Nine Myths to Dispel About Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Nine Myths to Dispel About Global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, by Pallavi Bharadwa. Engineering for Change, September 2020.

In these uncertain times, it can be difficult to determine what is true and what is not. This includes the news from around the world for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). This article attempts to dispel nine myths that may have appeared in response to WASH events.

1. SYSTEMIC RACISM DOES NOT EXIST IN INTERNATIONAL WASH PUBLICATIONS

If you have not seen the news highlighting racism in international publishing, you might think that all peer-reviewed journals were created equal. A reseach team based in South Africa, Australia and Denmark brought this debate front and center on Twitter and on E4C, and they keep the conversation going on breaking racial barriers.

2. DE-COLONIZATION OF WASH KNOWLEDGE IS NOT THE NEED OF THE HOUR

In continuation to the above, the Rural Water Supply Network shared an article by Euphresia Luseka. It caused an online furor on the state of relationships between the global South and global West when it comes to WASH knowledge. Two key sections from Euphresia’s article have been summarized well on the SuSanA forum. The author argues that, while the physical state of colonization is a thing of the past, it is still alive and well when it comes to the WASH knowledge. Also, “It’s 2020 and still it is puzzling how north donor organizations design strategies, policy documents, frameworks, guidelines and so on to guide Africa’s water sector and they are endorsed for sector practice with zero participation in authoring, editing or overall contributions by Africans, including those from their organizations,” the author writes. A new approach needs to be applied to not only systems thinking but also alleviate institutional biases.

3. SATIRE HAS NO PLACE IN RAISING AWARENESS

After the upsetting news from the above revelations, we could use a break provided by this article on How (not) to write about global health, by Desmond T Jumbam in BMJ Global Health Journal. The article was inspired by a famous satirical article by the Kenyan author Binyavanga Wainaina, “How to write about Africa,” and presents guidelines for how to write about global health poorly. “There has been little guidance on how to write about global health in a way that advances equity and justice. I present some guidelines for how (not) to write about global health,” the author writes.

Read the complete article.

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