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Water and Sanitation

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International Community Must Address Challenges To Food, Water Security In A Systematic, Coherent Manner

“New ideas and approaches to the water and food nexus will be addressed at World Water Week,” which will take place in Stockholm, Sweden from 26-31 August, Anders Jagerskog, an associate professor and director of knowledge services at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), writes in this post in the AlertNet Blog. He highlights a report (.pdf) being launched by the institute called “Feeding a Thirsty World: Challenges and Opportunities for a Water and Food Secure Future,” noting it is aimed at “provid[ing] an overview of the areas that relate to food security and water” ahead of the event.

African Development Bank Report Compares, Analyzes African Countries' Performance In Water, Sanitation Sector

“[A]ccording to a new African Development Bank report that compares and analyzes the performance of sub-Saharan African countries in the water and sanitation sector,” “the two major factors why progress on meeting water and sanitation-related development goals across sub-Saharan Africa is largely uneven” are “[d]ifferences in financial and operational capacities among governments,” the Devex “Development Newswire” reports. Specifically, the “factors the report says affect the sub-Saharan African countries’ progress toward the United Nations-set targets on sanitation and access to water” include “[u]nderstaffing and lack of technical qualification in relevant government agencies,” “[l]ack of adequate operation and maintenance programs in donor-financed projects,” and “[i]nadequate national capacities to implement national strategies,” the news service writes.

Innovative Financing Models Can Impact Health In Low-Income Urban Communities

“Having just returned to New York from Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, I’m reminded how lucky we are in this city to have reliable water and sanitation services,” David Winder, chief executive of WaterAid USA, writes this post in Huffington Post’s “Impact” blog. “Increased investment in providing access to safe water and improved sanitation dramatically impacts child survival,” but “[i]n low-income areas of cities like Maputo, that is often a complex task,” he notes. “Often in low-income urban neighborhoods, the provision of piped water to homes is simply too expensive for ordinary families to afford,” he continues.

'Impatient Optimists' Blog Posts Examines 'Reinvent The Toilet Fair' In Seattle

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).

Gates Looks To Develop 'Next-Generation Toilets' For Developing World

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).

China Must Bring Together Different Agencies To Address Water Shortages, Policy Paper Says

In a policy paper published in Science on Thursday, researchers praised China’s January 2011 plan to address water shortages and conservation in the nation, but “the researchers said this commitment won’t be enough unless disparate agencies learn to communicate and coordinate with each other,” Reuters reports. “They described a web of government entities with seemingly contradictory missions, and actions that appear to go against one policy as they promote another,” the news service writes, adding, for example, “The government encourages urbanization, the report said, but protection of water supplies gets less attention compared to energy issues, even though water is absolutely essential to human life.” Reuters continues, “To solve these problems, the authors recommended focusing on increasing water efficiency along with work to understand the complex relationships among agencies and people with competing claims on water” (Zabarenko, 8/9).

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.

Blog Examines Success Of Community-Led Sanitation Program In Afghanistan

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).

Communal Violence In India Forces Up To 400,000 Into Overcrowded Camps Without Sufficient Food, Water, Medicine

“Hundreds of thousands of people sheltering in squalid, overcrowded camps in India’s northeast desperately need food, water and medicines after fleeing some of the worst communal violence in a decade, officials and aid workers said on Monday,” AlertNet reports. Up to 400,000 people have fled to government-run camps in Assam state, the news service notes, adding Assam’s Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “We are in a state of high alert. … People in the camps are suffering from diarrhea, dysentery, malaria and high fever. We are concerned about the condition of the babies and pregnant women.” According to AlertNet, “Sarma said around 8,000 children under two-years-old are sick, while hundreds of others have tested positive for malaria. There are also around 4,000 pregnant women in the camps who need medical support, he added.” The news service notes that at least 12 people have died, including four children (Bhalla, 8/6).

Cholera Affecting Refugees In Eastern Congo, MSF Reports

“The first case of cholera has emerged among thousands of people in an impromptu refugee camp in eastern Congo who fled fighting between a new rebel group and government forces backed by U.N. peacekeepers,” according to Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), the Associated Press/Washington Post reports (Muhumuza, 8/3). The first case was detected on Friday, and since then at least nine people have died of the disease, MSF said, according to Al Jazeera (8/5).

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