petra's blog

We have a lot to learn...

Last week’s Water and Health Conference held at the University of North Carolina’s Water Institute had an array of different workshops, side events and oral and poster presentations focusing on sanitation. After only a day into the week-long event two important messages started to emerge. Firstly, the sanitation problem is endemic in certain parts of the world, especially India, and unfortunately we do not know a lot and have an awful lot to learn.

Modi's Clean India Campaign: Don’t Waste the Opportunity

Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister (PM) of India, launched a Swach Bharat (Clean India) campaign on October 2, the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.  Senior government officials, politicians and Bollywood actors were seen holding brooms in their hands cleaning neighbourhoods and getting photographed. The twitterati was abuzz with excitement. The campaign was filled with images and messages. The PM aims to have a Clean India by the time of Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary in 2019. The campaign is timely but will it be effective.

Action Learning: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’s missing master key

The number and nature of the many forces that intertwine to trap rural Indians in filth and infections are still not fully recognised. Widespread preference for open defecation (OD), subsidised toilets, corruption, caste and divided communities, concepts of purity, population increase and density, faecally-transmitted infections (FTIs) causing undernutrition (‘shit stunts’), diminishing cognitive ability and damaging immune systems, and the multiple physical and social harms inflicted on women and girls – these are among the forces that interlock as a syndrome - a net, a trap, a prison - escape from which is fiendishly difficult.

Reporting back from the 37th WEDC Conference in Hanoi- Day 1

It’s my 5th WEDC conference! This year the conference is in Hanoi, Vietnam co-hosted with the National University of Civil Engineering. WEDC Conference is a key international meeting attended by WASH policy and programme staff, academics, activists and experts. The papers will be available on-line shortly (www.wedc-knowledge.lboro.ac.uk) but in anticipation, here are some thoughts from the conference about the research and practice presented.

Can India's women lead the way to a Swachh Bharat (Clean India)?

I have just had two remarkable weeks in India with the National Rural Livelihoods Mission.  This is a national movement of, so far, 2.4 million women’s self-help groups (SHGs).  Each has about 10 members.  Then there are Village Organisations of SHGs and Federations above them.  I was there to help explore whether these SHGs and their organisations could take a lead in the drive for rural sanitation.  This involved field visits in Telangana (formerly part of Andhra Pradesh) and Bihar, and three brainstorming workshops, the last one at national level in Delhi, convened by the World Bank whic

Disability and sanitation: Making WASH fully inclusive

He is married with two children and works hard to support his family, but Martial Ramartin has spent three decades fighting the stigma of his partial paralysis, left from a bout of measles when he was just four.

As a child, his parents treated him the same as his siblings, encouraging him to learn to walk again despite his paralysed left leg, and requiring him to help with the daily rhythm of life in rural Madagascar – lighting the morning fire, pounding rice to prepare it for meals, and fetching water from an open pond at the foot of the village.

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