Water and Sanitation

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World Leaders, Scientists Gather In Stockholm For World Water Week; Researchers Warn Overconsumption Draining World's Water Supply

Some 2,500 officials, policymakers and scientists will gather this week at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) for the largest annual meeting on water development issues as the international community recognizes World Water Week, observed August 26-31, VOA News reports. According to the news service, this year’s theme is “water and food security” (DeCapua, 8/24). “Global leaders assembled … at the opening session of the 2012 World Water Week in Stockholm called for substantial increases in public and private sector investment to reduce losses of food in the supply chain, enhance water efficiency in agriculture and curb consumer waste,” according to an SIWI press release (8/27).

Partners In Health Reports On Efforts To Curb Haiti's Cholera Epidemic Using Oral Vaccinations

“In April, Partners In Health [PIH] responded to Haiti’s cholera epidemic by providing oral vaccinations to 45,000 people living in the country’s Artibonite region — specifically, to two rice-farming communities hit hard by cholera,” Louise Ivers, senior health and policy adviser at PIH, reports in an article on the organization’s webpage. “In partnership with Haiti’s Ministry of Health, hundreds of community health workers fanned out across the rural, flood-prone area, delivering two doses to each person by the end of May,” she writes, and discusses the impact of the campaign (8/1).

'Impatient Optimists' Blog Posts Examines 'Reinvent The Toilet Fair' In Seattle

In this post in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s “Impatient Optimists” blog, co-chair Bill Gates discusses the foundation’s Reinvent the Toilet Fair, held this week in Seattle, which “brought together about 200 grantees, partners, and others who are passionate about creating safe, effective, and inexpensive sanitation services for people without access to flush toilets.” “The flush toilets we use in the wealthy world are irrelevant, impractical and impossible for 40 percent of the global population,” Gates writes, noting, “Worldwide, there are 2.5 billion people without access to safe sanitation — including one billion people who still defecate out in the open and more than one billion others who must use pit latrines” (8/14). A related post in the blog offers a behind-the-scenes look at how the Gates Foundation campus was transformed for the toilet fair (8/14).

Meeting MDG Safe Water Target Cause For Celebration, But More Work Remains To Bring Access To All

The achievement of meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for safe drinking water “shows that where there is a will, it is possible to truly transform the lives of hundreds of millions of people for the better,” Sanjay Wijesekera, chief of water, sanitation and hygiene for UNICEF, writes in the Guardian’s “Poverty Matters Blog.” “Even in sub-Saharan Africa, where progress towards achieving the target is off-track, 273 million additional people gained access to drinking water since 1990,” he writes, adding, “So, we should raise our hats to the governments, organizations, communities and individuals who put great effort and resources into making this happen.”

Cholera Vaccination Campaign Still Stalled In Haiti, NPR Reports

A planned mass cholera vaccination project in Haiti continues to be “bogged down in bureaucratic red tape,” as spring rains begin and the number of cholera cases starts to rise, NPR’s health blog “Shots” reports. The Haitian medical group GHESKIO and international health organization Partners In Health are organizing the vaccination campaign, which “is awaiting approval from a national ethics committee, which wants assurance that the vaccine is no longer considered experimental,” according to the news service, which notes the “WHO last November approved the dollar-a-dose vaccine that’s ready to be used in Haiti.”

IRIN Examines Malnutrition In Chad

IRIN examines malnutrition in Chad, writing, “Hovering at around 20 percent in some places, Kanem Region in western Chad is well-known for having some of the world’s highest continual severe acute malnutrition rates,” and, “unless something is done to improve the country’s ‘dysfunctional’ health system (as described by half a dozen interviewees), these malnutrition rates are unlikely to change significantly.” The news service “spoke to Ministry of Health staff, aid workers, government officials and mothers to find out if anything can be done to wean Chad from its dependence on emergency nutrition interventions.”

Women, Girls Must Be At Center Of Water, Food Security Efforts

Noting “World Water Week recently concluded in Stockholm with a special emphasis on the linkages between water and food security,” Lakshmi Puri, assistant secretary-general and deputy executive director of U.N. Women, writes in this Inter Press Service opinion piece, “Creating a water- and food-secure world requires putting women and girls at the center of water- and food-related policies, actions and financing.” She continues, “Women are not only beneficiaries of greater water and food security; they can also enable greater progress in these areas.” Puri states, “Four urgent actions must be taken to unleash women’s potential.”

Policymakers Agree To Water Monitoring Initiative, U.N. Official Says

“Policymakers have agreed on an ambitious plan to create a global monitoring and reporting system to oversee water supply, sanitation and water resources management, a U.N. expert said,” AlertNet reports. “Part of the initiative would be assisting developing countries to collect and analyze data on their water resources,” the news service writes, adding, “The data would likely feed into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are expected to replace the U.N. anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015, Joakim Harlin of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) said.” Experts are examining how a water goal could be connected to other goals on energy and food, according to Harlin, the news service notes. “U.N. Water is expected to finalize the details of the water monitoring initiative by the end of the year, Harlin said,” AlertNet writes (Mollins, 9/5).

Community-Based Approach To Improving Sanitation, Hygiene Practices In Vietnam, Cambodia

In this post in the ONE Blog, John Anner, president of the East Meets West Foundation, discusses how the foundation is helping to improve sanitation and hygiene practices among poor populations. “As leaders gathered in Stockholm last week for World Water Week to discuss the future of our most precious natural resource, we are soberly reminded that for millions of people around the world, water safety is compromised because of poor sanitation and hygiene, which are the cause of numerous infections and waterborne illnesses,” he writes. “With the support of a new grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, East Meets West is pioneering a new approach to behavior change — one that we believe can help transform the sanitation and hygiene practices of those living in the most disadvantaged communities in Vietnam and Cambodia,” he continues, and details the community-based approach (9/4).

World Leaders Address Climate Change, Water, Food Security At Events On Sidelines Of U.N. General Assembly

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday at an event hosted by Qatar on the sidelines of the 67th General Assembly meeting “called again for urgent and concrete action on climate change, as high-level officials gathered at the United Nations to discuss the growing global concern over the impacts of the phenomenon on food and water security,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “Climate change is making weather patterns both extreme and unpredictable, contributing to volatility in global food prices, which means food and nutrition insecurity for the poor and the most vulnerable,” the news service writes, noting Ban “has made food security a top priority through the Zero Hunger Challenge he launched at the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), held in Brazil in June” (9/27).