Tag Archives: Rose George

Making a stink: creating social media platforms to end #opendefecation



Make a stink -final posterThe UNICEF India WASH section is hosting a side event at the Stockholm World Water that builds on their poo2loo campign to promote the use of social nedia iniatives aimed at ending open defecation.

Journalist and author of The Big Necessity Rose George will moderate the event. Panel members Include: Stephen Brown (Global Poverty Project and Global Citizen, UK), Sanjay Wijesekera (UNICEF New York), Thorsten Kiefer (WASH United) and Sue Coates and Maria Fernandez (both from UNICEF India).

Make the Stink will be held from 12.30-14.00 on 3 September.

Register for the event

More information at: www.unicef.org/india/reallives_8970.htm

Rose George. Let’s talk crap. Seriously

Rose George – Reflections on menstrual hygiene management

Published on May 3, 2013 – Presentation by Rose George (journalist and author of ‘The Big Necessity’ http://www.rosegeorge.com) at “Making connections: Women, sanitation and health” event.

Why Toilets, Not Cell Phones, Are Key To Education Around The World

Why Toilets, Not Cell Phones, Are Key To Education Around The World Source: Forbes, Denise Restauri, Contributor, Jan 3, 2012

John Kluge’s Twitter profile: “Social Entrepreneur, Philanthropunk, Toilet Hacker, Co-Founder of Eirene, Resident Fellow @ewinstitute, Co-author Charity & Philanthropy for Dummies – New York City.” As co-Founder of Eirene, the for-profit angel firm, John only supports initiatives that will impact at least 1 billion people. First up: provide 1 million toilets to the developing world.  

John Kluge, A Committed Toilet Hacker

John Kluge, A Committed Toilet Hacker

John Kluge says things many people want to say, but don’t because they think it’s taboo. Kluge is out to change that. His “Give a Sh*t Manifesto” starts with BE THANKFUL. YOU HAVE A TOILET. 2.5 BILLION DO NOT. THIS IS A BIG DEAL. YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS SH*T. While others whisper the word “sanitation,” John and Co-Chief Toilet Hacker, Michael Lindenmayer say it boldly. Their stickers shout out: “Disrupt SH*T” and “Poop is POWER.” With support from their partners including the World Bank, Water for People, and UNICEF– these two toilet hackers are taking on the giant-sized challenge to develop breakthrough innovations for improving access to sanitation for the world’s poor.

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NPR – Building a Better Toilet

Nov. 18, 2011 – Building a Better Toilet

Toilets, as most of us know them, haven’t changed much since the 1800s—they use a lot of water, and require an infrastructure that many communities can’t afford. Ira Flatow and guests look at the problem of access to sanitation, and how engineers are making toilets better.


This is SCIENCE FRIDAY. I’m Ira Flatow. Tomorrow is World Toilet Day, and if you have a toilet, that’s a cause for celebration, because more than a third of the world’s population does not. For 2.6 billion people, going to the bathroom is, well, there is no bathroom to go to. People don’t have access to the sanitation and sewer systems that we take for granted here. Without a place to go, people defecate into ditches, waste gets dumped into waterways and diseases spread.

The sponsors of World Toilet Day are trying to change that by bringing attention to the problem. And one sponsor, the Gates Foundation, is challenging engineers to build a better toilet, giving them money to do it. It’s called the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge. Frank Rijsberman is director of water sanitation and hygiene at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle. Dr. Rijsberman is here with us. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

FRANK RIJSBERMAN: Thank you. Good morning, Ira.

FLATOW: Good afternoon to you. Rose George is author of “The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World Of Human Waste And Why It Matters.” She joins us from the BBC in Leeds. Welcome to SCIENCE FRIDAY.

ROSE GEORGE: Thank you.

FLATOW: Dr. Jim McHale is vice president of engineering at American Standard Brands in Piscataway, New Jersey. You know they make all those bathroom fixtures, including that famous toilet that seems to swallow everything up on YouTube. Thank you for being with us today, Jim.

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Rose George: Why there’s a sanitation crisis – and what we can do about it

Rose George, author of the Big Necessity, writes about her visit to a village in Liberia in the Gates Foundation Blog. There she met a local pastor whose 9-month-old daughter Marie, had died in November 2010 from diarrhoea. Despite increasing attention for sanitation from organisations like the Gates Foundation and UNICEF, it is still not enough, she says.

Ask a Liberian how many children they have and they will answer carefully. “Six, living.”

In this village, the creek was everything. It carried away dead bodies in times of war. It brought animal carcasses. Its flow channeled the upstream villages’ excrement, human and animal.

The creek was drinking water, and washing water, and water that brought death. It was the water in which hopeful mothers, who had trekked four hours to the clinic for the free ORS salts, mixed the medicine.

They knew the creek water was dirty, and they still drank it. They had countless visitors tell them about hygiene and disease, and didn’t lack skills to build pits when they built their own houses. Still they used the bush for defecation. Still they tramped fecal particles back into their cooking and living areas, to be ingested and turned into diarrhea.

Sanitation, you see, is not easy.

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Rose George – Beating boring, banal diarrhoea

Basic sanitation saves lives, but many countries around the world are still a long way from achieving it.

Much has been written about the South Africa’s hosting of the World Cup, the beauty of its landscapes, and vuvuzelas: less has been said about its sanitation. I visited the country in 2007, while researching my book on sanitation. I remember its glorious views and stunningly good wine. But I also remember that it was my first encounter with a bucket toilet.

I’d been curious to know what a bucket toilet might be. Surely it couldn’t be just a bucket. But it was. This was a shock, even after I’d had to evacuate in a public toilet with no doors (in China); eaten food cooked with latrine-derived biogas (in India); and seen plenty of the second-most common toilet in the world: a roadside, with bare bottoms doing what they must (all over).

But the bucket was still a shock, as were South Africa’s sanitation statistics. Luckily, the country’s current minister for national intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils, became the only cabinet minister worldwide so far to declare his job as “minister for toilets” (the actual title was minister for water affairs and forestry) after a lethal cholera outbreak in KwaZulu Natal in 2000. Money was put into sanitation programmes. Latrines were built. Most importantly though, latrines were talked about.

Kasrils wasn’t ashamed to sit on toilets for publicity shots, or to talk about the importance of safe sanitation, because he’d seen that not providing it cost money as well as lives. When Peru had a cholera outbreak in 1991, it lost $1bn trying to contain it. It could have been prevented with only $100m-worth of sanitation improvements.

Kasrils also knew, as the best sanitation professionals do, that sanitation is never just about latrines. Give a child a decent latrine, and he will stop tramping faecal particles into his living environment on his feet. He will stop dipping faecally smeared fingers into the family rice pot. He will be able to keep his food down. Poor sanitation is linked to malnutrition. There’s little point giving a child a high-protein biscuit when diarrhoea – caused by those faecal particles in water and food – washes it straight out again.

South Africa’s sanitation statistics have improved, but they are not perfect. Nor are those of the planet.

First, the good news. The world is on track to meet a Millennium Development Goal – one of seven on the wishlist – to supply people with clean drinking water by 2015. That’s wonderful news. The trouble is, the MDG is not just about providing clean water. There’s also sanitation. My heart sinks as I write this, as I’ve been writing the same things for years, and still the statistics are woeful: still donors and politicians pour money into water supply and HIV/Aids, while neglecting sanitation, and still children die of diarrhoea. Boring, banal diarrhoea.

A clean water supply reduces disease by 20%, and a latrine by nearly 40%, yet donors continue to pour money into water. It gets more funding. The National Geographic’s recent special issue on water, laudable though it is, took 109 pages to get round to the death toll from diarrhoea caused largely by poor sanitation. The sanitation part of Millennium Development Goal Seven – which was only added after great opposition – is the most off-track of all the goals. Maybe that’s why 883m people may have no access to decent drinking water, but three times that amount have to defecate in the open.

In 2000, according to the Global Water Partnership, the US spent $13bn on water and $1bn on sanitation. Across the world, water gets eight times more funding than sanitation.

If it’s not water kicking sanitation out of the way, it’s something else. Even though toiletlessness, and its accompanying faeces-related diseases, is linked to a quarter of child deaths. Even though diarrhoea kills more children than HIV/Aids. But in Madagascar, where UNAids found there were too few Aids deaths to estimate, Aids receives five times more funding than sanitation. Diarrhoea kills 14,000 Madagascan children every year.

In the same way cities are built on functioning sewer systems, good development is built on sanitation. An off-track MDG on sanitation will knock others off-track too. A girl dying of diarrhoea won’t go to school (MDG 2; achieve universal primary education); or be properly nourished (MDG 1; reduce extreme poverty and hunger) or be alive past the age of five (MDG 4; reducing child mortality).

Many activists are now shouting more loudly about sanitation and safe water provision. Great. But popular pressure is still missing. So today, as you prepare to flush your toilet – as you surely will – imagine doing your business behind a bush, while a farmer spies at you through banana leaves; or watching your child’s life pour out of him with the diarrhoea, the same way your daughter died, or your sister’s children died. Then settle down to watch the football.

The Guardian,  June 26, 2010