International Water Management Institute – Christopher Patacsil
Keystroke Communications – Paul Stapleton
Private sector investment principles could make the fecal sludge management chain sustainable, says a new report released in time for FSM4
To understand why innovation in fecal sludge management matters, ask yourself this: In 15 years, when almost 5 billion people are using on-site sanitation, solutions like pit latrines and septic tanks, what will the world do with all the fecal waste? About half that many people use onsite sanitation today, and we already have a hard time keeping up.
Today, global leaders will convene at the 4th International Fecal Sludge Management Conference (FSM4) to discuss this very issue. Government, nonprofit, and industry leaders will explore recent learnings, solutions, and recommendations that prioritize the safe and effective management of fecal sludge as a key component of sanitation service delivery.
Most people agree that water is an extremely valuable resource—for farmers who depend on it to grow crops, for factories that need it to cool machines and spin turbines and, of course for life itself. But . The very fact that water is so important to people, economies, and the environment means that it is tough to even agree on a common way of valuing it.
No less an economic mind than Adam Smith was stumped by this challenge. As he famously observed, “Nothing is more useful than water: but it will purchase scarcely anything. A diamond, on the contrary, has scarcely any use-value; but a very great quantity of other goods may frequently be had in exchange for it.”
Those who have tried toilet training a pet dog or cat know that it is a difficult proposition. How about toilet training a flock of 30 chickens?
“Why would I want to?” Because in poor countries, chickens are everywhere, they are pooping wherever they want, and chicken feces is dangerous for young children.
How do we know this? In two papers released last year in the journals PLOS One and American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene, my coauthors and I investigated the emerging hypothesis that exposure to animal feces is a serious risk factor for infections and undernutrition in early childhood. Our work suggests that the predominant water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) focus on reducing exposure to human feces needs updating by including animal feces.
My visit to Pakistan began last week at the enormous Tarbela dam. Straddling the Indus River, this earth- and rock-filled structure is almost 500 feet high and 9,000 feet wide. It is a monument to Pakistan's scientific and engineering ability. It also illustrates the opportunities and challenges facing Pakistan.
I was last in Pakistan in 2011 and I can see that big changes have happened since then.
The country has worked through three tough years that brought improvements in security and a more stable economy. Much of the economic growth has benefited poor people and Pakistan's levels of inequality compare favourably to many middle-income countries.
Speaking to leaders in government, political parties, civil society, the private sector and various thought leaders, I sensed an optimism that the country had found its footing and is moving up the ladder of development.
This optimism is good news. But optimism needs to be supported by actions. Pakistan can move to a higher level of economic growth that reaches all parts of society, including the most marginalised, and thus fulfilling the dreams of a better life for all.
Three opportunities and challenges for Pakistan
In my discussions with the government in Pakistan we focused on three areas of opportunity and challenge: the first is higher growth and jobs. The government wants annual economic growth of 6 to 7 per cent compared to 4.7 per cent achieved in fiscal year 2016. But this will only happen if investment doubles to 30 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Investments in energy, such as Tarbela, to end constant power cuts, as well as improvements in the business environment, so that companies hire more people, will be critical to success. A more favorable environment for private investment would open up opportunities for women, youth, and the underserved.
By the early 2000s, Peru faced serious environmental problems. Air pollution in urban areas was so severe that it caused thousands of premature deaths every year. In fact, air quality in Lima was worse than in other large Latin American cities, such as Mexico City or Sao Paulo. Other environmental challenges that damaged people’s health included air pollution inside homes caused by the use of wood for cooking; insufficient access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; and exposure to lead, a highly toxic chemical. Together, these environmental problems caused 12 million cases of illnesses annually, dramatically affecting young children, the elderly, and poor people who couldn’t afford medical care. The World Bank estimated that these negative impacts had an economic cost equivalent to 2.8% of Peru’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2003.
One of the main reasons the Peruvian government wasn’t able to respond promptly to these serious environmental problems was the country didn’t have governmental organizations with a clear responsibility for environmental protection. Another important reason was the absence of a system of reliable environmental information to support the government’s decision-making process. For example, there was little awareness about the seriousness of air pollution, largely because most cities didn’t have a functional air quality monitoring network. Even in the few cities that did, the information was not widely disseminated. In the absence of such information, it was difficult to identify which environmental problems were most severe, and to develop actions and assign resources to solve them. In addition, lack of information limited the opportunities for the public—including the poor families and other vulnerable groups that suffered the most from pollution —to discuss their environmental concerns and agree on solutions with government officials.
In the World Bank Water Practice, we often talk about how issues like flooding and droughts threaten our mission to end poverty and boost shared prosperity. But how much do we actually know about how these floods and droughts - "water shocks" - impact farmers, firms, and communities? Perhaps adaptation in the economy has limited such impacts. Or maybe policies have led to economies being more vulnerable to such shocks.
To explore these questions, we recently gathered with leading researchers and policymakers in Oxford, UK, and concluded that while preliminary findings indicate water shocks definitely represent a major challenge to sustainable development in surprising and unexpected ways, there’s still much more we can do to strengthen the evidentiary basis for development policy.
Drinking water utilities, water resource management agencies, and environmental regulators across the world are required to establish laboratories to test water quality. Proper testing ensures that water is safe for its intended use, whether that be drinking, bathing, fishing, watering crops, or sustaining ecological health. Yet we routinely find poorly-functioning analytical labs. Failure to follow standardized procedures, maintain certification, and perform routine checks for quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) compromises the reliability of lab results. As a result, the data are of limited use for managing water safety.
How big is this problem? Inadequate lab facilities are often cited as a challenge or limitation in development-related literature, though statistics are hard to come by. In fact, labs have been cited as a compounding factor in mass arsenic poisoning in Bangladesh: a lack of laboratory capacity was one of several reasons that no one tested the groundwater for arsenic before millions of tube wells were installed to supply drinking water. In 2000, a review of water quality monitoring in the Russian Federation concluded that data quality was a major problem, with laboratories “worse than many found in developing countries.”
The Water Cartoon Calendar is definitely one of the most unconventional World Bank products. You won’t find anything else like it.
If this is the first time you are hearing about it, the Water Cartoon Calendar is an illustrated calendar produced since the year 2000 by the Water and Sanitation Program. It features colorful cartoons depicting water related topics, combined with a mild touch of humor.
The journey of our water from source to tap is long, and not one we think much about. For most of us, our water starts high in the mountains, hundreds of miles away. From there, water flows across natural and working lands until a portion is channeled to water pipes that move water to our faucets, to farms, and to various types of businesses. Most often we think of those pipes as being our main water infrastructure, but upstream lands play a key role in capturing, storing and moving our water. By conserving these lands, we can better protect our water and generate additional benefits for people and nature.
Today, approximately 40 percent of the land in urban source watersheds of the world’s largest cities show high to moderate levels of degradation. This . However, by investing in nature, we can reduce these impacts.
Amena Begum resides in a village in the Habiganj district in Bangladesh and is a mother to three young children. Last year Amena spent US$100 to construct a toilet to ensure her three children were hygienically protected from feces.
Even though her family members have adapted to using the toilet, exposure to fecal contamination can occur anywhere. For example, while playing outside, a child may accidentally ingest soil with animal feces, or the child could be exposed when he or she eats food off of dishes washed with pond water.
It is also not uncommon for families without toilets to throw feces into a nearby bush, which remains exposed in their living area. These actions can lead to the contraction of hazardous, lethal diseases and create a traumatizing effect on the lives of many children, not to mention the unfavorable impact on the environment.
A new study on early childhood diarrhea in rural Bangladesh found that despite high on-site latrine access, frequent fecal contamination was present along all environmental pathways investigated. Human fecal markers on children’s hands and in soil, and rotavirus in stored water, soil and on hands had been detected. Animal (particularly ruminant) fecal markers were highly prevalent in water, soil and on hands.