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WASHplus Weekly – World Habitat Day: Focus on Slums

25 November 2014 13:57 (America/New_York)

WASHplus Weekly | Issue 164 | Oct 3, 2014 | World Habitat Day: Focus on Slums

The first Monday in each October is World Habitat Day. This year the theme is Voices from Slums. This issue of the weekly contains news of upcoming urban events, urban innovation awards, recent urban WASH studies, and other reports and resources on issues faced by the urban poor.


World Habitat Day: Voices from Slums, October 6, 2014Link
Each year World Habitat Day takes on a new theme chosen by the United Nations based on current issues relevant to the habitat agenda. The themes are selected to bring attention to UN-Habitat’s mandate to promote sustainable development policies that ensure adequate shelter for all. This year’s theme, Voices from Slums, is intended to give voice to slum dwellers for improving quality of living conditions in existing slums. This is the UN’s official website for the event.

International Conference on Urban Health, March 9-12, 2015, BangladeshLink
The International Society for Urban Health is an association of researchers, scholars, professionals, community members, and workers and activists from various disciplines, roles, and areas of the world whose work is directly related to the health effects of urban environments and urbanization. The International Conference on Urban Health provides an international forum for information exchange among urban health stakeholders. The theme for the 2015 conference is Urban Health for a Sustainable Future: The Post 2015 Agenda.


USAID/WASHplus Urban Health UpdatesLink
Urban Health Updates contains more than 800 peer-review articles and “gray” literature reports on health issues faced by the urban poor.

Urban Health: It’s Time to Get Moving! Global Health Science & Practice, May 2014. V Barbiero. Link
Policy makers must commit to a long-term action plan that addresses the triple burden of health issues faced by growing urban populations. A comprehensive global urban health strategy is in order; one similar to the global approach to HIV/AIDS, polio eradication, and malaria. The strategy should build on the urban experience, both positive and negative, from all regions of the globe and provide a clear vision and programmatic guidance.

Trends in Childhood Mortality in Kenya: The Urban Advantage Has Seemingly Been Wiped OutHealth Place, Sept 2014. E Kimani-Murage. Link
The narrowing gap between urban and rural areas may be attributed to the deplorable living conditions in urban slums. To reduce childhood mortality, extra emphasis is needed on the urban slums.

Vulnerability to Food Insecurity in Urban Slums: Experiences from Nairobi, Kenya.Journal of Urban Health, Aug 2014. E W Kimani-Murage. Link
The study found a high prevalence of food insecurity in Nairobi slums; 85 percent of the households were food insecure, with 50 percent being severely food insecure. Factors associated with food security include level of income, source of livelihood, household size, dependence ratio, illness, perceived insecurity, and slum of residence.


Stanford Freshwater Solution Gets Global Recognition. Stanford News, Sept 2014. R Jordan. Link
During the recent World Water Week in Stockholm, the Stanford Woods Institute’s Water, Health and Development Program won a $15,000 prize and international recognition for the design of a community-scale, fully automated chlorine dosing device that can be installed on shared water points in low-income urban settings. The device requires neither reliable electricity nor 24/7 supply to function consistently.

Reed Elsevier Announces 2014 Environmental Challenge Winners, Sept 2014. Link
Reed Elsevier, a provider of professional information solutions, announced the winners of its 2014 Environmental Challenge, which supports innovative solutions to improve sustainable access to safe water and sanitation. The $50,000 first prize winner is Sustainable Sanitation Design. It has developed a unisex urinal—a sanitation service product serving both urban users and farmers through the collection of safe and cheap organic fertilizers. Prize money will allow production of the first 10,000 units for residents of urban slums in Kampala, Uganda. Support from the Reed Elsevier Environmental Challenge will also allow Sustainable Sanitation to construct, install, and maintain 150 devices serving 10,000 people in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

International Water Association 2014 Project Innovation AwardsAwards LinkBlue Diversion Website
This year’s winner in the applied research category is Blue Diversion, created by Eawag and EOOS and supported by Tribecraft, Switzerland. The goal of the Blue Diversion project is to provide a hygienic toilet for urban slums without connection to running water, grid electricity, or sewers that offers high personal comfort, including access to water, at a price of 5¢ per person per day.

Tech Museum of Innovation Tech Awards 2014, presented by Applied Materials. (Link)
This international awards program honors 10 innovators each year from around the world that are applying technology to confront humanity’s most urgent challenges. One of the 2014 winners is Sanergy. Sanergy has opened 387 Fresh Life franchises in the Mukuru slum in Nairobi, providing more than 15,000 residents with access to sanitary toilets, and economically supporting 190 Fresh Life operators, most of whom are women.

Grant Funding from the Canadian Government’s Grand Challenge to Peepoople Kenya, 2014. Link
Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Canadian Government, has selected the Peepoo project in Kenya as a part of its program of Bold Ideas with Big Impact in Global Health. Peepoo is a personal, single-use, self-sanitizing, fully biodegradable toilet that prevents feces from contaminating the immediate area as well as the surrounding ecosystem. After use, Peepoo turns into valuable fertilizer that can improve livelihoods and increase food security.


Sanitation 21: A Planning Framework for Improving City-Wide Sanitation Services, 2014. J Parkinson. Link
Various new planning methodologies have been developed and applied, embodying a shift in thinking on sanitation issues. The experiences from these planning approaches are incorporated into the Sanitation21 planning framework, which epitomizes the new generation of sanitation master planning. Unlike conventional master planning approaches, these planning approaches consider a wider range of aspects of sanitation that are not specifically related to infrastructure. These relate to issues of poverty, inequity, land ownership, environmental concerns, or the wider political economy.

The Limits and Possibilities of Prepaid Water in Urban Africa: Lessons from the Field, 2014. C Heymans. Link
This study explores the potential of prepaid water meters for serving urban poor communities. It provides urban utilities, oversight agencies, and other stakeholders in Africa with a basis for decision making on the suitability, introduction, and management of such meters.

The Urban Water Supply Guide: Service Delivery Options for Low-Income Communities, 2014.Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP). Link
Providing improved water supply to low-income urban communities is a difficult challenge faced by water utilities throughout Africa and Asia. This guide provides an introduction to available options for serving these communities. The guide draws on sector experience in general, and more particularly on WSUP’s extensive experience of implementing urban WASH programs in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere.

Guide to Health Care Waste Management for the Community Health Worker, 2014. USAID DELIVER Project. English versionFrench version
This publication provides practical guidance for community health workers on how to safely handle and dispose of hazardous waste. It describes the basic principles of waste management and offers solutions for managing the waste generated from everyday activities carried out in the community.

Financing Sanitation and Cost Recovery in the Slums of Dar es Salaam and KampalaHabitat International, July 2014. M Pieter van Dijka. Link
Governments could recognize the importance of household level or private solutions and support them, for example, by promoting more appropriate governance structures and cost recovery systems, reorganizing the emptying system to bring down its cost, and involving small scale producers.

Irrigated Urban Vegetable Production in Ghana: Characteristics, Benefits and Risk Mitigation, 2014. P Dreschel. Link
This report highlights not only the important contribution of urban vegetable production for farmers and society, but also possible risks and risk perceptions related to the use of polluted water sources. It contains health risk assessments and outlines options for risk mitigation, which were studied in Ghana in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

Handshake: IFC’s Quarterly Journal on Public-Private Partnerships, 2014. International Finance Corporation. Link
This issue of Handshake delves into municipal solid wastes. Poorly managed waste has an enormous impact on residents’ health, the local and global environment, and the economy; improperly managed waste usually results in higher down-stream costs than what it would have cost to manage the waste properly in the first place.

Solid Waste Management and Social Inclusion of Waste Pickers: Opportunities and Challenges, 2014. M Marello. Link
This paper explores the opportunities and challenges inherent in cooperation between municipal solid waste systems and waste picker cooperatives. There is growing enthusiasm about waste picker inclusion, often as part of “integrated solid waste management.” The World Bank and the InterAmerican Development Bank, for example, have both funded projects to support waste picker integration into formal sector recycling.


State of African Cities 2014, Re-Imagining Sustainable Urban Transitions, 2014. UN HABITAT. Link
Ubiquitous urban poverty and urban slum proliferation, so characteristic of Africa’s large cities, is likely to become an even more widespread phenomenon under current urban development trajectories, especially given the continuing and significant shortfalls in urban institutional capacities. Therefore, this report argues for a radical re-imagination of African approaches to urbanism, both to strengthen the positive impacts of Africa’s current transition and to improve urban living and working conditions.

WorldRisk Report 2014: Focus: The City As a Risk Area, 2014. United Nations University. Link
Under the thematic focus “The City As a Risk Area,” this report shows that urbanization need not inevitably bring about changes in risk levels. The crucial aspect is how urbanization develops—whether the new houses and settlements are situated in exposed zones, whether urban growth is well coordinated, and whether it goes hand in hand with investment in sanitation and power supply, educational facilities, and infrastructure.

Towards systemic change in urban sanitation

25 November 2014 10:52 (America/New_York)

Towards systemic change in urban sanitation, 2014.

Authors: Galli, G., Nothomb, C., and Baetings, E. IRC.

Failing systems, caused by fragmented, disorganised and uncoordinated government leadership, coupled with the ineffective application of already-scarce resources, mark the state of urban sanitation in most low-and middle-income countries. The two most critical results are that it impacts very negatively on the health and wellbeing of the urban poor and on all aspects of the intended or desired sustainability of sanitation systems.

Against this background, this working paper outlines a ‘whole-system approach’ to urban sanitation by shifting the focus from building infrastructure or a project-driven implementation approach to providing and maintaining equitable and environmentally friendly services, championed and supported by the government and with sufficient resources allocated to ensure sustainability.

This working paper proposes a step-by-step approach to unravel and tackle the very complex circumstances surrounding the need to provide sanitation in urban areas, particularly in densely populated areas and to the less affluent sectors of society.

Gender variations in access, choice to use and cleaning of shared latrines; experiences from Kampala Slums, Uganda

25 November 2014 10:47 (America/New_York)

Gender variations in access, choice to use and cleaning of shared latrines; experiences from Kampala Slums, Uganda. BMC Public Health 2014, 14:1180

Authors: Japheth Kwiringira, Peter Atekyereza, Charles Niwagaba and Isabel Günther

Background - Sanitation is one of the most intimate issues that affect women, especially in slums of developing countries. There are few studies that have paid attention to the gender variations in access, choice to use and cleaning of shared latrines in slums. Methods - This paper draws on qualitative data from a cross sectional study conducted between 2012 and 2013 in six slums of Kampala City, Uganda. The study involved both women and men. Data were collected from 12 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), 15 Key informant interviews; community transects and photographs of shared latrines. Results - Location of a shared latrine facility, distance, filthy, narrow and irregular paths; the time when a facility is visited (day or night), privacy and steep inclines were gender ‘filters’ to accessing shared latrines. A full latrine pit was more likely to inhibit access to and choice of a facility for women than men. Results indicate that the available coping mechanisms turned out to be gendered, with fewer options available for women than men. On the whole, women sought for privacy, easy reach, self-respect and esteem, cleanliness and privacy than men. While men like women also wanted clean facilities for use; they (men) were not keen on cleaning these facilities. The cleaning of shared latrines was seen by both women and men as a role for women. Conclusion - The presence of sanitation facilities as the first step in the access, choice, use, and cleaning by both women and men has distinct motivations and limitations along gender lines. The study confirms that the use and cleaning of latrines is regulated by gender in daily living. Using a latrine for women was much more than relieving oneself: it involved security, intimacy and and health concerns.



Sanitation can eliminate slums in less than a generation

25 November 2014 10:37 (America/New_York)

Sanitation can eliminate slums in less than a generation. Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation – Thu, 6 Nov 2014

Author: Magda Mis

Investing in water and sanitation could eradicate urban poverty and eliminate slums in less than a generation, said a study published on Thursday.

Almost 1 billion people, most of them in South Asia and Africa, live in slums without access to basic services like clean water and improved toilets.

Providing water and sanitation to those impoverished areas is necessary to drive economic development and can be done within decades, a study by international charity Water Aid said.

“Sanitation doesn’t come once prosperity comes – it is a driver of prosperity,” Barbara Frost, chief executive of Water Aid told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on the sidelines of a water summit in London.

Singapore and South Korea, prosperous countries that struggled with open sewers just a few decades ago, now provide good water and sanitation services to their population.

Such states achieved it through strong political leadership, campaigns like the “Keep Singapore clean” initiative, and by making investment in water and sanitation a priority, according to the study.

“The focus (needs to be) on moving from slum conditions, like open sewers and stinking rivers, to a modern city and this is what they have achieved in Singapore,” said Frost.

Even though most slums are mushrooming around cities in developing countries, national wealth should not be a condition for water and sanitation investments, the study said.

In the 1960s, when South Korea started to work on universal access to these services, its per capita GDP was lower than that of many countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Frost said Rwanda is a good example of how, when sanitation is made a priority, progress can be achieved quickly.

“(Rwanda is) making enormous progress…and that’s partially(thanks to) strong leadership,” said Frost.

The country managed to deliver sanitation services to an additional 30 percent of its population in just a decade.

Globally, more than 700 million people do not have access to clean water and 2.5 billion live without improved sanitation.

The United Nations is due to set new sustainable development objectives in 2015 with a global target of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.

“If the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 is to be realised, it’s going to be essential that investment is made in water and sanitation,” Frost said.

“Unless there is universal access to (those) basic services, extreme poverty can’t be eradicated.” (Reporting By Magdalena Mis; Editing by Maria Caspani)


Ebola in urban slums: the elephant in the room

25 November 2014 10:33 (America/New_York)

Ebola in urban slums: the elephant in the room. The Lancet Global Health, Early Online Publication, 30 October 2014

Authors: Robert E Snyder, Mariel A Marlow, Lee W Riley

A host of factors has been cited as causes of the current Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in west Africa: local cultural practices, poverty, inadequate health infrastructure, and the region’s recent strife-filled history. These factors alone, however, cannot completely explain the epidemic’s uncontrolled nature. There is an “elephant in the room” in the international discourse concerning this epidemic: urban informal human settlements or slums.

The UN defines slums as settlements with inadequate access to safe water, sanitation, and other infrastructure; poor structural housing quality; overcrowding; and insecure residential status.1 These conditions are the perfect breeding ground for EVD. Previously reported outbreaks of EVD occurred in rural and geographically isolated communities.2—6 The presumed introduction of the virus to the slums of Kenema and Freetown in Sierra Leone has undoubtedly augmented its spread.7 Sierra Leone is urbanising at a rate of 3% each year, and in 2005 more than 97% of its urban population lived in slums.8

The West Point slum in Monrovia, Liberia, has been a flashpoint for that country’s epidemic. The community’s poor health infrastructure, lack of health education, and inadequate government-enforced quarantine have all contributed to the disease’s spread. WHO has reported that the bodies of West Point EVD victims were being thrown into an adjacent river in a desperate attempt to stem the disease and deal with the overwhelming death toll.9 This inhumane situation is another simple means for the disease’s transmission to new areas.

Slum residents can be a highly mobile population. Limited economic opportunities force slum residents to migrate, clandestinely and often illegally, to new cities and countries. This type of migration subverts anti-EVD screening measures and presents an imminent threat to other informal communities and the rest of the world.

The primary factor contributing to slum dwellers’ disproportionate disease burden—their invisibility and neglect—also makes them an ideal vehicle for the epidemic. EVD is only the beginning and only one disease; even if we are to control the current epidemic, the future introduction of this and other highly contagious and virulent microbes to and from global slums is inevitable. It is not sufficient just to talk about poverty, lack of health-care access, cultural practices, etc. It will be impossible to stem this epidemic and prevent future epidemics of emerging diseases without addressing the underlying structural and socioeconomic determinants of disease unique to slums. Experts and politicians must acknowledge their existence now and divert resources towards improving the conditions of urban slums.

Oliver Cumming – Does Improving Sanitation Benefit Health? (podcast)

3 November 2014 9:29 (America/New_York)

In this podcast, Oliver Cumming, Policy & Research Manager at SHARE, discusses whether improving sanitation benefits health and explains how a sanitation campaign in India has led to a rethink about future interventions. This podcast was first published on 23/10/14 by LSHTM.


Bangladesh Urban Health Survey 2013: Preliminary Results, October 2014

30 October 2014 12:16 (America/New_York)

Bangladesh Urban Health Survey 2013: Preliminary Results, October 2014.

National Institute of Population Research and Training (NIPORT); MEASURE Evaluation, icddr,b Funded by:
US Agency for International Development, , Bangladesh, Department for International Development (DFID).

Key Findings

Child Mortality

  • During 2009-2013, one in eighteen children in slums dies before reaching the fifth birthday.
  • In slums, U5MR declined by 30% during the last seven years whereas IMR declined by 22%. While child mortality (CM) and neonatal mortality (NN) declined substantially during this period, post-neonatal mortality (PNN) remained largely unchanged.

Child Health

  • More than half of under-five children with symptoms of ARI in slums are taken to a health facility or a medically trained provider for treatment compared to two-thirds in non-slums. However, skilled care seeking for childhood ARI improved only in slums during 2006-2013.
  • Higher proportion of under-five children with ARI receives antibiotics in slums than non-slums in 2013 (47% vs. 40%).

Child Feeding and Nutrition

  • Exclusive breastfeeding of children under six months approached 60 percent both in slums and non-slums, and slightly higher in other urban (66%).  In both slums and non-slums, there has been a substantial increase in exclusive breastfeeding from the 2006 level.
  • Only one in four children of age 6-23 months in slums are fed with proper IYCF practices, which is 40 percent for non-slums.
  • Half of under-five children in slums were stunted (height-for-age below -2SD), which is around one-third for non-slums and other urban areas. Underweight among under-five children in slums (43%) is considerably higher in non-slums (26%) and other urban areas (30%).
  • In the last seven years, there has only been a slight improvement in nutritional status in both slums and non-slums.
  • In all urban domains, overall wasting rate surpassed the WHO specified emergency level (15%). In both slum and non-slum areas, wasting has increased in the last seven years

Ecohealth Approach to Urban Waste Management: Exposure to Environmental Pollutants and Health Risks in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire

30 October 2014 12:05 (America/New_York)

Ecohealth Approach to Urban Waste Management: Exposure to Environmental Pollutants and Health Risks in Yamoussoukro, Côte d’Ivoire. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health, Oct 2014, 11(10).

Authors: Parfait K. Kouamé, Kouassi Dongo, et al.

We undertook trans-disciplinary research within an Ecohealth approach, comprised of a participatory workshop with stakeholders and mapping of exposure patterns. A total of 492 randomly selected households participated in a cross-sectional survey. Waste deposit sites were characterised and 108 wastewater samples were subjected to laboratory examinations. The physico-chemical parameters of the surface water (temperature, pH, conductivity, potential oxidise reduction, BOD5, COD, dissolved oxygen, nitrates, ammonia and total Kendal nitrogen) did not comply with World Health Organization standards of surface water quality.

Questionnaire results showed that malaria was the most commonly reported disease. Diarrhoea and malaria were associated with poor sanitation. Households having dry latrines had a higher risk of diarrhoea (odds ratio (OR) = 1.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2–2.7) compared to latrines with septic tanks and also a higher risk for malaria (OR = 1.9, 95% (CI) 1.1–3.3). Our research showed that combining health and environmental assessments enables a deeper understanding of environmental threats and disease burdens linked to poor waste management. Further study should investigate the sanitation strategy aspects that could reduce the environmental and health risks in the study area.

Emerging contaminants in urban groundwater sources in Africa

30 October 2014 11:32 (America/New_York)

Emerging contaminants in urban groundwater sources in Africa. Water Research, Available online 13 August 2014.

Authors: J.P.R. Sorensen, D.J. Lapworth, et al.

• First study to do broad screening for emerging contaminants in water in Africa.
• DEET is omnipresent in groundwater.
• Less frequently detected compounds include triclosan, trihalomethanes and pesticides.
• Contaminants were most prevalent in hand-dug wells in low income residential areas.
• Seasonal changes in DEET highlight its mobility and aquifer vulnerability.

The occurrence of emerging organic contaminants within the aquatic environment in Africa is currently unknown. This study provides early insights by characterising a broad range of emerging organic contaminants (n > 1000) in groundwater sources in Kabwe, Zambia. Groundwater samples were obtained during both the dry and wet seasons from a selection of deep boreholes and shallow wells completed within the bedrock and overlying superficial aquifers, respectively. Groundwater sources were distributed across the city to encompass peri-urban, lower cost housing, higher cost housing, and industrial land uses. The insect repellent DEET was ubiquitous within groundwater at concentrations up to 1.8 μg/L. Other compounds (n = 26) were detected in less than 15% of the sources and included the bactericide triclosan (up to 0.03 μg/L), chlorination by-products – trihalomethanes (up to 50 μg/L), and the surfactant 2,4,7,9-tetramethyl-5-decyne-4,7-diol (up to 0.6 μg/L). Emerging contaminants were most prevalent in shallow wells sited in low cost housing areas. This is attributed to localised vulnerability associated with inadequate well protection, sanitation, and household waste disposal.

The five-fold increase in median DEET concentration following the onset of the seasonal rains highlights that more mobile compounds can rapidly migrate from the surface to the aquifer suggesting the aquifer is more vulnerable than previously considered. Furthermore it suggests DEET is potentially useful as a wastewater tracer in Africa. There was a general absence of personal care products, life-style compounds, and pharmaceuticals which are commonly detected in the aquatic environment in the developed world. This perhaps reflects some degree of attenuation within the subsurface, but could also be a result of the current limited use of products containing emerging contaminants by locals due to unaffordability and unavailability. As development and population increases in Africa, it is likely a wider-range of emerging contaminants will be released into the environment.


The Limits and Possibilities of Prepaid Water in Urban Africa: Lessons from the Field

17 September 2014 13:41 (America/New_York)

The Limits and Possibilities of Prepaid Water in Urban Africa: Lessons from the Field, 2014.

Authors: Chris Heymans, Kathy Eales and Richard Franceys. Water and Sanitation Program.

This study explores the potential of prepaid meters for serving urban poor communities. It provides urban utilities, oversight agencies, and other stakeholders in Africa with a basis for decision-making on the suitability, introduction, and management of such meters. The need for the assessment emerged from prepaid meters.

Of the three applications, prepaid public standpipes seem most likely to enable water utilities to serve poor households better and offset investment and running costs. This capability is contingent on a distribution network with adequate pressure, the existence of convenient credit purchase points, and a strong customer service component to address faults promptly.

This report identifies and discusses key areas in which policy reform, improved regulation, and innovative operational practice could help make the use of prepaid water systems conducive to serving poor people. Key suggestions about the way forward include:

Be clear about the priority: Reaching people without their own connections. Prepaid systems’ core potential is in addressing the fact that many urban Africans still do not have their own water connections and remain outside the reach of subsidy regimes. Prepayment does not offer an obvious answer to these challenges, but some of these systems’ attributes may provide a tool for addressing them in certain circumstances.


Running water in India’s cities : a review of five recent public-private partnership initiatives

17 September 2014 13:35 (America/New_York)

Running water in India’s cities : a review of five recent public-private partnership initiatives, 2014. World Bank.

Authors: Kacker, Suneetha Dasappa; Ramanujam, SR; Miller, Tracey.

India is home to more than 370 million people in urban areas. Historically, almost all water supply provision has been managed by the public sector through municipal or state-level departments or parastatals. Benchmarking initiatives show that coverage through piped water supply ranges between 55 percent and 89 percent in urban areas. Per capita availability is fairly high, at 90 to 120 liters per day, but no city yet offers continuous water supply. Daily supply averages four hours, with many cities alternating supply every other day.

These challenges occur in a context of weak management systems and little data on existing assets, which makes it difficult to assess investment needs and time lines to improve service levels and operational efficiencies. While investment requirements are likely to be significant, it is recognized that investments alone will not be effective unless the country simultaneously addresses related issues such as complex and fragmented institutions with little accountability; lack of capacity to run utilities efficiently and meet performance standards; weak commercial orientation; interference in utility operations by external entities; and the absence of a regulatory framework focused on customer service and financial sustainability.

Vulnerability to Food Insecurity in Urban Slums: Experiences from Nairobi, Kenya

17 September 2014 13:29 (America/New_York)

Vulnerability to Food Insecurity in Urban Slums: Experiences from Nairobi, Kenya. Journal of Urban Health,
August 2014.

Authors: E. W. Kimani-Murage, L. Schofield, F. Wekesah, S. Mohamed, B. Mberu, R. Ettarh, T. Egondi, C. Kyobutungi, A. Ezeh

This study describes the food security situation among slum residents in Nairobi, with specific focus on vulnerability associated with the 2007/2008 post election crisis in Kenya. The study found high prevalence of food insecurity; 85 % of the households were food insecure, with 50 % being severely food insecure. Factors associated with food security include level of income, source of livelihood, household size, dependence ratio; illness, perceived insecurity and slum of residence. The qualitative narratives highlighted household vulnerability to food insecurity as commonplace but critical during times of crisis.

Respondents indicated that residents in the slums generally eat for bare survival, with little concern for quality. The narratives described heightened vulnerability during the 2007/2008 post election violence in Kenya in the perception of slum residents. Prices of staple foods like maize flour doubled and simultaneously household purchasing power was eroded due to worsened unemployment situation. The use of negative coping strategies to address food insecurity such as reducing the number of meals, reducing food variety and quality, scavenging, and eating street foods was prevalent.

In conclusion, this study describes the deeply intertwined nature of chronic poverty and acute crisis, and the subsequent high levels of food insecurity in urban slum settings. Households are extremely vulnerable to food insecurity; the situation worsening during periods of crisis in the perception of slum residents, engendering frequent use of negative coping strategies. Effective response to addressing vulnerability to household food insecurity among the urban poor should focus on both the underlying vulnerabilities of households due to chronic poverty and added impacts of acute crises.

Levels & Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2014

17 September 2014 13:18 (America/New_York)

Levels & Trends in Child Mortality: Report 2014. UNICEF.

Substantial global progress has been made inreducing child deaths since 1990. The number ofunder-five deaths worldwide has declined from12.7 (12.5, 12.9)1 million in 1990 to 6.3 (6.1, 6.7)million in 2013. While that translates into around17,000 fewer children dying every day in 2013than in 1990, it still implies the deaths of about17,000 children under age five every day in 2013.

The leading causes of death among childrenunder age five include preterm birth complications (17 percent of under-five deaths),pneumonia (15 percent), intrapartum-relatedcomplications (complications during labour anddelivery; 11 percent), diarrhoea (9 percent) andmalaria (7 percent). Globally, nearly half of under-five deaths are attributable to undernutrition.

The global under-five mortality rate is fallingfaster than at any other time during thepast two decades. The global annual rateof reduction has steadily accelerated since1990–1995—more than tripling from 1.2percent to 4.0 percent in 2005–2013.

Designing the next generation of sanitation businesses

17 September 2014 13:06 (America/New_York)

Designing the next generation of sanitation businesses: a report by HYSTRA for the Toilet Board Coalition, 2014.

Fortunately, a number of market-based models have emerged in both rural and urban areas to address the sanitation crisis. They all serve the Base of the Pyramid in a sustainable manner by offering improved solutions, at a price that the poor are willing and able to pay. In this Report, we analyze two models that combine an aspirational value proposition for low-income families and a strong potential for financial sustainability: projects that facilitate the creation of a local, sanitation market in rural areas and enterprises servicing home mobile toilets in urban areas.

Based on an in-depth analysis of 12 projects representative of these two models, the Report suggests strategies to overcome challenges to sustainability and scale. Finally, the Report explores how these models would benefit from corporate and industrial expertise and resources, opening up opportunities for large corporations to contribute to solving the sanitation crisis.

State of the Health of the Urban Poor in Nairobi

28 August 2014 12:00 (America/New_York)

Population and Health Dynamics in Nairobi’s Informal Settlements, 2014. African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC).

This report documents the living conditions and health risks of slum-dwellers across Nairobi’s informal settlements a decade after the Nairobi Cross-sectional Slums Survey of 2000 (NCSS 2000). It aims to not only highlight the needs of slum-dwellers but also inform policymakers on the changes that have occurred in the living conditions of Nairobi’s urban poor since 2000, considering development interventions by the Government of Kenya (GoK) and its development partners. The primary objective of the NCSS 2000 report was to document population and health problems among the residents of Nairobi’s informal settlements and to compare these with indicators from national surveys for other sub-groups of the Kenyan population. The survey report, Population and Health Dynamics in Nairobi‘s Informal Settlements, for the first time brought to light the plight of slum residents in Kenya.

Hitherto, this plight had remained hidden in national data systems and urban averages. In particular, the survey brought to focus the excess mortality and disease burden among the urban poor compared to any other subgroup in the country; their limited access to health care and family planning services; and the debilitating environment that characterizes their physical living conditions, including inadequate access to water and sanitation, poor housing conditions, poor livelihood opportunities and the near-absence of public sector services. A decade after the NCSS 2000, it became critical to revisit the slums of Nairobi to take stock of the changes that had taken place since 2000. The current report is guided by these key questions:

  • Are the needs of the slum-dwellers still the same?
  • What has really changed since the last report?
  • What are the new areas of focus to improve the well-being of the slum-dwellers?

Urbanization and health in developing countries: a systematic review.

28 August 2014 11:51 (America/New_York)

Urbanization and health in developing countries: a systematic review. World Health Popul. 2014;15(1):7-20.

Authors: Eckert S, Kohler S. Institute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité University Medical Center, Berlin, Germany.

BACKGROUND: Future population growth will take place predominantly in cities of the developing world. The impact of urbanization on health is discussed controversially. We review recent research on urban-rural and intra-urban health differences in developing countries and investigate whether a health advantage was found for urban areas.

METHODS: We systematically searched the databases JSTOR, PubMed, ScienceDirect and SSRN for studies that compare health status in urban and rural areas. The studies had to examine selected World Health Organization health indicators.

RESULTS: Eleven studies of the association between urbanization and the selected health indicators in developing countries met our selection criteria. Urbanization was associated with a lower risk of undernutrition but a higher risk of overweight in children. A lower total fertility rate and lower odds of giving birth were found for urban areas. The association between urbanization and life expectancy was positive but insignificant. Common risk factors for chronic diseases were more prevalent in urban areas. Urban-rural differences in mortality from communicable diseases depended on the disease studied.

CONCLUSION: Several health outcomes were correlated with urbanization in developing countries. Urbanization may improve some health problems developing countries face and worsen others. Therefore, urbanization itself should not be embraced as a solution to health problems but should be accompanied by an informed and reactive health policy.

Sustained high incidence of injuries from burns in a densely populated urban slum in Kenya: An emerging public health priority

28 August 2014 11:32 (America/New_York)

Sustained high incidence of injuries from burns in a densely populated urban slum in Kenya: An emerging public health priority. Burns, Volume 40, Issue 6, September 2014, Pages 1194–1200.

Authors: Joshua M. Wonga, et al.

Introduction – Ninety-five percent of burn deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); however, longitudinal household-level studies have not been done in urban slum settings, where overcrowding and unsafe cook stoves may increase likelihood of injury.

Methods- Using a prospective, population-based disease surveillance system in the urban slum of Kibera in Kenya, we examined the incidence of household-level burns of all severities from 2006–2011.

Results – Of approximately 28,500 enrolled individuals (6000 households), we identified 3072 burns. The overall incidence was 27.9/1000 person-years-of-observation. Children <5 years old sustained burns at 3.8-fold greater rate compared to (p < 0.001) those ≥5 years old. Females ≥5 years old sustained burns at a rate that was 1.35-fold (p < 0.001) greater than males within the same age distribution. Hospitalizations were uncommon (0.65% of all burns).

Conclusions – The incidence of burns, 10-fold greater than in most published reports from Africa and Asia, suggests that such injuries may contribute more significantly than previously thought to morbidity in LMICs, and may be increased by urbanization. As migration from rural areas into urban slums rapidly increases in many African countries, characterizing and addressing the rising burden of burns is likely to become a public health priority.

WSUP – The urban water supply guide: service delivery options for low-income communities

14 August 2014 10:49 (America/New_York)

The urban water supply guide: service delivery options for low-income communities, 2014.

Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor.

Providing improved water supply to low-income urban communities is a difficult challenge faced by water utilities throughout Africa and Asia. This guide provides an introduction to available options for serving these communities. The guide draws on sector experience in general, and more particularly on WSUP’s extensive experience of implementing urban WASH programmes in sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere.

This guide is aimed primarily at executive and technical staff in water utilities and related organisations, such as asset-holders and regulators. It will also be useful for WASH professionals working in governments, development agencies, funding agencies or civil society organisations.

Metabolized-water breeding diseases in urban India: Socio-spatiality of water problems and health burden in Ahmedabad

14 August 2014 10:46 (America/New_York)

Metabolized-water breeding diseases in urban India: Socio-spatiality of water problems and health burden in Ahmedabad, 2014.

Subramanian, Saravanan V., et al. Center for Development Research, University of Bonn.

The paper brings together urban metabolism, political ecology and anthropological studies to examine how the material flow of water is socially constructed and reconstructed through everyday water problems and its health burden in Ahmedabad city, India. The article geo-references the water problems and occurrence of diseases and through interviews documents the socio-spatial characteristics of water problems and health burden in two case study wards. The paper provides a situated understanding of the everyday practices that exposes the water infrastructure through leakages, reveals the citizens desire for better water quality and struggle to gain access to water using diverse ‚pressure‘ tactics.

It is this social-material construct of infrastructure that gives structure and coherence to urban space, which spatially coincides with the occurrence of diseases. The analysis reveals the socio-political drivers of the water problems, spatial inequity in water access, and identify potential hypothesis of the hotspots of disease emergences. Attempts to bring about a desired change have to be collective and incremental that takes into consideration the diffuse interplay of power by diverse actors in managing the flow of water. The methodology offers a way forward for researchers and development agencies to improve the surveillance and monitoring of water infrastructure and public health. By bringing ‚place-based‘ and ‚people-based‘ approach, the analysis charts out avenues for incorporating the socio-spatiality of the everyday problems within the field of urban metabolism for improving resource use efficiencies in cities of rapidly growing economies.


Unintended Pregnancies among Young Women Living in Urban Slums: Evidence from a Prospective Study in Nairobi City, Kenya

14 August 2014 10:40 (America/New_York)

Unintended Pregnancies among Young Women Living in Urban Slums: Evidence from a Prospective Study in Nairobi City, Kenya. PLoS One, July 2014.

Donatien Beguy, et al.

Background: Despite the significant proportion of young people residing in slum communities, little attention has beenpaid to the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) challenges they face during their transition to adulthood within this harshenvironment. Little is known about the extent to which living in extreme environments, like slums, impact SRH outcomes,especially during this key developmental period. This paper aims to fill this research gap by examining the levels of andfactors associated with unintended pregnancies among young women aged 15–22 in two informal settlements in Nairobi,Kenya.

Methods: We use data from two waves of a 3-year prospective survey that collected information from adolescents living inthe two slums in 2007–2010. In total, 849 young women aged 15–22 were considered for analysis. We employed Cox andlogistic regression models to investigate factors associated with timing of pregnancy experience and unintended pregnancyamong adolescents who were sexually active by Wave 1 or Wave 2.

Findings: About two thirds of sexually experienced young women (69%) have ever been pregnant by Wave 2. For 41% of adolescents, the pregnancies were unintended, with 26% being mistimed and 15% unwanted. Multivariate analysis shows asignificant association between a set of factors including age at first sex, schooling status, living arrangements and timing ofpregnancy experience. In addition, marital status, schooling status, age at first sex and living arrangements are the only factors that are significantly associated with unintended pregnancy among the young women.

Conclusions: Overall, this study underscores the importance of looking at reproductive outcomes of early sexual initiation, the serious health risks early fertility entail, especially among out-of school girls, and sexual activity in general among young women living in slum settlements. This provides greater impetus for addressing reproductive behaviors among youngwomen living in resource-poor settings such as slums


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