Newsletter: September 10, 2015, Issue #57


Global WaSH News

Water, sanitation, and hygiene strengthened in UN’s sustainable development agenda

In August, the proposed outcome document of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda was amended to recognize the human right to water and sanitation and the importance of improved hygiene. Research by The Water Institute at UNC has also informed an improved monitoring framework on water quality and access to water, sanitation, and hygiene in non-household settings. The 2015-2030 global action plan includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals for all the world’s countries and will be considered for adoption by the UN General Assembly this month.

Innovative waste management in Senegal

Recent updates out of Senegal illustrate innovative ways to manage septic waste that are changing the traditional economics of sanitation. In the capital city of Dakar, a mobile text-messaging app helps link residents with latrine emptying service providers, who then compete on price. In another example, a private company purchases and processes human waste to produce energy for up to 25,000 households. Such advances are greatly needed. A recent literature review by The Water Institute at UNC concluded that in many places worldwide, latrines and septic systems are infrequently emptied and are subject to leakage, introducing grave risks to human and environmental health.

Conference News

Water and Health Conference: October 26-30, 2015

The upcoming Water and Health Conference: Where Science Meets Policy will be held at the Friday Center in Chapel Hill, NC, USA. Verbal and poster presentation schedules, as well as the side event calendar, are now available online.

Dominick de Waal of the World Bank Water Water and Sanitation Program will deliver the opening keynote address. He will share his insights on the implementation challenges of the WaSH targets within the Sustainable Development Goals, including what must be done differently in the changing context from MDGs to SDGs.

We are grateful for the support of our 2015 sponsors: Procter and Gamble, FHI 360, IAPMO, RTI International, Plan International, Aquagenx, Aquatabs, H2g0 Purifier, Sawyer, Tomlinson Industries, UNC Institute for the Environment, WaterAid, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, and Water for People.

Water Institute News

CLTS updates

At World Water Week in Stockholm, we shared new evidence and adaptations that can improve open defecation free outcomes through implementation of Community-led Total Sanitation (CLTS). The outcomes of this discussion can be found here. Additional findings and implications from CLTS implementation are available in our recent learning brief on Lao PDR, as well as through country reports on our CLTS work in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Nepal, Uganda, and Niger.

Recent Publications on WaSH from UNC Researchers

Fuente, David, Josephine Gakii Gatua, Moses Ikiara, Jane Kabubo-Mariara and Dale Whittington. 2015. “Water and Sanitation Service Delivery, Pricing, and the Poor: An Empirical Estimate of Subsidy Incidence in Nairobi, Kenya.” EfD Discussion Paper Series, 15-17.

The increasing block tariff is widely used by water utilities, particularly in developing countries, in part due to the perception that they can effectively target subsidies to low-income households. Combining data on households’ socioeconomic status and metered water use, this study examines how subsidies are distributed as delivered through the water tariff in Nairobi, Kenya. Findings on subsidy distribution and the effectiveness of substituting reported water expenditures for metered use have implications for design and evaluation of water tariffs in developing countries.

Fisher, Michael B, Ashley R. Williams, Mohamed F. Jalloh, George Saquee, Robert E.S. Bain, and Jamie Bartram. 2015. “Microbiological and Chemical Quality of Packaged Sachet Water and Household Stored Drinking Water in Freetown, Sierra Leone.” PLoS ONE 10(7): e0131772. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0131772

Water in plastic bags (sachets) is widely consumed in sub-Saharan Africa, yet few rigorous studies have investigated the quality of sachet water in comparison to alternative sources of water. This study assesses the quality of packaged sachet water (PSW) in Freetown, Sierra Leone. While 19% of samples contained detectable E. coli, samples of stored household water for consumption were significantly more contaminated than PSW samples. Results have implications for improving PSW product regulation and monitoring, though they may be safer than alternative water sources.

Elliott, Mark, Christine E. Stauber, Francis A. DiGiano, Anna F. de Aceituno, and Mark D. Sobsey. 2015. “Investigation of E. coli and Virus Reductions Using Replicate, Bench-Scale Biosand Filter Columns and Two Filter Media.” Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 12(9): 10276-10299. doi:10.3390/ijerph120910276

Little data are available on the effect of sand composition on treatment performance of the biosand filter. In this study, bench-scale experiments confirm that increased schmutzdecke (dirt layer) growth is the primary factor causing increased E. coli reductions of up to 5-log10; however, filter media type did not influence the reduction of E. coli bacteria. Virus reductions did not meet the 5- or 3-log10 World Health Organization performance targets. Results of this study provide a better understanding of the role of an intact schmutzdecke in enhancing virus reductions in biosand filters and highlight needs for further study.

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