Water touches nearly every aspect of development. It flows through and connects the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by driving economic growth, supporting healthy ecosystems, cultivating food and energy production, and ensuring access to sanitation. We cannot achieve the SDGs without our collective action on water.
The World Bank Group is working with our country partners in a number of ways to address these challenges and ensure that water is used wisely to help achieve the SDGs and a water-secure world for all.
Since, 1969, the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP) has helped families in Connecticut learn about healthy eating, physical activity, cooking, and shopping on a budget. Despite being an affluent state, nearly 1 in 5 families with children in Connecticut is food insecure, or does not have adequate access to healthy food. Many urban areas in Connecticut are amongst the poorest in the country. Additionally, access to healthy food is a challenge in rural areas where transportation is a barrier. EFNEP staff work in these areas of greatest need in Connecticut, striving to empower participants, providing knowledge and skills to improve the health of all family members. Participants learn through doing, with cooking, physical activity and supportive discussions about nutrition and healthy habits.
Heather Peracchio and Juliana Restrepo-Marin from UConn Extension EFNEP in Fairfield County teamed up with Danbury’s Morris Street School Family Resource Center to provide a series of classes on healthy eating, exercise, cooking and food safety to new mothers. The classes covered topics such asportion sizes, recommended servings for different age groups, and how to use MyPlate Daily Checklists. Access to vital emergency food resources, like food pantries and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) were also discussed. Participants learned how to make smart drink and breakfast choices, how to read nutrition labels and compare nutritional facts, and how to shop smart and find the best value. The educators completed hands-on cooking demonstrations with the group, using healthy, affordable and easy-to-prepare recipes from the Cooking With EFNEP cookbook. The class also discussed how to incorporate more physical activity into the day, with a Zumba class that was led by a participant that was a certified instructor.
Upon lesson completion, participants were given the opportunity to comment on the course and what they learned. Overall, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Here’s what some participants had to say: “I learned many things, such as: how to control sugar portions, I learned about oil, food prices and how to incorporate seasonal fruit in my recipes.”
“I loved this class very much. I learned how to eat healthier, buy better food, check the products’ labels and how to add fruit in my meals.”
“Thank you for giving us the opportunity to learn in this nutrition course. Thanks to Viviane for organizing this class and making it possible. I would also like to thank Miss Heather and Miss Juliana for teaching us how to cook healthy meals for our daily lives. I learned a lot from you and I hope this is not the last time you teach us.”
“I would like to thank teacher Heather, Juliana, the translator and Viviane for this great effort and support to all of us with the nutrition classes. This has been very helpful. We learned how to eat healthy.”
For more information on how you can become involved in UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, or to see our recipes, and other information, go to efnep.uconn.edu or find us on Facebook at UConn Extension Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program- EFNEP or Twitter at @UConnEFNEP!
By Diane Wright Hirsch, MPH
Senior Extension Educator/Food Safety
Even though some may feel home canning has gone the way of the dinosaurs, I regularly get questions posed to me by newbie and experience canners alike. Some want to know how to can tomatoes without potentially killing a loved one. Others want to know if there is anything new in the canning pipeline.
It seems as if more people are gardening these days so that they can have more control over their produce supply—they can grow what they like and minimize the use of chemical pesticides or fertilizers. A happy consequence of a successful garden is a bountiful supply of zucchini, tomatoes and peppers—maybe too bountiful! As a result, the gardener must now become a food processor. Home canning is not difficult, but, it IS important to do it right. Here are ten rules for canning to help you in your pursuit of a safe home canned food supply—whether you have been canning for years or this is your first time.
1) Make sure your jars/lids are in good shape.
Use (or re-use) canning jars manufactured for home canning. Check for cracks or chips and throw out or recycle any jars that are not in good shape.
Be sure the jar rings are not dented or rusty.
Buy new jar lids. The sealing compound can disintegrate over time, especially in damp basements, so make sure that your supply is new or no more than one year old. Do not reuse old lids. (If you still use rubber jar rings, these CAN be reused unless they are dry and/or cracked, though these jars may be more prone to failed seals.)
2) Use up to date canning guidelines. With the exception of jams and jellies, recipes that are older than 1996 should be relegated to the family album. A great resource for up to date guidelines and recipes is the National Center for Home Food Preservation at: www.uga.edu/nchfp. This site is the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) approved site for home food preservation information. Go there and check out the latest recommendations. They are also great about addressing some questionable practices that are introduced over the years, such as canning food in the oven or canning bread in a jar.
3) Choose the right canner for the job.
Water bath canners are for jams, jellies, relishes, pickles, fruits such as apples, apple sauce, peaches and tomatoes.
Pressure canners are for all other vegetables, soups, meats, fish, and some tomato products, especially if they contain large amounts of low acid vegetables such as peppers, celery or onions. Some folks like to can tomatoes in a pressure canner because it takes much less time and uses less fuel/energy.
4) If using a pressure canner with a dial gauge, have it checked annually to make sure it is reading properly. Check with the manufacturer regarding gauge testing or call the Home and Garden Education Center.
5) If you are pressure canning, be sure that the gasket is still soft and pliable. If dry and/or cracked, you need to replace it.
6) Use high quality, just-ripe produce for canning. You will never end up with canned tomatoes (or any other produce) better than those you started with. Overripe strawberries can lead to a runny jam. Overripe, mushy or decayed tomatoes (often sold in baskets labeled “canning tomatoes” when they are really “tomatoes that we can’t sell for slicing because they are past their prime”) may have a lower acid level or higher pH, making the processing time inadequate for safety.
7) Make sure everything is clean before your start. Be sure to clean:
Canners (often stored in a cobwebby corner of the basement)
Jars, jar lifter, screw bands, etc.
Counter tops or other work surfaces
Your produce (wash with cold running water—no soap or bleach please)
8) Follow approved recipes to the letter. When you change the amount or type of ingredient, you risk upsetting the balance that would result in a safe, high quality product. Too little sugar will make jams too soft; cutting out the salt may make a pickle recipe unsafe; and throwing additional onions and peppers into a tomato sauce can increase the risk for botulism.
9) Adhere to processing times—even if they seem long. Processing canned foods in a water bath or pressure canner is what makes these products safe for on-the-shelf storage. Each product is assigned the processing time needed to destroy the spoilage organisms and/or pathogens (the kind of bugs that make us sick) that are most likely to be a problem in THAT product.
The short processing times for jams and jellies destroy yeasts and mold spores that used to be common place when these products were not water-bathed, but covered in paraffin.
The long processing times for tomatoes are needed because modern tomato varieties are often lower in acid than those in the past. If 45 minutes seems way to long to you (especially when you watch the electric meter ticking away), you might want to consider pressure canning them for 15 minutes at 6 pounds of pressure or 10 minutes at 11 pounds.
10) Allow your jars to cool naturally, right side up, for 12 hours or more before testing seals. Testing earlier may cause the new seal to break.
Cool jars away from an open window to prevent breakage by cool evening breezes on hot jars.
Remove screw bands, clean and dry them and store several in a convenient place for use later when you open a jar and need to refrigerate leftovers. (Screw bands should not be left on jars when storing. Food residue and moisture may collect and cause rusting or molding that can ruin a good seal.)
Test seals, reprocess if needed.
Follow the rules and you will be well on your way to processing a safe, shelf-stable food supply for your household.
What motivates poor policy and investment decisions? Why do supposedly good policies not translate into practice? And how can we avoid perpetuating pitfalls between policy and pipes?
Our new paper ‘Aligning Institutions and Incentives for Sustainable Water Supply and Sanitation Services’, produced with the support of the Global Water Security and Sanitation Partnership (GWSP), examines precisely these issues. Through research, analysis, and case studies, the report posits that genuine, sustainable progress in water supply and sanitation service delivery is complex, iterative, and multi-faceted. Whether it’s expanding access, improving efficiency, or providing better services – all reforms require their own unique blend of policies, institutions and regulations and all take place in the context of their own unique enabling environment.
Let’s start by looking at policies. We studied the processes for defining sector and national policies, from decentralization to private sector participation, and found that while policies are well intentioned, they often fail because they are not harmonized with the reality on the ground. Policy is often set without aligning national objectives with the required resources. Ambitious sector strategies are developed with little consideration for how or by whom they will be implemented, nor how they will be financed.
When it comes to regulation, the third focus, we need to understand the emerging paradigms of regulating public service providers and creating incentives for achieving universal access. Regulation, which has traditionally aimed at protecting consumers from high prices and low service quality (natural to a monopoly like water) is also now needed to promote the financial sustainability of service providers, whether public or private. This balancing act between affordability and sustainability can be done through various models and is highly context specific. The key is to allow for regulation that promotes policy enforcement in an impartial manner, whether through tariff changes, allocating subsidies, or monitoring service quality.
And of course, because the water and sanitation sector is inherently complex, many issues fit in more than one type of mechanism. For example, decentralization or privatization are policy decisions, but they also shape the institutional arrangements and regulatory framework. Recognizing these interlinkages and interplay is vital because delivering sustainable water and sanitation solutions is like trying to solve a Rubik’s Cube, where even one small tweak can produce a big change, and every part of the cube needs to fit appropriately with all the other parts of the cube to achieve the end goal.
These drivers for reform – and in turn, the types of reforms initiated – do not arise in a vacuum. They are instead influenced by different factors. These may be endogenous; drivers for reform that arise from political processes within the country in question. Or they may be exogenous; some sort of shock or another external driver.
Finally, the report examines the feedback loop between the enabling environment and the policy, institutional and regulatory reforms. This feedback loop is a real-time cycle where thoughtful planning, implementing, evaluating, learning and adapting helps us take the right lessons from both failures and successes. It allows us to test our ideas and then adapt them, depending on what the feedback loop tells us. The feedback loop has different pathways, will involve reversals as well as advancement and is an iterative, dynamic process. Much like development progress itself, in fact.
The report reflects much of the thinking around ‘Doing Development Differently’ – rapid learning cycles, working in problem-driven and context-appropriate ways and focusing on best fit as much as best practice. We hope it will help decision-makers and stakeholders think through how to incentivize effective and sustainable service delivery to achieve a water-secure world for all.
UConn Extension and the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources are pleased to announce that Dr. Shuresh Ghimire joined us on July 6thas our Extension Vegetable Educator.
Dr. Ghimire has a PhD in Horticulture and is based in the Extension office at the Tolland Agricultural Center in Vernon. He was working at Washington State University (WSU), studying crop yields and quality with biodegradable plastic mulch for pumpkin and sweet corn production before he joined UConn. He has also done work on the effects of organic manures and urea on peppers.
Prior to working in Washington, Shuresh was a Horticultural Development Officer for the Department of Agriculture, Ministry of Agricultural Development in his native Nepal. He worked extensively with farmers conducting trainings and plant clinics and created extension publications and reports. Dr. Ghimire also served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Horticulture at the Himalayan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.
Shuresh sat down with us to share his past experiences and goals for the position.
I was raised in a farming family. From my childhood, I had opportunities to taste varieties of home grown fresh and colorful vegetables. Three main reasons that continued my interest in the vegetable sector are:
good source of income for small- to large-scale growers;
nutritional benefits – vegetables carry lots of nutrition but fewer calories; and
health benefits from exercise growing vegetables.
My research was with biodegradable plastic mulch. I’ve learned that some biodegradable plastic mulches provide weed control, crop yield and quality benefits comparable
to polyethylene mulch. One interesting thing about biodegradable plastic mulch is that it can be manufactured using petroleum, bio-based ingredients, or a blend of both. And, greater bio-based content of the mulch doesn’t make it more biodegradable.
Another interesting thing I learned was some biodegradable mulches adhere to the surface of fruits where the fruit rest on the mulch, such as pumpkin and watermelon. Mulch adhesion can reduce the marketability of the produce.
During my time in Washington, I had the privilege of working in a great team where a few people have had the greatest influence on me. Dr. Carol Miles, the major advisor of my PhD program, and a technician and co-worker, Ed Scheenstra, at WSU Mount Vernon Research Center trained me to remain positive and calm even in hard times and keep a can-do attitude. Now I am excited to be a part of the UConn Extension team, and look forward to working with Connecticut vegetable growers, and other vegetable and IPM specialists from the state and regionally.
The most rewarding part about Extension for me is working with farmers in their fields, getting my hands dirty, and eventually helping them increase their farm profits, and making the farms more viable. I believe an agricultural research investment is worth nothing until and unless outcomes of the research are extended to and adopted by end users, farmers or stakeholders. Extension translates complex research-based results into a farmer friendly version, and also brings farmers’ problems forward for scientific investigation.
My top priorities in the first few years are:
appraise farmers’ problems and needs for the Extension program;
quickly respond to vegetable growers’ questions; and
work with my UConn Extension team to establish a multi-disciplinary program.
UConn Extension’s Bug Week is right around the corner, and we have programs for the whole family.
Bugs are the unsung heroes of our ecosystem, providing services such as pollination and natural pest control. However, bugs don’t stop at environmental benefits. They have also impacted our culture through the manufacturing of silk, sources of dyes, wax and honey production, food sources, and the improvement of building materials and structures. There are also problem bugs, like the Emerald Ash Borer and Brown Marmorated Stink Bug that are a concern in Connecticut. Visit our website at www.bugs.uconn.edu for featured insects and resources.
All ages are welcome to attend and explore the activities and events dedicated to insects and their relatives. Bug Week programs include:
Pests and Guests will be held at the Tolland Agricultural Center in Vernon on Monday, July 23rdat 5:30 PM. Activities include: cooking with bugs, games and demos for the whole family, and learning about bugs in the garden. Please register at http://s.uconn.edu/4ac or call 860-486-9228.
Pollinators at Auerfarm in Bloomfield on Monday, July 23rdwill have a station at the beehive, pollinator plants, and a hands-on make and take activity. The farm is home to a Foodshare garden, 4-H programs and more, offering fun for the entire family. Time is to be determined, with a rain date of Tuesday. Please register at http://s.uconn.edu/4ac or 860-486-9228.
Insect Wonders at the Farm: Join UConn Extension faculty and Spring Valley Student Farm staff and students for an interactive, fun-filled ‘buggy’ event. Learn about our amazing and important insect friends by collecting and observing them. Activities for the whole family will include insect collecting, insect-inspired crafts, Bug-Bingo and a scavenger hunt. This event will be held on Tuesday, July 24th from 9-11 AM. The rain date is July 27th.
Join the Museum of Natural History, AntU and the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology for an exciting afternoon on campus on Thursday, July 26th from 12-4 PM. We have tours of the insect collections, an AntU presentation, plus exhibit activities, microscope stations, giveaways, and a live ant colony. There will also be special greenhouse displays. Please register at http://s.uconn.edu/4ac
Find out all about insects and where to look for them at Bug Walks at the Tolland Agricultural Center in Vernon on Saturday, July 28th from 10 AM-1 PM. The program will have live insects on display, right out in the open, plus part of the insect collection from the UConn Natural History Museum, as well as three bug hunts that include going to the butterfly/pollinator garden and the vegetable garden on the property.
Connecticut Science Center is celebrating Bug Week from Monday, July 23rdthrough Saturday, July 28th.Lots of things are buzzing around at the Connecticut Science Center during Bug Week. Spend some time in the tropical Butterfly Encounter, participate in bug-themed Live Science programming, come hear a bug themed story during Story Time, and be sure to explore what is flying around the Rooftop Garden. Programs are open to all ages. Please visit the Connecticut Science Centerfor ticket prices.
UConn Extension offices are located across the state and offer an array of services dedicated to educating and informing the public on innovative technology and scientific improvements. Bug Week is one example of UConn Extension’s mission in tying research to real life, by addressing insects and some of their relatives.
UConn and the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG) are asking state residents to be on the lookout for Giant Hogweed, which typically blooms during July. Giant Hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) is an invasive, non-native plant from Eurasia that was first identified in Connecticut in 2001. This Federal Noxious weed was confirmed in 25 towns in all 8 counties in surveys conducted several years ago, but many of the populations are now under control. The most recent confirmed locations of Giant Hogweed were found in 2011. Numerous reports of suspect giant hogweed plants blooming in Connecticut have recently been received, but to date all of the 2018 reports have been negative. Several plants are sometimes mistaken for giant hogweed, such as the native cow parsnip, which is related to Giant Hogweed but blooms earlier in June.
Giant Hogweed is a biennial or perennial herbaceous plant that can grow up to 15 feet tall with leaves 5 feet long. The hollow stems of the plant are 2 to 4 inches in diameter. The sap of Giant Hogweed may cause skin to be more sensitive to sunlight and produce painful blisters. Large numbers of small white flowers are borne on umbel-shaped inflorescences that can grow to 2.5 feet across. Giant Hogweed seeds are elliptical in shape, and cow parsnip seeds are heart-shaped on one end (this is the most definitive way to identify the two species). Mature Giant Hogweed seeds can survive in the soil for up to seven years and can float on water for several days, further spreading the plants to new areas. Giant Hogweed has invaded natural areas suchas riverbanks and woodland edges, where it displaces native plants and upsets the ecologicalbalance of these important habitats, and it has been accidentally introduced into managed landscapes.
UConn and the Connecticut Invasive Plant Working Group (CIPWG) are conducting educational outreach to alert the public about Giant Hogweed and its serious health hazards. The CIPWG website (https://cipwg.uconn.edu/giant-hogweed-in-connecticut/) has information on Giant Hogweed with plant descriptions, photos, control options, and an online reporting form.
To report a Giant Hogweed sighting, we recommend that you first visit the CIPWG website and compare your suspect plant with the photos and descriptions provided. You can then report the plant online via the CIPWG website (click on the link “Report Hogweed Sighting”) or contact Donna Ellis at UConn (email email@example.com; phone 860-486-6448). To control Giant Hogweed, follow control recommendations on the CIPWG website. Always wear protective clothing while handling the plants.
Water and sanitation data figures in Guatemala show a challenging reality. Nationally, 91 percent of the population has access to improved drinking water, an increase of 14 percent points since the establishment of the MDGs.
Despite the improvement in coverage in relative terms, in absolute terms there are still a significant number of Guatemalan households using water from precarious or unimproved sources such as unprotected wells, rivers, or lakes. In addition, water quality is a concerned, from the monitoring of 20% of the water systems in the country, 54% reported to be at high and imminent risk for human health.
As part of the Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Poverty Diagnostic Initiative, implemented by the World Bank’s Water, Poverty, Governance, Health, Nutrition & Population teams in 18 countries, our work in Guatemala seeks to provide a careful examination of trends in access to water and sanitation and in corresponding linkages to poverty and health. It also reviews the governance structure and expenditure plans underpinning service delivery in the water supply, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sectors in Guatemala.
Recently, the World Bank held an event in Guatemala City, Guatemala to share the findings and recommendations of the WASH Poverty Diagnostic of Guatemala. The event was co-chaired by the Government of Guatemala and the World Bank with introductions and commentary provided by the Minister of Finance and the Vice Minister of Health. Over 110 people representing government institutions, local governments, donors, NGOs, among others attended the event.
The report was well received. The cross-sectoral analysis between poverty levels, water and sanitation, and their relationship with nutrition indicators resonated with the participants a lot, given the importance and extensive awareness of the challenging context in Guatemala – one of the countries with highest chronic malnutrition rates in the world. There was a substantial agreement about the key challenges facing the Guatemalan WASH sector. We already mention some of them, but the following are also worrying:
Almost half of all Guatemalans lack access to improved sanitation. While important gains have been made in expanding sewerage coverage, and open defecation is decreasing, only three departments met the national MDG target for sanitation. As public investments in the WASH sector have favored drinking water, sanitation coverage has fallen far behind, particularly in rural areas where coverage rates are still too low to ensure an adequate quality of life. In addition, it is also a concern that only 5% of sewage is treated.
The disparity in access to improved drinking water and sanitation between geographical areas is evident, and the rural population remains disproportionately disadvantaged. This suggests there are variables that constrain the access to WASH services, such as geography, income levels, ethnicity, education of head of households and other household characteristics.
Guatemala is an outlier in the region in terms of chronic malnutrition (stunting), and almost half of all children are stunted, an indication of the high levels of poverty and inequality in the country. The persistently high, chronic malnutrition rates in Guatemala indicate a lack of the most basic type of human capital–good health–driven in part by a lack of access to basic services. The report presents evidence that the access to and type of WASH services has an effect on children health.
Average capital expenditure and spending efficiency in Guatemala is inadequate to meet current demands. Total expenditure as a share of national gross domestic product (GDP) in the WASH sector in Guatemala averaged significantly less than in the health and education sectors.
Current institutional and organizational arrangements reveal multiple constraints to service delivery in Guatemala that affect the pace of increasing access to safe water and improved sanitation for the poorest. Specifically, the regulatory and management model governing the provision of WASH services in Guatemala is hindered by incomplete regulations and gaps and duplications in the roles and responsibilities assigned to actors at various levels of government, most notably a lack of national leadership and support to rural areas.
After discussing about these challenges, the recommendations from the study were presented:
Addressing the needs of the most vulnerable populations and achieving the SDGs will require major institutional reforms at the national and subnational levels.
Closing the geographical gap and achieving the SDGs will require a dedicated sector policy that clearly defines the provision and quality of services in rural areas, with an emphasis on rural sanitation and hygiene. However, the policy must be aligned with sector planning instruments and budget to make sure the policy can be implemented.
Combatting childhood disease will require multi-sector engagement and coordination to improve hygiene, accompanied by a rigorous service-provision program and a knowledge agenda.
Providing sustainable delivery of public services and meeting the SDGs will require increased levels of investment and greater budget execution. First and foremost, from a public expenditure perspective, the government should prioritize the WASH sector and maximize public investment in it.
Increasing accountability within the sector and improving decision-making to better inform policy will require access to timely, relevant, accurate, and transparent information. Strengthening and consolidating SIGSA (the National Health Management Information System) and SIVIAGUA (the National Water Quality Monitoring System) could enable sector stakeholders to better respond to the needs of the sector, to improve decision-making processes, to better inform policy, and to increase the accountability and oversight of service providers.
High-level decision makers acknowledged the strategic relevance of the report since it provides roadmap to begin preparing a strategic route to develop adequate water and sanitation policies and reforms, including the possibility of establishing a Vice-Ministry of Water and Sanitation to strengthen sector coordination.
Participants also advised the Bank to conduct follow-up dissemination meetings with Congress Commissions, to inform current and future initiatives linked to any of the sectors involved. As the WASH services in Guatemala are decentralized, the Bank was also advised to disseminate the results to the subnational and local levels, particularly departmental councils (CODEDEs), municipal mayors, and communities.