“FLUORIDE IN GROUNDWATER: A DEBILITATING SCOURGE” Catalyst Project Webinar, 2 May

Reposted from: http://www.thewaterchannel.tv/index.php/dossiers/the-underground-drought/659-gw-webinars

“Fluor is an element abundant in nature. In the right quantities, it is essential for the development of teeth and bones. However, under specific conditions, the concentration of fluoride (F) in ground and surface water can exceed safety levels and becomes toxic for human health. This may lead to skeletal and/or dental fluorosis, two chronic biogeochemical diseases that occur in various countries around the world.

According to UNESCO, more than 200 million people worldwide rely on drinking water with fluoride levels exceeding the present World Health Organization (WHO) norm of 1.5 mg/l. The Ethiopian Central Rift Valley (ECRV) is one of the most affected areas with an estimated 8 million people potentially at risk of fluorosis. Due to its geology and climate, it suffers from some of world’s highest concentrations of fluoride, mainly in deep wells in the semi-arid parts.

Dr Redda Tekle Haimanot and Seifu Kebede (Addis Ababa University) have studied the fluoride problem in the ECRV region for several years. In this webinar, they will discuss the magnitude of the problem, the risk factors and socio-economic consequences. The speakers will also discuss preventive measures that hold promise, and why they are relevant to other parts of the world suffering from high fluoride levels.

Date: May 02, 2014
Time: (To be confirmed)
How to participate:
1) Go to https://metameta.adobeconnect.com/fluoride/
2) Choose ‘Enter as Guest’
3) Enter a screen name
4) That’s it! You can now listen to the speakers, see their slides, ask them questions and share comments/questions”

Understanding why waterpoints fail

By Vincent Casey, Technical Support Manager, and Richard Carter.  (originally posted on the WaterAid website)

Getting the basics right

I’ve just returned from Liberia, where Kerstin Danert and I, together with Caesar Hall and Jenny Schmitzer are coaching, training and mentoring staff across from government agencies to prepare the first a Sector Performance Report (SPR) for Liberia. Ultimately, this this could become an annual report for the whole WASH sector across the country. It pulls together data from different sources and provides the evidence base for making decisions decisions and prioritising at the second annual Joint Sector Review (JSR) – a two day workshop of around 200 stakeholders that will happen at the beginning of May.

Monrovia Water Point

An Afridev handpump in central Monrovia, behind the Ministry of Education (photo: S. G. Furey, Skat, 2014)

The approach, in this form, was pioneered by the Ministry of Water & Environment in Uganda ten years ago. A decade later, it is the primary mechanism for coordinating WASH actors across government, NGOs and Development Partners, and for reporting activities, outcomes and priorities for the coming year in Uganda.

This is not an easy. It has been a challenging, but rewarding, process and it has been a long journey for Uganda, and Kerstin was there, coaching and cajoling for the first seven SPRs (SSOZI, D. and DANERT, K.,2012). For this reason, the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) invited us to Liberia to support the government as they start on this long journey.

Similar to Uganda when it started, Liberia is now a decade clear of a long and often brutal civil war. The physical and government infrastructure, which was weak to begin with, was largely destroyed and the social scars still have a rawness. Liberia has a unique history in that it was founded by American freed slaves, but resentment between Americo-Liberians and those of indigenous descent added fuel to the fire of the brutal wars that took place between 1989-96 and 1999-2003.

The current president, H. E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was the first woman to be elected as a head of state in Africa and she has been a unifying voice both at home and abroad. She is also the UN Goodwill Ambassador for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) so the sector has a champion at the highest level.

However, responsibility and scarce resources for WASH are split between around nine different ministries and government agencies. Policy and strategy has been established, thanks to strong support from UNICEF, WSP and bi-laterals such as IrishAid,and USAID. There are also several other development partners in the country . However, implementation through government has been slow, for example the rural water division of the Ministry of Public Works has no budget for implementation for the current year. Stuff is happening: water and sanitations systems are being built and hygiene and CLTS is going on at quite a large scale, but it is NGOs, not government who are doing the spade work.

Is this a problem? Short term maybe not, because the needs of the people are great, but without a strong, capable government there can be no end to dependence on international aid funding international NGOs, neither of whom are directly accountable to the people or leadership of Liberia. We shouldn’t expect the private sector to ride the rescue either: where there is social and environmental responsibility, a fair, strong Government regulator is essential.

So what is needed? The basics done well.

  • Data: collection, quality control, storage, access, analysis, presentation
  • Information flows: so that stakeholders really know who is doing what, and where so that collaboration is improved and duplication avoided.
  • Writing: literacy, touch-typing, analytical thinking; articulating persuasive and logical arguments; self-critical review and proof reading.
  • Presentation: structure, content and timing, voice and body language, listening and responding.

These, and many other communication and analytical skills, seem so obvious that surely to consider them in the context of experienced, national government staff could be considered patronising. However, during the war they would have been less worried about using PowerpointPowerPoint and more worried about avoiding the likes of ‘General Butt Naked’ (CNN report). Fragile States are exactly that.

Mapping information flows in the Liberia WASH Sector with the NWSHPC

Mapping information flows in the Liberia WASH Sector with the National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Committee (NWSHPC) – Abdul, Watara, Joseph, Kerstin (photo: S G Furey, Skat 2014)

While many of the staff we have met are knowledgeable and committed, there is need to build morale and confidence; so even they not only improve their reporting and analytical skills but also have the confidence to really commit them to paper.

So what’s the answer? Perhaps hire some international consultants to come in and write a thick report “for government”. WSP didn’t want us to do that and there was no way we going accept the task if that had been the case. The 2014 Liberia SPR will be written (mostly, though not entirely) by Liberians.

To achieve that, where capacities are low, and experience lacking we ran a four day writing course then followed up remotely, and in person, with each team of writers who were charged with creating thematic mini-reports on rural water, sanitation, hygiene, gender, urban water and sewerage, solid waste management and water resources.

This is a tough process for all involved. For the ministry staff, they have been chasing around bringing together the data and activity reports that are often scattered around their organisations or guarded. In certain cases, the process uncovered new data sources from Government officials – in particular the data collected through surveys and publishes by Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LSGIS).

For us it has been tough to resist the temptation to dive in and write it all for them. On occasion I give in where it was clear that the data analysis and presentation would take much more time than we had available and I couldn’t leave it. But as I write this, the writers were spending two days to review the entire report; and decide what to change.

However, the pleasure came from seeing the final product start to emerge and the shared sense of accomplishment.

So have we strengthened the capacity of the WASH sector to go it alone? No. Clearly not, and as I write this I still don’t know whether this approach will work, but the process so far as proved to be as valuable as, hopefully, the final report will be. The international community will still have a crucial role in tackling the chronic poverty found across Liberia, but that role needs to diminish with time as Liberian institutions take over.

From what I experienced, I saw the importance of education and mentoring to develop skills and confidence to discharge duties effectively, but that alone is not enough. Karwee Govego, Director of Rural Water, complained that their best staff get poached by NGOs. That ‘brain drain’ is inevitable as long as salaries and morale are low, management and mandates are disorganised, and career paths are determined by more than than merit.

Love it or hate it, government is essential; to build a strong, competent one in Liberia is going to take a lot of teamwork, hard graft and getting the basics right.

—-

Liberia is an active member of the Sanitation, Water for All (SWA) Partnership and will be presenting a new set of commitments at the High Level Meeting in Washington DC this month

Long, expensive & messy: the realities of sector change

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RWSN Secretariat:

Latest update from Triple-S

Originally posted on water services that last:

By Patrick Moriarty, Harold Lockwood, Vida Duti and Sarah Carriger

In the last post in this series we described our approach to changing the whole system to deliver water services that people can count on: not just for a few years, but for life. We laid out the main phases in this change: initiation, learning and testing, and finally scaling-up and systemic impact. In this post we’d like to show you what that looks in the real world, using the example of our work in Ghana under the Triple-S (Sustainable Services at Scale) project.

One of the reasons we chose to work in Ghana was that it was typical of many countries: they’d made significant progress in increasing coverage, but they had significant problems, particularly in their rural water sector, with lack of financing for repairs and replacements, weak supply chains for spare parts, and poor support from local government…

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Timor Leste – a service delivery state of mind

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RWSN Secretariat:

Some experiences from Timor Leste

Originally posted on water services that last:

By Harold Lockwood  -

Last week I was in Timor Leste supporting some of the work of WaterAid Australia and its programme in Timor Leste. As this has evolved over the last several years, and with coverage levels increasing, WaterAid Timor-Leste (WATL) has recognised the pressing challenge of maintaining service levels in those communities who have gained first time access to water supply. The Government of Timor-Leste has pledged to meet its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target to provide 78% of the population with access to a safe water supply by 2015 (75% of the rural population and 86% of the urban population). The JMP update for 2013 records access in 2011 to an improved water source as 69%: 60% rural and 93% urban. As of 2013 steady progress is being made and it has been determined that the MDG for water supply will be met.

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UPGro research paper on Sketetal Flurosis in Ethiopia

New paper by Redda Tekle-Haimanot, Gebeyehu Haile, part of the “Improving access to safe drinking water_prospection for low-fluoride sources Groundwater” Catalyst Project

ABSTRACT This study compared the occurrence of skeletal fluorosis in chronic consumers of locally brewed alcoholic beverages and their matched controls in the Ethiopian Rift Valley. The study revealed that chronic alcohol consumers developed severe forms of crippling skeletal fluorosis quite early in life. The controls were either symptom-free or exhibited mild forms of the fluorosis. The study showed that crippling skeletal fluorosis was directly associated with the large volumes of the locally brewed beer and honey-mead consumption on a daily basis. Chemical analysis of the alcoholic beverages showed that high concentration of fluoride which was much higher than the fluoride in the water was used for the brewing process. From this study one would conclude that in communities residing in high fluoride areas, there should be awareness creation campaigns to point out the relationship of excessive consumption of locally brewed alcoholic drinks and skeletal fluorosis. Regulations should also be put in place to require producers of local alcoholic beverages to use low fluoride water for brewing.

Journal of Water Resource and Protection, 2014, 6, 149-155
Published Online February 2014 (http://www.scirp.org/journal/jwarp)
Download the paper here: http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/jwarp.2014.62020

Musings from Mopti

Well digging - Mali (RWSN/Skat)

Well digging – Mali (RWSN/Skat)

by Jonathan Annis, WASHPlus

I’ve spent the last week in the Mopti Region of northern Mali supporting a USAID/WASHplus WASH & Nutrition initiative led by CARE. While behavior change communication related to household- and community-level sanitation, hygiene, and infant nutrition practices is the primary focus of the project, a small sum of funds is dedicated to rehabilitating community water supplies.

The conditions in Mali, as in much of the Sahel, have attracted a plethora of international NGOs, foundations, and do-gooders of every size and intention; increasing access to safe water is a focal point of many of their interventions. The functionality of rural water supplies in Mopti is difficult to ascertain. A number of my colleagues agree that the database of water points maintained by the regional office of the Ministry of Water includes less than 50 percent of the water points existing in the countryside.

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