slogan and toured the village urging others citizens to see sanitation as an important part of a healthy life.
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The Aqua4East project in Telkok is working towards its communities becoming Open Defecation Free (ODF). This will be achieved through practical activities such as latrine construction, burying faeces and keeping compounds and stream beds clean. The project is encouraging the Darasta community to use the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach.
The group which was trained in these methods noted an improvement in latrine construction and encouraged people to build their own household latrines. In the past other organizations built latrines for some households but they were not used properly. Now people understand their importance better and most of them are used.
Sita Ahmed Adam, aged 25, said that she and her family have started digging and soon they will have their own latrine. They now understand that their faeces can contaminate their hands and their food if they do not properly dispose of their waste.
Amna Omer Hohamoud, aged 20 and her husband attended the CLTS training and recounted the importance of the family working together – wife, husband and children. They have now completed and use their latrine.
“Now we feel comfortable we have the latrine inside the house and avoid people looked at us and we go in the open, Also we know how to clean our hands after visiting the latrine with soap or ash.”
The community members told us that the appearance of faeces on the street are less now that defecating in the open has reduced. They hope soon to be open defecation free.1 Comment » | Add your comment
Stories of urban cleaners society in Bangladesh
by Md. A. Halim Miah, Makfie Farah, Uttam Kumar Saha and Hasin Jahan
History reveals that there were a special group of people who, unlike other artisans like smiths and weavers, worked at cleaning sewerage and drainage system in the old urban civilizations at Harappa and Mohenjo-daro. They were mostly enslaved. We are now under the charter of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights where every man has equal rights to choose their profession and lead a decent life with dignity and equality.
Urban cleaner is a caste or class?
As well as that Indus civilization as we also had a thousand year old urban centre named Pundra nagar. That city had also had a ‘cleaner class’, a special artisan community culturally called ‘Harijan’.
Among the society of cleaners in Bangladesh there are broadly two communities based on their religious identity – a Hindu or Harijan community and a Muslim sweeper community.
In the Hindu religious system society is segregated into a caste system of four professional groups. The Harijan community is one of these. Mahatma Gandhi, a famous Indian political leader renowned for his non-violence movement and social reform, worked for the rights of those human groups who did not have minimum dignity as human beings. He tried to bring them in the main stream Hindu society by giving them a new name. He called them Harijan (hari means most honourable) and that was officially declared as ‘scheduled’.
There is no social stratification in Islam but in practice lower status communes exist in society who are exploited in many ways due to their low status profession like ‘Kulu’ (traditionally oil producer), ‘Jhula’ (weavers) and ‘Hajam’ (circumcision). As today many people from rural peasants society have moved away from their land and traditional livelihoods due to natural disasters and are forced to take shelter in urban and peri-urban areas. These poor people, who do not have skills that fit with the urban economy, are engaging in this type of lower skills based employment. They face economic, social, and cultural marginalization.
Political economy of cleaners
Available statistics show that there are around 150,000 Harijan in Bangladesh. If we include Muslim cleaners in this profession then the number is higher and is gradually increasing with urbanization. There are around 532 urban centres in Bangladesh representing 35% of the population and contributing 80% of national GDP (MHHDC, 2014). Experts suggest that rapid urbanisation will mean that this number will reach 50% by 2030.
Each day 13,333 MT of urban waste is generated – per capita this is ½ kg per day. This study was conducted in 2005 when there were 512 urban centres and the total urban population was around 25%. This increased to 35% in 2016 so waste generation today could be around 20,000 MT per day.
For a liveable city and healthy urbanization we need improved and modernized cleaning services and a professional group with skills and adequate logistics. We can not expect these improvements immediately, but need a priority plan to take the country and our economy to the stage of middle income countries where per capita gross national income starts from US$1,026 to $ 12,475.
How do we expect to do this when we ignore around two million people whose services are required daily to foster our urban economy and production? Are they being exploited? Is their work less economically valuable than that of other artisans among the urban classes? We cannot afford to ignore the cost of negligence of proper sanitation cleanliness.
A study ‘The Human Waste’, conducted by Water Aid and Tearfund shows that in developing countries 80% of disease is due to poor sanitation. People suffering from water borne diseases occupy half of the world’s hospital beds. Poor sanitation causes an increased burden of disease, numbers in hospital, a daily work loss, lower participation of children in school and the long term effect on health from anaemia and stunted growth.
The report also reveals that school sanitation programs increase the enrolment of girls annually by 11%. My 12 year old daughter was admitted to a new school after her graduation from class five to six. In the beginning she reported to me that her school toilets were not cleaned properly so she did not want to continue at that school. She repeatedly reported this to her class teachers and she is now fine with her present school. So we can see how the social and economic value of this cleaning works!
Why are cleaners not a development priority?
The Bangladesh constitution confirms equal rights for every citizen under the article 19(1) “the state will attempt to ensure equal; opportunities for all the citizens” and also article 20(1) where every citizens rights are agreed with same value regardless of their caste, class, religion and sex. But in practice what we see is that communities like cleaners are deprived in many ways of equal access to basic citizen services.
A recent study conducted by Professor Ainoon Naher and Abu Ala Mahmud Hasan among the harijan of northern Bangladesh (HEKS/EPER, 2016) shows that, “In general, the common feeling among the Dalit is that they have always been looked down upon by the mainstream/dominant groups who tend to avoid Dalit in public spaces”. It also reveals that Dalit women are the ‘marginalized among the marginalized’.
Social safety nets are a major instrument of the Bangladesh government to reduce poverty and hunger. The allocation of safety nets is mostly rural biased with safety net packages more than three times higher in rural areas compare to urban (House Hold Income and Expenditure Survey , 2010, Pp. 72, BBS). Girls from extreme poor communities who live in urban slums are not entitled to school stipend program as metropolitan cities are excluded from that safety net policy.
The Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) network Bangladesh organized a national convention of pit emptiers on 7th December 2016 in Dhaka. Around 92 pit emptiers from 20 municipalities attended. It was an exceptional day for the development workers as well as for these most marginalized people. They identified plenty of eye awakening issues (revealed in the table below) about what we need to know if we really want to change the world
Table: Extent of deprivation of cleaners
|Health & Security||Equity||Dignity||Fair income|
|“We want equal attention in health care centres when we become sick”||“We want to play together with all the children”||“We are avoided in social events even though we attend we are humiliated”||“What we earn monthly that is enough for twenty days and rest of the days we have to live with borrow from informal money lenders with high interest of repayment”|
What is the solution?
Jan Eliasson, Deputy Secretary of the United Nations commented that ‘No- one left behind’ is the underlying moral code of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. He emphasized that people who are hardest to reach should be given priority. Practical Action Bangladesh have implemented a four year (2012-2016) multi-country (Bangladesh, Nepal & Sri Lanka) project named Integrated Urban Development ( IUD2) that focused on participatory planning for inclusive urban governance.
The findings of this project are encouraging for development thinkers and policy makers. It followed a participatory approach to include urban cleaners in the development process with a drive to demonstrate pro poor urban governance. Narratives from project beneficiaries show that they were enlightened by understanding the democratic process and how to identify problems and solutions through a participatory planning process. “We can arrange election in our SIC reformation, exercise and enjoy democracy”, said Rumpa Begum, Slum Improvement Committee, Faridpur.
We learned that to create an enabling environment for interaction between two classes of people (elite and proletariat) governance improvement is essential. At the same time a focus on improving skills and reducing health and safety risks is important for transforming any economic sector.
In the history of human society the dominant class has always controlled advanced technology. So creating access to technology for this class can make change happen. I found this to be true for the cleaners’ community of the Faridpur municipality. At the beginning of this year Urban and Energy Service Program of Practical Action, Bangladesh organized an impact review and learning workshop. One of the main stakeholders of this program was city /municipality government. Anisur Rahman Chowdhury, an honourable counsellor of the Faridpur Municipality, who commented in one of the learning sessions on Practical Action’s engagement in the development of his city:
“Earlier I myself never give space to stand my side any mathor (Cleaner) but when I found that they are now use machines for emptying pit. They do not get down into inside of the pit. I found there is no any bad smell with their body. They are doing like other mechanic or civil engineering works. So I sit with them in a same table at tea stall”.
I think this is the way to change social perspectives and change the lives of the most disadvantaged communities in any country. This has also been recommended by Mr. ABM Khurshed Alam, Chairman of the National Skills Development Council to make available modern tools and machinery which could change their status. He also suggested for arranging certificate course for increasing skills of the people of this profession.2 Comments » | Add your comment
With a number of challenges on the field and off the field, the team in India has managed to deliver some good sustainable practical solutions in last couple of years. Moving ahead for an eventful 2017 and with added challenges and milestones, I thought of ending the year with looking back at the sustainable practical solutions we have served so far.
Development is a process as we all know and in Practical Action the biggest learning so far I have got is how to make this process a sustainable one. Here I have documented 10 different projects and interventions which have been sustainable or aiming at sustainability delivering practical solutions.
- ACCESS cook stoves
Access Grameen Mahila Udyog, in Koraput which is nurtured by Practical Action has been instrumental in manufacturing and marketing of improved cook stoves. The cook stoves generate less smoke, save fuel and time.
It has contributed to less carbon emission and has resulted in healthier living environment in rural tribal houses.
2. SOURA RATH (Solar Power Cart)
Practical Action India developed a portable solar-powered cart (Mobile Solar Energy System) that provides energy for 72 hours to power mobile phones, laptops, lights and water pumps. The cart can serve up to a capacity of 5KW and can be used during the post-disaster emergency and is easy to be relocated from one place to another.
This model is applauded by Government of Odisha and is now being showcased at the Solar Park for public. We strongly feel this can add value to the cyclone shelter houses if used appropriately
Young girls and women in 60 slums of Bhubaneswar have formed Sakhi Clubs and spreading the knowledge on menstrual hygiene among other girls and peers. Our innovative radio Programme ‘Sunolo Sakhi’ has broken the taboo and enabled a conducive environment for discussion on menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls. The first ever radio show on menstrual hygiene Sunolo Sakhi is instrumental in bringing about change in the menstrual hygiene practices and behaviour of these young girls resulting in better health.
The comprehensive programme Sunolo Sakhi is also providing Audio book for visually challenged and video book for hearing and speech impaired girls in the State.
Community led water management has helped this tribal village Sundertaila in Nayagarh district to be self-sufficient in getting clean drinking water. Not only practical solutions but introducing user friendly and sustainable technology options at the last mile and serving them with basic needs is something what Practical Action tries to invest in its program efforts.
18 years old Sunil Tadingi of Badamanjari is now a successful entrepreneur and continues education in Semiliguda College. Despite all odds he is able to mark this achievement as his village is now electrified with the help of a self-sustained micro hydro power generation unit.
Badamanjari has set an example in Koraput district by generating around 40KW electricity to provide light to all the households of the village and people are able to watch TV and use fans as well. Rice hauler and turmeric processing units are also running with additional energy generated, as a result creating entrepreneurs like Sunil.
60 poor families in Kalahandi district of Odisha once deprived of access to electricity are electrified now. The wind and solar hybrid system by Practical Action has solved the basic energy need of the villagers with street lights, home lighting and fans.
Kamalaguda and Tijmali, these two villages are on the top of the hills where it was a day dream for getting electricity to fight with the night. Now, the villagers are capacitated to manage the systems by themselves without any external support.
At the backdrop of poor sanitation facilities in small and medium cities of Odisha, ‘Project Nirmal’ supports two fast growing urban hubs like Dhenkanal and Angul municipalities with a pilot intervention for appropriate & sustainable city wide sanitation service.
Project Nirmal aims at benefitting both the municipalities to set up Faecal Sludge Management systems by establishing treatment plants to treat the faecal sludge
“I felt very happy the moment I received the Identity Card from the Dept. of Labour and Employment, Govt. of Odisha” Says Salima Bibi a 25 year old informal waste worker from a Slum near Dumduma under Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC).
Many informal waste workers in the state are being formalised and now accessing and availing their legitimate citizen rights.
9. LITRE OF LIGHT
Light comes from water bottles. Litre of Light is an open source technology which has been successfully experimented in 120 households in the slums of Bhubaneswar. It has now lessened the use of electric light during day time.
Small children can even study and men and women can do delicate cloth weaving and other productive activities during day time with the light provided by these solar water bulbs.
117 children of informal waste workers have been enrolled in schools in one day and are continuing their schooling; they were engaged in rag picking or related works previously.
While working with alternative energy, Practical Action focuses on advocating and influencing the society for a step ahead towards meaningful development3 Comments » | Add your comment
Written by Pratikshya Priyadarshini
A hot, sunny afternoon in the Sikharchandi slum of Bhubaneswar does not evoke the imagery of a drab, lazy life that it typically must. One can hear the din from a distance, hard rubber balls hitting against wooden bats, followed closely by the voices of young boys appealing instinctively to an invisible umpire. As we walk along the dusty paths, the roads wider than the adjacent houses, a number of young girls flock to us, greeting us with coy smiles. Young and old women, sitting on verandas, welcome us with pleasantries and call out to their daughters, “The Sakhi Club Didis are here!” We stop in front of a small pakka house, the purple paint shining brightly in the slanting afternoon sun while the rice lights from Diwali night hanging down the roof wait for the evening to be lit. 15 year old Sailaja comes out of the little door, wiping her hands and wearing an infectious smile on her face as she briskly lays down the mats for us to sit down. She then speaks to us about the Sunalo Sakhi program and her participation in it.
Sailaja was 13 years old when she first got her periods. Anxious and fearful, she informed her mother about it. She knew very little about menstruation before the onset of her menarche. In fact, even after she got her periods, she had very little knowledge about the process and had harbored a number of misconceptions that she had begotten from her previous generations. She recalls that when she got her periods for the first time, she was isolated from everyone and kept inside her house owing to the customary practices of her culture. Moreover, she was placed under a number of restrictions by her family in terms of moving and playing, interacting with boys and men and speaking openly about periods. Sailaja had been using cloth to prevent staining back then. She was facing a number of difficulties in keeping herself clean since she had to wash the cloth on her own and dry it. It used to be inconvenient during the monsoons and winter as there would be no sunlight and the cloth wouldn’t dry up. Add to that, she was not even aware of the health repercussions that using unhygienic methods like cloth instead of sanitary napkins might bring about. Sailaja tells us that when the CCWD and Practical Action program ‘Sunalo Sakhi’ started in her community, a lot of young girls and women were reluctant to go and join the meetings. With the constant efforts of the community mobilizers, the Sakhi Club was created in the area as a forum for dissemination of knowledge and discussion regarding menstrual hygiene and related issues. A number of women and girls started actively participating in the programme. The community mobilizers used a number of strategies like audio visual screening, radio podcasts, visual charts, action learning, songs and dance in order to educate the participants about the various facts related to menstruation. They discussed the scientific reasons behind menstruation and busted many myths regarding periods. They also discussed various health issues pertaining to menstruation, ways to maintain hygiene during periods and practices to be followed for proper healthcare during adolescence. Gradually, the girls who were initially reluctant began to open up and started discussing their own menstrual problems with the community mobilizers who tried their best to clarify their queries. Sailaja herself was facing problems with her menstrual cycle. Her menstrual blood was thick and clotted which caused her severe abdominal pain and nausea. She spoke about it to the expert doctor on the radio programme ‘Sunalo Sakhi’ and the doctor advised her to drink 4-5 liters of water every day. She followed the doctor’s advice and noticed changes within a few days.
Today the Sikharchandi Sakhi Club has 32 members. All of them, including Sailaja have switched to sanitary pads instead of cloth. Sailaja now changes her pads 3-4 times per day and disposes the used pads by either burning or burying them. She monitors her periods using a calendar. She uses the methods suggested by the community mobilizers like hot water press and ajwain water consumption to handle her abdominal aches during periods. Her problem with blood clot has also been completely resolved. She tells us that the conversation regarding menstruation has changed a lot at her home and in her community with most women now speaking openly about it and discarding the taboos and myths in favour of factual understanding. All the girls in the area now go to school during their periods while they were earlier stopped by their families. Sailaja now exercises regularly, eats a healthy diet and takes care of her health. She promises that she will keep spreading the message of the club among her younger friends and urge them to not be fearful or reluctant, to take care of their health and hygiene as well as to listen to the Sunalo Sakhi programme by Practical Answers on Radio Choklate so that their issues can be addressed.
(Ms Pratikshya Priyadarshini, Student of TISS, Mumbai interned with Practical Answers and was engaged in Sunolo Sakhi project)1 Comment » | Add your comment
The DfID funded Aqua 4 East water and sanitation (WASH) project in Talkok aims to increase women’s participation in its project activities despite the status of women in the locality.
Women’s participation in WASH projects can have many benefits. It can contribute to the achievement of specific objectives regarding the functioning and use of facilities and also to the of wider development goals. Their participation can also be of both direct and indirect benefit to the women themselves.
The potential contribution of women to these objectives emerges logically from their traditional participation in water supply and sanitation as domestic managers. Women decide where to collect water and according to the season, how match water to collect and how to use it. In their choice of water source, they make reasoned decisions based on their own criteria of access, time, effort, water quantity, quality and reliability. In addition, much of the informal learning about water and sanitation takes place through interpersonal contact between women.
Therefore women’s opinions and needs have important consequences for the acceptance, use and readiness to maintain new water supplies and for the health impact of the supply and for the ultimately of the project.
Women’s participation in catchment committees is mainly administrative. For the first time women from Talkok from the Hadandwa tribe, attended training outside their villages. They have a tradition and culture that puts them under men’s control even within the village so meetings in the presence of men are not possible. The Elgandoul network for rural development which is responsible for the implementation of this part of the project, played a very important role is the discussions and negotiations with local authority leaders. As a result, they allowed six women from the areas participating in the three catchments to attend the three day integrated water resource management training workshop together with men in Kassala.
At the end of the training Talkok leaders were convinced of the value of women’s participation and decided to allow them to attend future training sessions.1 Comment » | Add your comment
Yesterday I told one of my friends that I was writing a blog for World Toilet Day and he laughed at me! “You’re kidding? There is actually a World Toilet Day? What will they think of next?”
I was left speechless and offended by his response. But I guess he doesn’t understand the significance. He’s never had to worry about having nowhere to go (except being caught short in a traffic jam on a motorway). Decent toilets are just there…they are part of everyday life.
World Toilet Day is an international day to draw global attention to the sanitation crisis. It’s about taking action to reach the 2.4 billion people living without a toilet. Toilets save lives, increase productivity, create jobs and grow economies.
I’ve seen first-hand the devastating impact of not having a access to a decent toilet. Many of you will have seen it on TV when watching Comic Relief but nothing can prepare you for what it is really like. The poverty and terrible conditions I witnessed during my visit to a slum called Nyalenda in Kisumu, Kenya, shocked me to the core. It’s hard to describe how utterly terrible the few toilets I saw were, or the stench that lingered in the air. Open sewage ran through the slum and waste lined small paths. The children played near the open sewage and walked around with bare feet. I found it really difficult to deal with and battled with feelings of guilt, sadness and helplessness.
In this slum, only 32% of the population have access to improved toilets; 25% use shared pit latrines and 30% defecate outside.
This is Karen Bolo. Her house has no toilet or running water. Her neighbourhood was hit by an outbreak of cholera and a ten-year-old girl from a neighbouring plot died. Karen says she was terrified that the same thing would happen to her children.
“I have nowhere to go to the toilet at all here because we don’t have the capacity and I can’t afford to buy a new one. I have to ask for help from the neighbouring plots. For our children we have to put down a newspaper and ask the neighbours [who have pit latrines] if we can get rid of it there. It makes me feel awful because it is demeaning to have to ask for this.”
Her neighbour, 65-year-old Patrick Odliambo, said land near to his home is covered in waste and flying toilets.
“Around March/April, the rains come and wash the waste down the paths. Faeces flow with the storm water. During that time there are lots of cases of illness such as diarrhoea and malaria. Help does not come quickly; there are bad cases, especially for small children. Even now, my daughter is sick. She is vomiting and has a headache. This is from the environment. There are shallow wells which people drink from; they are not clean and people get sick.”
Transforming lives with toilets
But it is here that we have just launched a £1 million, six-year project funded by Comic Relief to transform the lives of 95,000 people by improving sanitation facilities in Nyalenda and another slum in Kisumu.
This project will work with communities to provide 1,125 improved toilets. 2,500 new water pumps will also be installed through the pipe network.
I’m really excited to see how the project progresses.
Three years later following another project in Kenya…
We have recently completed another sanitation project in Kenya – this time in Nakuru – to improve the quality of life for 190,000 slum residents by providing access to safe, hygenic toilets and hand washing facilities. And we worked with Anthony and other pit emptiers to improve their health, enable them to provide an essential service to their community and raise their status.
I wrote a blog about Anthony Ndugu for World Toilet Day three years ago and I felt I needed to include him in this one, not only because the theme for this year’s World Toilet Day is ‘toilets and jobs’ because we caught up with him recently to find out how life has changed for him.
Anthony would have to empty toilets with his bare hands. He suffered abuse and discrimination as a result of doing his job. People in his community would shun him and woouldn’t go anywhere near him. The pay was so terrible that it wasn’t enough to take care of school fees, household needs, rent and all his other needs.
As part of the project, his team received a gulper so they no longer have to manually empty the latrines. They were also given protective clothing.
“They are unique to us. We look professional – like a team. The local government has given us a certificate. We get more business and we are not harassed like we were before. My family are so happy; they are fed and my children can get an education.”
I’m really proud about the work we do and I was thrilled last year when a Sustainable Development Goal was agreed to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030 and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.
This goal is ambitious. We have a long way to go in achieving even basic sanitation for all, and only 14 years to achieve it. So that’s why we need your help.
I am counting my blessings that I have a nice toilet to use and if you are too please consider helping people like Karen and Patrick get access to better sanitation, improve their health and restore their dignity. You could give a gift that transforms lives – like a life-saving loo!1 Comment » | Add your comment