Thursday, October 28, 2010

Gates Foundation / Grand Challenges Exploration / Sanitation / Nov 2 deadline

Good morning/afternoon everyone - I should have posted this a long time ago - apologies.

For those of you with great ideas about how to solve the world's sanitation challenges, please consider applying for this early-stage Gates Foundation support. Good luck!


The deadline for applications to our Grand Challenges Exploration is fast approaching and we want to get as many applications in as possible! Applications need to be received by November 2, 2010.

As you may have heard, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s WS&H team is currently running a Grand Challenges Exploration for sanitation. Grand Challenges Exploration is a small grants program that is soliciting proposals for the next generation of sanitation technology. From new containment devices to fecal sludge transport, treatment, and reuse, we’re looking for bold, innovative, and risky ideas that have potential to catalyze a transformation in how sanitation is implemented in the world’s rapidly growing cities. The guidelines for the sanitation challenge can be found here:

The application is just 2 pages, and the grant size is $100,000 for a year, to develop the idea further. We’re looking to receive a wide diversity of ideas from a wide diversity of individuals and organizations, so please circulate widely throughout your networks!

One bold idea. That’s all it takes.

Unorthodox thinking is essential to overcoming the most persistent challenges in global health. Vaccines were first developed over 200 years ago because revolutionary thinkers took an entirely new approach to preventing disease.

Grand Challenges Explorations fosters innovation in global health research. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has committed $100 million to encourage scientists worldwide to expand the pipeline of ideas to fight our greatest health challenges. Launched in 2008, Grand Challenge Explorations grants have already been awarded to 340 researchers from 34 countries.

Open to All Disciplines: Anyone Can Apply

The grant program is open to anyone from any discipline, from student to tenured professor, and from any organization – colleges and universities, government laboratories, research institutions, non-profit organizations and for-profit companies.

Agile, Accelerated Grant-Making

The initiative uses an agile, accelerated grant-making process with short two-page applications and no preliminary data required. Applications are submitted online, and winning grants are chosen approximately 4 months from the submission deadline.

Initial grants of $100,000 are awarded two times a year. Successful projects have the opportunity to receive a follow-on grant of up to $1 million.

A link to the press release announcing the launch can be found here:

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The World's Toilet Crisis / Washington DC screening / October 28

For those of you in Washington DC, please plan to join us for an important screening of The World's Toilet Crisis.

Event date: October 28, 2010 - 7:00pm - 8:30pm

Here is the event flyer.

An estimated 40% of the world's population has no access to toilets and defecate anywhere they can. This documentary investigates how developing countries are trying to solve an epidemic that few people want to talk about--the world's toilet crisis.

Join the Pulitzer Center, AED, PATH, and Water Advocates for a screening of the film followed by a panel discussion with Lisa Biagiotti, producer of the film and multimedia journalist for PBS and Current TV, Peter Sawyer from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and Janie Hayes from PATH.

Thursday, October 28, 7pm
"Bathroom Pass" Exhibit at AED IDEA: EXCHANGE
1875 Connecticut Ave, NW (corner of T St) Washington, DC

Free and open to the public. A reception will follow the screening.

Please RSVP to

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pop!Tech conference features Water For People's Ned Breslin TODAY

Just got this note below from Susan Davis at Water For People. Water For People is launching today a VERY interesting initiative. This gets as close to a game-changer as anything going on in the global WASH sector these days. Please do watch Ned's talk today (details below) if you can.

Note in particular the "other organizations" part of FLOW. Water For People means this to be open source, available for all organizations across sectors to use for their own sustainability / accountability / M&E purposes. As I'm watching, I'll be thinking about how I could apply it to my own work.

This Thursday, October 21, CEO Ned Breslin will be revealing big news from Water For People at the annual Pop!Tech conference in Camden, Maine.

Water For People, in conjunction with Gallatin Systems, has been working diligently to develop a dynamic new data-monitoring tool that seeks to revolutionize the sector. Sustainability, transparency, and accountability will no longer be merely buzzwords. Thanks to FLOW, these words are now transformed into true measurements of success.

Tune in to to the watch the reveal of FLOW live from Pop!Tech. Ned has 18 minutes to tell his story, including how FLOW will enable Water For People and other organizations to build on strengths, identify and improve weaknesses, and ultimately reach the goal of true, proven project sustainability.

Feel the excitement as Water For People once again challenges the norms of water and sanitation development with this inspiring reveal!

Date: Thursday, October 21, 2010
Time: between 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EDT /9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. MDT
(18 minutes within that time)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

World Toilet Summit / Trillion Dollar Market

I hope as many of you as possible are planning to join Jack Sim and his colleagues at this year's World Toilet Summit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Oct 31 - Nov 3).

Below are a couple of paragraphs from a press release I received yesterday about the event. More information at



The theme of the 2010 ICC World Toilet Summit is “2.6 Billion Sanitation Business Opportunities.” This strategy intends to engage large corporations by demonstrating the staggering size and profit potential that lies in providing the poverty sector with access to quality toilets at affordable prices. The global sanitation crisis affects nearly 40% of the world population who live on less than $2 USD per day. People living without toilets belong to a consumer group at the bottom of the economic pyramid who live in relative poverty, but collectively have purchasing power representing a $5 trillion USD market.

Aside from reaching business decision makers, another objective of bringing the WTS to the U.S. is to dramatically heighten awareness of the global sanitation crisis among U.S. policymakers, organizations, and the general public in order to continue to grow support for this cause, both short- and long-term.

“We are so proud to be part of this initiative,” stated ICC PMG Group Executive Director Jay Peters. “The attendees and other participants of this powerful conference will benefit tremendously from the expanded and richer conference and expo offerings, as well as invaluable networking opportunities for future business ventures that wouldn’t otherwise be available to them. It will be outstanding for our organizations, the entire plumbing industry and the businesses that serve them, as well as the entire world.”

Monday, October 18, 2010

charity: water / Director of Water Programs / job posting

Neat job just posted at charity: water. Please see below. They are also hiring a senior development director, if any reader is interested.

Director of Water Programs, charity: water
charity: water
New York, NY

October 2010

charity: water is focused on providing clean, safe drinking water to 100 million people in the next ten years. To do this, charity: water is scaling its staff, its countries of work, its international partnerships—and they are-inventing charity in the process.


As a member of charity: water’s Executive Team, help lead the organization and drive the cultural values that make our organization distinct.

Drive charity: water’s program strategy and build partner capacity to fund $2B in projects over the next 10 years.

Have ownership of all funds sent to the field for project work. You’ll deploy, monitor and report on $10-20M in project funding this year, growing to $500M per year over the next 10 years.

Develop and lead people and systems to manage continual influx of complex project data, and to scale exponentially over the next 5-10 years.

Develop and manage high-level relationships with NGO leaders, water experts, field engineers and community workers, driving testing and broad adoption of viable new technologies and best practices.

Drive quarterly project funding planning, including vetting and negotiating partner project proposals and coordinating funding capacity with fundraising and accounting teams.

Represent charity: water in the global safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector.

Uphold charity: water’s commitment to transparency and efficiency by holding partners accountable for financial and project status reporting.

We are looking for a truly remarkable individual to join the senior leadership team. The ideal candidate will display these unique qualities:

At least 5 years experience and expertise in international development, preferably focused on programs providing clean drinking water and hygiene and sanitation training to impoverished communities.

Experience with designing and managing scalable systems to track, organize and analyze complex project data.

Proven relationship skills with ability to develop and leverage productive relationships with NGO executives, water experts, engineers and field workers.

Strong communication skills, with ability to speak authoritatively at conferences, in meetings and on video.

Analytical, detailed and numbers-oriented approach to planning and budgeting.


Bachelor’s degree is required. Advance degree a plus.


Travel internationally at least 12 weeks per year.


A competitive compensation package will be offered to the successful candidate.

For more detailed information about the organization, please go to:

Email cover letter and resume in confidence to:

Josie Sandler

Sandler Search Associates, LLC

880 Third Avenue, 16th Floor

New York, NY 10022

Email: josie [[at]]


Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day / Stop using girls as infrastructure

Happy Blog Action Day! In honor of Blog Action Day, I want to resurrect a HuffingtonPost blog post from almost a year ago:

India Economic Summit Champions Investing in Girls

Among other action items, Maria Eitel suggests:

  • Stop using girls as infrastructure. When we create proper infrastructures - build roads, install electricity and clean water - girls won't need to be used as infrastructure any longer. Today they function as the electric grid as they carry firewood, plumbing system as they carry water, childcare system, etc.

Couldn't agree more. Too often around the world women and girls are used as water (and all too often wastewater) infrastructure instead of being given the opportunity to be educated and become productive members of society.

Let's use Blog Action Day and its focus on water this year to stop using girls as infrastructure, and start giving them the opportunity to go to school, to learn, to be healthy, to be girls.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Global Handwashing Day 2010

Zoinks! Each year Global Handwashing Day gets bigger and better.  From our friend Dan Campbell at USAID, here are the big ticket items for tomorrow, October 15. WASH your HANDS people! I don't care if you're trying to prevent diarrheal disease or avian influenza. Handwashing is medicine!

{{Since I posted this, I heard from - they have a great handwashing poster for free download here:}}

2 key websites are:

• Global Handwashing Day 2010 -

• Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap -

Handwashing in the News

- USAID - Millions Soap Up to Commemorate Global Handwashing Day

- U.S State Dept - Raising Clean Hands: How WASH Is Essential for Achieving Universal Education, a presentation by Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs  

- UNICEF - Making clean hands a priority for more than just a day, Global Handwashing Day
- Save the Children Asks: Do You Know Your Dirty Words? -, ‎Oct 11, 2010‎, The videos also mark Global Handwashing Day on October 15. The installation of toilets, hand-washing stations, hand pumps and de-worming campaigns are part ...

- BBC News - UK: Dirty toilets and thugs stop children washing hands -

- Lifebuoy to target 100000 children to support 3rd annual Global Handwashing - The 3rd annual Global Handwashing Day (GHWD) will be celebrated across the Gulf on October 15th 2010. The initiative, backed by the Global Public-Private ...

- Ghana: Global Handwashing Day, ‎Oct 11, 2010‎, In Ghana, the third National Handwashing Day will be held at the Volta Regional Capital, Ho. In 2008, the United Nations General Assembly set aside the day ...

- Soap Project, MedShare Form Partnership, Oct 12, 2010, Two Atlanta-based nonprofits, the Global Soap Project and MedShare, have formed a partnership to distribute recycled soap from US hotel rooms to countries ...

- Afghanistan: No soap at school

- India: Health in your hands, ‎Oct 12, 2010, The focus of this year's Global Handwashing Day is cleanliness at schools. Playgrounds, classrooms, community centres, and public spaces will be awash with ...

- Philippines - Global handwashing day on October 15 promotes lathering up to beat diseases, ‎Oct 12, 2010‎, The purpose of Global handwashing day is to raise awareness and promote hand washing to school children's and parents. Each year, diarrheal diseases and ...

- Kenya - Wash your hands well before touching cutlery, ‎Oct 12, 2010‎, As the world prepares to mark the Global Handwashing Day, public health experts are raising ...

- Guinness World Records® Attempt for Most People Sanitizing Hands a Success, ‎Oct 8, 2010, The world record was carried out in celebration of the upcoming Global Handwashing Day, an annual event that coincides with flu season. ...

Raising Clean Hands: How WASH Is Essential for Achieving Universal Education

U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero gave an impassioned speech yesterday on the linkages between safe water, sanitation, and primary education. The most interesting thing throughout a great event at AED I think was the attention that the speakers and questioners paid not just to how safe water and sanitation enable access to education (eg they make it possible for girls to go to school), but how safe water and sanitation improve the quality of that education as well. Better water and sanitation contribute very positively to cognitive development, not just simply getting girls to school.

Here are Maria Otero's great remarks:

Maria Otero
Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs

Academy for Educational Development (AED)
Washington, DC
October 13, 2010


As prepared for delivery

Thank you for the warm welcome and kind introduction. And my gratitude to the Water Advocates and Academy for Educational Development for organizing this wonderful event and showcasing this beautiful exhibit for the public. This is the perfect setting –surrounded by these powerful images and messages – to be talking about WASH in schools.

As Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs, I have worked over the past year to elevate two initiatives at Secretary Clinton’s request: water and youth.

Fortunately, today gives me an opportunity to talk about both: the importance of providing water, sanitation, and hygiene education – and the significance of starting early. We must teach our children—our future—to be better stewards of our world’s water and better caretakers of their own health.

No matter where you live—be it Boston or Bamako—schools are the foundation of strong communities. They are, of course, a place where teachers teach and children learn. But they are also a place where community health workers deliver life-saving messages and medicines. They are a place where adults gather in the evening for continuing education and town-hall meetings. And they are a place where people come to vote and young democracies flourish.

It is a tragic irony that those who go to schools to learn, congregate, and protect their health, are often put at risk from the school environment itself.

The problem is clear. More than half of all primary schools in developing countries do not have adequate water facilities and nearly two-thirds lack adequate sanitation. Even where facilities exist, they are often in poor condition.

The consequences are threefold. First, health suffers. Schools can—and often do—become a breeding ground for diarrhea, parasitic worms, and other water-borne ailments. The World Health Organization estimates that diarrhea causes 1.5 million deaths per year; many resulting from transmission in schools.

Furthermore, schools without WASH facilities represent a lost opportunity to promote good hygiene behavior in the larger community. Data suggests that students who practice good hygiene in schools also help teach good hygiene practices to their parents, siblings, and friends.

Second, education suffers. Worm infestations can lower children’s IQ scores. Studies show that students are more prone to missing lessons in schools without WASH facilities. Such trends can have devastating long-term costs for students, communities and nations, virtually closing doors to opportunity.

Third, women and girls suffer disproportionately. Female school staff and girls who have reached puberty are less likely to attend schools that lack gender specific sanitation facilities. As we increasingly recognize the contribution of women to household income, health, education, and nutritional outcomes, nations simply cannot afford a lag in women’s education and literacy.

The bottom line is this: If we are serious about improving child health, achieving universal primary education, ensuring gender equity, and stimulating economic development, we need to be serious about providing safe water, sanitation, and hygiene education in schools.

The U.S. Government has a long and ongoing commitment in this area.

Together with Millennium Water Alliance, Global Water Challenge, and the Water and Sanitation Rotarian Action Group, the State Department is rolling out the Ambassador’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Schools Initiative. We are also finalizing the addition of a fourth partner and founding sponsor: The Coca-Cola Africa Foundation.

The initiative aims to help U.S. Embassies around the world collaborate with experienced NGOs to implement a local WASH in schools project. We are already working with Embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, and looking to expand to other countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America.

Through WASH in Schools, Ambassadors and other senior embassy staff are engaging the host government and local communities on the importance of WASH education to health, education, and gender equity.

Most recently, as part of the Hygiene Improvement Program, USAID worked closely with AED and other partners to scale up national WASH in School programs in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The program also conducted trainings and produced materials to share best practices with other organizations.

Our ultimate goal is for all schools to have adequate WASH facilities. But we must not be naïve about the challenges ahead. Maintaining sustainable water and sanitation services in schools is not simple. Constructing taps, toilets, and hand washing stations with soap is often the easy part. Setting up a robust system for operations and management and ensuring sustained and proper use can be much more difficult. We must ensure that WASH is incorporated in school curriculum and teacher training to complement the infrastructure with appropriate hygiene and sanitation messages and skill-building.

Even as we increase investment for WASH in schools, we must also increase monitoring and communication of what works and what doesn’t. A solid knowledge base is essential for informed decision-making and effective distribution of funds.

Finally, as we have noted in our own WASH in Schools program, success is contingent on strong partnerships. Many donor groups are supporting WASH in schools programs around the world, and many of you are represented in the room today. I am grateful for your commitment.

And, of course, donor efforts alone will not reach scale or be sustainable without leadership from national governments like El Salvador—a country that has demonstrated strong support for WASH in schools. I’d like to extend a special welcome to Ambassador Francisco Altschul-Fuentes, from El Salvador, who is here with us today.

Last month, we were fortunate to have representatives from nations throughout the world join us at a side-event on water during the MDG Summit, co-hosted by the U.S., Tajikistan, the Dutch, and UNICEF. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was among 200 leaders highlighting the role of safe access to clean water in reaching multiple MDG goals. I encouraged the high-level participants to address water from multiple angles, including the environment, health, security, and women and children’s rights. And, of course, WASH in Schools is a part of that equation.

It is this type of dialogue—and events like this one today—that are crucial to building the partnerships that will change the lives of boys and girls in schools throughout the world—change their lives, change the future.

I would just close by pointing out that this Friday, October 15, the world will commemorate Global Handwashing Day. On this day, educators in countries around the globe will be showing their students how to wash their hands. It sounds simple to an audience that is accustomed to automatic faucets. But sadly, hundreds of millions of children will not be able to practice their handwashing lessons at school.

This is where we all can make a difference. I regret that I cannot stay for the panel, but I look forward to hearing the outcomes.

Thank you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Children Should Carry Books, Not Crappy Water

Children Should Carry Books, Not Water

U.S. Raising Clean Hands Campaign Launched: WASH (WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene) Is Essential to Achieve Universal Education

October 13, (Washington, DC) – Nathan Strauss, 17, a student at Abington Senior High School in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is part of a growing movement of America’s youth who are stepping up to make a change in the lives of the students around the world who are carrying water and not books.

Even for those children that have the opportunity to go to school, students lose 443 million school days each year due to diseases associated with the lack of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Repeated episodes of diarrhea and worm infestations diminish a child’s ability to learn and impair cognitive development. This problem is exacerbated by the more than half of all schools in developing countries that lack adequate WASH facilities.

“I had no idea of the magnitude of the issue and I was shocked to find out the severity of the crisis and the number of students like me across the world that still don’t even have a toilet at their school. Doing something about this has become a really big deal for me,” said Nathan Strauss. “I think America’s youth has great potential to do something about this problem; if everyone gets taught the issue, we can all help. Imagine if all the students in America were a part of this; the change would be enormous,” he continued.

Nathan is not alone. Nearly 30 organizations launched a campaign in the United States today at an event at AED to demonstrate that providing water, sanitation and hygiene education in schools globally can help solve the WASH and education challenge around the world. Through this campaign, and an exhibit called “Bathroom Pass,” these organizations highlight the solutions they are currently implementing and urge the U.S. Government, the World Bank, and other actors in the education and health sectors to bring WASH to schools in the developing world.
U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs Maria Otero stressed, “The bottom line is this: if we are serious about improving child health, achieving universal primary education, ensuring gender equity and stimulating economic development, we need to be serious about providing safe water, sanitation and hygiene in schools.” She emphasized the important role of students, like Nathan, to participate in service learning projects that help them engage in concrete actions to help others around the world. Earlier this year on World Water Day, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton emphasized that global water issues would be a priority for the U.S. Government.

Other speakers who highlighted the need to act included Carol Bellamy (Education for All - Fast Track Initiative), Clarissa Brocklehurst (UNICEF), Jack Downey (AED) and Denise Knight (The Coca-Cola Company). Jon Hamilton of NPR served as the moderator.

Nathan took action by helping to start a club through H2O for Life to raise funds to help schools in developing countries; the money is used to improve access to clean water, build toilets and handwashing stations, and provide hygiene education. So far 120,000 students across the U.S. have participated in H2O for Life service learning programs. Nathan’s story is highlighted in the “Bathroom Pass” exhibit, as are the stories of three students from Honduras, Madagascar and Nepal.

As a part of this campaign the organizers are challenging you to:

• Live for one day on the global minimum standard for water—approximately 5 gallons per person per day for drinking, cooking and bathing.
• Wash your hands at critical times: after using the toilet and before preparing food or eating.
• Start an H2O for Life club at your school like Nathan and his classmates did. Visit 

The launch of this campaign is timed to coincide with the week of Global Handwashing Day, October 15, when 200 million children, parents, teachers, celebrities and citizens in over 80 countries are raising attention for handwashing and for WASH in Schools. Visit


Nathan Strauss is available for print, radio and broadcast interviews. He will also be touring the “Bathroom Pass” exhibit in Washington, DC on Friday October 15 for photo and video opportunities.

Attention broadcasters: for WASH in Schools b-roll visit:

Water For People –

For background documents, scroll to bottom of the page at

Press Contacts:
• John Sauer, Water Advocates, Tel: 202-293-4003, Email: jsauer ( at )
• Michelle Galley, AED, Tel: 202-884-8388, Email: mgalley ( at )

“Bathroom Pass” Exhibit Description

In collaboration with nearly 30 partners, AED will launch Bathroom Pass: A Hands-On Exhibit On Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools at Idea:Exchange on October 13, 2010. Every child has the right to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in their school. In this kid-friendly exhibit, visitors experience WASH in schools through the stories of four children from around the world: Adán, age 12 from Honduras; Mamisoa, age 10 from Madagascar; Nathan, age 17 from the United States; and, Sarita, age 15 from Nepal. Find out how WASH in schools ensures students reach their full potential. Learn how you can make a difference. For more information on group scheduling or events, please contact Zoe Plaugher, zplaugher (at) or 202-884-8618. The exhibit is free and open to the public from October 25 through November 19, Monday-Friday, 3PM-7PM. Location: AED IDEA:EXCHANGE, corner of Connecticut Ave. & T St., 1875 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20009.

Organizations supporting this event include: Action Against Hunger, AED, Basic Education Coalition, CARE, CRS, Children Without Worms, Global Environment & Technology Foundation, Global Water Challenge, H2O for Life, Millennium Water Alliance, PATH, Plan USA, Project WET, PSI, Ryan's Well Foundation, Save the Children, UNICEF, USAID, US Fund for UNICEF, WaterAid, Water Advocates, Water and Sanitation Program, Water Centric, Water For People, World Water Relief

Friday, October 8, 2010

Global Health Council - Invitation to Screening of "Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" - A Documentary on the Fight against Guinea Worm

Global Health Council - Invitation to Screening of "Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" - A Documentary on the Fight against Guinea Worm

If you see one documentary all year, make it this one. The eradication of Guinea Worm (and the coming eradication of polio as well) are two of the most compelling global public health successes since D.A. Henderson and the eradication of smallpox in the 1970s. (On the smallpox note, I highly recommend D.A.'s book here.)

PLEASE join me for this screening on October 18 in Washington DC (RSVP details below):

Invitation to Screening of "Foul Water, Fiery Serpent" - A Documentary on the Fight against Guinea Worm

Please join the Global Health Council, The Carter Center, and The National Geographic Society for the Washington D.C. premiere of "Foul Water Fiery Serpent".

Monday, Oct. 18, 2010
6:30-8:00 pm
The National Geographic Society
Gilbert H. Grosvenor Auditorium
1600 M Street, NW
Washington, D.C.

The new documentary chronicles the dedication of health workers engaged in the final struggle to eradicate a horrific disease in Africa. The film features former President Jimmy Carter and The Carter Center, and is narrated by Sigourney Weaver.

For a preview of the film, please visit:

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with special guests:

  • Dr. Don Hopkins, VP Health Programs, The Carter Center
  • Ms. Susanna Moorehead, UK Executive Director to the World Bank and Minister Counselor at the British Embassy
  • David Thon, a "Lost Boy" of Sudan, Graduate Training Assistant, Southeast AIDS Training and Education Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Admission is free and complimentary parking is available at the National Geographic Garage located at the corner of M & 16th Street starting at 5:30 pm. Nearby Metro stops are Farragut North and Farragut West.

Please RSVP by October 12 at info [at] cieloproductions [dot] org or (415) 670-9600.
Hosted by The Global Health Council, The Carter Center, and The National Geographic Society.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Children in Developing Countries | Pulitzer Center

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Children in Developing Countries | Pulitzer Center

Great piece from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting today.

Experts and advocates from humanitarian organizations stressed the need to provide adequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities and instruction for school children in the developing world at a congressional briefing yesterday.

Two out of three schools in the developing world lack decent toilets, according to UNICEF. The World Health Organization estimates that 272 million school days are lost each year due to diarrhea and some 400 million school-aged children worldwide have worms.

The panel discussion featured presentations by Pamela Young, Ph.D., of Plan International USA and Dennis Warner, Ph.D., of Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Save the Children’s Senior Director of School Health and Nutrition Seung Lee moderated the event, which was co-sponsored by U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer and non-profit groups Water Advocates and the Basic Education Coalition.

Young, a senior basic education advisor for Plan, explained how water, sanitation and hygiene facilities (such as latrines and hand washing stations) are vital in schools for increasing classroom attendance and learning.

“Those children who are able to stay in school and are able to be healthy when they are in school, they are able to pay attention more in their classrooms,” she said. “We know it’s also vital for their parents and their families and for their caregivers because these children, from what they learn, they take these messages to others in their communities and share those messages and help them to develop good practices.”

Young cited Plan’s recent work in the Dompu District of Indonesia’s island of Sumbawa, where primary schools partook in a life-size version of the board game Snakes and Ladders that incorporated messages on hygienic behavior. As a result, the district saw an increase in student hand washing with soap from 24% before the implementation of the program to 96%. Latrine use also significantly rose, from 28% to 88%.

In the Jaldhaka Province of Bangladesh, literal whistle-blowing resulted in an up to 90% decrease of open defecation in community areas. Children would blow whistles every time they caught a classmate defecating in a field. “This was actually very, very effective. It really stopped the practice among children,” Young explained. Moreover, it inspired families to build more toilets for the community.

Young said the success of the program underscores the importance of involving children in the decision-making process: “With all of our programs, we work with the communities and with the children to determine what is the best way. It’s a way of the kids saying what is actually going to stop us from doing this, what’s going to make us pay attention to others. So that is something that the children come up with themselves.”

Senior Technical Advisor for Water and Sanitation Warner also shared anecdotes of schools that had benefited from WASH programs. One school teacher in Honduras who received CRS assistance reported a decrease in diarrhea incidents amongst his students; he claimed that the children were more motivated and more active during the day as a result.

But Warner also described the challenges facing relief organizations in building and maintaining adequate facilities and therefore effective learning environments for school children.

“It would be nice if every project had a well-designed facility and system,” he said, explaining that children are often afraid to use dirty and dilapidated toilets at schools. “Even when a system is improved in a community, it may not be a very good system.” For instance, some community latrines and wells are unable to meet the demands of the village or are built too far away from schools. Hand pumps can be tainted by mud, and NGO workers have found latrines built close to or on top of rivers, thereby contaminating an entire village’s water supply.

“One doesn’t need flush toilets to have a healthy, safe facility that supports dignity,” Warner continued. He recommended involving the community in the construction of school latrines, which children could decorate with paintings and etchings. In order to avoid jealousy and rivalry between schools and the communities they serve, Warner urged that priority should be given to districts or villages where there is already a water sanitation project in place and the school has had only minimal support or improvement. “That way you can work with the school without making the community feel as if they are being ignored,” he explained.

Young advised that all facilities should be built using inexpensive and easily replaceable parts, since parents and community leaders will need to sustain them long after relief workers have left; students should learn how to wash and care for the hygiene stations as well.

Both Warner and Young stressed that separate toilets should be built for boys and girls to avoid incidents of sexual harassment.

“In many countries if you have sanitation facilities for both boys and girls that are very close to each other, girls may not use them,” Young said.” They’re afraid of violence, they are afraid of being raped and so they tend not to use them. Sometimes they’ll even go home rather than use these facilities or they’ll use a field.” The construction of wells and ceramic water filters near schools also promotes gender equality, as girls are no longer sent from school to fetch water from distant and often polluted lakes.

Students from HB Woodlawn Secondary Program also spoke at the event. They became involved in water and sanitation activism after their French teacher initiated a partnership with H2O for Life, an advocacy organization that connects schools in the United States with schools in developing countries to complete WASH projects.

“As students in Arlington, Virginia, we know that we lead very privileged lives and that there’s no way to compare our lives to those of children in much of the developing world,” said high school junior Mary Shields, who described how she first realized the importance of WASH while working in a remote hospital in Rwanda. “I personally witnessed the birth of a child in 2010 in Rwanda who went home from the hospital to face the challenges that come from living in an area without access to clean water.”

“I find it appalling that girls my age have to stop going to school when they reach puberty because they lack access to adequate sanitation,” she added. “It is unacceptable that children arrive into the world in this day and age without access to clean water.” Through various fundraisers, Shields and her class raised money for WASH programs for school children in Cameroon.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Capitol Hill Briefing - Wednesday October 6 - WASH in Schools

Please join us tomorrow in Washington DC: 


Please join the Basic Education Coalition and Water Advocates for a panel discussion on:

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Schools in the Developing World

Sponsored by:

Representative Earl Blumenauer

Wednesday, October 6, 2010
9:30 am to 10:45 am
2168 Rayburn Gold Room
(Continental breakfast served)

According to Raising Clean Hands: A Call to Action for WASH in Schools, more than half of all primary schools in developing countries do not have safe drinking water and nearly two-thirds lack single gender toilets. Even where facilities exist, they are often in poor condition. WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) is a powerful cross-sectoral issue that is essential for achieving universal education and enhances girls’ education and empowerment, reduces water- and sanitation-related diseases, increases attendance for girls and boys, safeguards cognitive development and contributes to economic growth. It provides community empowerment through parent/teacher associations and can lead to changes in national education policies. The WASH in Schools vision is a world where all children go to school and all schools provide a safe, healthy and comfortable environment where children grow, learn and thrive.

Please join us for a discussion of how WASH in Schools programs can improve the effectiveness of education while fulfilling every child’s right to water, sanitation and hygiene. Access to WASH programs in schools helps ensure that children have the opportunity to fully participate in school and reach their true potential.

Featured Speakers:

Seung Lee, Senior Director of School Health and Nutrition, Save the Children
Delaney Steffen, Student from HB Woodlawn Secondary Program, H2O for Life
Mary Shields, Student from HB Woodlawn Secondary Program, H2O for Life
Pamela Young, Senior Basic Education Advisor, Plan International USA
Dennis Warner, Senior Technical Advisor for Water and Sanitation, Catholic Relief Services

Please RSVP to

Anna Roberts at 202-884-8751

or e-mail: arack ((AT))