We all can do our part for the planet

7 ideas on how knowledge can help us achieve universal access to safely-managed drinking water and sanitation

It is vital that we better manage our knowledge, to make better use of it for delivering universal access to water and sanitation. This requires new ways of capturing, sorting, weighing, curating, and translating knowledge into practical, bite-sized chunks. The Disease Control Priorities project, now in its third edition (www.dcp-3.org), is an excellent example of what this looks like in practice. It aims to compile the best available evidence across multiple areas of health to provide a snapshot of the coverage of services, the problems resulting from lack of services, the effectiveness of interventions, and the cost-effectiveness and cost-benefit of those options.
 

Disease Control Priorities Network (DCPN), funded in 2010 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, is a multi-year project managed by
University of Washington’s Department of Global Health (UW-DGH) and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). 


As authors of the WASH chapter of DCP-3, we wanted to share some of our key takeaways below:

1. The transition from MDGs to SDGs has not been an easy one.
The goalposts have shifted for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) with significantly more ambitious targets whose end date is only 12 years away. Given an annual financing gap of tens of billions of dollars for WASH alone, we need to continually innovate and manage our knowledge better, leading to more efficient and sustainable approaches to delivering WASH services. But reaching the last mile – isolated, poor and vulnerable populations – presents particular challenges for getting to universal access, especially when considering the higher ‘safely managed’ standards which countries are now grappling with.

2. But there are many reasons to be hopeful.
We can find encouragement in the achievements of countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Chile who are nearing universal WASH coverage, Singapore’s steps towards closing the water cycle, India’s commitment at the highest political levels to end open defecation by 2019, and large-scale sanitation programmes reaching the poor and vulnerable in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Indonesia, among other countries. These examples show that rapid and sustained progress is possible given political commitment, dedicated resources and adequate and incentivized human resources.

3. Disaggregated data are key: we need to understand heterogeneity.
The quality of WASH facilities varies widely between the poor and non-poor, and between the urban and rural areas in many countries. The World Bank’s WASH Poverty Diagnostic Initiative provides an in-depth look at some lesser known differences across 18 countries. For example, in Indonesia and Bangladesh there are striking differences across neighbourhoods in the same city, while in Tajikistan households in the Sughd region have piped water just 1 day a week. Disaggregated data on the underserved—including slum populations, ethnic groups, women, children, elderly, and persons with disabilities can inform allocation decisions and reduce inequalities. 

4. Multi-sectoral approaches are key, requiring coordination and convergence.
Access to improved water, sanitation and hygiene behaviours underlie early child nutrition and development, helping to fortify human capital and economic growth. But these interventions by themselves are not sufficient – convergence is needed. That means approaches that deliver quality WASH services, must be coordinated alongside critical health, nutrition and food security interventions to communities suffering from high rates of chronic malnutrition.

5. We need greater finesse in our behaviour change approaches given context specific attitudes, practices, social and cultural influences.
Behavior change is rarely achieved through conventional methods, nor is it easily transferable. This matters because policy makers are increasingly looking to the behavioural sciences for clues about how human behaviour departs from the expected in systematic ways. The idea that subtle, non-intrusive interventions – what Nobel Prize Winning Economist Richard Thaler calls ‘nudges’ – can lead to interventions that are effective in a variety of contexts is gaining traction. 

6. Financing needs to be ‘smart’ and better targeted to the needy.
Many WASH interventions, such as water filters, piped water, boreholes, and private latrines, are cost-effective, but don’t always reach the extreme poor. Conditional-cash transfer (CCT) programs can provide the methodology and data sources to support poverty targeting of WASH services, enabling subsidies and financing to reach those who would benefit the most. These programs provide a platform to reach target households with sanitation promotion messages. 

7. We need methodologies and tools to allow regular updating of sector knowledge, rather than one-off studies.
Traditionally, research syntheses such as literature reviews and meta-analyses have provided the latest view on key topics. But with new evidence released daily, these syntheses quickly become outdated. The rapidly expanding knowledge base from more institutions working in WASH, more academic papers and more databases requires us to be smarter about the way we generate and manage knowledge, necessitating greater collaboration across institutions and across countries. One particularly effective model is the Cochrane Collaboration which synthesises health impact evidence and encourages periodic updates of meta-analyses as new studies become available.
 

As knowledge accelerates and changes in its nature, we need new approaches to knowledge management to ensure we are using what we know wisely, free from information overload and risks of bias – especially if we are to accelerate towards delivering on the SDGs.
 

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Lessons in Managing Stormwater

by Tom Damm

Schools planning field trips to teach students about stormwater pollution may not have to travel far.  For many, the lesson is right outside their doors.

School buildings and grounds are potentially big conveyors of stormwater as rain washes over their roofs, parking lots and other hard surfaces, picking up pollutants before chugging into storm drains that empty into local waters.

A new, EPA Storm Smart Schools guide can help schools get higher marks in stormwater management.

The EPA Mid-Atlantic Region worked with the city and school district of Newport News, Virginia, to develop options for installing rain-absorbing features on school grounds that can prevent the flooding and water pollution linked to stormwater runoff.

The 36-page guide outlines the multiple benefits of school-based green infrastructure, from helping a community meet Clean Water Act restrictions on stormwater to providing hands-on instruction for students.

The “how to” guide captures the key steps followed by Newport News in selecting one of its schools – Sedgefield Elementary School – as a demonstration site for green infrastructure practices and engaging the community in the effort.  A community meeting at Sedgefield produced design concepts to address the most flood-prone areas of the school property.,

In June 2017, Newport News public schools received $60,000 in Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns (G3) funding to support the Sedgefield design work.

The green practices, like rain gardens, permeable pavement and bioswales, mimic natural conditions and allow stormwater to soak in rather than run off.  On school grounds, they also serve as outdoor learning labs to teach children valuable lessons about environmental protection and conservation.

For homework, be sure your school district is aware of the Storm Smart Schools guide.

 

About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Protection Division.

[Read More …]

Lessons in Managing Stormwater

by Tom Damm

Schools planning field trips to teach students about stormwater pollution may not have to travel far.  For many, the lesson is right outside their doors.

School buildings and grounds are potentially big conveyors of stormwater as rain washes over their roofs, parking lots and other hard surfaces, picking up pollutants before chugging into storm drains that empty into local waters.

A new, EPA Storm Smart Schools guide can help schools get higher marks in stormwater management.

The EPA Mid-Atlantic Region worked with the city and school district of Newport News, Virginia, to develop options for installing rain-absorbing features on school grounds that can prevent the flooding and water pollution linked to stormwater runoff.

The 36-page guide outlines the multiple benefits of school-based green infrastructure, from helping a community meet Clean Water Act restrictions on stormwater to providing hands-on instruction for students.

The “how to” guide captures the key steps followed by Newport News in selecting one of its schools – Sedgefield Elementary School – as a demonstration site for green infrastructure practices and engaging the community in the effort.  A community meeting at Sedgefield produced design concepts to address the most flood-prone areas of the school property.,

In June 2017, Newport News public schools received $60,000 in Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns (G3) funding to support the Sedgefield design work.

The green practices, like rain gardens, permeable pavement and bioswales, mimic natural conditions and allow stormwater to soak in rather than run off.  On school grounds, they also serve as outdoor learning labs to teach children valuable lessons about environmental protection and conservation.

For homework, be sure your school district is aware of the Storm Smart Schools guide.

 

About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Protection Division.

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Spring Compost Sales

compost facility

Calling all green thumbs. CAHNR is happy to announce sales dates for the 2018 spring compost sale. We will be open on April 13, 14, 27 and 28th. Sales hours will be Fridays 1:00pm to 4:30pm and Saturdays 9:00am to 3:00pm. Sales are cash and check only. Sales will be cancelled if it is raining. The cost will be $25.00 per yard and there will be no upper or lower limits to the amount you can buy. Please call 860-486-8567 for more information.

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CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF PIONEER

CELEBRATE 30 YEARS OF PIONEER WITH AN UNPRECEDENTED 30 YEAR WARRANTY 1995 Pioneer Water Tank A PROUD HISTORY Pioneer Water Tanks can be traced back to John Penglase; an inventor and innovator who designed the modular steel liner tank. Building on his concept, Pioneer worked with engineers to develop the strong 8-80 V-Lock® profile, and

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Enhance transboundary basin management: Here are some useful tools

More than 10,000 water professionals from 160 countries gathered in Brasilia two weeks ago at the 8th World Water Forum to discuss current and future water challenges. The Forum’s Declaration, “An Urgent Call for Decisive Action on Water”, issued by Ministers and Heads of Delegations, encourages transboundary cooperation based on win-win solutions in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6. (SDG 6 Target 5  calls on the world community to implement integrated water resources management at all levels, ‘including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate’.)

Transboundary waters—which support the socioeconomic wellbeing of more than 40 percent of the global population, as well as the ecosystems on which they depend—were a regular discussion topic in special sessions and high-level panel events at the Forum. This is not surprising given the complex blend of human, environmental and agricultural water stresses that is putting a number of the world’s 286 transboundary river basins on a trajectory toward high risk of water scarcity, and several toward closure—where water demand exceeds supply seasonally or throughout the year—by 2030. The below map, depicting the relative risk of environmental water stress projected for 2030, illustrates the potentially dire future of the world’s transboundary freshwater basins.
 

Source: Global Environment Facility Transboundary Waters Assessment Program 2015. http://twap-rivers.org/

Countries are relying more and more on transboundary water resources to meet their growing water demands; yet, because transboundary basins create inevitable linkages and interdependencies among neighboring countries, actions to this end may have cross-border impact. For example, the unilateral use of shared waters by one country may affect water availability for use in another co-riparian country—seasonally (e.g., flow changes through storage or other flow management infrastructure), quantitatively (e.g., consumptive use), qualitatively (e.g., pollution), and over time (e.g., downstream development of water resources, which may foreclose future use upstream). Tension and conflict over competing water use may also emerge.
 
With a growing number of transboundary basins in which water use and demand permanently or temporarily exceed the amount of renewable water available, along with uncertainty from climate change, coordinated basin management and planning of new interventions (both “hard” solutions, such as infrastructure investments, and “soft” solutions, such as coordination of flow regulation) will become increasingly important to secure water availability and create resilience in these systems.
 
In many basins, riparian countries have successfully addressed water challenges through coordinated action. They and their development partners have developed and tested various tools that can be employed to harness the benefits that can be derived from shared freshwater systems and to achieve more water security in the long term.
 

Download the Report here

The World Bank has brought together these experiences from the various basins in a comprehensive overview report that guides practitioners and decision makers in the process of identifying appropriate tools to address the unique transboundary water challenges they are dealing with. The report, Promoting Development in Shared River Basins: Tools for Enhancing Transboundary Basin Management, was launched at the World Water Forum in Brasilia.
 
“It presents a non-prescriptive, interactive toolkit comprising 101 tools derived from the international experience [with corresponding real-world examples and associated web links] that can be employed by countries and development partners in their efforts to develop more water-secure economies and societies by harnessing the freshwater resources of shared basins”, said Jennifer Sara, Director for the World Bank Water Global Practice, at the launch event.  The report offers a simple guidance framework that helps the reader find appropriate tools at the various stages in the basin development process. A companion report explains the application of the framework and the use of select tools through case studies on the Kura-Araks, Columbia, Chu and Talas, Vuoksi, Douro, and Rhône basins.
 
Together, the reports aim to contribute relevant knowledge toward optimizing basin development and achieving mutual benefits, and to preventing or mitigating transboundary harm, in accordance with the transboundary cooperation elements in SDG6 and the World Water Forum Declaration.

[Read More …]

Enhance transboundary basin management: Here are some useful tools

More than 10,000 water professionals from 160 countries gathered in Brasilia two weeks ago at the 8th World Water Forum to discuss current and future water challenges. The Forum’s Declaration, “An Urgent Call for Decisive Action on Water”, issued by Ministers and Heads of Delegations, encourages transboundary cooperation based on win-win solutions in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6. (SDG 6 Target 5  calls on the world community to implement integrated water resources management at all levels, ‘including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate’.)

Transboundary waters—which support the socioeconomic wellbeing of more than 40 percent of the global population, as well as the ecosystems on which they depend—were a regular discussion topic in special sessions and high-level panel events at the Forum. This is not surprising given the complex blend of human, environmental and agricultural water stresses that is putting a number of the world’s 286 transboundary river basins on a trajectory toward high risk of water scarcity, and several toward closure—where water demand exceeds supply seasonally or throughout the year—by 2030. The below map, depicting the relative risk of environmental water stress projected for 2030, illustrates the potentially dire future of the world’s transboundary freshwater basins.
 

Source: Global Environment Facility Transboundary Waters Assessment Program 2015. http://twap-rivers.org/

Countries are relying more and more on transboundary water resources to meet their growing water demands; yet, because transboundary basins create inevitable linkages and interdependencies among neighboring countries, actions to this end may have cross-border impact. For example, the unilateral use of shared waters by one country may affect water availability for use in another co-riparian country—seasonally (e.g., flow changes through storage or other flow management infrastructure), quantitatively (e.g., consumptive use), qualitatively (e.g., pollution), and over time (e.g., downstream development of water resources, which may foreclose future use upstream). Tension and conflict over competing water use may also emerge.
 
With a growing number of transboundary basins in which water use and demand permanently or temporarily exceed the amount of renewable water available, along with uncertainty from climate change, coordinated basin management and planning of new interventions (both “hard” solutions, such as infrastructure investments, and “soft” solutions, such as coordination of flow regulation) will become increasingly important to secure water availability and create resilience in these systems.
 
In many basins, riparian countries have successfully addressed water challenges through coordinated action. They and their development partners have developed and tested various tools that can be employed to harness the benefits that can be derived from shared freshwater systems and to achieve more water security in the long term.
 

Download the Report here

The World Bank has brought together these experiences from the various basins in a comprehensive overview report that guides practitioners and decision makers in the process of identifying appropriate tools to address the unique transboundary water challenges they are dealing with. The report, Promoting Development in Shared River Basins: Tools for Enhancing Transboundary Basin Management, was launched at the World Water Forum in Brasilia.
 
“It presents a non-prescriptive, interactive toolkit comprising 101 tools derived from the international experience [with corresponding real-world examples and associated web links] that can be employed by countries and development partners in their efforts to develop more water-secure economies and societies by harnessing the freshwater resources of shared basins”, said Jennifer Sara, Director for the World Bank Water Global Practice, at the launch event.  The report offers a simple guidance framework that helps the reader find appropriate tools at the various stages in the basin development process. A companion report explains the application of the framework and the use of select tools through case studies on the Kura-Araks, Columbia, Chu and Talas, Vuoksi, Douro, and Rhône basins.
 
Together, the reports aim to contribute relevant knowledge toward optimizing basin development and achieving mutual benefits, and to preventing or mitigating transboundary harm, in accordance with the transboundary cooperation elements in SDG6 and the World Water Forum Declaration.

[Read More …]

Enhance transboundary basin management: Here are some useful tools

More than 10,000 water professionals from 160 countries gathered in Brasilia two weeks ago at the 8th World Water Forum to discuss current and future water challenges. The Forum’s Declaration, “An Urgent Call for Decisive Action on Water”, issued by Ministers and Heads of Delegations, encourages transboundary cooperation based on win-win solutions in line with UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6. (SDG 6 Target 5  calls on the world community to implement integrated water resources management at all levels, ‘including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate’.)

Transboundary waters—which support the socioeconomic wellbeing of more than 40 percent of the global population, as well as the ecosystems on which they depend—were a regular discussion topic in special sessions and high-level panel events at the Forum. This is not surprising given the complex blend of human, environmental and agricultural water stresses that is putting a number of the world’s 286 transboundary river basins on a trajectory toward high risk of water scarcity, and several toward closure—where water demand exceeds supply seasonally or throughout the year—by 2030. The below map, depicting the relative risk of environmental water stress projected for 2030, illustrates the potentially dire future of the world’s transboundary freshwater basins.
 

Source: Global Environment Facility Transboundary Waters Assessment Program 2015. http://twap-rivers.org/

Countries are relying more and more on transboundary water resources to meet their growing water demands; yet, because transboundary basins create inevitable linkages and interdependencies among neighboring countries, actions to this end may have cross-border impact. For example, the unilateral use of shared waters by one country may affect water availability for use in another co-riparian country—seasonally (e.g., flow changes through storage or other flow management infrastructure), quantitatively (e.g., consumptive use), qualitatively (e.g., pollution), and over time (e.g., downstream development of water resources, which may foreclose future use upstream). Tension and conflict over competing water use may also emerge.
 
With a growing number of transboundary basins in which water use and demand permanently or temporarily exceed the amount of renewable water available, along with uncertainty from climate change, coordinated basin management and planning of new interventions (both “hard” solutions, such as infrastructure investments, and “soft” solutions, such as coordination of flow regulation) will become increasingly important to secure water availability and create resilience in these systems.
 
In many basins, riparian countries have successfully addressed water challenges through coordinated action. They and their development partners have developed and tested various tools that can be employed to harness the benefits that can be derived from shared freshwater systems and to achieve more water security in the long term.
 

Download the Report here

The World Bank has brought together these experiences from the various basins in a comprehensive overview report that guides practitioners and decision makers in the process of identifying appropriate tools to address the unique transboundary water challenges they are dealing with. The report, Promoting Development in Shared River Basins: Tools for Enhancing Transboundary Basin Management, was launched at the World Water Forum in Brasilia.
 
“It presents a non-prescriptive, interactive toolkit comprising 101 tools derived from the international experience [with corresponding real-world examples and associated web links] that can be employed by countries and development partners in their efforts to develop more water-secure economies and societies by harnessing the freshwater resources of shared basins”, said Jennifer Sara, Director for the World Bank Water Global Practice, at the launch event.  The report offers a simple guidance framework that helps the reader find appropriate tools at the various stages in the basin development process. A companion report explains the application of the framework and the use of select tools through case studies on the Kura-Araks, Columbia, Chu and Talas, Vuoksi, Douro, and Rhône basins.
 
Together, the reports aim to contribute relevant knowledge toward optimizing basin development and achieving mutual benefits, and to preventing or mitigating transboundary harm, in accordance with the transboundary cooperation elements in SDG6 and the World Water Forum Declaration.

[Read More …]

All Paws In Today!

UConn Gives graphic“The lessons and experiences I have gained from this trip will remain with me forever as the most exciting and rewarding opportunity 4-H has ever given me.” These are the words of a 4-H teen returning home from National 4-H Congress. The 4-H Centennial Fund makes it possible for teens to attend these amazing leadership opportunities. Please give to the 4-H Centennial Fund on UConn Giving Day.

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Women and jobs in water

On a busy street corner in Nairobi, Kenya, Abuya uses water to prepare and cook the food she sells to passersby. At the market in Hyderabad, India, Dimah splashes water on her fruit and vegetables to keep them fresh. In the make-shift hair-cutting salon in her basement in Medellin, Colombia, Isabela uses water to wash her customer’s hair.

These are daily routines for women-owned informal micro-businesses that all have in common a dependence on water. In situations of water insecurity, such entrepreneurs often have to walk long distances to fetch water, wait in line in public water kiosks, or hire others to provide water for them. In extreme instances, the lack of water forces them to close down their businesses altogether, stifling entrepreneurship.

We all know that water is critical for life and that water shortages have detrimental effects on people’s health and development. But what we think about less is the role that water plays specifically in jobs. And that many of these jobs are deeply gendered. This was the message conveyed by Martha Chen, from Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO) during last year’s World Bank Water Week. Her presentation highlighted that access to water is a key determinate of the productivity for women entrepreneurs in the informal sector – just as we’ve seen in the above examples, in fact.

The Rising Tide examines the relationship
between gender and water. 

It is not only in the informal sector that gender, water and employment intersect. This happens also in many other occupations that rely on water. A recent World Bank report, The Rising Tide, examines the relationship between gender and water and goes as far as to state that “water is an arena where gender relations play out in ways that often mirror inequalities between the sexes”. One such arena is water-related employment. Gender inequality here plays out in myriad, often unexpected, and context-specific ways.

Let’s look at agriculture. It’s heavily dependent on water and continues to be the most important source of employment for women in low-income and lower-middle-income countries. However, the types of activities that women take up in agriculture vary, with women more likely to work in rice cultivation in some contexts, but be excluded from cultivating certain crops elsewhere. Irrigation, crucial for agricultural production, is often the exclusive domain of men because women lack the formal rights to land and water resources. But there are many exceptions to this, and female farmers in many places adopt irrigation technologies at high rates.

Similarly, with fishing. Although women tend to occupy mainly lower-paying processing roles in the fishing value chain, this is not always the case. In many countries, women may own boats, hire male crew, and even invest in fishing trips in return for a guaranteed supply of the fish caught. In some cultures, however, superstitions prohibit women from boarding fishing boats, as they are thought to bring bad luck to the fishermen.  

Unpaid work is another area where gender dynamics play out in complex ways. In many parts of the world, it is primarily women who are responsible for carrying and managing water for domestic purposes, activities that are time consuming and unremunerated. Indeed, in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, women and girls spend 40 billion hours a year collecting water. Improving women’s access to water infrastructure is likely to relieve them of this burden.

However, what women end up doing instead, depends on their context. In some instances, freed up time may increase women’s participation in paid employment or in leisure activities. In other instances, however, the time saved may be reallocated to other household chores or to unpaid manual tasks.

All these examples illustrate that much of water-related work, whether in urban micro-businesses or in the rural primary sector, is gendered. But how this gendered inequality plays out is intricate, unexpected and context-specific. We hope The Rising Tide can help policymakers and practitioners think about these dynamics in a different way.
 

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