My Soon-to-be Journey to India: An Arghyam Internship

community, drinking water, general, india, ngo, sanitation, water availability, water justice

Life has been bustling as I prepare for an internship in India. This year, I was accepted for an internship with Arghyam – an NGO that works on water and sanitation projects across India – in Bangalore. This internship is part of my master’s studies at Oregon State University (my major is Water Resources Policy and Management and my minor is Women Studies). It will last from September 1st until December 31st.

Arghyam Header1

My internship with Arghyam will focus mainly on gender and water issues in South India. Such issues are important to understand to ensure all people have fair access to and participation in the management of water and sanitation resources. Through my adventures, I will continue to post on Water for the Ages (both on my internship and other international water issues). Stay tuned for more information to follow. There will be photos, videos, and more.

If you are interested in an international water internship in India, Arghyam has other internship opportunities available. Be sure and check out their impressive India Water Portal for details on these positions.

Sanitation Solutions: Three African Entrepreneurs

africa, international, investments, sanitation, water awards

Most people should know the facts: almost 2.6 billion people in the world do not have access to basic sanitation and over 6,000 children die each day from dirty water and poor sanitation. Adequate sanitation, hygiene, and drinking water are essential to keep people healthy. So it’s great to hear via Water Advocates about three innovators taking steps to improve sanitation conditions in Africa.

Toilet Mall
David Kuria, founder of the company Ecotact, builds free-standing bathroom facilities in Kenya. These facilities are compared to malls because they have a place for shoe shines, food vendors, phones, eight toilets, a water kiosk, a baby changing station, and showers.

Iko Toilet in Nairobi. Image Courtesy: Water Advocates
Above Photo: Iko Toilet in Nairobi. Water Advocates.

Cows to Kilowatts
Dr. Joseph Adelegan, of Nigeria, developed a large bio-recator to convert waste from a 1,000-cow slaughterhouse into bio-gas (energy). This bio-gas is sold at reduced prices to the poor and used for cooking or electricity. Plus his business has prevented the slaughterhouse from dumping cow waste into the nearby river that is also used also for cleaning and bathing.

Large-Scale Biogas Facility in Africa. Image Courtesy: Water Advocates.
Above Photo: Large-Scale Bio0gas Facility in Africa. Water Advocates.

The Clean Shop
Trevor Mulaudzi started this business in South Africa after “he found children skipping class and defecating in the open because their school’s toilet was piled with feces.” He and his 300 employees clean up and repair previously unusable toilets. The clean toilets give users a sense of pride about their facilities and encourages them to keep the facilities clean.

A dirty toilet in a South African School. Image Courtesy: Water Advocates.
Above Photo: Dirty Toilet in South African School. Water Advocates.

Akvopedia: Open Source for Water Technology

drinking water, general, international, investments, outreach, photos, sanitation, sustainability, technology, water availability, water treatment

The new website Akvopedia shares knowledge of water and sanitation technology, open source style, to ensure these resources are available to more people worldwide.

Open Source: (in computing) Of, or relating to a product which is licensed to permit modifications and redistribution [for free] of its source code.
Wiktionary

Linux, the One Laptop Per Child (XO laptop) project, the Mozilla web browser, Creative Commons, Peer-to-Peer networks, Open Office, and Wikipedia are multi-faceted examples of open-source technology. The open-source realm relies on a philosophy of sorts – so that freedom and sharing of a specific (or any) knowledge will allow for that specific, underlying body of knowledge to be improved upon in infinite ways.

Wikipedia, one famous example of interactive knowledge sharing, has a striking factual accuracy compared to that of Encyclopedia Britannica. Now the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) strives to create a similar clearinghouse for water and sanitation technology through the recent unveiling of Akvopedia.

Akvo = means water in Esperanto (theoretical universal language developed in the late 1800’s)


Thomas Bjelkeman, founder of Akvo. Photo courtesy Akvo on flickr.

Akvopedia features portals to discuss, share, update, and refine knowledge about:

water
sanitation, pumping and transportation, storage, treatment, and use of water
sanitation
toilets, collection, transportation, treatment, and use of products
organizations
NGOs, governmental organizations, research organizations, funding organizations, and commercial companies
approaches
project management, individual and collective, and supporting approaches

The website has reviews and specifications for building water and sanitation infrastructure from:

And the website provides a virtual setting for NGOs or others with water or sanitation project ideas to find funding. In short, Akvopedia provides access to open-source water and sanitation technology. This website will empower communities and promote localized development of water systems throughout the world by providing the knowledge, funding, and resources necessary.

Thank you Akvopedia!

With your support, Akvo can speed up the pace of water and sanitation development in some of the poorest parts of the world. Small Non-Governmental Organisations can act themselves. They can use new tools, share knowledge, specify projects, find funds and make things happen. They can be heroes. Akvo is creating an open resource, forging relationships with everyone around the world who shares this vision. We’d love to have you involved.

www.akvo.org

‘Wash Your Hands’ and ‘Clean Your Plate’ – World Water Week Wrap-Up

agriculture, drinking water, general, international, outreach, sanitation, sustainability, united nations, water availability

Less worldwide food waste and better global sanitation were urgent needs cited during this year’s World Water Week from August 17th until August 23rd organized by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) in Sweden. Over 2,400 science, business, government, and non-profit leaders gathered to discuss the “Progress and Prospects on Water: For A Clean and Healthy World” (this year’s theme) with a special focus on the 2008 International Year of Sanitation as declared by the UN.

This annual conference left much to be desired as discussions indicated  little progress in meeting one of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) — a reduction by half of the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015. There are 2.5 billion people across the world without sanitation, and according to a United Nations progress report released in July of 2007, 1.6 billion of these people will need access to improved sanitation by 2015 to be on target with the MDGs. That is almost one-quarter, about 24%, of the current world population. Or in general terms, a lot of people.

John Sauer, in his recent article Finding the Toilet in Stockholm attributes the lack of available sanitation and drinking water, in part, to two major issues:

  • A general fear of the private sector and the “privatization” of public services.
  • The avoidance of the subject of sanitation and diseases such as diarrhea.


Above PhotoThe Millennium Development Goals Report 2007

Also this week, SIWI released a report indicating half of all food is lost (wasted, not ingested, not used) after it is produced. The report, Saving Water: From Field to Fork – Curbing Wastage in the Food Chain, estimated that 50 percent of all food is wasted and that less food waste will help preserve land and water resources. It takes water to grow food, right. Yep, and as James Leape stated at the opening session of World Water Week, “Irrigation-fed agriculture provides 45 percent of the world’s food supplies, and without it, we could not feed our planet’s population of six billion people.”

So in a nutshell, that is a wrap-up of this year’s World Water Week in Stockholm. And you can be sure I did eat every bite of dinner on my plate tonight.


Above Photo: SIWI.

‘A Different Kind of Water Torture’ on the Huffington Post

architecture, drinking water, general, international, sanitation, water treatment

“With the onset of hot, humid weather and early monsoon rains, situations of water-borne diseases such as viral hepatitis (A&E), gastroenteritis, typhoid and paratyphoid fever, cholera, dysentery, E-coli diarrhoea, giardiasis and intestinal worms, malaria, dengue fever, poliomyelitis and rotavirus diarrhoea in infants – the second major cause of childhood deaths – is likely to get worse if effective prevention and control measures are not adopted religiously.”

The above was the headline from a recent edition of The News International, the second largest English language newspaper in Pakistan. This summer has shown a rampant rise of water-borne illness in Islamabad and Rawalpindi. And in Pakistan alone, each year over 1.2 people die of water-borne illnesses.

In this same vein, John Sauer of Water Advocates in Washington DC has informed me of his recent post on the Huffington Post entitled “A Different Kind of Water Torture”. As the name might suggest, this post discusses the need to increase sanitation and water conveyance projects worldwide.

‘Global Water Challenge’ Competition

audio, drinking water, international, outreach, rainwater, research, sanitation, sustainability, water treatment

Ashoka’s Changemakers and Global Water Challenge have partnered to open a worldwide search for ideas and projects that, when scaled-up, have the potential to transform the provision of sanitation and water.

All entries are due by Wednesday, March 26, 2008 6:00 pm EST (21:00 GMT).

Currently, over 149 entries have been received from 45 countries with ideas such as:

  • Affordable household filters that remove arsenic and microbes.
  • Biosand water filters in India.
  • Implementation of water harvesting ponds in Ethiopia.
  • Rooftop water harvesting programs.
  • Solar water-distillation for potable water.

Listen to this excerpt on the ‘Global Water Challenge’ Competition from today’s edition of Marketplace!

WASH-in-Schools Initiative: Campaign Launch by Water Advocates

drinking water, international, outreach, sanitation, sustainability, united nations

Wash-in-Schools” (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) is a campaign to ensure safe drinking water and sanitation facilities for schoolchildren throughout the world. This program, first introduced by UNICEF and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council at the 3rd World Water Forum in 2003, has been joined by growing list of non-profit organizations, foundations, corporations, and schools.

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Water Advocates, a non-profit organization in Washington DC, will be launching their Wash-in-Schools Initiative on March 12, 2008. This non-profit has the goal to expand the WASH program to 1,000 schools in developing countries while creating the momentum to help as many additional schools as possible worldwide.

The public is invited to the official Water Advocates WASH-in-Schools Initiative Launch:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The National Geographic Society Grosvenor Auditorium
1600 M Street NW, Washington, DC

The event will feature videos of schoolchildren in the developing world as well as comments from individuals including Dr. Peter Gleick, President and Co-founder Pacific Institute; Gil Garcetti, Photographer of “Water is Key: A Better Future for Africa;” and Alexandra Cousteau, co-founder Earth Echo International.

For more information on how you can be involved, please contact Andra Tamburro at 202-293-4047 or atamburro@wateradvocates.org.

To attend the event, please RSVP to Katie Delisio at WaterAdvocatesRSVP@gmail.com.