We all can do our part for the planet

How will Argentina achieve universal access to water and sanitation? Takeaways from International Water Association Conference in Buenos Aires

Palermo Water Treatment Plan, Agua y Saneamientos Argentinos, AySA, Buenos Aires

Argentina set ambitious targets of providing universal access to water and 75 percent access to sewerage services for its citizens. How can the country move toward this goal? 
 
That was the theme of the discussion on “Argentina Day” at the recent International Water Association (IWA) Water and Development Congress and Exhibition held in Buenos Aires, where water professionals from around the world and Argentinian officials met to exchange knowledge, experiences and strategies.
 
On behalf of the World Bank, I led a discussion on regulation, together with Emilio Lentini, Advisor to Argentina’s Water Resources Secretariat, Rui Cunha Marques, University of Lisbon, and Miguel Solanes, ECLAC, Chile.
 
Based on the findings of our recent work on Aligning Institutions and Incentives for Sustainable Water and Sanitation Services, I started my presentation by underscoring the interlinkages between regulation, policies and institutions and the crucial role these factors play in creating incentives to sustainable universal access to water and sanitation services. I also discussed regulation in the context of the new paradigms resulting from the need for many countries to regulate public service providers, thereby shifting from the traditional approach to regulating private companies.

 
In Argentina, as in other Latin American countries, state owned water companies are more common than privately operated utilities. Publicly owned utilities have traditionally not been regulated, at least in an orthodox manner as the common belief was that government, through its control of the utility, could strike the right balance between investments, cost recovery and affordable tariffs. In the last decade, however, regulation of public water utilities has been growing in response to the return of service provision to the government after failed private sector participation (PSP) attempts. This approach has been found to have important advantages, such as the establishment of competent technical regulatory agencies and the increased transparency through independent oversight. Countries as different as Albania, Australia, Colombia, Peru and Portugal are using regulation and regulatory institutions as part of the mix of policy instruments that seek to ensure that public utilities offer good value and sustainable services to the public.

In Latin America, regulation arose in the context of the wider sector reforms, including PSP and decentralization, which in many cases, mirrored the rationale for regulation in developed countries. However, I cautioned that this approach often entailed a mismatch between the needs of the countries and the regulatory model, which functions in the context of varying capacity levels and a different political and institutional culture, and welcomed the discussion on relevant regulatory experiences in Latin America.
 
Among those experiences, Mr. Marques discussed subsidies schemes in Chile and Colombia that facilitate access and enhance affordability for the poor and highlighted how direct subsidies and cross subsidies can be effective in different circumstances. He also examined arrangements in place in different countries to regulate public service providers and underscored the importance of addressing critical challenges associated with incentives, transparency, enforcement, equal treatment of different providers, and politicization of the regulators. Mr. Solanes argued that strengthening the regulatory function would require a significant behavioral change in water sector institutions and suggested to hold public service providers and their managers legally accountable for their actions.
 
At the emblematic Palermo water treatment plant and against the backdrop of a picture displaying the continuous performance improvements of Obras Sanitarias de la Nacion (the former national water utility of Argentina) during the first half of the 20th century, Mr. Lentini highlighted current efforts of the Government in this direction, including revisions to the tariff structures to achieve cost recovery and design of subsidy schemes to better target the poor and vulnerable groups whilst providing adequate incentives to expand the services and improve their efficiency and quality in a sustainable manner. For that reason, he welcomed the exchange initiated with this session and invited the Bank and other partners to continue sharing regional and global knowledge with Argentina.
 
We hope that through this session and other initiatives, the knowledge shared will further inform ongoing efforts by Argentina and other countries in Latin America to continue enhancing the policy, institutional and regulatory incentives to achieve sustainable access to water and sanitation for all.  Stay tuned for more news on our support to the government’s efforts to strengthen WSS service delivery and regulatory frameworks in Argentina through a comprehensive package of projects and other activities.

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CT 4-H Explorers Program for 5 & 6 Year Olds

By Pamela Gray, New London County 4-H Program Coordinator 

4-H clover youth member in garden projectIn response to requests from leaders and parents for the UConn 4-H program to incorporate Cloverbud-age youth, we ran a pilot program in 2017 for 5-6 year olds. With pilot year success, it is now an official addition starting 2018!

4-H Explorers is an age appropriate 4-H experience for five and six year-olds (plus seven year-olds/special needs youth who find this setting more suitable than a 7-19 age club). Explorers Club members do not have pro-jects or competitions. Instead, they explore all the different activities and experiences 4-H has to offer, and participate in events and meetings through activity-based, cooperative learning and positive encouragement.

The focus of activity-based learning and feedback is to pro-mote the 4-H’ers’ confidence in meeting new 4-H explorer members working in barn carrying haychallenges. Re-search on these age levels indicate the best way to build confidence is to provide many opportunities through activities that emphasize success, however small. The CT Explorers use The Big Book of 4-H Cloverbud Activities (Ohio State University) and Clover Adventures: A Leader’s Resource Guide (University of Maryland Extension) curriculum. The activities in these books are specifically designed to meet the physical, cognitive, social, and emotional needs of this age group, while being framed in the 4-H experiential learning model. Busy, messy, and hands-on are the motto for Explorers Clubs! Each club receives the curriculum from their 4-H office when Leaders are trained and the club is enrolled.

The CT 4-H Explorers at the Fair outlines how Explorers can participate meaningfully at the county 4-H fairs while not engaging competitively, and the CT 4-H Explorers Activity Summary provides a way for kids and/or clubs to reflect on their activities and successes. What were Ivan’s favorite activities this year? “Making pasta salad for Food Show,” and learning to hold a rabbit.

4-H explorers showing goats at county 4-H fairExplorers from clubs in New London, Middlesex, Litchfield, and Fairfield counties participated in Giddy-up Games, Food Shows, Public Speaking, and Skill-a-thon. In their club meetings they visited farms, learned how maple syrup is made, learned about birds, played in some dirt (planting seeds), cooked, made dioramas, posters, and collages, and much more hands-on learning.

One 4-H Explorer Leader observed “some things that attract new-to-4-H families are: no cost to join, no dues, and no uniforms to buy. The curriculum is varied, flexible, and parents stay for meetings and get involved.”

Heading into the 2018 4-H year, we have 16 Explorers Clubs across the state and 74 kids. If you would like to learn more about CT 4-H Explorers or how to start a club, click here for the handbook or contact your county 4-H office.

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Nutrition Education Outreach in Fairfield County

Nutrition Education Outreach November 2017
Submitted by Heather Peracchio
EFNEP graduates at Morris Street School in Danbury
 
SNAP-Ed programs:
Nutrition outreach at the Danbury mobile pantry reached 265 families on November 8th and the mobile pantry in Bethel on November 29th reached 183 families. 
 
EFNEP:
The Soccer and Nutrition program reached 22 children and adults on Friday November 3.  Adults and children participated in the program which follows the Cornell University Choose Health: Fun, Food and Fitness curricula.  There was a hands-on demonstration of a stir-fry recipe where parents and children participated in cooking and everyone taste tested.  The classes have been scheduled and advertised to parents for the first Friday of the month each month through October 2018.
The EFNEP adult program at Danbury’s Morris Street School Family Resource Staff began on October 16, 2017 with 24 new moms enrolled. In November, participants attended class on November 6 and November 13th, with their graduation ceremony on Monday November 27th. Below is a photo of the graduation ceremony, 16 EFNEP participants completed the program Monday evening with 6 more anticipated to graduate in December.

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Nutrition Education Outreach in Fairfield County

Nutrition Education Outreach November 2017
Submitted by Heather Peracchio
EFNEP graduates at Morris Street School in Danbury
 
SNAP-Ed programs:
Nutrition outreach at the Danbury mobile pantry reached 265 families on November 8th and the mobile pantry in Bethel on November 29th reached 183 families. 
 
EFNEP:
The Soccer and Nutrition program reached 22 children and adults on Friday November 3.  Adults and children participated in the program which follows the Cornell University Choose Health: Fun, Food and Fitness curricula.  There was a hands-on demonstration of a stir-fry recipe where parents and children participated in cooking and everyone taste tested.  The classes have been scheduled and advertised to parents for the first Friday of the month each month through October 2018.
The EFNEP adult program at Danbury’s Morris Street School Family Resource Staff began on October 16, 2017 with 24 new moms enrolled. In November, participants attended class on November 6 and November 13th, with their graduation ceremony on Monday November 27th. Below is a photo of the graduation ceremony, 16 EFNEP participants completed the program Monday evening with 6 more anticipated to graduate in December.

[Read More …]

The tyranny of toilets

Students heads to a female only toilets in Maskoke Primely and Secondly School
in Gode Town in Ethiopia. Credit: UNICEF Ethiopia

In the lead-in to World Toilet Day, we hear a great deal about the role of toilets in sanitation and in better health and human development outcomes.  Toilets are good development. Period.
 
We hear less about the fact that toilets are often sites and instruments of social exclusion.
 
Let me explain.
 
Segregated toilets for males and females were intended to give women privacy and to respect the “intrinsic” physical differences between the sexes.  In fact, in most developing countries, segregated toilets are a sine qua non for female participation in public spaces, in education and in employment. 
 
But the story is more complex.

While working on The Rising Tide, our “thinking device” on water and gender, I came upon this fascinating piece by Terry Kogan in the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law.  He argues that the origins of sex segregated public toilets were deeply gendered to start with. Yet segregated toilets are good in general, unless, in Kogan’s words,
 

  • “you happen to be a wheelchair-user who needs the assistance of your opposite-sex partner in a public restroom facility.
  • you happen to be a transsexual person dressed in accord with your gender identity who is prohibited from using the workplace restroom designated for the sex with which you identify.
  • you happen to be a woman at a rock concert standing in a long line outside the restroom marked ‘Women,’ while no line exists outside the door marked ‘Men’.
  • you happen to be a parent tending an opposite-sex, five year-old child when you or your child suddenly needs a public restroom.
  • you happen to be an intersexed child, born with ambiguous genitals and/or reproductive organs, whose parents have decided (despite social pressure and pressure from the medical community) not to subject their child to surgery until the child can participate in that decision.

 
Restricted access to toilets for some aside, they are also spaces that can keep historically excluded groups “in their place”, often rationalized by elaborate notions of purity and pollution. These notions are best known in South Asia, but are widely prevalent in many other parts of the world as well.  For instance, J.J. Lawrence and colleagues document the taboo against using same toilets as in-laws, members of the opposite sex, or different generations within a family in some Zambian communities.  Indeed, one of the most egregious ways in which toilets are used to assert an oppressive status quo is when only certain Dalit castes are assigned the task of cleaning them, thereby rendering both the cleaners and the toilets “impure”.

With the growing power of the erstwhile subaltern peoples, toilets are emerging as arenas for political assertion.  Take the case of the United States, where the movement against segregated toilets is symbolic of the assertion of sexual minorities.  This assertion is premised upon the fact that gender identity, not sex at birth, should determine individual choice.  The backlash is equally vehement and has played out in the legal and social realms, with laws passed for and against segregated toilets.  A more muted movement for the rights of domestic workers in many parts of the world advocates for their right to use toilets within the homes where they work – something that has historically been anathema. Take also the Dalit assertion in India that has rallied against the gruesome practice of manual scavenging, leading to its ultimate ban.
 
In sum, toilets are undoubtedly good for sanitation, health and women’s empowerment, but they can also be potent instruments for equality and inclusion. This can happen when policy is sensitive to the role of toilets as contested spaces and responds to the clamor of historically excluded groups against their potential tyranny.

[Read More …]

The tyranny of toilets

Students heads to a female only toilets in Maskoke Primely and Secondly School
in Gode Town in Ethiopia. Credit: UNICEF Ethiopia

In the lead-in to World Toilet Day, we hear a great deal about the role of toilets in sanitation and in better health and human development outcomes.  Toilets are good development. Period.
 
We hear less about the fact that toilets are often sites and instruments of social exclusion.
 
Let me explain.
 
Segregated toilets for males and females were intended to give women privacy and to respect the “intrinsic” physical differences between the sexes.  In fact, in most developing countries, segregated toilets are a sine qua non for female participation in public spaces, in education and in employment. 
 
But the story is more complex.

While working on The Rising Tide, our “thinking device” on water and gender, I came upon this fascinating piece by Terry Kogan in the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law.  He argues that the origins of sex segregated public toilets were deeply gendered to start with. Yet segregated toilets are good in general, unless, in Kogan’s words,
 

  • “you happen to be a wheelchair-user who needs the assistance of your opposite-sex partner in a public restroom facility.
  • you happen to be a transsexual person dressed in accord with your gender identity who is prohibited from using the workplace restroom designated for the sex with which you identify.
  • you happen to be a woman at a rock concert standing in a long line outside the restroom marked ‘Women,’ while no line exists outside the door marked ‘Men’.
  • you happen to be a parent tending an opposite-sex, five year-old child when you or your child suddenly needs a public restroom.
  • you happen to be an intersexed child, born with ambiguous genitals and/or reproductive organs, whose parents have decided (despite social pressure and pressure from the medical community) not to subject their child to surgery until the child can participate in that decision.

 
Restricted access to toilets for some aside, they are also spaces that can keep historically excluded groups “in their place”, often rationalized by elaborate notions of purity and pollution. These notions are best known in South Asia, but are widely prevalent in many other parts of the world as well.  For instance, J.J. Lawrence and colleagues document the taboo against using same toilets as in-laws, members of the opposite sex, or different generations within a family in some Zambian communities.  Indeed, one of the most egregious ways in which toilets are used to assert an oppressive status quo is when only certain Dalit castes are assigned the task of cleaning them, thereby rendering both the cleaners and the toilets “impure”.

With the growing power of the erstwhile subaltern peoples, toilets are emerging as arenas for political assertion.  Take the case of the United States, where the movement against segregated toilets is symbolic of the assertion of sexual minorities.  This assertion is premised upon the fact that gender identity, not sex at birth, should determine individual choice.  The backlash is equally vehement and has played out in the legal and social realms, with laws passed for and against segregated toilets.  A more muted movement for the rights of domestic workers in many parts of the world advocates for their right to use toilets within the homes where they work – something that has historically been anathema. Take also the Dalit assertion in India that has rallied against the gruesome practice of manual scavenging, leading to its ultimate ban.
 
In sum, toilets are undoubtedly good for sanitation, health and women’s empowerment, but they can also be potent instruments for equality and inclusion. This can happen when policy is sensitive to the role of toilets as contested spaces and responds to the clamor of historically excluded groups against their potential tyranny.

[Read More …]

Chris Collins: Making a Difference

Chris Collins and classmates at a UConn People Empowering People training in Meriden.

Chris Collins, seated in the center wearing the red sweater. Photo: Cathleen Love.

Chris Collins moved to Meriden, Connecticut four years ago with his girlfriend and her two children. In his professional capacity he serves as a substance abuse counselor at Rushford at Meriden, an organization that offers a variety of outpatient programs and services, including counseling young adults about substance use disorders. A longtime friend of Chris’ invited him to participate in the University of Connecticut People Empowering People (UConn PEP) program. Because Chris wanted to learn ways to engage with the Meriden community, understand the school system, and make a positive difference he agreed to attend.

The UConn PEP program in Meriden was funded through the Nellie Mae Foundation. Other UConn PEP communities apply for funding through the Connecticut Parent Trust Fund or local resources like the Liberty Bank Foundation. UConn Extension provides training and support for community agencies, school districts, hospitals, family resource centers, and correctional institutions across the state offering the UConn PEP curriculum and course.

Participants such as Chris come together for two hours a week for ten weeks to discuss topics including communication, problem-solving, values, parenting and other life skills which enhances parent leadership skills and community engagement.

For Chris, the content and format of UConn PEP fit his lifestyle and addressed his interests. Because dinner and day care was provided, participation did not

Chris Collins participating in a UConn PEP training in Meriden.

Chris Collins, seated on the left, at a UConn PEP training. Photo: Cathleen Love

require additional juggling of work and family time. Chris was seeking an opportunity to be more involved with his family, the schools, and the community. UConn PEP was a vehicle to make that happen.

In discussing the impact of the UConn PEP program on him personally, Chris recalled when his facilitator mentioned that the loudest voice is heard on most issues he realized that unless he spoke up about his concerns than no one would know what they are. He said the resources and networking that are part of the 10-week program gave him perspective on power, and empowered him to become more involved. Learning about active listening also impacted Chris in that he realizes that listening first allows him to reflect on the issues before considering solutions.

Parent leadership skills are central to the UConn PEP curriculum. Before participating in the program, Chris thought using the “hammer,” or authoritative style, to discipline children was the only approach. UConn PEP classes discussed other tools for caring about his children while still providing a safe home with healthy boundaries and using alternative disciplinary techniques. Chris said having more “tools” for parenting is helpful in working with his children. These tools also impacted how Chris became more involved in the schools. Resources and networks in the UConn PEP program gave Chris ideas of techniques to use in working with teachers and parents in schools.

Participants in every UConn PEP program commit to finding and carrying out a community project. Chris shared that the impact of helping others makes you feel better than he could have imagined. His group collected books for children and they far exceeded the number of books they had put in their stated goal. When he assisted with the distribution of the books he said the smiles and joy he felt from the kids matched the smiles and joy of those giving them out.

Chris is currently serving on a Local Advisory Committee and he uses skills learned in UConn PEP to engage members of his community. According to Chris, the community seeks him out when they have questions or concerns. The community knows he will listen and that he cares about their issues. With parent leadership and community engagement Chris believes the UConn PEP program impacted how he makes a difference in his family, in the schools, and in the community.

UConn PEP is an example of how a research grant can turn into over twenty years of service to the state. UConn Extension received a USDA State Strengthening grant in 1996 to create, deliver and evaluate a parent leadership program in Connecticut. Since receiving that grant over 3000 state residents in have participated in UConn PEP, the parent leadership program created by the grant. Over 25 community agencies, school districts, family resource centers, and faith-based communities across the state have partnered with the Extension to offer the program. The research on the program suggests that the UConn PEP program was effective in influencing positive changes in participants’ life skills, personal relationships, and community engagement among an ethnically diverse sample.

For more information on the UConn PEP program visit pep.extension.uconn.edu or email Cathleen.Love@uconn.edu.

Article by: Cathleen Love

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Leaving no one behind: the pioneering work on disability inclusion in Indonesia’s rural water sector

Dwifina Sandra, Class 9, SLB Bhakti Pertiwi School, Yogyakarta


Dwifina loves art. Every day she looks forward to making her thread canvasses. Her only wish is that she had more time to spend on them. Being paralyzed, she spends a significant amount of time on mundane activities like getting ready for school and sorting out school supplies and books. She needs to ask friends to assist her in using the bathroom in school, as it lacks the design features for her to use it independently. Between homework and these extended activities of daily living, Dwifina finds little time for her true passion.

There are about a billion people with physical, cognitive, or psychological disabilities in the world, who struggle to access basic services required to perform daily functions. Unfortunately, most of these barriers to access are socially constructed. Because the infrastructure and social rules that surround us are designed for average male height, weight, needs, and capabilities, the rest of the population outside this distribution—pregnant women, the elderly, those with mobility, hearing, cognitive, or psychological impairments—end up feeling inept and left out.

Thankfully, we have started heightening awareness towards this bias, and are seeking solutions to make our programs and projects free from it. In the water sector, for instance, the World Bank has developed a guidance note on including persons with disabilities in its operations. In Indonesia, the PAMSIMAS III Rural Water and Sanitation Project is pioneering the work of easing the struggle that children with disabilities face in using school sanitation and public facilities. Through the introduction of disability inclusive development (DID), PAMSIMAS is helping around 200 villages to gain disabled inclusive infrastructure, removing barriers for people with disabilities by constructing spacious school toilets with wider doors and higher water closets, handrails, non-slippery floors, tactile paving, signs, and ramps. With these facilities, children will be able to use facilities with less effort, freeing up time and energy for more productive learning activities.

A school toilet being completed

 

Besides changing physical structures, PAMSIMAS III is also raising awareness on how to carry out DID in projects, through national and local level training courses and workshops. The target group for these have so far been community facilitators, district consultants, and local government officials as gatekeepers of resources and influence in the communities. Around 4,200 participants were trained in December 2016. Thus, guidelines are being created for disability inclusive infrastructure design in school sanitation facilities, hand-washing facilities, and public facilities.

PAMSIMAS III is also helping to scale up and institutionalize DID in the project cycle from planning and implementation, to monitoring and evaluation. To monitor DID mainstreaming, a review is being carried out on the technical design of facilities in a new set of proposed villages in a pilot program. Results will be discussed in consultations with the local Disabled Persons’ Organizations (DPOs) in a workshop and shared with community facilitators and other project stakeholders.

Public taps with ramp and hand-rails

PAMSIMAS III will further improve its disability intervention by seeking the active participation of people with disabilities in the decision-making process and encouraging local DPOs to be involved in facilitating this. It will also develop training material for communities, encourage local financing to support DID in community action plans, and add disability as part of the process and output monitoring in projects.

PAMSIMAS III hopes to pave the way for future projects in Indonesia and elsewhere to follow suit. The idea of “leaving no one behind” and empowering all to be active contributors of society, also this year’s theme of the 2017 International Day of Persons with Disabilities, requires breaking out of established mindsets and finding new ways of supporting service delivery. We have learned from PAMSIMAS that it is possible to eliminate exclusion due to disability, as long as the process of nudging people towards progressive social change continues.

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