We all can do our part for the planet

Jessica LaRosa: 4-H Alumni Spotlight

 

The UConn 4-H program fostered a passion for animals in Jessica LaRosa of East Windsor. While in 4-H, Jessica discovered she loved teaching the public and others about agriculture. “My passion for both animals and teaching other about agriculture is what led me to find my major at UConn,” Jessica says.

Jessica joined the Merry Mooers 4-H Dairy Club in Hartford County when she was 10 years old. During her 4-H career she was also active with Hemlock Knoll 4-H, First Town Veterinary Science, and Granby 4-H. Her projects included poultry, dairy goats, rabbits, swine, beef, and veterinary science. She gained leadership experience as a club officer, and serving on the officer team of the Hartford County 4-H Fair Association. Jessica represented UConn 4-H at National 4-H Dairy Conference, the National 4-H Conference, and Citizenship Washington Focus.

“I applied to UConn because the campus felt like home to me due to the number of 4-H events that IJessica LaRosa with chicken at 4-H fair attended on the Storrs campus,” Jessica says. “4-H influenced my choice in university and major.” UConn 4-H hosts numerous events throughout the year on the Storrs and the Greater Hartford campuses. Jessica was one of many 4-H members to attend 4-H Dairy and Beef Day, Goat Day, and the New England 4-H Poultry Show on the UConn Storrs campus.

Jessica is currently a sophomore in the Ratcliffe Hicks two-year program, graduating in May of 2018, and transferring to the bachelor’s degree program with a major in Agriculture and Natural Resources. Her expected graduation date is May 2020. She plans to apply to the Teacher Certification Program for College Graduates in the Neag School of Education at UConn and earn her master’s degree in Agriculture Education in May 2021. Jessica plans on becoming a high school agriculture teacher, and staying involved with 4-H by serving as a volunteer.

Jessica LaRosa at 4-H fair with chicken“The most rewarding part about 4-H for me was being able to get hands-on agriculture experience starting at a young age, and being able to network with both other 4-Hers, along with professionals in various industries of agriculture,” Jessica reflects thoughtfully. “I know those friendships will last a lifetime, and the professionals I have met will be helpful resources to me in the future.”

Jessica cites her 4-H experience as forming a baseline for what she is learning in her courses at UConn. Her background knowledge in animal science has made it easier to learn the detailed information in the courses she is taking.

“4-H has left a lasting impact on my life, and has shaped me into the person that I am today,” Jessica concludes. “For example, I had the opportunity to visit Washington D.C. for the National 4-H Conference, and presented on backyard farming with my roundtable group to the USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA).”

Article by: Stacey Stearns

[Read More …]

AQUALINER Fresh®

Technical A WORLD FIRST in Keeping Your Water Fresher for Longer! Pioneer Water Tanks, Australia’s No.1 big tank company, has announced a global-first innovation in water storage with the launch of the world-exclusive AQUALINER Fresh® antimicrobial tank liner. For families across the world relying on the quality of tank water for their daily use and

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Handling Food Leftovers

So, you know how to cook a turkey until it is safe to eat; but what about handling the leftovers?

By Diane Wright Hirsch, MPH

Senior Extension Educator/Food Safety

 

turkeyEven though many Americans are eating more meals out of the home and some are turning to “meal kits” to make it pretty painless to cook dinner, we still like to celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving. Green bean casserole, maybe some roasted Brussels sprouts, mashed white and/or sweet potatoes (with or without marshmallows), stuffing or dressing, and gravy will share the dinner plate with the main attraction, turkey. And more likely than not, way too much food for one meal.

Whether it’s their very first or they are a poultry seasoned veteran, many cooks know that the important thing is to cook a turkey until it reaches a safe temperature—165 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh. They would not even think twice about eating an undercooked turkey—fearful of the risk of Salmonella or other foodborne pathogen that may be lurking the raw turkey meat. Home cooks, for the most part, have learned that a food thermometer is an essential tool for ensuring that the turkey and stuffing reach the safe end cooking temperature.

But, in what seems like the blink of an eye, the Thanksgiving meal that took hours or days to prepare is enjoyed by all. The turkey is no longer stuffed. But your guests are. What do you do with the leftovers?

Despite the belief that leftovers are yucky (too often dried out during the recook), most of us love the leftovers from a turkey dinner. Keep in mind that it is important to handle the unserved turkey and all the fixings safely if you want to enjoy them for days or even weeks (if frozen) after the holiday.

Consumers generally are less aware of the risks of turkey or other perishable foods once they have been cooked. They know that proper cooking destroys the bacteria or other microorganisms often found in raw foods. Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli and Campylobacter are bacteria that cause foodborne illness. And they are destroyed by proper cooking. So once the turkey (and other foods) are cooked, we assume that our worries are over. The Salmonella is gone, kaput, right?

Unfortunately, the answer can be misleading. Yes, the Salmonella is gone. But there are other bad guys stalking the cooked turkey, the gravy or even the mashed potatoes.

Once a food is cooked there is the risk that other pathogens can contaminate it. Microorganisms that can affect cooked food include Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus cereus. All of these bacteria cause what is commonly called an intoxication or true food poisoning. Both Staphylococcus and Bacillus cereus can form toxins in a contaminated food product. The food is contaminated by the bacteria that may come from the kitchen environment, pets, soil, dirty hands, or a cook who is sick. The bacteria forms a toxin in the food and then you get sick when you eat the food. Because toxins are already present in the food, illness usually comes quickly—within 4-12 hours or so. You feel really awful for 24-48 hours with vomiting and/or diarrhea, depending on the amount of toxin in the food and characteristics of the pathogen. Generally these illnesses do not kill you—you just wish you were dead! Clostridium perfringens, on the other hand, contaminates the food and once consumed, produces a toxin in your intestines. It is still a toxin forming bacteria, and symptoms still include diarrhea. But, like the other toxin related illnesses listed here, generally, the illness is not terribly severe and you recover within 24-48 hours.

If you are a healthy person, these illnesses are generally self-limiting: once the toxin is expelled from the body, you recover. However, as with all foodborne illness, people who have compromised immune systems (because they have certain other diseases or take medications that weaken the immune system) are much more likely to suffer serious consequences.

The good news is that these illnesses are easily prevented. Handle leftovers safely and you will not have to spend Black Friday (or Saturday or Sunday, for that matter) in the restroom.

Get the remaining appetizers into the fridge before dinner is even served. After enjoying your meal, quickly work on the dinner leftovers. Cut the turkey off the bones, remove all stuffing, storing it separately. The same is true of mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole and any other cooked leftovers. Once vegetables are cut open and made into salads, they, too, are at risk for contamination. Refrigerate any cooked or cut vegetables or fruits, including salads or relish trays right after dinner as well. You want these foods to cool quickly, so place in shallow containers (no more than 3 inches deep). And, don’t forget the condiments. Butter, cranberry sauce, corn relish, while somewhat less risky, should be returned to the refrigerator as soon as possible.

Even if you get those leftovers refrigerated right after dinner, keep in mind that they won’t last forever. If you don’t think you will be able to eat them within 3-4 days, then it is best to freeze them. Place in shallow freezer containers, label with contents and date and freeze for up to 3-6 months for best quality. If not frozen, leftover cooked meats and vegetables will be safe for up to 3-4 days in a refrigerator kept at no more than 40 degrees F.

Once the food is safely tucked away for the night, it’s time to wash the dishes.

For more information about safe food preparation during the holidays, visit our website at www.foodsafety.uconn.edu, or foodsafety.gov, or contact the Home and Garden Education Center at ladybug@uconn.edu or 1-877-486-6271.

[Read More …]

Handling Food Leftovers

So, you know how to cook a turkey until it is safe to eat; but what about handling the leftovers?

By Diane Wright Hirsch, MPH

Senior Extension Educator/Food Safety

 

turkeyEven though many Americans are eating more meals out of the home and some are turning to “meal kits” to make it pretty painless to cook dinner, we still like to celebrate a traditional Thanksgiving. Green bean casserole, maybe some roasted Brussels sprouts, mashed white and/or sweet potatoes (with or without marshmallows), stuffing or dressing, and gravy will share the dinner plate with the main attraction, turkey. And more likely than not, way too much food for one meal.

Whether it’s their very first or they are a poultry seasoned veteran, many cooks know that the important thing is to cook a turkey until it reaches a safe temperature—165 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh. They would not even think twice about eating an undercooked turkey—fearful of the risk of Salmonella or other foodborne pathogen that may be lurking the raw turkey meat. Home cooks, for the most part, have learned that a food thermometer is an essential tool for ensuring that the turkey and stuffing reach the safe end cooking temperature.

But, in what seems like the blink of an eye, the Thanksgiving meal that took hours or days to prepare is enjoyed by all. The turkey is no longer stuffed. But your guests are. What do you do with the leftovers?

Despite the belief that leftovers are yucky (too often dried out during the recook), most of us love the leftovers from a turkey dinner. Keep in mind that it is important to handle the unserved turkey and all the fixings safely if you want to enjoy them for days or even weeks (if frozen) after the holiday.

Consumers generally are less aware of the risks of turkey or other perishable foods once they have been cooked. They know that proper cooking destroys the bacteria or other microorganisms often found in raw foods. Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli and Campylobacter are bacteria that cause foodborne illness. And they are destroyed by proper cooking. So once the turkey (and other foods) are cooked, we assume that our worries are over. The Salmonella is gone, kaput, right?

Unfortunately, the answer can be misleading. Yes, the Salmonella is gone. But there are other bad guys stalking the cooked turkey, the gravy or even the mashed potatoes.

Once a food is cooked there is the risk that other pathogens can contaminate it. Microorganisms that can affect cooked food include Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium perfringens and Bacillus cereus. All of these bacteria cause what is commonly called an intoxication or true food poisoning. Both Staphylococcus and Bacillus cereus can form toxins in a contaminated food product. The food is contaminated by the bacteria that may come from the kitchen environment, pets, soil, dirty hands, or a cook who is sick. The bacteria forms a toxin in the food and then you get sick when you eat the food. Because toxins are already present in the food, illness usually comes quickly—within 4-12 hours or so. You feel really awful for 24-48 hours with vomiting and/or diarrhea, depending on the amount of toxin in the food and characteristics of the pathogen. Generally these illnesses do not kill you—you just wish you were dead! Clostridium perfringens, on the other hand, contaminates the food and once consumed, produces a toxin in your intestines. It is still a toxin forming bacteria, and symptoms still include diarrhea. But, like the other toxin related illnesses listed here, generally, the illness is not terribly severe and you recover within 24-48 hours.

If you are a healthy person, these illnesses are generally self-limiting: once the toxin is expelled from the body, you recover. However, as with all foodborne illness, people who have compromised immune systems (because they have certain other diseases or take medications that weaken the immune system) are much more likely to suffer serious consequences.

The good news is that these illnesses are easily prevented. Handle leftovers safely and you will not have to spend Black Friday (or Saturday or Sunday, for that matter) in the restroom.

Get the remaining appetizers into the fridge before dinner is even served. After enjoying your meal, quickly work on the dinner leftovers. Cut the turkey off the bones, remove all stuffing, storing it separately. The same is true of mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole and any other cooked leftovers. Once vegetables are cut open and made into salads, they, too, are at risk for contamination. Refrigerate any cooked or cut vegetables or fruits, including salads or relish trays right after dinner as well. You want these foods to cool quickly, so place in shallow containers (no more than 3 inches deep). And, don’t forget the condiments. Butter, cranberry sauce, corn relish, while somewhat less risky, should be returned to the refrigerator as soon as possible.

Even if you get those leftovers refrigerated right after dinner, keep in mind that they won’t last forever. If you don’t think you will be able to eat them within 3-4 days, then it is best to freeze them. Place in shallow freezer containers, label with contents and date and freeze for up to 3-6 months for best quality. If not frozen, leftover cooked meats and vegetables will be safe for up to 3-4 days in a refrigerator kept at no more than 40 degrees F.

Once the food is safely tucked away for the night, it’s time to wash the dishes.

For more information about safe food preparation during the holidays, visit our website at www.foodsafety.uconn.edu, or foodsafety.gov, or contact the Home and Garden Education Center at ladybug@uconn.edu or 1-877-486-6271.

[Read More …]

The tyranny of toilets – reflections on World Toilet Day

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 – reflections on World Toilet Day

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 First HardCORE CT Apple Challenge

The First HardCORE CT Apple Challenge with Put Local On Your Tray!

hardcore apple challengeOctober is special for a few reasons. Everyone is getting back in the swing of things at school, the foliage outstanding, and the many varieties of delicious crisp apples are ripening atop trees in orchards across the state. The combination makes a perfect time of year to celebrate National Farm to School Month, CT Grown for CT Kids Week, and a new campaign known as the HardCORE CT Apple Challenge  coordinated by Put Local On Your Tray to celebrate CT grown products, and continuously encourage the importance and connectivity of food education. Put Local on Your Tray is a collaborative Farm to School project that assists interested Connecticut school districts to serve, educate, and celebrate regionally grown produce.

The campaign coordinated by Put Local On Your Tray was made public to anyone who wanted to participate and utilize the resources. All schools and school districts in Connecticut were encouraged to participate by sourcing local apples during the month of October, and placing signage so students and staff know where they came from. For students to take the challenge, there were three ways to participate. First, you could eat a CT Grown apple all the way down to it’s core. Second, you could try two different types of CT Grown apples and compare tastes. Third, you could take a trip to a local apple orchard to see how they really grow. Or even better, all three!

On the ground, with reports from our partners at FoodCorps Connecticut, there were so many different ways CT kids celebrated the HardCORE CT Apple Challenge. There was New Britain’s Gaffney Elementary Garden Club students challenging each other to see who could eat a local apple from Belltown Orchards in South Glastonbury totally down to the core, after learning all about the importance of seeds. At Meriden public schools, students enjoyed a special afternoon comparing the tastes of Fuji and Paula Red apples and voted at lunch what they liked best, realizing that not all apples are exactly the same. There was a field trip taken to Auerfarm in Bloomfield with Breakthrough Magnet School in Hartford, where students had the opportunity to pick and taste some of the apples grown right there on the farm, solidifying their understanding of how exactly apples come to be. Overall, there is a newfound appreciation going around in our schools for an idyllic CT crop – the apple.

There was lots of support from many partner organizations including the Connecticut Farm to School Collaborative, who helped create the concept of the campaign. The Collaborative consists of a group of nonprofit and state-agency representatives working to advance farm to school at the state level through policy, communications, and programming. The CT Apple Marketing Board, the USDA, and FoodCorps Connecticut all promoted the HardCORE Apple Campaign, with the promotion excitingly gaining national recognition in the USDA online newsletter, The Dirt, as something to look check out for the month of October.

Mike Koch, Food Service Director for New Britain Public Schools, is pleased to have the materials provided by the Local Tray Program. “We appreciate the efforts of the various groups that assist us with marketing and promotions of our locally sourced products. UConn Extension and FoodCorps have been integral partners to promote activities such as taste tests and local produce celebrations. We have been able to get students to try and appreciate new and different foods, and to step outside of their comfort zone. When we did an applesauce taste test using apples grown from Belltown Orchards in Glastonbury, the students began to realize this is food grown close to their neighborhood. When they make this connection, everyone wins; the student, the food service department, the school district, and the farm.”

Mike is just one of the Food Service Directors who has signed up to take the local pledge for his district this year. There are currently 30 districts that signed up so far to participate in the Put Local on Your Tray Program for the 2017-18 school year all over the state. The program is open to any interested school district, charter school, or private school. Go online to sign up to take the pledge to have at least one local Tray day this year. Sign up today if your school hasn’t already! We are gaining momentum and have many developments in store for this year, including two new poster designs to be released online soon! For more information after this date, please contact molly.putlocalonyourtray@gmail.com.

To stay informed with what is happening with the Tray project yourself, you can sign up for our monthly newsletter. You can also Like us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram @putlocalonyourtray. For more information please visit http://putlocalonyourtray.uconn.edu or call 860-870-6932. Put Local On Your Tray is a project of UConn Extension, in partnership with the CT State Department of Education, FoodCorps Connecticut, and New England Dairy & Food Council (NEDFC).

Keep on crunching, Connecticut!

[Read More …]

Predicting slum dwellers’ deprivations from space: a pilot study on Dhaka

Co-authors:
Christian Borja-Vega, Economist, the World Bank’s Water Global Practice
Amit Patel, Assistant Professor. University of Massachusetts Boston’s McCormack Graduate School for Policy and Global Studies

 
One of the most pressing development challenges we face in today’s world of rapid urbanization is how to respond to the unmet demand for basic infrastructure services, like adequate housing, clean water, and sanitation. Half of the world’s population lives in cities and close to 1 billion live in slums. Megacities in developing countries are growing faster than ever, mostly in an unplanned way. Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is particularly challenged due to congestion, poor infrastructure and regular flooding during heavy rainfall. In fact, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit, it was ranked almost at the bottom of the list of the world’s livable cities, number 137 out of 140.
 
When looking at approaches to and impacts of ways to upgrade slums, a challenge is often a lack of adequate data, particularly a lack of spatial data. Tools like Google Maps, now so ubiquitous in our daily lives, rarely cover growing, unplanned settlements. Conducting household surveys are useful, but they are expensive and not frequently updated. This is a problem when trying to map a dynamic and elusive slum, whose very definition is controversial and context-specific.
 
So what is the solution? It turns out that using earth observation (EO) data – that is, information obtained through remote sensing instruments, such as satellites – may help to address this critical data gap. It is already being used in many other applications, from recognizing cross-border territories in disputes, tracking wildlife, locating hazards and disasters, to identifying migration patterns.
 
Over the past two decades, the temporal and spatial resolution of earth observation imagery has increased dramatically. Along with such imagery, advanced algorithms can be used to detect and describe slums, answering critical questions:

  1. Where are slums/informal settlements located?
  2. How do their appearances change over time?
  3. Do they present spatial characteristics incompatible with basic infrastructure supply (living space, water and sanitation, roads and safety from natural hazards)?

With an eye towards using innovative data analytics for development impact in slums,  we launched a pilot in Dhaka under the ‘Water Supply and Sanitation in Rapid Urbanization’ umbrella about a year ago. We worked in collaboration with the WASH Poverty Diagnostic team in Bangladesh, the European firm GiSat, a member of a EO4SD Urban consortium working with the European Space Agency (ESA), and researchers from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Preliminary results of the study have been presented (see video and slides), explaining how the information of in-depth household surveys can be complemented with geoinformation captured remotely for Dhaka slums.
 
The Details

In our approach, several EO-derived indicators feed into a statistical model to predict an index of household deprivation called Slum Severity Index (SSI). The SSI captures the needs of slum residents for: a) access to safe water, d) access to adequate sanitation, b) durable housing construction, c) sufficient living space, e) security of tenure, and f) metered electricity.
 
Here are some examples of insights obtained from the preliminary analysis of combined EO and survey response data in Dhaka:

  • As the distance from central business district and from major roads increases, the lack of water or electricity increases (known as “peripheralization of slums” phenomenon)
  • Where the percentage of high density residential urban fabric increases, housing deprivation also increases
  • The indicators for building density (e.g. average dwelling size and distance between buildings) are associated with worsening housing and basic services

Mapping these deprivation indicators, and identifying the degree to which they intersect, could help make the prioritization of ways to upgrade slums easier. Citywide programs are not always feasible, so gaining spatial awareness of unmet needs can benefit local governments and utilities to identify the most under-served neighborhoods or to tackle critical bottlenecks, such as tenure insecurity. In addition, this approach can bring valuable information at a fraction of the cost, even with small sample surveys, that could be used to inform the design of complex operations.
 
This initiative is still in progress and we are disseminating the results and tweaking the methodology so it can be used in more cities. The sky is the limit on how far we can develop this to help identify needs and combat poverty.
 
For comments or suggestions on potential applications of the approach, please contact Luisa M. Mimmi and Christian Borja-Vega.

Fig 1 Informal settlements in Dhaka, classified by density, shape & context

Source: EO4SD Urban consortium. 2017. “Service Operations Report – Dhaka”. (Internal document)

Fig 2 Example of slum communities’ locations as derived from WASH-POV

Source: Gisat, 2017.
Note: Slum areas (pink polygons) and buffers around slum communities’ location
(purple circles)

Fig 3 Proportion of Informal Settlements/Slum Areas in flood prone areas with high risk as of 2017 (left) and flooded areas for the historical remarkable flooding event in 2004 (right).

Source: EO4SD Urban consortium. 2017. “Service Operations Report – Dhaka”. (Internal document)

[Read More …]

Nutrition Education in Windham County

By Dianisi Torres

dried apple

Photo: National Center for Home Food Preservation

This has been an exceptionally busy year for Nutrition Education. In addition to the EFNEP (Expanded Food & Nutrition Education Program) being held at public schools and libraries including Windham, Moosup, Putnam, North Grosvenor Dale, and Killingly, the SNAP Ed program offers nutrition assistance to millions of low income families in need. The EFNEP educator works in collaboration with non-profit organizations as Cooking Matters offering nutrition and cooking workshops for adults which is taught in Spanish and English. Another non-profit program is CLiCK, Inc. located in Willimantic. EFNEP collaborates every year with CLiCK offering summer programs for children, youth and adult cooking classes using fresh vegetables from the CLiCK community garden that the Willimantic students have grown. We hope to offer even more programs in the coming year. For more information, contact Dianisi Torres at: dianisi.torres@uconn.edu

[Read More …]

Planning for disaster: forecasting the impact of floods in South Asia’s river basins

Co-authors:
William Young, Lead Water Resources Management Specialist, the World Bank  
Thomas Hopson
Ankit Avasthi

 

Download the Report in the World Bank’s
Open Knowledge Repository

The Ganges Basin in South Asia is home to some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities. Annual floods during monsoon season cause widespread human suffering and economic losses. This year, torrential rains and catastrophic floods affected more than 45 million people, including 16 million children. By 2030, with ongoing climate change and socioeconomic development, floods may cost the region as much as $215 billion annually.

A new report, Flood Risk Assessment and Forecasting for the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna River Basins, summarizes two recent initiatives aiming to reduce these flood losses: a flood risk assessment for the Ganges Basin and an improved flood forecasting system for the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna basins.


Flooding in the Ganges Basin: What is at Risk and Where?

The new flood risk assessment provides, for the first time, a numbers-based view of the impact of floods across the Ganges Basin. Its primary purpose is to identify where flood risks are unacceptably high and where mitigation measures are required to tackle those risks — for example, by relocating levees, helping people move to lower-risk areas, improving flood forecasting and warning systems, or boosting overall economic resilience.

The assessment has information on the numbers and distribution of people at risk, as well as the value and distribution of buildings, roads, railways, and crops at risk.

An atlas provides easy-to-use risk maps and tables. For India, this information is also consolidated in a GIS-based online portal with interactive risk maps for states, districts, and blocks.

This type of information is essential to identifying flood-prone areas and then wisely planning for the use of those areas. Knowing where rivers flood and where people live, work, and travel helps decision-makers visualize the impacts of floods in different locations. That view in turn helps people to identify high-priority areas for urgent action and to design community-based strategies to minimize flood losses and capitalize on the benefits of floods.

Legislators, for example, might use the information to seek out communities with large numbers of people at risk and provide funding to build more evacuation shelters in safe places.

Highway planners might see that roads to key hospitals are at risk and then work to elevate them.

Insurance agencies might use the data to help decide how much to charge for crop-insurance premiums.

And when torrential rains fall and floodwaters threaten, emergency personnel can use the information to target their warning messages to best help the people whose lives and property are at risk.

In short, the new Ganges flood risk assessment is a key tool for understanding and managing flood risk from many different angles.


Improved Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Flood Forecasting: From Rainfall to River Flow

The new forecasting system for the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Basins provides flood forecasts for more than 85 locations. The forecasts are available online, along with near real-time data maps of rainfall (predicted and actual) and river levels.

The new system uses multiple data sets and models to improve the forecasting, up to 16 days in advance of a flood. A longer lead time before a flood gives people an opportunity to prepare: for example, farmers can harvest a threatened rice crop or move vulnerable livestock to higher ground.

The forecasts not only predict floods but also indicate the level of confidence in each forecast. Knowing whether the probability of dangerously high waters is 10 or 90 percent helps people decide what to do. 

The new system provided valuable information during this year’s severe monsoon floods, when forecasters funneled its predictions to the Red Cross and the Bangladesh Water Development Board to help with flood preparations.

The system’s cutting-edge techniques can also be incorporated into the operations of local agencies responsible for monitoring and forecasting weather and water conditions or issuing flood warnings.

Already, the states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh in India have launched pilot projects to bring the new forecasting approaches into everyday use. India’s Central Water Commission wants to use the model for better flood forecasting in the Brahmaputra River Basin. The plan is to assess the usefulness of these upgrades in terms of the real-world currency of reduced flood risk and losses.

We hope these new tools will help regional and local decision-makers — from government officials to emergency responders to corporate leaders — to plan wisely for the many valuable uses of floodplains and to respond effectively when floodwaters threaten.

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