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Updated: 19 min 36 sec ago

India launches national monitoring of toilet use

Tue, 2015-01-20 16:12

How does India’s new large-scale sanitation monitoring effort compare with similar initiatives in Bangladesh and Indonesia?

Image: Government of India (GoI)

According to some media the Indian government has unleashed “toilet police” or “toilet gestapo” into the country [1]. In fact, the central government has instructed local officials to take photographs of new toilets to prove that they have not only been constructed but are also being used. If states don’t upload photos by February 2015, the water and sanitation ministry has threatened to withhold funding from a new national sanitation programme [2].

Open defecation free by 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission on 2 October 2014. His aim is to attain a 100 per cent open defecation free India by 2019. Since the launch over half a million household toilets have been constructed [3].

Photo: Swachh Bharat Mission

By implementing “real time monitoring” the government hopes it can correct past mistakes caused by ineffective monitoring and wasted investment in sanitation. The 2011 census revealed that 43% of government funded toilets were either “missing” or non-functional.[3]. Now the government wants to show that  its investments in sanitation are delivering lasting results.

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation is appointing around 2 dozen additional staff including two Joint Secretaries and 4 Directors to strengthen the implementation and monitoring of the Swachh Bharat Mission.  An Expert Committee for innovative sanitation technologies and a national telephone helpline for rural water supply and sanitation are other new initiatives that will support the Mission [5].

Smile please!

Local officials charged with monitoring toilet construction and use need to download an app on a mobile device. The app allows them to upload photos as well as the personal data and geo-coordinates of the beneficiaries to a public website. Progress is slow though: as of 14 January 2015, data of less than half a percent (2,383) of the newly constructed toilets has been recorded.  Data collected before 2015 does not include toilet use.

Geo-referenced toilet moniotoring data. Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation.

Photos uploaded with Swachh Bharat app. Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation

How do other countries carry out large-scale monitoring?

Compared to examples of large-scale sanitation monitoring in Bangladesh and Indonesia, the toilet use indicators collected in India – is the toilet in use, is it clean and is water available – are rather limited.

The BRAC WASH programme in Bangladesh uses benchmark indicators developed by IRC for questions like: do all household members use toilets, do they use them at all times, and are there provisions for handwashing and pit emptying [6].

In Indonesia IRC has helped design a monitoring system for the SHAW (Sanitation, Hygiene and Water) programme, where every three months 20,000 community volunteers visit more than 300,000 households. For SHAW monitoring is not merely an accountability tool as it is in India, but a way to motivate and encourage people to improve their sanitation facilities and hygiene behaviour [7].

India’s decision to track toilet use as part of its new monitoring initiative is a major step forward. From its neighbours India can draw valuable lessons on how to monitor sanitation as a sustainable service that benefits all. .


[1] See: It’s the toilet police! India to track WC usage with tablets in real time, Russia Today, 31 Dec 2014 and Neff, B. Indian authorities unleash toilet Gestapo. Daily Caller, 02 Jan 2015

[2] Letter to Principal Secretary/Secretaries in charge of Rural Sanitation all States and UTs. Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation, 05 Dec 2014,

[3] Unused rural toilets to face public scrutiny, The Hindu, 01 Jan 2015

[4] Tiwari, R. The case of the missing toilets. India Today, 02 Oct 2014. See also: Hueso, A. & Bell, B., 2013. An untold story of policy failure : the Total Sanitation Campaign in India. Water policy ; 15 (6), pp.1001–1017. DOI: 10.2166/wp.2013.032. and Hueso, A., 2014. The untold story of India’s sanitation failure, Addendum. Community-Led Total, 11 Mar 2014

[5] Nationwide monitoring of use of toilets will be launched from January, 2015, PIB, 31 Dec 2014

[6]  IRC – Monitoring at scale in BRAC WASH

[7] Baetings, E., 2014. How are you and how is your loo?. Available at:

Originally posted on the IRC website on 14 January 2015

Filed under: South Asia Tagged: Bangladesh, BRAC WASH II programme, India, Indonesia, monitoring, open defecation, rural sanitation, SHAW programme, Swachh Bharat, toilets

From WASH to Environmental WASH: BRAC’s new strategy

Tue, 2015-01-20 15:36

BRAC plans to expand its scope beyond WASH to water security and from rural to urban areas, as well as moving from service provider to facilitator.

The BRAC WASH Programme is rebranding. For 2016-2020 it will be renamed as the BRAC Environmental WASH Programme. This reflects the planned gradual expansion in scope beyond WASH towards water security and from rural areas towards low income small towns, urban areas and coastal areas. Specific areas of intervention include solid waste management at scale, faecal sludge management, water security and quality, enhanced secondary school programmes and alternative sanitation technologies at scale.

There will be a gradual shift in operating styles from direct service to facilitation, advocacy and joint implementation, learning and monitoring the impact of programmes. Operational partners will include Government at all levels, civil society, the private sector and other NGOs already operating in the same regions. Planning and budgeting will need to be flexible and adapted to specific regional needs, requiring on-going investment in staff and partners capacities.

The strategy builds on ten years of experience in large-scale rural WASH programming. Ongoing support to the rural population will continue and be enhanced, for example, dealing with the well-known challenge of sanitation in difficult hydrogeological settings, and will be integrated into other local BRAC programmes. Staffing will be reduced where earlier programmes have achieved their objectives and appear sustainable within existing institutional structures.

In terms of its financing, a mix is envisaged of grants, joint implementation of programmes with government and multi-lateral institutions and business models that apply market solutions to large scale change. Cost sharing and user payment in some activities will remain a feature of the programme. Direct BRAC support is being applied to programme development and piloting, for example, alternative water services in the coastal region.

Read the draft version of Strategy 2016 – 2020 BRAC Environmental WASH programme : everyone, everywhere, all the time.

See also IRC’s webpage on the BRAC WASH Programme.

The news item was orginally published on the IRC website on 16 January 2015

Filed under: Policy, Publications, South Asia Tagged: Bangladesh, BRAC, urban sanitation

Yes, hygiene and school enrolment are directly proportional

Tue, 2015-01-20 15:18

In Bangladesh, the lack of separate latrines for girls and menstrual hygiene facilities in secondary schools are major factors in the disproportionate rate of absence and dropout of adolescent girls.

 Sabrina Shahidullah

A study undertaken in Bangladesh revealed an 11 per cent increase in girls’ enrolment mainly due to the provision of sanitary toilets.” -Technical paper series/IRC

In Bangladesh the standard number of toilets in schools has been set as a minimum of one toilet for every 60 students. However, this is far from being achieved. The infographic below shows that on average, schools in Bangladesh have half the number of toilets required. However, although 94 per cent of schools have latrines within the compound, a large number remain unusable because they are dirty or broken.

Source: UNICEF WASH for school children South Asia Report, 2012

Recently, the Bangladesh government has begun addressing the issues of water and sanitation more actively. A recent round table discussion on School sanitation: reality and required action focused on a range of issues, from the number of functional toilets in schools to the lack of menstrual hygiene facilities.

BRAC has been running its water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programme in schools in rural settings since 2007. The programme has supported over 5,000 schools since, installing separate latrines for girls, including facilities for menstrual hygiene management and hygiene training.

Photo: BRAC WASH programme

Boali High School in Kaliganj sub-district is one of the schools where the programme is operating. Mahbuba Begum, head teacher of the school, said she was concerned with the unhygienic latrines. All students and teachers had to use the same toilets. The school also grappled with low student enrolment and high dropout rates.

In 2010, when BRAC WASH approached the school, Mahbuba convinced school authorities to build more toilets for girls. The deal was to include menstrual hygiene facilities like sanitary napkin supplies, napkin disposal bins and a pit for disposal of bin contents.

The lack of separate latrines for girls and menstrual hygiene facilities in secondary schools are major factors in disproportionate rate of absence and dropout of adolescent girls.

Photo: BRAC WASH programme

Today the school has a  student brigade maintaining WASH services. Hygiene lessons are integrated into the class routine. Most importantly, BRAC has found that many girls are more comfortable with buying napkins from the school rather than at the market. Supplied by the health workers at a lower price, girls are now more likely to buy sanitary napkins from the school. As a result, girls’ attendance has seen significant improvement. Improvements are also apparent in many other schools where WASH services have been made available.

The qualitative information system  monitoring implemented by BRAC’s WASH programme shows that the use and cleanliness of facilities provided in secondary schools remain high.

Having started off as a means to address low attendance and high dropout rates for girls at schools, the programme has evolved to address the next series of threats towards improving education in Bangladesh. Careful assessment revealed that a safe water supply and sanitation facilities for boys is also essential to attain best results.

To address these needs, BRAC has recently started collaborating with Charity:Water. Water collection points, handwashing stations and separate toilets for boys are being installed in schools to meet the national standards.

For sustainable health impact, access to proper facilities and hygiene knowledge are essential. BRAC believes targeting school-going children is an effective way to spark change within communities.

Sabrina Shahidullah is a senior communications specialist for BRAC’s water, sanitation and hygiene programme.

This blog was originally posted on the BRAC website, 9 January 2015

Filed under: Dignity and Social Development, South Asia Tagged: Bangladesh, BRAC, BRAC WASH II programme, gender, girls toilets, menstrual hygiene, school sanitation, WASH in schools

“Holy crap a lot of people care about #sanitation finally!” (John Sauer) – #FSM3 has started

Mon, 2015-01-19 13:09

Photo: John Sauer

Over 500 delegates are in Hanoi today at the start of FSM3: the 3rd International Faecal Sludge Management Conference. With a focus on FSM technology, FSM as a business and scaling up FSM in cities, the conference builds on the 2 previous editions both held in Durban, South Africa in 2012 and 2011.

Besides presentations, there will be a series of workshops including one co-organised by IRC, GIZ and EAWAG/Sandec on “Planning Tools for City-wide Faecal Septage Management using Whole System Approaches“.

SuSanA has set up a FSM3 conference page with all the abstracts by session. Later on they will add the full papers as soon as they become available.

You can follow live updates on Twitter by following hashtag #FSM3

Filed under: Campaigns and Events Tagged: faecal sludge management, FSM3

WASHplus Weekly: Handwashing research in 2014

Fri, 2015-01-16 16:07

Issue 174| Jan 16, 2015 | Focus on Handwashing Research

A Summary of Handwashing Research in 2014 – The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing (PPPHW)

In 2014, 26 peer reviewed handwashing studies that focused on developing countries were published.  Global PPPHW Secretariat Director Layla McCay prepared this summary and Pavani Ram, University at Buffalo, reviewed it. WASHplus Knowledge Resources Specialist Dan Campbell conducted the literature search. 

What We Have Learned about Handwashing in 2014: A Summary

Measurement of handwashing behavior: Based on a review of numerous studies using structured observation to measure behavior, hands are washed with soap after approximately 19 percent of events that involved using the toilet or coming into contact with a child’s excreta.1

Behavior change communication: The much-awaited results from the Super-Amma campaign, a handwashing behavior change intervention based on emotional drivers such as nurture and disgust, have started to come in. These results show that this approach to handwashing promotion has lasting impact and is achieving the diffusion of handwashing as a social norm.2, 3 The campaign provides further confirmation that the knowledge of handwashing benefits is linked to its practice4, 5 and that women’s participatory groups6 and handwashing education in schools,7 including students’ involvement in hygiene and sanitation clubs,9 are good settings in which to build that knowledge into action. Furthermore, the mere act of checking whether households have soap seems to increase their handwashing behavior.10

Handwashing hardware: The studies reviewed provide further evidence that the availability of appropriate handwashing stations and soap in schools,7 healthcare centers,8 and in the home12, 13 increases handwashing prevalence, as does having piped water and functioning sewage mechanisms.14 Research provided further evidence that soap and ash are equally effective at cleaning hands,15 and that 4g of moringa oleifera leaf powder shows promise as an effective alternative to soap or ash for handwashing.16

Benefits of handwashing: A review estimated that handwashing with soap reduces the risk of diarrhea by 40 percent.1 Excluding the studies that could theoretically have been biased (or unblinded)—researchers knowing which people were exposed to handwashing interventions and which were not— handwashing with soap was estimated to reduce the risk of developing diarrhea by 23 percent.1 Further evidence showed that having soap in the home reduces children’s episodes of diarrhea, acute respiratory infections, eye infections, helminth infections, and school absences.18,19,20,21 It was found that good handwashing interventions in school also reduce school absences (but only for girls in one study)7 and that school-based interventions reduce episodes of diarrhea in preschool-aged siblings.17

Contamination: Various studies measured hands contaminated with rhinovirus,22 E coli,5, 25and helminth eggs.23 One study inversely correlated prevalence of handwashing with the amount of influenza virus found on household surfaces.24 A final study showed that in the rural areas hands revert to baseline levels of contamination within one hour after handwashing with soap.26


  1. Freeman MC, Stocks ME, Cumming O, Jeandron A, Higgins JP, Wold J, Pruss-Ustun A, Bonjour S, Hunter PR, Fewtrell L, Curtis V. 2014.  Hygiene and health: Systematic review of handwashing practices worldwide and update of health effects.Tropical Medicine & International Health. 19(8):906-16.
  2. Rajaraman D, Varadharajan KS, Greenland K, Curtis V, Kumar R, Schmidt WP, Aunger R, Biran A. Nov. 2014. Implementing effective hygiene promotion: Lessons from the process evaluation of an intervention to promote handwashing with soap in rural India. BMC Public Health. 14(1):1179.
  3. Biran A, Schmidt WP, Varadharajan KS, Rajaraman D, Kumar R, Greenland K, Gopalan B, Aunger R, Curtis V. March 2014.  Effect of a behaviour-change intervention on handwashing with soap in India (SuperAmma): A cluster-randomised trial. The Lancet Global Health. 2(3):e145-54.
  4. George CM, Perin J, Neiswender de Calani KJ, Norman WR, Perry H, Davis TP Jr, Lindquist ED. Dec. 2014. Risk factors for diarrhea in children under five years of age residing in peri-urban communities in Cochabamba, Bolivia. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 91(6):1190-6.
  5. Grimason AM, Masangwi SJ, Morse TD, Jabu GC, Beattie TK, Taulo SE, Lungu K. 2014.Knowledge, awareness and practice of the importance of hand-washing amongst children attending state run primary schools in rural Malawi. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 24(1):31-43.
  6. Younes L, Houweling TA, Azad K, Kuddud A, Shaha S, Haq B, Nahar T, Hossen M, Beard J, Copas A, Prost A, Costello A, Fottrell E. Dec. 2014. The effect of participatory women’s groups on infant feeding and child health knowledge, behaviour andoutcomes in rural Bangladesh: A controlled before-and-after study. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. pii: jech-2014-204271.
  7. Caruso BA, Freeman MC, Garn JV, Dreibelbis R, Saboori S, Muga R, Rheingans R. Oct. 2014.  Assessing the impact of a school-based latrine cleaning and handwashing program on pupil absence in Nyanza Province, Kenya: A cluster-randomized trial. Tropical Medicine and International Health. 19(10):1185-97.
  8. Sreenivasan N, Gotestrand SA, Ombeki S, Oluoch G, Fischer TK, Quick R. 2014.  Evaluation of the impact of a simple hand-washing and water-treatment intervention in rural health facilities on hygiene knowledge and reported behaviours of health workers and their clients, Nyanza Province, Kenya, 2008. Epidemiology and Infection. 27:1-8
  9. Assefa M and Kumie A. Sept. 2014.  Assessment of factors influencing hygiene behaviour among school children in Mereb-Leke District, Northern Ethiopia: A cross-sectional study. BMC Public Health. 14:1000.
  10. Arnold BF, Khush RS, Ramaswamy P, Rajkumar P, Durairaj N, Ramaprabha P, Balakrishnan K, Colford JM Jr. Nov. 2014. Reactivity in rapidly collected hygiene and toilet spot check measurements: A cautionary note for longitudinal studies. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. pii:14-0306.
  11. Iyengar K, Jain M, Thomas S, Dashora K, Liu W, Saini P, Dattatreya R, Parker I, Iyengar S. Aug. 2014. Adherence to evidence based care practices for childbirth before and after a quality improvement intervention in health facilities of Rajasthan, India. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth. 14:270.
  12. Christensen G, Dentz HN, Pickering AJ, Bourdier T, Arnold BF, Colford JM Jr, Null C. Nov. 2014. Pilot cluster randomized controlled trials to evaluate adoption of water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions and their combination in rural Western Kenya. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. pii: 14-0138.
  13. Contzen N, Meili IH, Mosler HJ. 2014. Changing handwashing behaviour in southern Ethiopia: A longitudinal study on infrastructural and commitment interventions. Social Science & Medicine. 124C:103-114.
  14. Oswald WE, Hunter GC, Kramer MR, Leontsini E, Cabrera L, Lescano AG, Gilman RH. 2014. Provision of private, piped water and sewerage connections and directly observed handwashing of mothers in a peri-urban community of Lima, Peru.Tropical Medicine & International Health. (4):388-97.
  15. Baker KK, Dil Farzana F, Ferdous F, Ahmed S, Kumas Das S, Faruque AS, Nasrin D, Kotloff KL, Nataro JP, Kolappaswamy K, Levine MM. 2014. Association between moderate-to-severe diarrhea in young children in the global enteric multicenter study (GEMS) and types of handwashing materials used by caretakers in Mirzapur, Bangladesh. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 91(1):181-9.
  16. Torondel B, Opare D, Brandberg B, Cobb E, Cairncross S. 2014. Efficacy of moringa oleifera leaf powder as a hand-washing product: A crossover controlled study among healthy volunteers. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 4;14:57.
  17. Dreibelbis R, Freeman MC, Greene LE, Saboori S, Rheingans R. 2014. The impact of school water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions on the health of younger siblings of pupils: A cluster-randomized trial in Kenya. American Journal of Public Health. 104(1):e91-7.
  18. Nicholson JA, Naeeni M, Hoptroff M, Matheson JR, Roberts AJ, Taylor D, Sidibe M, Weir AJ, Damle SG, Wright RL. 2014. An investigation of the effects of a hand washing intervention on health outcomes and school absence using a randomised trial in Indian urban communities. Tropical Medicine & International Health. 19(3):284-92.
  19. Strunz EC, Addiss DG, Stocks ME, Ogden S, Utzinger J, Freeman MC. 2014. Water, sanitation, hygiene, and soil-transmitted helminth infection: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS Medicine. 11(3):e1001620.
  20. Kamm KB, Feikin DR, Bigogo GM, Aol G, Audi A, Cohen AL, Shah MM, Yu J, Breiman RF, Ram PK. Associations between presence of handwashing stations and soap in the home and diarrhoea and respiratory illness, in children less than five years old in rural Western Kenya. Tropical Medicine & International Health.19(4):398-406.
  21. Boubacar Mainassara H and Tohon Z. 2014. Assessing the health impact of the following measures in schools in Maradi (Niger): Construction of latrines, clean water supply, establishment of hand washing stations, and health education. Journal of Parasitology Research. 2014:190451.
  22. Luby SP, Lu X, Cromeans T, Sharker MA, Kadir MA, Erdman DD. 2014.Hand contamination with human rhinovirus in Bangladesh. 86(12):2177-80.
  23. Gulliver F, Jeandron A, Nguyen VA, Do HA, Ensink JH. 2014. Transmission of helminth eggs through hands in a high-risk community. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 108(10):670-2.
  24. Levy JW, Suntarattiwong P, Simmerman JM, Jarman RG, Johnson K, Olsen SJ, Chotpitayasunondh T. 2014. Increased hand washing reduces influenza virus surface contamination in Bangkok households, 2009-2010. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses. 8(1):13-6.
  25. Gil AI, Lanata CF, Hartinger SM, Mausezahl D, Padilla B, Ochoa TJ, Lozada M, Pineda I, Verastegui H. 2014. Fecal contamination of food, water, hands, and kitchen utensils at the household level in rural areas of Peru. Journal of Environmental Health. 76(6):102-6.
  26. Devamani C, Norman G, Schmidt WP. 2014. A simple microbiological tool to evaluate the effect of environmental health interventions on hand contamination. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 11(11):11846-59.


WASHplus Weeklies highlight topics such as Urban WASH, Household Air Pollution, Innovation, Household Water Treatment and Storage, Hand Washing, Integration, and more. If you would like to feature your organization’s materials in upcoming issues, please send them to Dan Campbell, WASHplus Knowledge Resources Specialist, at

Filed under: Hygiene Promotion Tagged: handwashing

Water For People – Strengthening public sector enabling environments to support sanitation enterprises

Thu, 2015-01-15 19:13

Water For People – Strengthening public sector enabling environments to support sanitation enterprises, 2014.

Billions of people lack access to a decent toilet. Attempts to address this gap through direct-subsidy models have often been proven unsustainable as, given resource limitations, they are unable to provide desirable toilets that families are likely to use and maintain over time. Based on private sector success in low-income markets, business-based approaches may be able to help bridge this gap through sustainable market-based mechanisms and associated incentives to meet the needs and desires of lower-income households.

Water For People is piloting sanitation business approaches and seeks to discover under what conditions these approaches are successful. Public sector influence is one condition that has the potential to facilitate or hinder private sector sanitation endeavors. This study aims to understand: (1) how the public sector enabling environment can facilitate or hinder low-cost sanitation enterprises; and (2) how NGOs can effectively engage the public sector to support sanitation businesses. Data were collected from Water For People staff and partners in nine countries and summary case studies were coded to discover prevailing themes.

Filed under: Economic Benefits Tagged: entrepreneurs, Sanitation as a business, Water for People

Gordon McGranahan-Realizing the Right to Sanitation in Deprived Urban Communities

Wed, 2015-01-14 15:19

Realizing the Right to Sanitation in Deprived Urban Communities: Meeting the Challenges of Collective Action, Coproduction, Affordability, and Housing Tenure.World Development, Vol. 68, Jan 2015 pp. 242–253, 2015.

Author: Gordon McGranahan, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), London, UK.

There are serious institutional challenges associated with low-cost sanitation in deprived urban communities. These include a collective action challenge, a coproduction challenge, a challenge of affordability versus acceptability, and a challenge related to housing tenure.

This paper examines these challenges, revealing both the importance of community-driven sanitation improvement and its difficulties. The nature of the challenges, and the means by which two successful community-driven initiatives have overcome them, suggest that while recognizing the human right to sanitation is important this should not be taken to imply that typical rights-based approaches are the appropriate means of realizing this right.

Filed under: Dignity and Social Development, Progress on Sanitation Tagged: human rights, urban sanitation

Bill Gates – This Ingenious Machine Turns Feces Into Drinking Water

Thu, 2015-01-08 19:38

Bill Gates – This Ingenious Machine Turns Feces Into Drinking Water | Source: Gates Notes, January 5, 2015|

An excerpt – I watched the piles of feces go up the conveyer belt and drop into a large bin. They made their way through the machine, getting boiled and treated. A few minutes later I took a long taste of the end result: a glass of delicious drinking water.

The occasion was a tour of a facility that burns human waste and produces water and electricity (plus a little ash). I have visited lots of similar sites, like power plants and paper mills, so when I heard about this one—it’s part of the Gates Foundation’s effort to improve sanitation in poor countries—I was eager to check it out.

Why would anyone want to turn waste into drinking water and electricity?

Because a shocking number of people, at least 2 billion, use latrines that aren’t properly drained. Others simply defecate out in the open. The waste contaminates drinking water for millions of people, with horrific consequences: Diseases caused by poor sanitation kill some 700,000 children every year, and they prevent many more from fully developing mentally and physically.

If we can develop safe, affordable ways to get rid of human waste, we can prevent many of those deaths and help more children grow up healthy.

Western toilets aren’t the answer, because they require a massive infrastructure of sewer lines and treatment plants that just isn’t feasible in many poor countries. So a few years ago our foundation put out a call for new solution.

One idea is to reinvent the toilet, which I’ve written about before.

Another idea—and the goal of the project I toured—is to reinvent the sewage treatment plant. The project is called the Omniprocessor, and it was designed and built by Janicki Bioenergy, an engineering firm based north of Seattle. I recently went to Janicki’s headquarters to check out an Omniprocessor before the start of a pilot project in Senegal.

The Omniprocessor is a safe repository for human waste. Today, in many places without modern sewage systems, truckers take the waste from latrines and dump it into the nearest river or the ocean—or at a treatment facility that doesn’t actually treat the sewage. Either way, it often ends up in the water supply. If they took it to the Omniprocessor instead, it would be burned safely. The machine runs at such a high temperature (1000 degrees Celsius) that there’s no nasty smell; in fact it meets all the emissions standards set by the U.S. government.

Before we even started the tour, I had a question: Don’t modern sewage plants already incinerate waste? I learned that some just turn the waste into solids that are stored in the desert. Others burn it using diesel or some other fuel that they buy. That means they use a lot of energy, which makes them impractical in most poor countries.

The Omniprocessor solves that problem. Through the ingenious use of a steam engine, it produces more than enough energy to burn the next batch of waste. In other words, it powers itself, with electricity to spare. The next-generation processor, more advanced than the one I saw, will handle waste from 100,000 people, producing up to 86,000 liters of potable water a day and a net 250 kw of electricity.

If we get it right, it will be a good example of how philanthropy can provide seed money that draws bright people to work on big problems, eventually creating a self-supporting industry. Our foundation is funding Janicki to do the development. It’s really amazing to see how they’ve embraced the work; founder Peter Janicki and his family have traveled to Africa and India multiple times so they can see the scope of the problem. Our goal is to make the processors cheap enough that entrepreneurs in low- and middle-income countries will want to invest in them and then start profitable waste-treatment businesses.

We still have a lot to learn before we get to that point. The next step is the pilot project; later this year, Janicki will set up an Omniprocessor in Dakar, Senegal, where they’ll study everything from how you connect with the local community (the team is already working with leaders there) to how you pick the most convenient location. They will also test one of the coolest things I saw on my tour: a system of sensors and webcams that will let Janicki’s engineers control the processor remotely and communicate with the team in Dakar so they can diagnose any problems that come up.

The history of philanthropy is littered with well-intentioned inventions that never deliver on their promise. Hopefully, these early steps will help us make sure the Omniprocessor doesn’t join the list. If things go well in Senegal, we’ll start looking for partners in the developing world. For example I think it could be a great fit in India, where there are lots of entrepreneurs who could own and operate the processors, as well as companies with the skill to manufacture many of the parts.

It might be many years before the processor is being used widely. But I was really impressed with Janicki’s engineering. And I’m excited about the business model. The processor wouldn’t just keep human waste out of the drinking water; it would turn waste into a commodity with real value in the marketplace. It’s the ultimate example of that old expression: one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.


Filed under: Progress on Sanitation, Research Tagged: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

CLTS and Sustainability: A Work/Writeshop – Call for abstracts

Wed, 2015-01-07 13:19

The CLTS Knowledge Hub at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is hosting an international work- and writeshop on CLTS and Sustainability from 6-12 April 2015 at Lukenya Getaway near Nairobi, Kenya.

Participants’ writings, together with commissioned pieces of work will form the basis of a publication on sustainability that will published in the IDS series Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights.

Potential contributors are requested to send an abstract of 500-900 words to by 31st January 2015. If your application is successful, you will be invited to work on a first draft to be submitted by 13th March 2015.

For more information go to:

Filed under: Campaigns and Events, Publications Tagged: Community-Led Total Sanitation, sustainable sanitation

Alerts on WASH and Zoonotic Diseases

Tue, 2015-01-06 16:51

WASH and zoonotic diseases is becoming an ever more important WASH-related issue so WASHplus will compile periodic bibliographies of new/recent studies and resources and set up a mailing list or Google Group on this topic. Please send an email to WASHplus if you would like to be added to the mailing list.

WASH and Zoonotic Diseases Alert – January 2015


UC Davis receives $100 million for project that would predict, prevent emerging diseases, Dec 2014 (Full text)
UC Davis was recently granted $100 million by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to continue phase two of the PREDICT project, based at the School of Veterinary Medicine. PREDICT is part of the Emerging Pandemic Threats (EPT) program, an international campaign established by USAID to identify and respond to zoonotic diseases that spread between people, wildlife and livestock. PREDICT intends to find new, emerging viruses and to assist countries in preventing pandemic threats such as influenza, SARS and Ebola.

The Growing Economic Cost of a Global Disease Outbreak – an EcoHealth Alliance Analysis (Full text)
“Our research shows that new approaches to reducing emerging pandemic threats at the source would be more cost effective than trying to mobilize a global response after a disease has emerged,” said Dr. Peter Daszak, senior author on the paper and President of EcoHealth Alliance. The paper demonstrates the use of economic modeling to analyze two strategies for pandemic response, current business-as-usual approaches that rely on global surveillance to identify new diseases in people; and new ‘mitigation’ strategies to reduce the underlying drivers of emerging diseases and lower the risk of them emerging in the first place.


Zoonoses – Infections Affecting Humans and Animals: Focus on Public Health Aspects, 2015. (Order info)
Partial contents – Important Public Health Zoonoses Through Cattle; Zoonotic Diseases of Swine: Food-borne and Occupational Aspects of Infection; Small Ruminants and Zoonotic Infections: Live or Dead—Direct or Indirect; Zoonoses with Public Health Relevance in Poultry.


Veterinary Parasitology – Jan 2015
Preliminary Evaluation of Community – Led Total Sanitation for the Control of Taenia solium cysticercosis in Katete District of Zambia (Abstract)
Taenia solium taeniasis/cysticercosis is a zoonotic disease endemic in sub-Saharan Africa. It is associated with poor sanitary practices, free-range pig husbandry and lack of disease awareness in endemic communities. A comparative research was conducted with pre and post-intervention assessments in nine villages to evaluate Community – Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) as an intervention measure for the control of porcine cysticercosis in Katete District in the Eastern Province of Zambia.

Advances in Animal and Veterinary Sciences – Jan 2015
Current Understanding of Rhodococcus equi Infection and its Zoonotic Implications (Full text)
Rhodococcus equi is a soil actinomycete responsible for severe respiratory disease in young foals leading to high mortality. The organism is also emerging as an important pathogen in immune-compromised humans. Preventing disease by proper management and sanitation at farms is very important. Special care and hygiene for immunocompromised humans is also very essential.

Journal of Biology and Medical Sciences – Jan 2015
Preliminary Study on Avian Tuberculosis and Associated Risks in Domestic Chickens at Shashemene District, Ethiopia (Full text)
The survey indicated that chicken kept in extensive production system and as there exist a close physical contact between the chicken and their owners, there could a possibility of transmission of mycobacteria between chicken and their owners. On top of this, the low perception of the owners about zoonotic TB including avian TB could add up to the transmission.

Proceedings of the NAS – Dec 2014
Economic optimization of a global strategy to address the pandemic threat (Full text)
Our economic analysis shows that the optimal time to implement a globally coordinated adaptive policy is within 27 y and that given geopolitical challenges around pandemic control, these should be implemented urgently. Furthermore, we find that mitigation policies, those aimed at reducing the likelihood of an emerging disease originating, are more cost effective, saving between $344.0 billion and $360.8 billion over the next 100 y if implemented today.

WHO – Hand hygiene for health workers caring for Ebola patients, Dec 2014. (Full text)
A review of scientific evidence convened by WHO in November 2014 confirms existing WHO recommendations for hand hygiene already promoted in the context of this outbreak.

Filed under: Sanitation and Health Tagged: zoonotic diseases

Unilever to launch world’s first Toilet Academy in Vietnam

Wed, 2014-12-31 16:22

Unilever to launch world’s first Toilet Academy in Vietnam | Source: The Guardian, Dec 2014 |

First Domestos Toilet Academy opened in Vietnam

Unilever is also pioneering an innovative approach to the provision of sanitation, through its continued partnership with the World Toilet Organization, to launch the world’s first Domestos Toilet Academy in Vietnam. This academy will provide the business skills and training necessary for local entrepreneurs to source and supply latrines to their local communities – providing jobs and a boost to the economy, and at the same time promoting the importance of safe and hygienic sanitation. The Toilet Academy programme aims to be a sustainable and long-term solution to sanitation that benefits local society and helps stimulate local economy.

For 2.5 billion people across the developing world, having no access to even the most basic sanitation is a reality faced every day Photograph: Ahmed Jallanzo/EPA

Dr Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, Minister of Health Vietnam said: “Currently, many countries, including Vietnam, are still facing lots of difficulties and challenges. Challenges of globalization as well as environmental pollution, population growth and urbanization have impacted the sanitation crisis. In Vietnam, the Government has put strong emphasis on stimulating and promoting the “Patriotic Hygiene Movement” to mobilize all management agencies, organizations at all levels and entire nation to join hands in improving hygiene and sanitation as this is essential in the current context.”

“The active participation of businesses like Unilever, helping improve health and hygiene for communities is greatly appreciated and widely acknowledged. The launch of the Toilet Academy clearly demonstrates Unilever’s enormous effort and will positively contribute to improve sanitary conditions for Vietnamese people.”

Read the complete article.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Jan 8, 2015 webinar – Multi-sectoral Approaches to Improve Child Growth, through WASH, Nutrition, and Early Childhood Development

Wed, 2014-12-31 16:10

You are invited to a webinar on Multi-sectoral Approaches to Improve Child Growth, through WASH, Nutrition, and Early Childhood Development

  •  Co-hosted by the USAID WASHplus Project and CORE Group
  •  When: Thursday, January 08, 2015 (10:00 AM – 11:00 AM EST)

 Description: The CORE Group Nutrition and Social and Behavior Change Working Groups, in collaboration with the USAID WASHplus Project, are excited to host a one-hour webinar on multi-sectoral approaches to improve child growth and development; with a focus on improving the community knowledge of practice and sharing integration efforts for ECD, nutrition and WASH integration. The Clean, Fed & Nurtured community of practice will explain why water, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition, and early childhood development should be integrated. A 35-minute presentation will be followed by 25 minutes of facilitated discussion. We hope you will join us!


  • Renuka Bery, WASHplus, FHI 360
  • Katherine Merseth, Save the Children
  • Ann Jimerson, Alive & Thrive, FHI 360
  • Rica Rosario, Alive & Thrive, FHI 360
  • Hanna Woodburn, Global Public Private Partnership for Handwashing

 Webinar registration

Filed under: Sanitation and Health Tagged: WASH nutrition integration, webinars

Call for proposals: evaluation Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All Programme in Cambodia

Mon, 2014-12-22 11:45

SNV calls for proposals for an evaluation of the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All Programme in Cambodia (re-advertised)

SNV regularly commissions evaluations of a selected group of its projects. In 2014-2015, SNV is commissioning two project evaluations in each of its three main sectors of work. These sectors are Agriculture, WASH and Renewable Energy. This request for proposals covers the evaluation of SNVs Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All Programme in Cambodia.

The evaluation will take place in the period March 2015 – September 2015.

In case you are interested in conducting this evaluation, please have a look at the Terms of Reference.

Closing date: Sunday, January 25, 2015

Type of contract: Consultancy

Filed under: East Asia & Pacific Tagged: Cambodia, consultancies, SNV, SSH4A, Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for ALL

Making WASH facilities accessible for the disabled and elderly

Sun, 2014-12-21 20:41

Horizontal handrail the full width of the door on the inside. Internal bolt. Credit: WaterAid/Stephen Sagawa

WaterAid has published a compendium of low-cost technologies to improve the accessibility of household WASH facilities for the disabled and elderly in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa. There are sections on reaching facilities, latrines, bathing, waterpoints and handwashing. It can be used by staff such as health workers and community volunteers.

The compendium and all images in it are free to download at:

Related web sites:

Filed under: Africa, Dignity and Social Development, Publications, Sanitary Facilities Tagged: disability, inclusive WASH, SHARE Consortium, WaterAid, WEDC

UNEP launches awareness raising video on wastewater and oceans

Sun, 2014-12-21 17:28

A new short video “Wastewater: A widespread threat and missed resource” highlights the impacts of wastewater on coastal communities and ecosystems, and the benefits of improving its management. It is part of a series of ocean awareness videos titled Two Minutes on Oceans with Jim Toomey,  a collaboration between the popular American cartoonist Toomey and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Related web site:  UNEP/GPA Global Wastewater Initiative (GW2I) –

Read more: UNEP Launches Wastewater Video in the Series Two Minutes on Oceans with Jim Toomey, UNEP, 9 Dec 2014

- See more at:

Filed under: Multimedia Tagged: advocacy, oceans, UNEP, videos, wastewater managment, wastewater reuse, water pollution

2014 issues of the WASHplus Weekly

Fri, 2014-12-19 15:50

Below are links to the 2014 issues of the WASHplus Weekly. There were 8 issues on HAP/cookstoves, 4 issues on WASH & Nutrition, 2 issues on handwashing, and 8 issues on CLTS and other sanitation topics. Other topics include Learning from Failure, Ebola and WASH-related diseases, Multiple-Use Water Services, etc. 


Filed under: Economic Benefits, Progress on Sanitation, Sanitary Facilities Tagged: WASHplus Weekly

PLoS One – Does Global Progress on Sanitation Really Lag behind Water?

Wed, 2014-12-17 15:47

Does Global Progress on Sanitation Really Lag behind Water? An Analysis of Global Progress on Community- and Household-Level Access to Safe Water and Sanitation. PLoS One, Dec 2014.

Authors: Oliver Cumming, Mark Elliott, Alycia Overbo, Jamie Bartram

Safe drinking water and sanitation are important determinants of human health and wellbeing and have recently been declared human rights by the international community. Increased access to both were included in the Millennium Development Goals under a single dedicated target for 2015. This target was reached in 2010 for water but sanitation will fall short; however, there is an important difference in the benchmarks used for assessing global access.

For drinking water the benchmark is community-level access whilst for sanitation it is household-level access, so a pit latrine shared between households does not count toward the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target. We estimated global progress for water and sanitation under two scenarios: with equivalent household- and community-level benchmarks.

Our results demonstrate that the “sanitation deficit” is apparent only when household-level sanitation access is contrasted with community-level water access. When equivalent benchmarks are used for water and sanitation, the global deficit is as great for water as it is for sanitation, and sanitation progress in the MDG-period (1990–2015) outstrips that in water.

As both drinking water and sanitation access yield greater benefits at the household-level than at the community-level, we conclude that any post–2015 goals should consider a household-level benchmark for both.

Filed under: Progress on Sanitation Tagged: benchmarks

Grand Challenge: Putting Women and Girls at the Center of Development

Mon, 2014-12-15 21:20

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is launching a new Grand Challenge: Putting Women and Girls at the Center of Development. This challenge focuses on how to effectively reach and empower the most vulnerable women and girls to improve health and development – including economic – outcomes as well as gender equality.

Gender inequalities and the marginalization of the needs, roles and potential of women and girls are key factors limiting advances in development outcomes for all – women, men, boys, girls and their communities and societies around the world. Moreover, strong associations have been identified between addressing inequalities and enhancing women and girls’ empowerment and agency, and improved development outcomes across sectors, ranging from maternal, newborn, and child health and nutrition to agriculture, water, sanitation, hygiene and financial services for the poor.

The ultimate goal of this challenge is to accelerate discovery of how to most effectively and intentionally identify and address gender inequalities and how this relates to sectoral outcomes; scale-up approaches known to work, in context-relevant ways; and do more to develop better measures of the impact of approaches to enhance women’s and girls’ empowerment and agency. Intentional efforts and strategies are required so that development can contribute more to gender equality and gender equality can contribute more to development.

Grants will go to investigators in low- and middle-income countries, but we encourage partnerships with investigators in other countries, especially where the opportunity exists to build on existing collaborations.

Filed under: Campaigns and Events, Dignity and Social Development Tagged: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Request for feedback on WASHplus knowledge management survey

Mon, 2014-12-15 20:09

Dear Colleagues:

I would appreciate it if you would respond to the brief WASHplus Knowledge Management Survey for 2014 to provide feedback on Sanitation Updates, Urban Health Updates, Household Drinking Water Quality Updates, the WASH/Nutrition Library and and other WASHplus knowledge management services and products.

The link is:

Many thanks,
Dan Campbell, Knowledge Resources Specialist
USAID WASHplus Project


Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: knowledge management

BBC News – Poor water and hygiene ‘kills mothers and newborns’

Mon, 2014-12-15 17:35

Poor water and hygiene ‘kills mothers and newborns’ | By Smitha Mundasad, Health reporter, BBC News, Dec 13, 2014.

Many mothers and newborns are dying because of a lack of sanitation, safe water and hygiene while giving birth, leading health experts have warned.

They say the lack of such basic facilities is hindering the success of other interventions to improve the health of newborn babies.

In some clinics in Tanzania pregnant women are asked to bring their own water supplies

They’ve called on governments and agencies to focus more on the link between sanitation and saving lives.

Sanitation ‘ignored’

They say that while the importance of hygiene – for example, hand washing – is being recognised in some places, much less consideration is given to the complete package of safe water, hygiene and sanitation.

In some cases sanitation – toilets and facilities to dispose of waste – is being ignored.

Nearly 40% of health facilities in 54 low-income countries do not have reliable clean water, according to the World Health Organization.

The report suggests that many efforts to improve newborn health focus on specific measures, sometimes at the expense of these basic facilities.

And it argues that the lack of ways to dispose of waste safely could hamper the success of other interventions.

The experts behind the report say governments and agencies should pay much greater attention to the link between sanitation and saving mothers’ and babies’ lives.

Filed under: Uncategorized