Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Water for the World Act Passes! Next stop, White House.


WASH Advocates
Cecilia Snyder, 202-293-4003

Congress Passes Water for the World Act with Strong Bipartisan Support
Legislation is Key to Solving the Global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Crisis

Washington, DC (December 15, 2014) - In an extraordinary bipartisan effort, the U.S. Senate tonight approved the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act of 2014 by unanimous consent.The bill was sponsored by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Bob Corker (R-TN), cosponsored by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and led by U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ted Poe (R-TX)in the House of Representatives.   

The Water for the World Act will build upon the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005, which established access to safe drinking water and sanitation as a priority of America's foreign policy. Today's vote reaffirms the legacy of Senator Simon's lifelong dedication to global safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) and its importance as a fundamental building block to alleviate poverty and improve health.

Patti Simon, wife of the late Senator, celebrated: "It's been almost a decade since the passage of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act of 2005, and this year's bill is an important step toward increasing the impact of that original legislation. Paul would be proud of the momentum we're seeing to get safe, sustainable drinking water and sanitation to more and more people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America."

The Water for the World Act is a cost-free approach with enormous positive impacts on health, food security and nutrition, environmental quality, girls' and women's empowerment, and economic development across the globe. It calls for an increase in monitoring and evaluation of projects, particularly after the implementation phase, and ensuring that programming is targeted to help the world's poorest.

"This phenomenal bipartisan effort shows that water issues, particularly safe drinking water and sanitation, resonate with Americans, and they understand how they can tangibly help solve this problem," noted John Oldfield, CEO of WASH Advocates. "Our Representatives and Senators are following the impressive lead of their constituents around the country - church groups, Rotary Clubs, elementary schools, universities, and nonprofits - who are working to help solve this global crisis once and for all."

The Water for the Poor Act has made a tangible difference in the world. Every year, U.S. WASH programs bring better WASH access to millions of people across Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In FY11 and FY12, USAID provided almost 7 million people with improved access to drinking water supply, and almost 3 million with improved access to sanitation.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

GLAAS Report 2014 - The most important WASH report you haven't read (yet)

The most important report that you have never heard of, and why and how it should change the global water and sanitation sector

For months, millions of people have been eagerly anticipating the release of the latest UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water (GLAAS) report.
Well, that’s not entirely true. In fact, it’s not even mostly true. But it should be. The biannual GLAAS report is one of most important reports in the global water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector. 

So what does the 2014 GLAAS report – released today – actually mean? What are its most important findings and recommendations, and how should we respond to them?

The 2014 report - using data from 94 countries and 23 donors - shows increasing momentum, political commitments, and financial support for WASH. It also highlights the huge regional disparities that remain, the continuing challenge to attract more and smarter money to the sector, and the relative lack of attention paid to sanitation. Implicit in the report are a number recommendations that the international nonprofit and donor community should take to heart.

What are the report's most urgent findings?

  • There is a need for more, smarter, and better targeted money in the sector, the vast majority of which will need to come from the public sector (domestic tax revenues). 80% of respondent countries indicated insufficient financing for the sector, and 70% of countries reported that tariffs do not cover the costs of operation and maintenance. Extra credit assignment: read this article from IRC about public finance in the WASH sector.
  • There is an imbalance between where the money is going, and where it is most needed. For example, rural sanitation expenditures comprise less than 10% of total WASH finance. This is particularly germane on World Toilet Day.
  • There is a noted lack of human resources in the global WASH sector, leading to problems in monitoring and evaluation, pro-poor (viz. rural) targeting of programs, and operations and maintenance of systems. There are simply not enough professionals engaged in water and sanitation.
  • It’s not just about households. Schools and health facilities also have a dire need for sustainable WASH systems, as manifested recently by the outbreak of Ebola and by the ongoing challenges of childbirth and increasing the enrolment of girls in schools.
  • And perhaps the scariest findings in the report: 
    • “…most sector decisions are not evidence-based due to the widespread lack of capacity for monitoring, inconsistent or fragmented gathering of data and limited use of information management systems and analysis. . . ” and
    •  “…less than half of countries track progress in extending sanitation and drinking-water services to the poor.”
With limited capacity for ongoing monitoring and evaluation, the sector runs the risk of continuing to repeat mistakes and make decisions based on inadequate evidence.

So what? What can I do about these findings?
I urge you to read the report or at least its highlights and digest some of its impressive country profile work. Second, use the report to help you identify gaps in your corner of the global WASH sector, mismatches between supply and demand, and opportunities for your organization to help rectify some of those imbalances and misalignments.

No, seriously, what can I do about it?
Since you asked, here are some concrete ideas:

Nonprofits and implementing agencies:
  • Focus more on local government and community capacity-building; on the poorest of the poor (predominantly rural); on sanitation and hygiene as key components of an integrated WASH program; on enabling environments including policy advocacy; on sustainable financial models appropriate to local contexts; on monitoring and evaluation (particularly long after the ribbon-cutting ceremony); and on converting the high levels of political commitment we see in the GLAAS report to tangible country-level action.
  • Work alongside or within government (national and local) systems in your program countries rather than in spite of the local government; support those governments’ efforts to develop and strengthen their own capacity to monitor and evaluate WASH efforts rather than imposing your own.  

Private, corporate, and government funders:
  • Think less about how many wells you can buy, and more about how to have a transformative impact in your program countries and communities. Start with a problem, and fund the appropriate solution set, not vice versa.
  • Seek out and fund efforts as outlined above; ask your potential US and local grantees tough questions early in the proposal process about technical and financial sustainability and appropriateness. Are you helping to transform a community, or just creating/deepening dependencies?
  • Support programs designed to leave behind capacity, not holes. Some of the best/promising initiatives we are following most closely now include:

o   Water For People’s Everyone Forever campaign
o   Water.org’s Watercredit
o   WASH policy advocacy efforts at various levels, including the Sanitation and Water for All Partnership, End Water Poverty, and the WASH Advocacy Challenge
  • Focus less on the low hanging fruit (e.g. large drinking water projects in dense urban environments) and more on the most difficult people to reach as identified by the GLAAS report (e.g. small rural or per-urban integrated sanitation programs).  
  •  Think beyond the household: fund WASH efforts in healthcare facilities and schools, in part to prevent the next Ebola or cholera outbreak from becoming an epidemic.

 Bottom line: Make sure the right people across the globe read the 2014 GLAAS report. When more people read it, and act on its findings, the WASH sector will see both higher levels of political and financial commitments, and better designed, implemented, and targeted WASH programming. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Water for the World Act to be marked up this World Toilet Day / Rally at noon

 Look forward to seeing you all Wednesday: 

United States House of Representatives
For Planning Purposes only

Blumenauer, Leading NGOs Call for Swift Passage of Water for the World, Push for International Sanitation Improvement
WHAT:    On Wednesday morning, the House Foreign Affairs Committee will conduct its markup of H.R. 2901, the Senator Paul Simon Water for the World Act authored by Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ted Poe (R-TX). This is one of the final steps in a long journey towards passage for this incredibly important, bipartisan bill. At noon, following the markup, there will be a rally/press conference at the House Triangle.

The purpose of this Act is to strengthen and refine the implementation of the Senator Paul Simon Water for the Poor Act to ensure that WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) programming is not only elevated in a way that helps leverage the impact of other development assistance, but to ensure that our WASH programming is targeted to help the world’s poorest, is more effective, with long-term, sustainable impacts; and, to codify, with strengthening revisions, the good work currently being done by USAID and State on WASH.    

And the legislation could not be more timely.  There are over 260 river basins that cross at least one international border, making the management of this finite resource – without conflict – one of our greatest national security challenges.  Without greater leadership from the U.S., these challenges will only grow more acute.  We need only look at the very recent history in Syria for proof, where severe droughts played a key role in the initial uprisings.   

Dirty water directly affects every area of development, which is why water and sanitation are the best investments our country can make.  This legislation will positively affect the lives of millions of the world’s poorest people, disproportionately women and children, and represents a successful bipartisan effort from conception until now.  Nearly 800 million people lack access to clean water.  Every day, women and girls spend a combined 200 million hours collecting water, keeping them from school.
In a stroke of luck, Wednesday is also World Toilet Day, and we will have the opportunity to hear from experts in the NGO world about how the US can better help the 2.5 billion people worldwide without access to proper sanitation.

WHO:    Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
WHERE: House Triangle, U.S. Capitol, southeast side 

WHEN12:00 pm, Wednesday, November 19, 2014  

Friday, October 17, 2014

Ebola jobs (Chief of Party, Logistics Manager) - deadline Oct 20

 Ebola Response – Logistics Manager and Chief of Party
Application deadline October 20, 2014

Logistics Manager

Position Description: The Ebola Treatment Unit Logistics Manager is responsible for managing the overall supplies and movement of supplies, flow of patients and staff, within an ETU. IPC procedures must be followed to prevent transmission. In collaboration and liaison with other key personnel in the ETU, s/he is responsible to ensure that the infection prevention and control (IPC) measures and protocols are followed and that the appropriate data is communicated to the Logistics cluster, the DART, and other relevant stakeholders. The Logistics Manager must capture pipeline information, and coordinate the management of the supply chain ensuring that Program staff are well-informed and well-prepared for incoming goods and materiel. Ensure timely reporting on stock status, to help Program staff with planning of stock replenishment and that tracking through to end-user has occurred.

Experience: The Logistics Manager must have broad experience in humanitarian assistance programs, especially in communicable disease responses, such as cholera. S/he must have humanitarian coordination experience with the Logistics cluster, WHO, and water and sanitation ministries and other partners.

Education: It is desirable that experience is supported by study by academic study, such as completion of the Certification in Humanitarian Logistics.

·         Evidence of practical experience in logistics management within the field of supply chain management (procurement, tendering, contracting, clearance, transport, warehousing, etc.) fleet management and asset management, distribution support.
·         Proven record of experience of the management of logistics at a coordination level.
·         Evidence of considerable humanitarian expertise in logistics management  (5 to 6 field deployments; 3 to 4 humanitarian emergency deployments and 4 to 5 international deployments)

Chief of Party

Position Description: As the Chief of Party, this individual will be responsible for the overall strategic planning, human resources, program design and implementation, program support operations, finance, administration, monitoring and evaluation supervision, expansion/development, and required reporting for this contract.

Experience: As the Chief of Party, he/she should have demonstrated broad experience managing complex humanitarian programs that include heavy oversight for the safety of both staff and beneficiaries, along with coordinating programmatic aspects with all stakeholders, including the DART, WHO, health ministries, and other partners.

Education:   Master’s degree in public health, international development, strategic planning, project design and implementation, or a related field

 •     10-15 years of project management experience (management, planning, staff development and training skills) in emergency / development programs
•     Significant experience in coordination aspects of humanitarian assistance, including the cluster system, the DART, and the MOHSW, particularly in the health field, to ensure that gaps are addressed and there is no duplication of efforts.
•     Familiarity in working with USAID’s policies, procedures, and regulations.

Please send CVs and Letters of Interest to Daniel Corbett,

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ebola, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

A few thoughts/data points on the linkages between Ebola and WASH:

Summary: Safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are important in treating patients infected with Ebola and in preventing the transmission of Ebola (and other infectious diseases). WASH is vital at household, community, and health facility levels. Longterm, sustainable public health and WASH infrastructure are important to better prepare communities, particularly in West Africa, for the next occurrence of such diseases.

·         Water Supply Needs and Usage:
o   Any medical facility, hospital, field station, isolation unit must have a supply of fresh water that is adequate in flow volume and quality. This requirement, and the need to develop such a reliable supply in advance of facility construction or placement, is as or more vital than the need for reliable electricity. . .
o   While . . . data suggest that emergency minimum water supply volumes on the order of 150 to 200 liters per person per day might be sufficient, it should be a top priority to inquire of current medical facilities in Liberia, Guinea, and other affected areas of West Africa for specific data and insights on their current level of water use as well as the end uses of that water (washing, sanitation, sterilization of equipment, cooking, etc.).
o   A wide range of water-treatment systems can ensure that water supply is safe, including chlorine-based treatments, ultraviolet light treatment, and top-quality reverse osmosis membrane systems. The CDC provides a short overview of various treatment options and their ability to remove viruses here. Before choosing a water-treatment system, . . .confirm that they are designed and can be operated to specifically remove or inactivate Ebola-type viruses with high reliability.
·         Water that may be contaminated with Ebola virus:
o   A separate water-quality risk is that during patient care and treatment, contaminated fluids, including water, will have to be reliable handled, treated, and neutralized.
o   According to the World Health Organization, Public Health Agency of Canada, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Ebola virus is known to be susceptible to solutions of chlorine bleach, germicidal chemicals, gamma radiation, sufficient ultraviolet C light exposure, some soaps, alcohol-based sanitizer (at least 60% concentration), and by boiling water.

·         Ebola virus is present in all body fluids of an infected person, and once they become symptomatic, is transmitted by direct contact with these body fluids, including blood, sweat, vomit, diarrhea, urine, saliva, tears, semen and breast milk.
·         Direct contact may involve directly touching infected body fluids, or touching items and surfaces like doorknobs that have been recently contaminated with these infected fluids. Once it is on your hands, Ebola virus can enter your body through breaks in the skin of your hands, or when you touch your eyes, nose or mouth (mucous membranes). Similarly, if you are wearing gloves that have Ebola virus on them, Ebola virus can enter your body if you touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your gloved hands. Finally, when you remove gloves that may have Ebola virus on them, you must wash your hands immediately in case any Ebola virus on your gloves or other protective clothing is transferred to your bare hands during removal.

Newspaper Articles/Blogs

·         Professor Taylor of the University of Brighton said: "Our Environment and Public Health Research Group is currently developing low-cost ways to disinfect human waste following disease outbreaks,” and is advising the World Health Organization (WHO) to help control the spread of the disease. Source: University scientists help tackle Ebola

·         Médecins Sans Frontières epidemiologist Kamiliny Kalahne said outbreaks usually spread in areas where hospitals have poor infection control and limited access to resources such as running water. "People who become sick with it almost always know how they got sick: because they looked after someone in their family who was very sick -- who had diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding -- or because they were health staff who had a lot of contact with a sick patient," she said. Source: Ebola virus: Nine things to know about the killer disease.

·         As recently described by Laurie Garrett of the Council of Foreign Relations, the Ebola virus in West Africa should be tackled the same way it was done in 1976:  with soap, clean water, protective gear, safe medical practices, and quarantine; technology and vaccines are of no use. Source: The Ebola Threat: A “new normal”? (The World Bank)

·         Should hygiene be more of a priority for donors than health care? (Devex) UNICEF staff hands out soap and chlorine in Conakry to prevent the spread of Ebola in Guinea.

Further Reading:
·         There are a number of resources here (http://www.medbox.org/ebola-toolbox/listing?q=water&sort) regarding the importance of water, sanitation, and general hygiene to treat and prevent the spread of Ebola.