“Rain-battered Haiti is at risk of a fresh cholera outbreak” after “[t]ropical storm Isaac ripped through the impoverished Caribbean island [Saturday],” children’s charity Plan International warns, according to AlertNet (8/26). “The 400,000 people living in camps in the capital Port-au-Prince, such as Jean Marie Vincent, as well as those living in towns to the south of the island, including Les Cayes and Jacmel are among those at risk, following heavy rains and flooding,” Oxfam writes in a press release (Brinicombe, 8/26). “With a reported total of 10 deaths for the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by [Haiti and the Dominican Republic], the scale of devastation was less than many people had feared,” but “the capital and countryside of disaster-prone Haiti did suffer sporadic flooding, fallen poles and scores of toppled tents that housed people who lost their homes in the massive 2010 earthquake,” the Associated Press/Washington Post reports. “Across Haiti, the number of people evacuated due to flooding rose over the weekend,” the news service notes, adding, “The World Food Program had distributed two days of food to 8,300 of the people who had left their houses for 18 camps” (Blanco, 8/26). “Aid groups have prepared clean water and hygiene kits to help prevent the spread of cholera, which Haiti has struggled to control since the earthquake,” according to VOA News (8/25).
Water and Sanitation
“The U.K. government has activated a Â£2 million [$3.16 million] emergency plan to help tackle a cholera epidemic sweeping through Sierra Leone,” the Press Association reports, adding, “The Department for International Development (DfID) says it is using a network that includes private businesses and specialist aid organizations to deliver emergency medical, water and sanitation assistance to affected people in the west African state” (8/25). “It is the first time [DfID] has activated its Rapid Response Facility,” the Guardian notes, adding, “The network was established in March and allows the U.K. government ‘to commit to rapid humanitarian funding’ within 72 hours in response to disasters and rapidly escalating humanitarian emergencies,” (Adetunji, 8/25).
“In April, Partners In Health [PIH] responded to Haiti’s cholera epidemic by providing oral vaccinations to 45,000 people living in the country’s Artibonite region — specifically, to two rice-farming communities hit hard by cholera,” Louise Ivers, senior health and policy adviser at PIH, reports in an article on the organization’s webpage. “In partnership with Haiti’s Ministry of Health, hundreds of community health workers fanned out across the rural, flood-prone area, delivering two doses to each person by the end of May,” she writes, and discusses the impact of the campaign (8/1).
NGOs Call For Full Implementation Of Human Right To Water, Sanitation In Letter To U.N. Member States
At the end of last month, the international community commemorated the second anniversary of a July 2010 U.N. General Assembly resolution declaring water and sanitation a basic human right, but “there was hardly any political rejoicing either inside or outside the U.N.,” Inter Press Service/Guardian reports. “In March, [UNICEF] and the [WHO] released a joint report claiming that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water (spelled out under Goal 7 on environmental sustainability) had been reached well in advance of the 2015 deadline,” the news service writes. Though the MDG goal was reached, “[a] cautious UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake warned that victory could not yet be declared since at least 11 percent of the world’s population — roughly 783 million people — are still without access to safe drinking water, and billions are without sanitation facilities,” the news service notes.
In this post in Management Sciences for Health’s (MSH) “Global Health Impact” blog, Abdul Qawi Qadiri, WASH coordinator for Baghlan Province in Afghanistan, writes about how a community-led program in the village of Baghalak has helped to reduce the incidence of infectious illnesses, particularly diarrheal diseases. The USAID-funded program, Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation (SWSS), is a community-led total sanitation (CLTS) training aimed at increasing the use of latrines and other hygienic practices, Qadiri notes (8/7).
In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, co-chair Bill Gates discusses the foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Fair, held this week in Seattle, which “brought together about 200 grantees, partners, and others who are passionate about creating safe, effective, and inexpensive sanitation services for people without access to flush toilets.” “The flush toilets we use in the wealthy world are irrelevant, impractical and impossible for 40 percent of the global population,” Gates writes, noting, “Worldwide, there are 2.5 billion people without access to safe sanitation — including one billion people who still defecate out in the open and more than one billion others who must use pit latrines” (8/14). A related post in the blog offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the Gates Foundation campus was transformed for the toilet fair (8/14).
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, on Tuesday “announced the winners of the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge — an effort to develop ‘next-generation’ toilets that will deliver safe and sustainable sanitation to the 2.5 billion people worldwide who don’t have it,” according to a foundation press release (8/14). “To pass the foundation’s threshold for the world’s next toilet, it must operate without running water, electricity or a septic system, not discharge pollutants, preferably capture energy or other resources, and operate at a cost of five cents a day,” according to the Associated Press (Blankinship, 8/15). “The new commodes are being showcased at a ‘Reinvent the Toilet Fair’ Tuesday and Wednesday in Seattle,” CNN writes, adding, “The foundation also announced a second round of grants totaling some $3.4 million to organizations that are working to innovative latrines” (8/15).
Ethiopian Government Working To Improve Access To Clean Toilets, Safe Water For People Living With HIV
PlusNews examines how a lack of access to clean toilets, safe drinking water, and “information on the prevention of common opportunistic infections means many Ethiopians living with HIV continue to contract easily preventable diseases.” The news service writes, “According to the [non-governmental organization (NGO)] Wateraid, people living with HIV are often unable to access community water sources or latrines because of stigma and discrimination.” Following calls from experts for the nation to address water and sanitation issues related to HIV care and treatment programs, the Ethiopian government “has laid out ambitious plans for water, sanitation and hygiene through its Universal Access Plan II, which seeks to reach 98.5 percent of its population with access to safe water and 100 percent with access to sanitation by 2015” and “is also drafting a document called ‘Guidelines to Integrate Water, Sanitation and Hygiene into HIV Programmes,’ which lays the groundwork for incorporating safe water, sanitation and hygiene practices into all HIV care services being delivered at all levels,” PlusNews reports (8/27).
At the opening ceremony of World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) “launched a framework that will help combat food insecurity by providing methods to better manage water resources in agriculture and reduce waste,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “The initiative, entitled ‘Coping with water scarcity: An action framework for agriculture and food security’ [.pdf], seeks to encourage practices that will improve water management, such as modernizing irrigation schemes, recycling and re-using wastewater, implementing mechanisms to reduce water pollution, and storing rainwater at farms to reduce drought-related risks, among others,” the news service notes.
The Washington Post examines global efforts to eradicate Guinea worm disease, writing, “The parasitic infection which has sickened millions, mostly in Asia and Africa, is on the verge of being done in not by sophisticated medicine but by aggressive public health efforts in some of the poorest and most remote parts of the world.” According to the newspaper, “hundreds of thousands of volunteers” have contributed to fighting the waterborne parasite, by handing out filtered drinking straws or treating water sources with larvicide, among other efforts. “As a result, the ailment, also known as dracunculiasis, is poised to become the second human disease (the first was smallpox) to be eradicated — and the first to be eliminated without the aid of a vaccine,” the Washington Post continues.