Category Archives: Dignity and Social Development

Decolonising the WASH sector

Being true to #BlackLivesMatter. Report of an IRC Global Talk

BlackLivesMatter-Montreal-Martin-Reisch-Unsplash

Gay Village, Montreal. Credit: Martin Reisch/Unsplash

“The problem isn’t men, it’s patriarchy.
The problem isn’t white people, it’s white supremacy.
The problem isn’t straight people, it’s homophobia.
Recognize systems of oppression before letting individual defensiveness paralyze you from dismantling them”. (Ruchika Tulshyan, founder of inclusion strategy firm Candour)

This is not a quote you would expect to hear from an opening speaker in your usual WASH sector webinar, but the title of the IRC Global Talk on 16 July was anything but usual: “Decolonising WASH sector knowledge and decolonising systems thinking”.

On 18 June 2020, IRC posted a message from our CEO on Black Lives Matter with a commitment to the global struggle against racism. For this Global Talk, we found two, young undaunted voices to help IRC kickstart discussions on our commitments to #BlackLivesMatter. We asked them to elaborate on their recent provocative think pieces on decolonisation. First up was Euphresia Luseka, a WASH Governance Consultant from Kenya who wrote “Initiating De-colonization of WASH Sector Knowledge”, followed by the UK-based writer/facilitator and historian, Alara Adali who believes in “Decolonising systems thinking” for social change.

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Sanitation Learning Hub launched

Sanitation Learning Hub

Following the start of a new four-year programme funded by Sida, the Institute of  Development Studies (IDS) launched the Sanitation Learning Hub website on 22 June 2020.

The website is divided into into three main sections:

Practical Support 

This section presents recommended approaches and practical tools to help sanitation and hygiene practitioners do their job well. It reflects our commitment to adaptable, ‘combinable’ and context-specific learning and sanitation approaches. Each approach page has an introduction recommended resources.

Current Thinking

Resources are divided by nine essential themes in this section. Each theme has an introduction, recommended resources, and sub-themes that get into more detail.

Connect, Share, Learn

The desire to bring together sanitation and hygiene professionals is reflected here. You can find blogs, news, events in the sector and more information about workshops, including stories from participants of past workshops. You can also submit a blog in this section.

Watch this video introduction to the new website.

Brief: Mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 and menstrual health and hygiene – UNICEF

Brief: Mitigating the impacts of COVID-19 and menstrual health and hygiene. UNICEF, April 2020.

A summary of essential considerations to ensure continuation of MHH during the pandemic:

  1. Ensure MHH supplies and WASH facilities are in place for healthcare workers and patients.
  2. Mitigate the impact of lack of access to menstrual materials and WASH facilities by providing menstrual materials in NFI and food assistance for girls and women with limited movement or in camps or institutions.
  3. Provide basic WASH facilities and services in communities, camps, and institutional settings.

All Women Need Equal Access to Water and Sanitation

All Women Need Equal Access to Water and Sanitation. by Pallavi Bharadwaj, Engineering for Change, March 9, 2020.

International Womens’ Day was recently celebrated worldwide, but many women and girls have little cause for celebration in at least one aspect of their lives. They have to walk miles each day to fetch potable water. This year #IWD2020’s theme was #EachforEqual.

Twenty-five years after adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995), the UN-Women’s executive director reports that no country has achieved equality for women and girls.

No country has reached low inequality in human development without reducing the loss coming from gender inequality.

Inequality is evident in access to Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) related issues, too. Women and girls bear the brunt of spending unequal numbers of hours collecting water for their households and enduring physical and emotional injuries in doing so.

And despite those efforts, many are still unable to provide water security at a rate that is difficult to quantify, according to Sera Young, professor of anthropology and global health at Northwestern University.

Read the complete article.

Religion and Sanitation Practices – World Bank

Religion and Sanitation Practices. World Bank, January 2020.

Infant mortality among Hindus is higher than among Muslims in India, and religious differences in sanitation practices have been cited as a contributing factor.

To explore whether religion itself is associated with differences in sanitation practices, this study compares sanitation practices of Hindus and Muslims living in the same locations using three nationally-representative data sets from India.

Across all three data sets, the unconditional religion-specific gap in latrine ownership and latrine use declines by approximately two-thirds when conditioning on location characteristics or including location fixed effects.

Further, the estimates do not show evidence of religion-specific differences in other sanitation practices, such as handwashing or observed fecal material near homes.

Household sanitation practices vary substantially across areas of India, but religion itself has less direct influence when considering differences between Hindus and Muslims within the same location.

Health, safety and dignity of sanitation workers – WaterAid

Health, safety and dignity of sanitation workers. WaterAid, November 2019.

Sanitation workers provide an invaluable public service, vital to our daily lives and the environment. Yet they often work in conditions that expose them to the worst consequences of poor sanitation – debilitating infections, injuries, social stigma and even death – every day. wateraid.jpg

We have joined forces with the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization to shed light on this neglected issue. Our report is the most extensive global exploration of the topic to date.

In it we analyse the problems sanitation workers face – focusing on those emptying pits and tanks and maintaining sewers – and explore good practices around the world. We suggest areas of action to ensure sanitation workers: have their rights recognized; are supported to organize as a labour force; and have their working conditions improved and progressively formalized.

Read the complete article.

Incontinence and WASH Focusing on people in humanitarian and low- and middle-income contexts

Incontinence and WASH: Focusing on people in humanitarian and low- and middle-income contexts

Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine and/or faeces

People of any gender, age or ability can experience incontinence: they cannot hold on to their urine and/or faeces (‘the involuntary loss of urine or faeces’), and need to manage their urine and/or faeces leaking out. Leakage can occur at any time, day or night (commonly referred to in children as ‘bedwetting’). Incontinence has a significant impact on the quality of life of life of those who experience it, and that of their family members and carers: incontinence

The children (in Zaatari refugee camp, Jordon) are really suffering. The problem is that the mothers have been trying to cope for so long that basically they’ve given up. Night after night of urine and they can’t keep them clean. It’s soul-destroying (Venema, 2015)

Members of an informal email group on incontinence in humanitarian and development settings* have identified a lack of acknowledgement and support for people with incontinence. In response the group has been developing tools and collating resources to enable development and humanitarian professionals to create a supportive environment for people in low- and middle-income countries to manage their incontinence hygienically, safely, in privacy and with dignity.

We have identified that anyone who experiences incontinence has increased water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) needs compared to the rest of the population. WASH-related tools and resources have been collated on this webpage to help improve the knowledge and practices of the WASH sector

Read the complete article.

July 16, 2019 – Webinar on Menstrual Hygiene Management in Emergencies Toolkit

July 16, 2019 Webinar on Menstrual Hygiene Management in Emergencies Toolkit

  • Organized by Columbia University , International Rescue Committee (IRC)
  • 12:00pm — 1:00pm mhday

Please join us for a webinar on the Menstrual Hygiene Management in Emergencies Toolkit. Feel free to invite any colleagues who may be interested in this event!

Discussion topics include:

  • Conducting a rapid MHM assessment
  • Sector responsibilities on MHM (WASH, Protection, Shelter, Health, Education, Camp Management)
  • Monitoring & evaluating MHM activities
  • Key findings from ongoing implementation and research

Additional info and registration

Identifying the last 10% of households practising open defecation in rural Tanzania

Since 2017, SNV and the Government of Tanzania have been implementing the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A) programme in eight Tanzanian districts. To date, the number of households that use toilets has increased to 90%. In the period March–April 2019, SNV Tanzania undertook a household survey in the eight project districts to identify the 10% of households still practising open defecation or sharing toilets despite the concerted government and SNV sanitation interventions. The findings show the majority of the households still practising open defecation and sharing latrines in the rural districts of Tanzania are not those commonly cited by the literature and sanitation programming – the people in poverty, the elderly people, people with disabilities, and those with other specific vulnerabilities. The majority in ‘the last mile’ are: 1) the ‘defiant’ households that have the socio-economic resources to build themselves latrines but prefer to practise open defecation or share toilets; 2) the socially isolated households that do not have a financially able family member who can support them; and 3) the geographically isolated households that are far from information centres. The SNV study also revealed a relatively high percentage of households headed by single mothers and those living in difficult terrains as part of the last mile. Furthermore, the study identified opportunities to increase access to sanitation among the last mile groups. These are: 1) introduction of behaviour change re-enforcement interventions tailored to different target groups; 2) promotion of context-specific sanitation technologies; and 3) introduction of community-led ‘social exclusion’ strategies.

Read the full report. SNV, 2019. Identifying the last 10% of households practising open defecation in rural Tanzania. Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: SNV Tanzania. 14 p.

Water Currents: Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019

Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019. Water Currents, May 23, 2019.

Every May 28, Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) raises awareness and combats taboos associated with menstrual hygiene with the goal of enabling women and girls to achieve their full potential. mhday2019

The theme of Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019—It’s Time for Action—not only emphasizes the urgency of this public health issue, but also highlights the transformative power of improved menstrual hygiene to unlock economic and educational opportunities for women and girls.

Empowering women and girls and promoting gender equality are core operating principles of the U.S. Government Global Water Strategy and USAID Water and Development Plan. To alleviate a major constraint to women’s and girls’ participation in education and public life, USAID seeks to integrate menstrual hygiene management (MHM) interventions where practical and improve MHM in key settings, including schools.

As a contribution to MH Day 2019, this issue contains links to recent studies on “period poverty,” MHM and its impact on schooling/education, MHM in humanitarian situations, and other MHM–related topics.

Events
Menstrual Hygiene Day 2019 – This global advocacy platform for MH Day brings together the voices and actions of nonprofits, government agencies, individuals, the private sector, and the media to promote MHM for all women and girls. This website contains campaign materials for this year’s theme—It’s Time for Action—and a list of events and resources.

WASH Innovation Challenge on Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) and Incontinence – Elrha’s Humanitarian Innovation Fund is launching a challenge May 23, 2019, and will be seeking innovative projects exploring how to design safe and dignified MHM spaces in emergency camp settings and how to better engage with and understand the needs of people with incontinence in emergencies. Additional information will soon be posted on the Elrha’s website.

MHM Overviews
What Is the Point of a Period? Scientific American, May 2019. Age-old taboos against menstruation have led to a lack of research on how women’s menstrual cycles work, with serious consequences for their health.

Period Poverty Impact on the Economic Empowerment of WomenKnowledge, Learning and Evidence for Knowledge, January 2019. Period poverty refers to a lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints. The problem exists in high as well as low- and middle-income countries.

Read the complete issue.