26 May 2008

WASH Helpdesk moves to WordPress

As an organisation we have chosen WordPress as standard application for our blogs. The current Blogger page will no longer be maintained. Our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause you.

We invite you to go to the NEW LOCATION !

We have transferred all the existing question and answers - up to 15 May 2008 - to this location. Please bookmark the new location of the WASH Helpdesk: http://washhelpdesk.wordpress.com/

Thank you for visiting this page,

kind regards,

Ingeborg Krukkert,
IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre

10 April 2008

Effect of access to water and sanitation on achieving MDGs

Q: I know that improved access to water and sanitation has a positive effect on more than half of the MDGs. Do you have a 1-2 page summary of these effects?
(sector professional, Dutch NGO)

Answer: The best two-pages are from WaterAid, as far as I know. They illustrate that access to safe water and sanitation will underpin success in achieving all the MDGs and must be part of an integrated approach to development. See: http://www.wateraid.org/international/what_we_do/policy_and_research/6241.asp

03 March 2008

Examples of water and conflict

Q. The Pacific Institute (USA) is updating, again, our Water Conflict Chronology and we're looking for new (2006-2008) examples you might have come across recently of violence related to water: access, quality, terrorism, etc. in the news.

Answer. Use this link to find articles published over the past year in Source Weekly on "conflict" or "conflicts".

See also the documents published in the Negotiating peri-urban water conflicts (NEGOWAT) project (2003-2006).

23 January 2008

How to get involved in the International Year of Sanitation?

Q: Ours is a research and development center for the youth under the aegis of the ministry of youth affairs and sports of the government of India. We want to participate in the international year of sanitation and also for the programmes and we want to promote the programme in our area. (Institute of National Instruments, India)

If you are interested in getting involved in the International Year of Sanitation, please visit the official site of the IYS. There you will find some ideas to get you started. Go to the section Get Involved for more information.

21 December 2007

Diarrhoea impact indicator for water and sanitation performance

Q. I remember that some consensus has developed about best indicators for measuring impacts on diarrhoeal disease. If I remember correctly it was asking about the number and type of people (especially children under 5) in the family who have had loose stools in the previous two weeks. Do you have more info on this?
(IRC staff member)

Answer: In 1999 the Academy for Educational Development (AED) developed the following impact indicator for USAID water and sanitation programmes:

Percentage of children less than 36 months of age with diarrhoea in the last two weeks

This indicator is the period prevalence of diarrhoea based on the two-week recall of the child's primary caretaker (usually the mother). It is defined as the proportion of children in a given sample who have diarrhea at the time the information is collected or who have had it anytime in the two preceding weeks. Diarrhoea is defined as more than three loose stools passed in a twenty-four hour period. Age is calculated in completed months at the time the information
is collected from the caretaker. A child who is 20 days old is considered zero months of age, and a child of 50 days is considered one month old.

Bendahmane, D.; Billig, P. and Swindale, A. (1999). Water and sanitation indicators measurement guide. Washington, DC, USA, Academy for Educational Development. http://www.fantaproject.org/downloads/pdfs/watsan.pdf

The World Health Organization (WHO) has developed “Indicators to improve children's environmental health”, which include mortality, morbidity and recurrence rates for diarrhoeal diseases.

The WHO indicator for diarrhoea morbidity is:

Incidence of diarrhoea morbidity in children aged 0-4 years.

Terms and concepts

Diarrhoea: three or more watery stools in a 24-hour period, a loose stool being one that would take the shape of the container (WHO 1996), or local definition of diarrhoea.

Episode of diarrhoea: An episode of diarrhoea begins with a 24-hour period with three or more loose or watery stools. An episode of diarrhoea isconsidered to have ended after 48 hours without three or more loose watery stools within a 24-hour period.

Incidence of diarrhoea morbidity: total number of episodes of diarrhoea during a 1-year period amongst the children surveyed.

Total population of children aged 0-4 years: number of children less than five years of age in the survey, at the time of survey.

12 November 2007

Pumps and operation details

Q: I would like to get the details of various pumps IWWA (Indian Water Works Association) is using and its operation detail. I need to know more about it, please provide me the details.
(Senior Engineer in an India Manufacturer Company)

Answer: IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre is not related to IWWA. However, we can provide you with some web sites and documents which have information on pumps:


The publication: "Linking Technology Choice with Operation and Maintenance for Low-Cost Water Supply and Sanitation (2.40 MB)" provides 50 illustrated fact sheets on various low-cost water supply and sanitation technologies. See part II of this guidance manual. Download the PDF file (2.4 MB)

NWP et al. 2004). Smart water solutions : examples of innovative, low-cost technologies for wells, pumps, storage, irrigation and water treatment. Delft, The Netherlands, Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP).
This booklet provides examples of small-scale innovative technologies to increase access to safe drinking water. It includes technologies such as the use of sunlight to purify water, effective low-cost water filters, low-cost drip irrigation and locally produced hand pumps that are five times cheaper than imported pumps.

ORGANISATIONS and NETWORKS to contact for more information on pumps:

ATatWork, a Dutch network of professionals from government, academia, NGOs and the private sector who are interested in the large-scale market introduction of appropriate water and sanitation technologies.

Lifewater Canada, a non-profit group training nationals to drill safe drinking water wells and build handpumps.
See their Water wells tutorial , an on-line tutorial providing technical instructions needed to construct safe drinking water wells. In-depth instructions are provided on using the LS-100 drill machine and Bush (modified Zimbabwe) handpumps. The Handpumps Resources section provides information on and links to over 25 handpumps for shallow and deep wells.

Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN)
Formerly called the "Handpump Technology Network"(HTN) aims to facilitate the provision of safe water and sanitation to the poor and deprived through the promotion of sustainable technologies - primarily hand-pump technology - that are affordable and responsive to the needs of the users.
RWSN Secretariat
Skat Foundation
Vadianstrasse 42
CH-9000 St.Gallen
- Telephone: +41 71 228 54 54
- FAX: +41 71 228 54 55
- E-mail: rwsn@skat.ch

RWSN has published "Handpumps, Mechanised Pumps, Surface Water - Technology Options", a small compendium of technology options for rural water supply. Briefly describing the various types of most common handpumps and providing information on motorised pumps.

Pump Aid, Water for Life
Founded in Zimbabwe, Pump Aid works to relieve poverty in Africa using appropriate and sustainable technology to provide clean water for drinking and irrigation.
- Address: 52 Priory Road
LE11 3PP Leicestershire
United Kingdom
- Telephone: +44 1283 713902
- E-mail: IanThorpe@pumpaid.org, karenmercer@pumpaid.org

Further good info on pumps can be get from Practica Foundation based in the Netherlands. They facilitate research, development and commercial application of technology in the field of water and energy in developing countries. Practica works with a network of partner organisations that produce, promote and sell improved rural products.

More information on documents and organisations dealing with village level handpumps can be found at the Ask IRC page.

29 October 2007

Community-Led Total Sanitation

Q: Community-Led Total Sanitation is very popular and the approach seems to be copied by many countries. What is your opinion of the CLTS approach?
(Indonesia Sanitation Sector Development Project (ISSDP))

Answer: (by Christine Sijbesma, senior programme officer at IRC)
Please find herewith the (to my knowledge) lastest paper on the Community Led Total Sanitation Campaign. It´s an IDS working paper by Kamal Kar and Petra Bongartz, published in 2006: Update on some recent development in Community-Led Total Sanitation. [2,6 MB]

Although CLTS is a good campaign approach and may also work well in closely knit urban communities, it can in my view be improved:

  • Gender and a gender equity approach are absent – who take part in e.g. the initial inventory, in discussion and information on latrine options, in decision-making on choice of technology and design, in local leadership, in training of local leaders, in expansion to other communities (one program pays local leaders USD 8 per day to train and guide other communities), in recognition? All data I saw were non-sex disaggregated.
  • Although cases of solidarity with the very poor have been reported, there is no systematic approach to assist the them, although the methodology does allow this. It only excludes external subsidy as non-sustainable, often inequitable and discouraging action. There are proven ways for systematic solidarity with the poor through internal help in kind/cash in various forms which could be included in CLTS. The PRA tools of classifying and mapping welfare levels (which are in the toolsfile) help planning and accountability of support to the worst-off.
  • While problem identification and action are community-led, knowledge sharing could be more systematic. It is now up to each individual household to make/improve designs – sharing know-how and technical skils is not a systematic component. I noted the same in Payakumbuh. People did not visit each others’ toilet, design and building were still a private matter. It would be good to systematically include knowledge sharing on design and construction e.g. through discussing designs and ways of building in male and female FGDs and inter-household visits from households (couples!) who are still planning their toilets to households who have already constructed;
  • Durability (and so sustainability) of the cheapest models is frequently low – while the approach can easily include planned upgrading of initial models over time, this issue seems not to be addressed systematically;
  • The emphasis is on outputs (100% toilets/no more open defecation) - there is no systematic monitoring and reporting of outcomes (e.g. hygienically used and maintained toilets, water collected by all family members for flushing and handwashing; toilet brush, handwashing soap present, potties for infants, infant and baby stools enddisposed in toilet) , nor consolidation and independent checking of data at above-community level.
  • Although a key issue, toilets are not the only area for action – other hygiene aspects can be linked

    For more information on CLTS, take a look at the Livelihoods Connect Hot Topic ´Community Led Total Sanitation´. This site is part of the research project Going to Scale? The Potential of Community-Led Total Sanitation, managed by the Institute of Development Studies.