We all can do our part for the planet

Technological innovations are on exponential curves; but are water supply, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) measurement methods stuck in time?

Co-authors: Evan Thomas and German Sturzenegger

Technological innovations have the potential to revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development—if we rise responsibly to the challenge of measuring their impact.

Fifteen years is a long time for technology. In 2003 the “World Wide Web” was pervasive by 1986 standards. Yet today, the web of 2003 may very well have been spun by a single spider.

It’s been over two years since the United Nations introduced the Sustainable Development Goals. How can we better monitor progress toward them? This month, the World Bank Group and the InterAmerican Development Bank, along with collaborators from partnering institutions, published an overview of innovations in the monitoring of water supply, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) impact measures, directly tied to SDG #6: “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” The authors explore the potential of new measurement technologies to “revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development in the sector,” one of the hopes pinned to the SDG framework.

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Credible measurement methods must be both valid and reliable. Ideally, multiple measurements of the same subject would reap the same finding, and conscious and unconscious bias or error would be minimized. But we are not in an ideal world, and there are myriad methods to choose from, each with its own advantages and limitations. Often, it’s a good idea to use more than one to paint a complete picture of both WASH delivery and adoption.

In this book, the authors review a landscape of technologies, methods, and approaches that can support and improve the water and sanitation indicators proposed for SDG target 6.1, “by 2030, achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all,” and target 6.2, “by 2030, achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.” The volume reviews the rationale for a continued reliance on household surveys and censuses, analyses water quality monitoring standards applicable to SDG6, assesses methods for measuring water and sanitation use and behavior, describes the emergent technologies, including water meters, water pump sensors, and latrine motion detectors, and evaluates the relevant technologies and services that offer improvements in the collection of, and action on, data from water and sanitation programs.

For instance, in Sub-Saharan Africa, about one million hand pumps supply water to over 200 million rural water users across the continent, yet as many as one-third of all hand pumps are thought not to be working at any given time, with 30–70 percent broken within two years. In Ethiopia and Kenya, sensors connected to the satellite network are being installed on remote electrically powered boreholes to monitor functionality and water service delivery. These measures are entered into decision aids that may dispatch technicians, supplies, or other response. Also, mobile-enabled “smart hand pumps” reduced the pump downtime from an average of 27 days to 2.6 days.

In some cases, technologies and methods are readily available, thanks to long-term effort. Household surveys are in this category, although there is innovation here too, as a reliance on grueling and sometimes problematic paper-based processes shifts toward electronic, cloud-based, and georeferenced means of collecting, systematizing, and reporting big data. Other promising technologies are yet to be rolled out (e.g., drone surveys to identify latrines on roofs, remotely reporting sensors for tracking public facilities’ usage), but may be integrated over time as disruptive technologies evolve alongside the so called 4th Industrial Revolution. Some means of measurement are direct, some remain indirect. Some are objective, while others involve rigorous training to help users avoid subjective influence. Some are cheap. Others remain expensive. Some involve obstacles to scalability, while others are just waiting to be scaled up (the use of satellite imagery, for example). The exciting thing is the very fact that we can’t set in stone what is the “best” type, because we can expect more options to open up in an exponential curve between now and 2030.

Effective monitoring is needed to ensure interventions are having the impact they were designed for, and to generate evidence for adjusting them in a timely manner. Our hope is that, by making this information publicly available, we will encourage you and other WASH practitioners to begin using these technologies when monitoring SDG 6, so this ambitious goal is more likely to be achieved.

Going back to our opening theme: monitoring of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from 2000-15 was like an early iteration of the “World Wide Web”—global, comprehensive, but unidimensional, based on household surveys. Innovative technologies are not expected to replace this process, but rather to complement it—and to take contextualization, triangulation, and accuracy to new heights and depths. Although some such technologies are ready to be rolled out soon, it is entirely possible that some will be invented closer to 2030… possibly by you.

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Lifelong Learning Opportunities in February

CLIR speaker

CLIR, a lifelong learning program offered in collaboration with UConn Extension, will hold the following classes in February, all in Vernon Cottage on UConn’s Depot Campus, from 1:15 to 2:45 except for Memoir Club.

Memoir Club           Thursdays     10:15 – 11:45

Feb 1 Musical Theatre – Words of Music
Feb 6 FAKE News
Feb 13 Before the War: the Multicultural Empire of Vietnam (1428-1945)
Feb 14 The Politics of Protection: The Endangered Species Act Past, Present, and Future
Feb 15 Devising Thread City: Performance as Public Dialogue
Feb 21 How Big is Your Water Footprint?
Feb 28 Tastemaker Turks and Modish Mongols: How “Barbarians” became the Arbiters of High Society in Medieval Asia

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Fostering a spirit of cooperation among the Brahmaputra Basin riparians

The Brahmaputra River Basin in South Asia

The Brahmaputra River Basin originates in the Himalayas of China and flows through India and Bangladesh, with flow contribution from Bhutan. The basin is one of the largest and most complex in the world for a variety of reasons, including its challenging topography and hydrological environment.  

Development in the basin has historically been piecemeal, undertaken on a project-by-project basis at the country level. Complex geopolitics between downstream and upstream countries has been amplified by an incomplete basin knowledge base, the varying professional water resources management and technical capacities of the basin riparians, and power asymmetry among those countries. The absence of a basin-wide cooperative framework has translated into missed opportunities for regional economic growth, especially in agriculture and hydropower and through disaster risk reduction.

The Brahmaputra River Symposium, held in New Delhi in fall 2017, aimed to make a small contribution toward addressing this situation. Its objective: to unpack the development complexities and possibilities in the Brahmaputra Basin, while rallying stakeholders, from community to cabinet, in each of the four basin riparian countries to find transboundary common ground to take action.
 
This event marked the culmination of the latest phase of an organized dialogue process that aims to provide the means, mandate, and resources necessary to facilitate formal and informal knowledge exchange and interaction among key basin stakeholders, fostering a spirit of cooperation to develop and manage the basin optimally, holistically, and sustainably.
 
The South Asia Water Initiative (SAWI) has been supporting the dialogue process since January 2016, while strengthening its connections at the policy and decision-making level. In the beginning, there was only a small group of stakeholders at the track III and track II diplomacy levels, but it has since morphed into an expanded and engaged group up to the track I½ diplomacy level. During this transformation, riparian country-level workshops and meetings—supported by informal one-on-one follow-ups with key stakeholders—established the political connection, commitment, and momentum long needed for a dialogue breakthrough. The Brahmaputra River Symposium brought together 150 delegates, including, for the first time, prominent stakeholders from all four basin riparian countries, exemplifying the strides this dialogue process has made in terms of credibility and importance.
 
“We couldn’t have imagined a convention like this, in South Asia, ten years ago,” said professor Ainun Nishat, former Member, Joint Rivers Commission, Bangladesh, and key figure in the Brahmaputra development discourse for more than 20 years. 
 
The Symposium delegates identified several recommendations to combat the challenges in developing and managing the Brahmaputra Basin. The recommendations focus on generating and sharing knowledge to close the science-policy gap and inform evidence-based decision making in the basin; strengthening institutions; and integrating investments. One of the major outcomes was consensus among the delegates that this dialogue process has the potential to navigate the geopolitical complexity hindering good governance in the basin, and it must be sustained. In full support of funding the initiative, Dr. Anamika Barau from IIT-Guwahati said, “The Brahmaputra Basin Dialogue is necessary for stakeholders to discuss issues, challenges, and opportunities for improved co-management of the complex river basin, while also allowing civil society and media to build a common vision on the Brahmaputra Basin.”
 
Looking to the future, SAWI is planning to continue to work closely with all Brahmaputra Basin riparian countries to build on this momentum, and support implementation of the recommendations through various World Bank-backed initiatives for lending, technical assistance, and analytical work.

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Allied Health Sciences School and Family SNAP-Ed

boy in Allied Health Sciences SNAP-Ed program mother and child participate in SNAP-Ed program with healthy eating SNAP-Ed course on economically purchasing food and groceries

Last year, through the hard work of all, the Allied Health Sciences School and Family SNAP-Ed program reached 5,549 participants and 6,164 contacts via single and multiple sessions. Education focused on: 1) cooking more, economical food shopping, safe food handling; 2) improving consumption of fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy, whole grains and avoiding sweetened beverages; and 3) increasing physical activity to balance calories consumed with energy expended. We also reached 33,032 contacts indirectly with food and nutrition topics based on MyPlate and the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Enjoy some of the pictures of the SNAP-Ed events at West Hartford Fellowship Housing (Donna Zigmont and undergraduates Brianne Kondratowicz and Sarah Chau) reaching older adults with tips on economically purchasing and easily adding fruits and vegetables to increase dietary quality. A delicious fresh fruit salsa made on the spot served as a tasting opportunity. At Hockanum Preschool in East Hartford, parents and their preschoolers enjoyed “cooking together” under the guidance of UConn graduate student Samantha Oldman RDN and Lindsey Kent RDN our community partner from Shoprite.

All participants seemed to enjoy the healthy layered yogurt parfaits. Our UConn student educators made us proud with their professionalism, enthusiasm, and ability to engage these SNAP audiences! Is there anything better than kids eating healthy food?

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), through the Food Stamp Act of 1977, as amended, provides for the operation of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) in the State of Connecticut. The State of Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) has been designated by the USDA to administer the State’s SNAP-Ed activities and DSS in turn has contracted with UConn and the CT Department of Public Health to design and implement the SNAP-Ed projects. Under this contract, the USDA has authorized the University of Connecticut’s Department of Allied Health Sciences to administer, design, develop implement and evaluate a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – Education (SNAP-Ed) plan.

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New London County Master Gardener Signature Projects 2017

garden at Riverfront Childrens' CenterMaster Gardener Signature Projects 2017 

Camp Harkness for the Handicapped, Waterford. People with disabilities spend time at the Camp during the summer months. Master Gardeners assist the clients with gardening activities and maintain the wheelchair accessible plants. In the winter, they work with seniors in the greenhouse. This project has been ongoing for a long time with a regular group.

Connecticut College Arboretum, New London. Another long-time association. Master Gardeners lead tours, give lectures, and work on maintenance of the Arboretum’s conifer collection.

Gay City State Park, Hebron. This project is a collaborative effort amongst the Master Gardener Program (MG), the State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), and the State Park Service (SPS). It is funded by the Salmon River Estuary Coordinating Committee (SRECC) and the Connecticut Master Gardener Association (CMGA). A water quality problem, identified by DEEP, was brought to the attention of the New London MG office by the SRECC. It was agreed that the water quality problem could be addressed with a habitat restoration adjacent to the swimming area that would discourage nuisance geese. The project design has been approved by the SPS and planting will begin in spring, 2018.

Riverfront Childrens’ Center, Groton. The Center received a grant from the Ledge Light Health District for refurbishing the Center’s raised bed gardens. The grant required oversight of the project by a master gardener, who has been educating the Center’s staff on gardening and involving the children with the planting and harvesting of vegetable crops. This project will be an ongoing program and fits well with the Extension Nutrition Education Program, which was already in place at the Center.

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Survey on Community Investment in Economic Development

Survey Seeks to Understand How Connecticut’s Communities Invest in Economic Development

By Daniel Case, Grossus [GFDL (https://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), via Wikimedia Commons

By Daniel Case, Grossus [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), via Wikimedia Commons

Do you have a hand in economic development for your community or region? This month economic developers across the state will have the opportunity to participate in the first Connecticut Local Economic Survey coordinated by the University of Connecticut (UConn) Extension in partnership with the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC), the Connecticut Economic Development Association (CEDAS) and the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities (CCM). The purpose of the survey is to understand who is involved in economic development activities in Connecticut and how economic development strategies are conducted at the local level over time. Anyone participating in economic development activities at the local, regional or state level is encouraged to participate by visiting the online survey available at http://s.uconn.edu/ledo

According to the developer of the survey, Laura Brown, Community & Economic Development Educator with UConn Extension, the results will be used to help municipalities and organizations identify opportunities to coordinate on regional strategies, make comparable investments in economic development, and implement strategies that are most effective. “This study will help communities see where they stand compared to others in and outside of Connecticut.” The survey includes some questions that are also conducted as part of a national survey implemented by the International City County Management Association every five years.

The results of the study will be made public in Spring 2018, and participants may opt to have the results sent to them as soon as they are available. The survey asks about structure and organization of economic development functions in organizations and municipalities, investments being made in economic development, strategies being implemented and how are they evaluated, and demographic information about economic development staff.

For more information about this survey please contact Laura Brown, Community & Economic Development Educator, UConn Extension, laura.brown@uconn.edu, 203-207-0063.

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Urban Agriculture Graduates

German Cutz, UConn Extension educator and urban agriculture program coordinator urban agriculture graduate speaks at graduation ceremony in UConn Extension office in Bethel

UConn Extension Urban Agriculture Program – Graduation Ceremony. On January 16, 2018 UConn Extension graduated 9 new urban farmers who completed a year-long training. To be able to graduate, students needed to complete five modules: botany, soils, entomology, vegetable production, and integrated pest management (30-40 hours each) and pass each with at least 70% or higher grade. Extension educator German Cutz, and all of Extension, is very proud of graduates and hope many more join us this year. Congratulations!
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Ceremonia de graduación del Programa de Agricultura Urbana de la Extensión de UConn. El 16 de Enero del 2018 La Extensión de UConn graduó 9 nuevos agricultores urbanos quienes completaron un entrenamiento de un año. Para graduarse, los estudiantes necesitaron completar cinco módulos: botánica, suelos, entomología, producción de vegetales y manejo integrado de plagas (30-40 horas cada uno) y pasar cada módulo con una calificación de 70% o más. Estoy muy orgulloso de los graduados y espero que muchos más se unan este año. Felicitaciones!

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4-H Spotlight: Edward Merritt

4-H Alumni and Retiree Spotlight 

Edward Merritt – Retired Hartford County Administrator, 4-H Agent and MA 4-H Alumni 

By Nancy Wilhelm, Program Coordinator, State 4-H Office 

 

Ed Merritt

Photo: Nancy Wilhelm

At 83 Ed Merritt remembers a lot of exciting experiences during his time with the Hartford County Extension Program. He came to UConn Extension on October 1, 1963 directly from a National 4-H Fellowship in Washington, D.C. and was hired to serve as the Hartford County 4-H Agent. At the time, the Hartford County Extension Office was located in a two-story brick building at 6 Grand Street in Hartford.

Ed grew up in Goshen, Massachusetts, a little town of about 200 people. The youngest of three children, he lived on a farm during the 1930s and was a member of a 4-H woodworking club. Ed states, “There was an older gentleman in town who worked with four or five boys. Most of my projects were poultry and dairy because of the farm. I also grew vegetables such as potatoes and corn which was income for the farm and had a little maple syrup operation. I say little, but in those days, it was a lot. We made about 100 gallons a year if you had a good year.” Ed was also a delegate to National 4-H Conference. He graduated from UMass with a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science and went directly to New Hampshire to serve as a 4-H Extension Agent in Cheshire, NH. His wife Jessie, (now deceased) was a 4-H member in New Hampshire and an active 4-H volunteer in Connecticut. Ed and Jessie met through 4-H, and their four children were actively involved in 4-H as well.

Ed was drafted into the U.S. Army for two years. He was stationed at, “nobody believes this, but it is true,” he states, 346 Broadway, New York City. He was recruited to do meat inspections for the massive wholesale orders going into packing plants. At the end of two years, he returned to UNH Extension where he remained for four years until 1962 where he was selected as one of six young Ex-tension 4-H personnel from around the country to serve as National 4-H Fellows. This was a fascinating experience because, as Ed relates, they got to know the top personnel in all of the USDA agencies. It really opened his eyes to the work of Extension at the national level.

During his tenure with UConn Extension, Ed recalls several important projects during the 1960s and 70s that highlight the expansion of Extension in Hartford County. The federal government had developed the CETA (Comprehensive Employment Training Act) Program which provided grant funds for a variety of programs. Beth Salsedo, who was hired at the time to establish 4-H work in the town of Bristol applied for a CETA grant and was awarded funds to hire six people to establish those clubs. The CE-TA program expanded and the Hartford County Extension Program ended up with five different contracts and a total of 30 new hires. The 1960s also saw the purchase of land in Marlborough, CT to build a 4-H camp. The camp opened in July of 1966. It was also the birth of 4-H programming in the city of Hart-ford. An Extension office was located on Vine Street in the North end of Hartford to focus on urban programming.

The establishment of the 4-H Education Center at Auerfarm in Bloomfield was also a major highlight of this time period. It initially began as a project to re-vive the old apple orchard at Auerfarm and give youth work experience. Ed and his family were heavily involved in the project for several years. The Koopman and Schiro families ultimately gifted a large portion of the property to the CT 4-H Development Fund.

Ed notes that some of the great strengths of 4-H include the volunteer leadership component as well as youth building leadership experiences through fairs, camp and the local club structure. He adds that 4-H in many ways is a com-munity within itself with youth forming lasting friendships and learning to help others. Ed recalls interactions with many wonderful people in 4-H and Extension overall.

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Setting a Course for Active Learning

Setting a Course for Active Learning: An Interview with Senator Beth Bye

By Nancy Wilhelm, Program Coordinator, State 4-H Office 

youth at Auerfarm meeting a rabbitElizabeth “Beth” Bye is the Executive Director of the 4-H Education Center at Auerfarm in Bloomfield. She has worked in early childhood education for over 30 years. She is also a member of the Connecticut Senate representing the 5th district which includes Bloomfield, Burlington, Farmington and West Hart-ford. Beth has spent her career working to assure all children have access to high quality learning opportunities. I sat down with her recently to get her thoughts on the benefits of early childhood education.

Her background in early childhood development and education began with a BA and MA in Child Development from the University of New Hampshire. Beth states that she was interested in the research on the impact of infant daycare on child development and in helping children to develop internal controls. She adds that “you can al-ways impact children, but it’s great to set their course early in life.” When asked what the research says about how we educate our youngest children she responds, “the research tells us that young children learn actively. They need to interface with a variety of materials, and explore, move and go outside. They also need to interact with other children and teachers. Their brains are qualitatively different and so they take in information differently than adults.” Beth also states that “play is the work of children”. It is universal, like walking and talking and is essentially how children make sense of their experience. Developing an attitude toward learning that is enthusiastic and flexible is also important and early childhood education programs can help to set the stage for children to be eager and excited about learning through play and active learning.

Environment also plays a key role in creating an effective early child-hood education program. The environment needs to be conducive to learning with 4-H clover youth member in garden projectinteresting materials and activities. Safety is a key factor as well. There is more fear among parents now regarding their child’s safety and so the question arises, how much freedom to allow children to explore and develop. Responsive care is critical to a safe learning environment. Building self-regulation is also important so that children can be part of a com-munity early on, learning how to work as a team, and care about others.

Beth credits the 4-H program with helping youth to create their own inquiry experiences with 4-H pro-jects and activities as well as teaching independence, enthusiasm for learning and contribution to com-munity. 4-H members learn these skills early on and it tends to stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Beth’s connection with Auerfarm began as a consultant for the Bloomfield Public Schools. Over 13,000 youth visit Auerfarm each year to learn about agriculture and the environment.

Auerfarm offers a variety of seasonal, school and summer enrichment programs that provide a wonderful setting for active sensory learning. Children take a hayride around the 120-acre property exploring the gardens, orchards and fields and also get to sample apple cider and maple syrup during seasonal programs. Auerfarm also has an ongoing relationship with the Wintonbury Early Childhood Mag-net School which visits the farm for several weeks during the year. What better backdrop for active learning than a 120-acre farm with animals, gardens, and orchards.

[Read More …]

Setting a Course for Active Learning

Setting a Course for Active Learning: An Interview with Senator Beth Bye

By Nancy Wilhelm, Program Coordinator, State 4-H Office 

youth at Auerfarm meeting a rabbitElizabeth “Beth” Bye is the Executive Director of the 4-H Education Center at Auerfarm in Bloomfield. She has worked in early childhood education for over 30 years. She is also a member of the Connecticut Senate representing the 5th district which includes Bloomfield, Burlington, Farmington and West Hart-ford. Beth has spent her career working to assure all children have access to high quality learning opportunities. I sat down with her recently to get her thoughts on the benefits of early childhood education.

Her background in early childhood development and education began with a BA and MA in Child Development from the University of New Hampshire. Beth states that she was interested in the research on the impact of infant daycare on child development and in helping children to develop internal controls. She adds that “you can al-ways impact children, but it’s great to set their course early in life.” When asked what the research says about how we educate our youngest children she responds, “the research tells us that young children learn actively. They need to interface with a variety of materials, and explore, move and go outside. They also need to interact with other children and teachers. Their brains are qualitatively different and so they take in information differently than adults.” Beth also states that “play is the work of children”. It is universal, like walking and talking and is essentially how children make sense of their experience. Developing an attitude toward learning that is enthusiastic and flexible is also important and early childhood education programs can help to set the stage for children to be eager and excited about learning through play and active learning.

Environment also plays a key role in creating an effective early child-hood education program. The environment needs to be conducive to learning with 4-H clover youth member in garden projectinteresting materials and activities. Safety is a key factor as well. There is more fear among parents now regarding their child’s safety and so the question arises, how much freedom to allow children to explore and develop. Responsive care is critical to a safe learning environment. Building self-regulation is also important so that children can be part of a com-munity early on, learning how to work as a team, and care about others.

Beth credits the 4-H program with helping youth to create their own inquiry experiences with 4-H pro-jects and activities as well as teaching independence, enthusiasm for learning and contribution to com-munity. 4-H members learn these skills early on and it tends to stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Beth’s connection with Auerfarm began as a consultant for the Bloomfield Public Schools. Over 13,000 youth visit Auerfarm each year to learn about agriculture and the environment.

Auerfarm offers a variety of seasonal, school and summer enrichment programs that provide a wonderful setting for active sensory learning. Children take a hayride around the 120-acre property exploring the gardens, orchards and fields and also get to sample apple cider and maple syrup during seasonal programs. Auerfarm also has an ongoing relationship with the Wintonbury Early Childhood Mag-net School which visits the farm for several weeks during the year. What better backdrop for active learning than a 120-acre farm with animals, gardens, and orchards.

[Read More …]