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The Netherlands announces $50 million contribution to WSSCC for global sanitation coverage

23 September 2016 5:51 (America/New_York)

The Government of the Netherlands today announced a renewed investment of $50 million for the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).

The funding will enable WSSCC, the only part of the United Nations devoted solely to the sanitation and hygiene needs of the most vulnerable people around the world, to empower 5 million additional people to access improved sanitation by 2020.

“In 2015, the Netherlands pledged to achieve universal access to water for 30 million people and sanitation for 50 million people by 2030,” said Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, in a video shown at Global Citizen’s World on Stage event held in New York City at the NYU Skirball Center. “And today I’m proud to announce that the Government of the Netherlands will be donating 50 million dollars to the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council to foster our joint efforts!”

The announcement was made during Global Citizen’s exclusive night of music, advocacy, and impact with Tom Morello, Kesha, and Paul Simon presenting the inaugural George Harrison Global Citizen Award.

The Netherlands’ special envoy for international water affairs Henk Ovink joined Nigerian Environment Minister and WSSCC Chair Amina J. Mohammed at the announcement on Friday night. Credit: Global Citizen

Henk Ovink, the Netherlands’ special envoy for international water affairs, joined Amina J. Mohammed, the Chair of WSSCC and Minister of Environment for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, at the announcement.

“I can assure you that the commitment from the Netherlands will transform the lives of millions of women and girls, the elderly, the disabled, and the most vulnerable,” said Mohammed.

“The Netherlands stands firmly committed to a water-secure world, where every citizen of every nation can access clean drinking water, and where safe sanitation and hygiene is a reality for all,” added Ovink.

2.4 billion people – roughly 40 percent of the world’s population – lack what many take for granted: a toilet. Every day, an estimated 1,500 children die from diarrhoea largely caused by a lack of access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene — more than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. Poor sanitation alone may also be responsible for as much as half of the world’s stunting problems, due to diarrhoea and related malnutrition.

Ms. Mohammed said it is important “to hold more global leaders accountable for making visionary commitments to global water and sanitation. This will improve health, grow economies and enhance human dignity.”

In addition to the Netherlands, WSSCC is supported by the Governments of Australia, Finland, Norway, Switzerland and Sweden.

Filed under: Uncategorized

Recent WASH related research

20 September 2016 15:09 (America/New_York)

Exploring Determinants of Handwashing with Soap in Indonesia: A Quantitative AnalysisInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health , September 2016. This study analyzes rural Indonesian households’ hygiene behaviors and attitudes to examine how motivations for handwashing, locations of handwashing space in the household, and handwashing moments are potential determinants of handwashing behavior.

Behaviour Centered Design (BCD): Towards an Applied Science of Behaviour ChangeHealth Psychology Review , August 2016. This paper positions BCD as the foundation of an applied science of behavior change and outlines a sequence of five steps required to design an intervention to change specific behaviors. The BCD approach has been shown to change hygiene, nutrition, and exercise-related behaviors and has the advantages of being applicable to product, service, or institutional design.

The Water Report 2016. Stockholm International Water Institute , August 2016. Published prior to World Water Week, this annual report was meant to inspire discussions at the meeting and bring topical issues to the fore. None is more prominent this year than the issue of migration and its link to water issues. Other topics covered include the 2030 Agenda and sustainable growth.

Asian Water Development Outlook (AWDO) 2016: Strengthening Water Security in Asia and the PacificAsian Development Bank (ADB) , September 2016. The result of rigorous analysis, AWDO 2016 provides a snapshot of the region’s water security status, enabling policymakers, financing institutions, and planners to make informed decisions on how to improve their performance in the water sector. The six-part report describes the water challenges the region is facing, presents the AWDO approach, and provides information on how water security can be increased.

Water and Sanitation Interlinkages Across the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable DevelopmentUnited Nations , August 2016. This brief analyzes the central role of water and sanitation and describes the interlinkages between the targets of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 and those of other goals. The document emphasizes the mutually reinforcing nature of the interlinkages and the necessity for an integrated implementation approach, and also highlights the importance of mainstreaming water and sanitation in the policies and plans of other sectors.

Measuring Domestic Water Use: A Systematic Review of Methodologies that Measure Unmetered Water Use in Low-Income SettingsTropical Medicine and International Health , August 2016. More than 20 studies were included in this literature review of methods for measuring domestic water use in settings where water meters cannot be used. The review found no standardized methods for measuring unmetered water use and recommended that further research begin with pre-study observations during water collection periods to determine optimal methods for obtaining water use information in a survey.

Herd Protection from Drinking Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene InterventionsAmerican Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene , September 2016. Although cluster-randomized trials of WASH interventions have reported the total or overall efficacy of WASH interventions, they have not quantified the role of herd protection. Through a literature review and modeling, researchers have established that WASH interventions are likely to provide some level of herd protection.

Enteric Pathogens and Factors Associated with Acute Bloody Diarrhoea, KenyaBMC Infectious Diseases , September 2016. This study found that good personal hygiene practices such as washing hands after defecation and storing drinking water separate from water for other uses were key protective factors, while presence of coliform in the main water source was found to be a risk factor for bloody diarrhea. Implementation of WASH interventions is therefore key to prevention and control.

Filed under: Hygiene Promotion, Research

Sustainable Sanitation Alliance – Thematic Online Discussion: “Managing WASH in Schools – Is the Education Sector Ready?”

19 September 2016 7:47 (America/New_York)

The Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA) is excited to announce the 9th Thematic Online Discussion on the topic of “Managing WASH in Schools – Is the Education Sector Ready?”

Starting on Monday, September 19, we invite you to join our discussion on the challenges of WASH in Schools (WinS) globally which is part of SuSanA’s Thematic Discussion Series (TDS).

The direct links of WinS to SDG2 (health), SDG6 (water and sanitation) and SDG4 (education) pose the chance for increased inter-sectoral cooperation. Thereby, the education sector’s leadership and management are critical to broad-scale implementation and success of WinS. Yet, how is the education sector taking WASH on board and how can the sector manage it? How does the reality look like in schools around the world? What does it take for better-managed WinS? What shifts/changes are necessary to see the situation change?

Building on the SuSanA Working Group 7 (Community, Rural & Schools) meeting during the Stockholm Water Week 2016, we would like to address these and other questions in order to get a better understanding of the challenges and needs of the education sector to successfully manage WASH in schools.

In particular, we will structure our discussion along two topics – (1) Policy Issues on the Regional and Global Level and (2) Implementation Level/Matters of Implementation.

For both topics, experts from both the WASH and the education sector will provide leadership, food for thought and a profound insight into the topic. Questions raised by Forum Users will also be addressed.

Discussing WASH in school and the education sector’s role and potential for leadership, we propose the following schedule:

Theme I – Policy Issues on the Regional and Global Level (September 19-30)
Theme II – Implementation Level (September 21-30)

We look forward to interested participants and an enriching discussion on WinS.

Kind regards,

Antonio S.D. on behalf of the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance

Filed under: Campaigns and Events, Education & training, Hygiene Promotion, Multimedia, Sanitary Facilities, Sanitation and Health, Uncategorized

Live Q&A: $114bn a year needed for water and toilets – where will it come from?

13 September 2016 13:22 (America/New_York)

Live Q&A: $114bn a year needed for water and toilets – where will it come from? | Source: The Guardian, Sept 8, 2016 |

How do we raise funds needed to reach the millions without access to water and sanitation? Discuss with an expert panel on 15 September, 3–4.30pm BST

About $28.4bn (£21.2bn) is spent each year to provide access to water and sanitation around the world. If this investment is maintained, by 2030 everyone will have access to drinking water, an adequate toilet, and a suitable place to wash their hands.

Access to clean and affordable water and a safe place to go to the toilet will cost $114bn a year. Photograph: Rupak de Chowdhuri/Reuters

But the sustainable development goals go beyond just basic access; they envision a world where everyone has access to clean and affordable drinking water and a safe place to go to the toilet. This level of access will cost $114bn a year, the World Bank estimates.

The water and finance communities need to find ways to triple current levels of investment, and they need to do it quickly. “We’re already one year into the SDGs,” says Bill Kingdom, global lead for water supply and sanitation at the World Bank’s Water Global Practice. “If we carry on with business as usual for the next year, that’s two years gone, and that $114bn a year becomes $127bn for the remaining 13 years.”

Which innovative ideas could realistically help raise the additional $85.6bn needed annually? What will make the water industry attractive to lenders? How do we address the privatisation of services and make sure water and sanitation is affordable for all?

Join an expert panel on Thursday 15 September, from 3pm to 4.30pm BST, to discuss these questions and more.

Read the complete article.

Filed under: Economic Benefits, Uncategorized Tagged: financing

Broken glass and needles: the waste pickers scraping a living at Jordan’s landfills

13 September 2016 12:30 (America/New_York)

Broken glass and needles: the waste pickers scraping a living at Jordan’s landfills | Source: The Guardian, August 27, 2016 |

At Al Huseyniyat landfill, Syrian refugees salvage recyclables illegally. Efforts to formalise their work offer hope 

Muhammed Abu Najib Temeki, 48, a father of nine from Deraa in Syria, pushes a cart of recyclable waste towards an Oxfam recycling centre in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. Photograph: Sam Tarling/Oxfam

Without warning the bulldozer accelerates, cutting through mounds of waste at Al Huseyniyat landfill in northern Jordan. A lingering stench intensifies as the machine scoops up an armful of rubbish, discharging clouds of flies over a group of people rifling through bin bags nearby.

No one notices the disturbance. Their gazes are trained downwards as they sift through the morning’s waste. “We look for plastic, aluminium, metal, clothes – anything we can sell or keep, or sometimes eat,” says Mohammed Ali, an Egyptian who makes a living salvaging recyclables from the site.

Ali manages a team of 15 waste pickers – men, women and children – most Syrians from nearby Za’atari refugee camp. They earn around 10 Jordanian dinar (£10.90) a day. “It’s not a lot but I make enough to manage on,” says Nawras Sahasil, a 21-year-old Syrian refugee who supports his wife and two children on the 250 dinars a month he earns from the landfill.

Like most people here, Sahasil does not have a work permit. While the Jordanian government has gone some way towards easing restrictions on employment for Syrian refugees, the vast majority are still working illegally. Now, a number of organisations in Jordan are looking to formalise the work of waste pickers and harness their role as recyclers to address the country’s mounting rubbish crisis, while developing sustainable solutions for processing waste in the future.

Read the complete article.

Filed under: Dignity and Social Development, Economic Benefits, Middle East & North Africa Tagged: Jordan, waste pickers

How One Organization in Hyderabad Is Helping People Manage Waste in a Responsible & Scientific Way

13 September 2016 12:09 (America/New_York)

How One Organization in Hyderabad Is Helping People Manage Waste in a Responsible & Scientific Way | Source: The Better India, September 13, 2016 |

Sixty million tons of garbage generated per year; 45 million tons of untreated waste disposed of in an unhygienic manner every day; and about 0.34 kg waste generated by every person daily – when it comes to statistics regarding waste generation and management in India, the numbers looks quite dismal. 

“We have no organised waste management system in India. We just dump waste and leave it around to pollute the environment. And the main reason behind this is that we do not have the concept of waste segregation at all. At most places, waste is simply thrown in the easiest manner possible,” says Mathangi Swaminathan, the Associate Director of Waste Ventures India (WVI) – a social enterprise that is working in the field of waste management in Hyderabad.

Run by a group of environmentally-conscious individuals, WVI provides waste solutions for housing societies and corporate offices by recycling dry waste and composting organic waste. The company offers doorstep collection of waste in two ways:

  • Collection of recyclable waste only.
  • Complete waste solution with collection of dry as well as organic waste.

Read the complete article.

Filed under: Economic Benefits, South Asia Tagged: India, waste pickers

The other water crisis: one million jobs are missing yearly

13 September 2016 11:58 (America/New_York)

The other water crisis: one million jobs are missing yearly. Equal Times, September 12, 2016 |

Experts are sounding the alarm over a growing jobs crisis in the global water sector. While there is much talk about the increasing water scarcity that will affect 1.8 billion people by 2025, and the need to support Goal Six of the Sustainable Development Goals which calls for the “availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”, there is another issue: there aren’t enough skilled workers to keep the water sector running efficiently.

One million new water professionals, like these engineers working on a broken water main for the Syracuse Water Department in New York state, are needed ever year to plug the jobs gap in the sector. (AP/Mike Groll)

According to UN Water, 1.5 billion people – more than 40 per cent of the world’s total active workforce – work in water-related sectors, while nearly all jobs are water dependent.

Speaking at the at the World Water Week conference, which was held in Stockholm, Sweden from 28 August to 2 September, Ger Bergkemp, executive director of the International Water Association (IWA), said the number of water professionals is failing to keep pace with the world’s ever increasing water needs.

The global population of seven billion needs waste water facilities, translating to approximately 7,000 people requiring new waste water facilities on daily basis. This means that one million new professionals are needed yearly to bridge the gap,” he said.

Read the complete article.

Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: employment, jobs

Facilitating Access to Finance for Household Investment in Sanitation in Bangladesh

13 September 2016 11:50 (America/New_York)

Facilitating Access to Finance for Household Investment in Sanitation in Bangladesh, August 2016. World Bank.

Approach to Blended Finance: The provision of an output-based aid (OBA) subsidy to microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Bangladesh is used to help MFIs develop sanitation products and extend their reach to poorer households.

Microfinance (the provision of financial services to low-income people) is emerging as a viable avenue to facilitate increased access to finance for households to water and sanitation products, and for small-scale water service providers’ business development.

OBA is a form of results-based financing where subsidies are paid to service providers based on verification of pre-agreed water and sanitation project targets defined during project design, thereby offering a strong incentive for the delivery of results.

Combining an OBA subsidy with a microfinance loan helps reduce households’ cash constraints by spreading repayment over time, and makes investment in improved sanitation more affordable overall.


Filed under: Economic Benefits, South Asia Tagged: Bangladesh, microfinance, sanitation financing

Sanitation & nutrition: WaSH Policy Research Digest, August 2016

13 September 2016 11:39 (America/New_York)

Sanitation & nutrition: WaSH Policy Research Digest, August 2016. UNC Water Institute.

Detailed Review of a Recent Publication: Improved sanitation results in taller children in Mali. Pickering, A.J. et al., 2015. Effect of a community-led sanitation intervention on child diarrhoea and child growth in rural Mali: A cluster-randomised controlled trial. The Lancet Global Health, 3(11), pp.e701–e711. 

Key Policy and Programmatic Takeaways

  • Well-implemented Community Led Total Sanitation can increase latrine use: A sanitation program in Mali led to the construction and use of latrines that were affordable and acceptable to the users.
  • Sanitation improvements decrease stunting: The intervention resulted in reductions in stunting among children, measured by height and weight data.
  • Stunting can be considered a useful measure of health impact: Use of height and weight data demonstrated health impacts not shown by diarrhea data alone.

Filed under: Sanitation and Health Tagged: WASH nutrition integration

Untreated Wastewater: A Growing Crisis and Its Solutions

6 September 2016 10:12 (America/New_York)

Untreated Wastewater: A Growing Crisis and Its Solutions | Source: Engineering for Change, Aug 31 2016 |

The Biopipe is a decentralized pipe network that treats domestic wastewater for reuse in irrigation, comprised of a tank, pipe modules, circulation and water pumps, and a UV filter.

Aerial photos reveal a plume of brown fecal sludge drifting off the coast at Lavender Hill in Accra, Ghana. Every day, trucks drive dump 250,000 gallons of untreated sewage on the beach, wastewater pumped from latrines in neighborhoods that do not have sewer lines.

Susan Davis describes the disaster in the opening to a short but important piece at Davis is the founder of Improve International and a contributing editor at Engineering for Change who wrote the first installment of a two-part series on the lack of wastewater treatment in developing countries and solutions to the problem.

The sector of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) has largely ignored wastewater until recently, focusing instead of increasing access to toilets. But now the problem has gained global notoriety and wastewater treatment is a part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The second part, not yet published, will present a handful of solutions to the lack of wastewater treatment. The technologies are listed in E4C’s Solutions Library, where they can be compared to similar technologies side by side in a standardized format.

Craig Fairbaugh, an E4C Research Fellow, helped review the technologies and describes them in his forthcoming piece for This is a brief preview.

Read the complete article.

Filed under: Wastewater Management

Using psychology to change deadly bathroom habits in India

1 September 2016 15:23 (America/New_York)

Using psychology to change deadly bathroom habits in India | Source:, Aug 28 2016 |

In two cities in eastern India, Pamela Dalton’s team walks around pointing Nasal Rangers – devices resembling oversized hair dryers – into half-completed community toilets.

Then they sniff.

DEBASMITA MOHANTY Jayalalita Lenka, a surveyor on the Potty Project team, uses a Nasal Ranger to record the odors in a community toilet under construction in Bhubaneswar, India.

Dalton is an experimental psychologist from Philadelphia whose specialty is how people perceive and respond to odors. The odd-looking devices collect chemical data on aromas of all kinds, before and after the toilets are open for use. The goal: Get more people to use the facilities.

 People don’t want to relieve themselves indoors, Dalton said, and the intensity of bad smells is part of the problem. While the smell of human waste is diluted outdoors, without proper sanitation, it concentrates indoors, sending residents to relieve themselves elsewhere.

Poor sanitation is a leading cause of child mortality and disease in the developing world. India has the highest rates of what officials call open defecation, according to the World Health Organization. Many residents of urban slums come from villages where they may never have seen a modern toilet, and have no idea that waste can be infectious.

“People just defecate wherever,” said Dalton, a faculty member at the Monell Chemical Senses Center. “They’re used to going outside.”

So Dalton’s team, which is overseeing construction of dozens of new community toilets, is trying to make the new facilities more appealing. Part of that is studying the current state of stench.

Read the complete article.

Filed under: Dignity and Social Development, South Asia Tagged: cultural aspects, India, psychology

WaterAid – A tale of clean cities: Strong local leadership key to solving urban sanitation challenge

1 September 2016 15:14 (America/New_York)

A tale of clean cities: Strong local leadership key to solving urban sanitation challenge | Source: Reuters News, Sept 1 2016 |

Providing sanitation services to the urban poor is not an easy task, but new research shows that it can be done 

Public toilet in Kumasi, Ghana. Credit: WaterAid

A staggering 54% of the global population now live in urban areas, and city infrastructure is struggling to keep up in many countries, leaving millions without access to clean water and toilets and dramatically increasing the risk of disease

Uncontrolled urbanisation is putting a major strain on city planners to extend drinking water and sanitation services to all. Providing sanitation services to the urban poor is not an easy task, but new research from WaterAid shows that it can be done. The report A tale of clean cities: insights for planning urban sanitation from Ghana, India and The Philippines, released this week, explores three success stories to understand ‘what works’ when tackling the urban sanitation challenge.

There is no one size fits all measure when it comes to ensuring sustainable sanitation services, but one common feature in the three cities studied – Visakhapatnam (India), Kumasi (Ghana) and San Fernando (the Philippines) – is the vital role of strong local leadership, be it from the mayor or the head of the waste management department. When these people make sanitation their priority, cities can make significant strides in ensuring access to services for all urban dwellers. The research also found that financing opportunities were also critical in order to translate these efforts into action.

Read the complete article.

Filed under: Progress on Sanitation, Sanitary Facilities, Uncategorized Tagged: urban sanitation

SNV publications on urban sanitation

1 September 2016 5:59 (America/New_York)

SNV’s Urban Sanitation & Hygiene for Health and Development (USHHD) programme works with municipal governments to develop safe, sustainable city-wide services. The programme integrates insights in WASH governance, investment and finance, behavioural change communication and management of the sanitation service chain. We engage private sector, civil society organisations, users and local authorities to improve public health and development opportunities in their city.

As part of our USHHD programme, we have a long term partnership with the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney focused on knowledge and learning to improve practice and contribute to the WASH sector knowledge and evidence. Our recent collaborative efforts have resulted in the following papers:

Are we doing the right thing? Critical questioning for city sanitation planning (2016)
Cities are clear examples of complex and rapidly changing systems, particularly in countries where urban population growth and economic development continue apace, and where the socio-political context strongly influences the directions taken. The concept of double-loop learning can be usefully applied to city sanitation planning. This paper prompts practitioners, policy-makers and development agencies to reflect on their approaches to city sanitation planning and the assumptions that underlie them.
Download full paper

Exploring legal and policy aspects of urban sanitation and hygiene (2016)
During 2012-2014, SNV did four country reviews of legal arrangements for urban sanitation and hygiene in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Indonesia. Based on these experiences, this guide was developed to provide support and guidance for WASH practitioners undertaking a scan of legal arrangements to inform the design (use of frameworks and tools) and delivery (advocacy for improvements) of urban sanitation and hygiene programs.
Download full paper

A guide to septage transfer stations (2016)
Septage transfer stations have the potential to significantly reduce the amount of faecal sludge entering the environment by providing a local solution for septage disposal. Localised transfer stations shorten the time required for local operators to collect and transport septage, and they will be able to use smaller vacuum tanks that can navigate the densely populated residential areas. This guide provides information on the salient aspects of selecting, designing, building, operating and maintaining a septage transfer station.
Download full paper

Financing sanitation for cities and towns (2014)
Planning and financing for sanitation in cities and towns in developing countries is often ad hoc and piecemeal. Stronger capacity to plan financing for sanitation infrastructure (and services) for the long term will lead to better outcomes. Planning for adequate long-term services requires consideration of the complete sanitation service chain over the lifecycle of the associated service infrastructure. This paper focuses on access to the upfront finance and other lumpy finance needs for initial investment and for rehabilitation and/or replacement as physical systems approach their end of life.
Download full paper

For further information about these papers or the organisations, please contact:
Antoinette Kome (SNV) –
Juliet Willetts (ISF) on

Filed under: East Asia & Pacific, Hygiene Promotion, Policy, Publications, South Asia, Wastewater Management Tagged: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Nepal, SNV, urban sanitation, Urban Sanitation & Hygiene for Health and Development (USHHD) programme

IRC WASH Toolkit

1 September 2016 4:02 (America/New_York)

IRC has compiled a growing repository of tools and guidance for strengthening water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) service delivery.

Achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of universal access to WASH by 2030 requires a systems approach, This means tackling all dimensions such as monitoring systems to see whether services are delivered; financing frameworks that define who pays for what and how; and procurement mechanisms for infrastructure development.

The toolkit is organised around the two related goals of delivering services and delivering change.

The toolkit covers both water supply and sanitation. Sanitation and hygiene-specific tools have been grouped under the sanitation and behaviour change blocks.

Included are best practices, case studies and approaches developed and tested in IRC’s work with governments, NGOs and other partners in over 20 countries.

The tools come from big, multi-country initiatives, such as WASHCost, Triple-S and WASHTech, as well as more focused pieces of work, such as our partnership with the government of Ethiopia to develop guidelines for self-supply.

We are in the early stages of development, so for now the toolkit is a beta product. We encourage you to use and build on our work. We do, however, request you to acknowledge the source and share your experience with us. We also welcome your feedback as we continue to expand and refine the toolkit. Please send your comments, questions and experiences to

The toolkit is available at:


Filed under: Economic Benefits, Uncategorized

Don’t think of treatment plants: building factories to meet the sanitation SDGs

31 August 2016 9:16 (America/New_York)

Pivot Works factory in Kigali, Rwanda. From left to right: Fecal sludge receiving tank, flocculation tanks, mechanical dewatering machine. Photo: Ashley Muspratt

4,900 days from now, in 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals will expire.  If that feels like a long time, consider the work ahead.  And by work, I dare not attempt to wrap my head around all 17 goals; I refer specifically to the WASH goal – SDG #6 – and even more specifically to the sanitation targets.

From my admittedly invested perch – I run a sanitation company – the most exciting thing about transitioning from the MDGs to the SDGs is the belated inclusion of treatment.  There’s finally recognition that “improved sanitation” without treatment is not improved sanitation.  The WASH community’s new mandate: “halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally” (SDG 6.3).  But consider that the urban population still requiring “safely managed sanitation” today stands at 3.214 billion [1]. Serving them entails expanding safe management, i.e., some form of treatment, to 625,000 people each day for the next 4,900 days.  That’s basically a city a day.

How can we achieve such a massive expansion of safe fecal sludge and wastewater management?  For starters, let’s stop building treatment plants. Heresy? There’s a better way.

Safe management of human waste is an essential piece of the sanitation value chain. However, framing safe management as treatment implies a process that is costly and that exists for the sole purpose of rendering fecal sludge and wastewater safe for disposal – a “luxury” that most cities don’t think they can afford. What if we ventured to replace the word “treatment” with “manufacturing”?

The language we use to describe safe waste management has far-reaching implications for policy, budgetary decisions, and the design and operation of facilities.  Linguist George Lakoff argues that we understand particular words relative to our own unique “frames,” mental structures that shape the way we see the world and determine our notion of common sense [2]. So let’s change our frames. What gets you more excited (as either a sanitation nerd or government official): the burden of treatment or the opportunity of manufacturing?

Treatment, after all, is an antiquated approach to fecal sludge and wastewater management. With today’s technologies, human waste can be mined for a variety of forms energy, nutrients, and water. And the resource value of waste has potential to greatly exceed the cost of recovering those resources – and the cost of the so-called treatment.

Pivot Fuel, ready for shipping. Photo: Ashley Muspratt

At Pivot, we convert fecal sludge into an industrial fuel. And we deliberately use the term “factory” to describe our plants.  Factories take raw materials and convert them to value-added products that can be sold commercially.  Treatment plants, on the other hand, only convert hazardous material into a form that can be disposed.  Factories make money when well operated; treatment plants cost money even under the best of circumstances.

Imagine extending the language – the frame – of manufacturing to the design and construction of waste management facilities. The driving principle behind the design of Pivot Works factories is reuse – not treatment.  Reuse cannot be an afterthought in plant design, nor can it be undertaken without a hard look at the market demand for the end-product being considered. At Pivot Works factories, treatment is merely the byproduct of our manufacturing process – a fraction of our equipment serves the single purpose of treatment, while the majority serves to produce the highest quality industrial fuel possible from human waste.

Applying manufacturing framing to waste management is not just nuance, it pays real dividends.  The global cost of achieving the safe management component of SDG #6 is estimated at US$92 billion per year in capital costs, with annual O&M costs reaching US$120 billion by 2029.1 These estimates assume that improved management is met using 50% sewage with treatment and 50% fecal sludge management with treatment. I am confident that robust manufacturing plants can be installed and operated for far less than this estimate.

Pivot’s parent company, Waste Enterprisers Holding, recently commissioned a multinational engineering firm to independently review the lifecycle cost of a Pivot Works factory compared to three conventional wastewater and fecal sludge treatment process trains.  These ranged from waste stabilization ponds with sludge drying beds for pit sludge, to activated sludge with anaerobic digestion for waste activated sludge and pit sludge.  Compared to the conventional alternatives, the capital cost of a Pivot Works factory is 32 to 52% less expensive and annual operating costs are 90% less expensive. These savings are achieved through the radical reorganization of the conventional treatment process train and by maximizing revenue from fuel – by “treating” waste as a resource.

Pivot’s ultimate goal is to build plants for which operating costs are fully covered by revenue from fuel.  We estimate this is possible for plants processing over 500 m3 fecal sludge per day, and for volumes beyond that mark, the revenue model gets very interesting, opening up the prospect of revenue share with our client cities. One day soon, if not by 2030, cities will solve their sanitation crisis and profit from – not pay for – it too.

[1] Hutton, G. and Varughese, M. (2016). The Costs of Meeting
 the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal Targets on Drinking Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, Water and Sanitation Program Technical Paper #103171. World Bank, Washington, D.C.

[2] Paraphrased from, Don’t Think of an Elephant! Know Your Values and Frame the Debate by George Lakoff, Chelsea Green Publishing, White River Junction, VT. Copyright 2004.

About the author

Ashley Muspratt is the Founder and CEO of Pivot and its parent company Waste Enterprisers. She earned her PhD from the Energy and Resources Group at the University of California, Berkeley with a focus on the engineering and economics of designing municipal scale wastewater treatment plants for reuse.  Ashley lives with her family in Kigali, Rwanda.

Pivot is currently operating in Kigali, Rwanda and beginning to explore pipeline opportunities in East and Southern Africa.  We are currently recruiting a Chief Technology Officer; to learn more about the position and other job openings see  Learn more about Pivot at

Filed under: Africa, Technology, Wastewater Management Tagged: fecal sludge management, Kigali, Piviot, Private sector, Rwanda, SDGs, sludge use, Waste Enterprisers

USAID’s Global Waters, August 2016

30 August 2016 11:23 (America/New_York)

The August 2016 issue of USAID’s Global Waters is now online and includes the articles listed below. 

Pipeline to Progress  – The recent opening of a major new USAID-funded water pipeline is pumping new life into area homes and businesses — carrying with it the promise of a more dependable water supply for 260,000 residents of the southern West Bank

West Africa Water Supply, Sanitation & Hygiene Program – Our Real Impact series takes an in-depth look at USAID’s WA-WASH program and its work in the West African countries of Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Niger.

Improving Water Services for a More Water Secure Middle East – Global Water Coordinator Christian Holmes reports on his Middle East visit and the work being done to meet regional water needs to both maintain public health and produce food.

Nader Al-Khateeb on West Bank Water Security – Al-Khateeb tells Global Waters Radio about the recent opening of the Deir Sha’ar pipeline in the southern West Bank and how it is improving water security for 260,000 residents.

Emily Rand on Improved Child Feces Management – Rand discusses key findings from recent research  produced by the World Bank and UNICEF in the growing public health field of child feces management.

Annabell Waititu on Gender and Water Management in Kenya – Waititu talks to Global Waters Radio about why it is important for women to become involved in water management decisions beyond the household.

Filed under: Publications Tagged: Global Waters, USAID

Achieving universal access to water and sanitation by 2030 – how can blended finance help?

29 August 2016 14:32 (America/New_York)

Achieving universal access to water and sanitation by 2030 – how can blended finance help? | Source: World Bank Water Blog, August 29, 2016 |

An excerpt: What is “blended finance”?

OECD refers to blended finance as ‘the strategic use of development finance and philanthropic funds to mobilize private capital flows to emerging and frontier markets’.  Blended finance in the water sector has the potential of mobilizing private sector financing for credit-worthy or close to credit-worthy investments. This would allow reallocating public funds to other areas where public subsidies are likely to be needed.

Commercial finance usually brings requirements for greater investment discipline and transparency, which in turn could support improved efficiency in the sector, an objective for most water sector reform efforts around the world. 

Domestic commercial finance in particular can be mobilized in local currency, which reduces the foreign exchange risk and can bring down transaction costs, particularly for smaller scale investments to improve efficiency that can generate rapid returns (such as replacing meters or fixing leaks).

Blended finance has traditionally been used as a tool to stimulate interest from the commercial financial sector, with the use of concessional finance then tapering off over time to avoid distorting markets. Given the embedded distortions in the WSS sector in developing countries, where financing is predominantly based on subsidized public funds, it will be necessary to move towards mobilizing more commercial funds over time. Blended finance can be a stepping-stone in that transition.

Read the complete article.

Filed under: Economic Benefits Tagged: blended finance

DefeatDD: Superheroes vs. Villains

29 August 2016 14:22 (America/New_York)
Published on Aug 29, 2016

Superheroes and villains face off in the battle to DefeatDD! With their powers combined, Nutrition, Vaccines, WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), and ORS + Zinc help children, families, and communities conquer the biggest bugs terrorizing towns and sickening kids with diarrhea—Rotavirus, ETEC, Shigella, and Cryptosporidium.

Learn more at


Filed under: Sanitation and Health, Uncategorized Tagged: diarrheal diseases

Poor sanitation cost global economy US$ 223 billion in 2015

25 August 2016 5:25 (America/New_York)

Lack of access to sanitation cost the global economy US$222.9 billion in 2015, up from US$182.5 billion in 2010, a rise of 22% in just five years, according to a new report released on 25 August 2016 by LIXIL Group Corporation (“LIXIL Group”), a global leader in housing and building materials, products and services.

The true cost of poor sanitation, published in collaboration with WaterAid and Oxford Economics, which conducted economic modeling to develop up-to-date estimations of the global cost of poor sanitation, brings to light the high economic burden in low-income and lower-middle income countries.

More than half (55%) of all costs of poor sanitation are a consequence of premature deaths, rising to 75% in Africa. A further quarter are due to treating related diseases, and other costs are related to lower productivity as a result of illnesses and time lost due to lack of access to a private toilet.

Infographic from “The True Cost of Poor Sanitation”

Regionally, in terms of total US dollar value, the economic burden of poor sanitation is heaviest in Asia Pacific, which is accountable for a cost of US$ 172.3 billion, over three quarters of the total amount. Latin America and the Caribbean, and Africa account for approximately 10% of the global cost each. On a national level, in terms of total cost, India suffers by far the most, with US$106.7 billion wiped off GDP in 2015, almost half of the total global losses, and 5.2% of the nation’s GDP.

The research underlines the terrible toll poor sanitation is taking in Africa, where the costs stood at US$19.3 billion in 2015, an increase of 24.5% from US$15.5 billion in 2010. These costs were equivalent to 0.9% of GDP, higher than the global (ex-India) average. In terms of cost as a share of GDP, the top 10 most impacted countries were concentrated in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The report identifies three priority areas that will be key in ensuring sustainable sanitation solutions for all:

  • Political will and action: The Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for sanitation was the most off track. Governments should commit to a national strategy on sanitation to meet the target set out in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG6).
  • Innovative solutions: Sanitation systems in the developed world require vast amounts of land, energy, and water. They are expensive to build, maintain and operate. Innovation is key to solving the sanitation crisis.
  • Cross-sector collaboration: Providing sanitation solutions for low income consumers is a complex challenge. It is important to build partnerships across public and private sectors and civil society. Knowledge sharing, new technologies and innovation in delivery models are needed to address the sanitation challenge.

Read the full press release.

Lixil, WaterAid Japan & Oxford Economics, 2016. The true cost of poor sanitation. Tokyo, Japan: Lixil.  13 p. fig., photogr. Download the full report

Filed under: Africa, East Asia & Pacific, Economic Benefits, Europe & Central Asia, Latin America & Caribbean, Middle East & North Africa, Publications, Research, South Asia, Uncategorized Tagged: access to sanitation, health impacts, Lixil, mortality, Oxford Economics, productivity, sanitation costs, WaterAid Japan

Recent sanitation research updates

23 August 2016 13:21 (America/New_York)

Building Capacity for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Programming: Training Evaluation Theory Applied to CLTS Management Training in Kenya. Social Science and Medicine, August 2016. There are many training evaluation methods and tools available. However, such WASH training evaluations have been infrequent and lacked rigor. The authors have developed a conceptual framework for evaluating training in WASH by reviewing and adapting concepts from the literature.

The Addis Agreement: Using CLTS in Urban and Peri-Urban Areas. CLTS Knowledge Hub, August 2016. This paper is the outcome of a 2-day conference in Ethiopia June 13-15, 2016 where participants shared their varied experiences and discussed what value a CLTS approach can bring to the urban context.

Using a CLTS Approach in Peri-Urban and Urban Environments: Potential at Scale. CLTS Knowledge Hub, August, 2016. This Learning Brief summarizes the potential and limitations of using a CLTS approach in peri-urban and urban environments.

Formative Research to Develop Appropriate Participatory Approaches Towards Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Rural Areas. India WASH Forum, June 2016. This study was conducted to understand perceptions, barriers, and motivators for improved sanitation behavior in rural India.

Effect of Eliminating Open Defecation on Diarrhoeal Morbidity: An Ecological Study of Nyando and Nambale Sub-Counties, Kenya. BMC Public Health, August 2016. The study found that the two sub-counties with open defecation free status had a lower prevalence of diarrhea compared to sub-counties which were yet to attain open defecation free status.

The Impact of a Rural Sanitation Programme on Safe Disposal of Child Faeces: A Cluster Randomised Trial in Odisha, India. Transactions of the Royal Society Tropical Medicine Hygiene, July 2016. The researchers concluded that to achieve open defecation free communities, sanitation interventions will need to develop behavior change approaches that explicitly target safe disposal behaviors.

Filed under: Sanitation and Health Tagged: Community-Led Total Sanitation


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