In this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog,” Carlos dos Reis, foreign service national environmental health officer for Timor-Leste, reports on a trip to the country’s remote district of Oecusse with U.S. Ambassador Judith Fergin and USAID/Timor-Leste Mission Director Rick Scott to “inaugurate the new clean water supply system built with the support of USAID.” He writes, “Having the chance to see the completed water supply system and witness the benefits that people get from having access to clean water, I’m beginning to believe that a seemingly impossible thing can become possible when people work together,” and adds, “I believe that the cooperation between USAID and Oecusse District SAS has really improved the lives of many residents in [the town of] Bobometo by giving them access to clean water and improved sanitation and hygiene” (2/13).
Water and Sanitation
In this post in the ONE blog, Brooks Keene, policy adviser for CARE’s water team, “makes the argument that foreign aid should benefit the poor first and foremost,” noting, “As we approach World Water Day on March 22, CARE, [the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)] and WaterAid have published a report card [.pdf] on how well” the Water for the Poor Act, passed by Congress in 2005, “has been implemented seven years down the line.” She writes, “In the absence of a strategy, USAID has gone ahead with water, sanitation and hygiene programs, but much of the effort and dollars have not gone to benefit the poor.” She concludes by recommending several steps USAID could take “to spur concerted targeting” (2/9).
Applauding the signing of the so-called “London Declaration on NTDs” by a consortium of public and private partners last week, Ned Breslin, CEO of Water For People, writes in this Huffington Post “Impact” opinion piece, “I am saddened by the emphasis on vaccines and medicines as the seemingly only vehicles to eradicate NTDs by London Declaration signatories. And I wonder where water, sanitation and hygiene are in this mix, as by all accounts it is not anywhere to be seen in the NTD eradication initiative.”
Inter Press Service reports on a cholera outbreak in Malawi’s Nsanje and Chikhwawa districts, located on the southern border with Mozambique, noting that government officials have attributed the outbreak to declining sanitation conditions as a result of flooding in late January. According to IPS, “up to 550 pit latrines were washed away in Nsanje alone, a district hardest hit by the floods,” and “[s]ewage from the latrines has contaminated water sources in the district, including boreholes and dug-out wells, thereby escalating the cholera incidents, according to the assistant Disaster Management Officer for Nsanje, Humphrey Magalasi.”
In this Guardian analysis, journalist and author Rose George describes a recent trip to Liberia with the organization WaterAid, during which she discussed sanitation with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and visited two towns with the aim of learning more about their access to clean water and sanitation. George describes the country’s history, how some non-governmental organizations are working to improve sanitation in the country, and the challenges to doing so. She quotes Sirleaf as saying, “People say they want health clinics, … but they don’t ask for sanitation. They say their children get malaria or dysentery, but they don’t ask for sanitation. We have to bring to their consciousness that sanitation is linked to health” (2/3).
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) last week “received $9.1 million … from the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to fight off cholera, which has affected more than 22,000 people and killed 500 over the past year in the central African country,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “In a news release, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that there has been a spike in cases in recent weeks, with the majority of them occurring in eastern provinces where cholera is endemic,” according to the news service (1/27). UNICEF will receive $4.4 million and the WHO will receive $4.7 million to help fight the spread of the disease, which “has ravaged eight of the country’s 11 provinces since January 2011,” Agence France-Presse writes (1/28).
“Doctors in Zimbabwe said more than 800 cases of typhoid have been reported in Harare, the capital, in an outbreak of the bacterial disease,” GlobalPost reports (Conway-Smith, 1/29). “Health services director Dr. Prosper Chonzi raised fears of a cholera outbreak given the health conditions that gave birth to typhoid,” Xinhua writes (1/28). Chonzi “said … a clean-up and awareness campaign is underway,” according to GlobalPost (1/29).
When sanitation systems are available and used, the odds of contracting one of a group of diseases, known as soil-transmitted helminths (STH), is cut in half, according to a systemic review and meta-analysis published this week in PLoS Medicine, Examiner.com reports (Herriman, 1/25). “One billion of the world’s people experience a diminished ability to work, learn, and thrive as a result of infection by these parasites — roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm. The resulting losses in quality of life and productivity can trap people in a cycle of poverty and stigma and diminish their ability to care for themselves and their families,” the PLoS “Speaking of Medicine” blog writes.
The U.S. Army news service reports on a five-day Medical Civil Action Program, or MEDCAP, in Tanzania, during which “Tanzanian medical providers working in partnership with U.S. service members from Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa provided medical care to more than 2,100 Tanzanian women and children.” According to the news service, “The program supported the Tanzanian Health Initiative, a program that seeks to provide a comprehensive approach to health for the Tanzanian people and parallels the U.S. government’s Global Health Initiative.”
“Cote d’Ivoire remains in great need of humanitarian assistance nine months after the end of the bloody post-election violence that displaced tens of thousands of people, a senior United Nations relief official said today, urging donors to continue their generosity to the West African country throughout this year,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Considerable needs remain in several areas such as protection of civilians, restoration of means of livelihood, shelter, access to basic services and voluntary return and reintegration of displaced persons and refugees,” Catherine Bragg, assistant secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and deputy U.N. emergency relief coordinator, said following a three-day visit to the nation, according to the news service (1/18).