Book review! NEW Open Access book – Value Chain Development and the Poor

Book review by Shaun Ferris, Technical Director Agriculture and Livelihoods, Catholic Relief Services

Value Chain Development and the Poor: Promise, delivery and opportunities for impact at scale, edited by Jason Donovan, Dietmar Stoian, and Jon Hellin.

The world of Value Chains Analysis and Development has been developing continuously over the past 25-30 years and as has undergone many transitions from sub-sector analysis, supply chain analysis, market chain analysis, value chain analysis, business services development and most recently placing more emphasis on the market systems approach.

As cleverly highlighted by Jason, Dietmar and John, in this new book, at its core, all of these methods and tools, aim to provide structure around the various business partners and their roles and then gather information within a live business model to assess key bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and new ways of doing business. All the time, analysts are using this data to seek out new opportunities to expand and upgrade market options and to raise incomes and prospects for the linked business partners.

In the private sector, this type of analysis and information is closely guarded, as it provides companies with the insights and elements, they need to maintain their competitiveness and to grow. In the development world, these same set of analytical tools has been repurposed to generate information that supports business upgrading pathways that support small holder farmers, farmer organizations and SME’s to engage in markets more effectively.

As shown in the parts of this book, dynamic market analysis and follow on investments and business upgrading strategies, can become complicated fairly quickly. Finding studies that analyse the effectiveness and impact of value chain interventions, within dynamic market situations requires both intricate and practical thinking to make sense of the situation, why certain decisions were made and whether they had the desired effect.

Order your copy from the Practical Action Publishing website.

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The Jeroen Ensink Memorial Prize 2020 – Winners announced!

The Jeroen Ensink Memorial Prize commemorates the life and work of former Waterlines’ Editorial Board member Dr Jeroen H.J. Ensink who was tragically killed in 2015. Throughout his career, Dr Ensink sought to apply science and research to improve the lives of those who in the twenty-first century still live without access to safe drinking water and sanitation. He pursued this goal via different paths – as a practising public health engineer, as a young field researcher, as a doctoral student, as a senior investigator, and as a teacher and mentor – but always with the same clear and practical focus on solving the problem.  Jeroen left behind him an impressive legacy of work and he also left a very personal mark on his many colleagues and friends in the water and sanitation sector.

Launched in 2016, the annual prize is awarded for an original paper submitted to and published in Waterlines in the previous calendar year.  The winner, selected by the Waterlines editorial board, is awarded book vouchers to the value of £200 (redeemable at ), a 2 year online subscription to Waterlines for personal or institutional use, and a £100 cash prize. 

A Panel consisting of four members of Waterlines’ Editorial Advisory Board (Clarissa Brocklehurst, Oliver Cumming, Patrick Moriarty and Michael Templeton), together with Jeroen’s brother, Robbert Ensink and his colleague Willem van Schaik, has deliberated over a short-list of eligible papers drawn from all those published in 2019.

The Editorial Advisory Board agreed that the award should go to the authors of the paper which (i) reflects Jeroen’s values, (ii) is of high relevance to practice or policy in the water, sanitation, waste and hygiene sectors in low- and middle-income countries, and (iii) is of high quality.

We are pleased to announce that the winners of this year’s prize are Chelsea Giles-Hansen, George Mugambi and Alexandra Machado for their paper ‘Experiences from East Africa and lessons in addressing the menstrual hygiene needs of women and girls’. The paper can be found here,  It will be free to view until October 2021.

The selection committee felt that the reported study addressed an important issue in the WASH field, deployed appropriate methods through a structured research process that allowed for the iterative development and testing of their candidate kit “types”, and contributed new knowledge around the acceptability of MHM kits in different humanitarian settings. The conclusions and recommendations were not terribly surprising but they were clear, sensible and actionable, and therefore likely to support operational uptake. Dr Jeroen Ensink’s own passion was for research as a means to promote better practice rather than solely as an end in itself.  Waterlines believes that the prize-winning paper will contribute to that goal.

Warm congratulations to the authors, grateful thanks to the award panel, and good reading to you!

Richard Carter and Paul Hutchings (Waterlines Co-Editors)
Clare Tawney and Chloe Callan-Foster (Practical Action Publishing)

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Author John Cammack introduces his new book – Cross-Cultural Organizational and Financial Training: A practical guide

The latest book from John Cammack is an essential guide to organizing and delivering a participation-driven workshop or training module anywhere in the world for those working in the international development sector, for trainers from government, and those from commercial, faith-based, and non-profit sectors.

This timely guide is also built to support those who are teaching and presenting online, walking the trainer through how to deliver memorable, transformative and engaging training remotely and virtually. The trend in online learning that has seen a surge during the Coronavirus pandemic is here to stay – and for many it offers an efficient option that will be helpful when faced with squeezed budgets and time constraints.

Watch the video below to hear from the author about the creative and participatory ways of learning inside the book’s pages. The book is due to publish next month, and you can pre-order your copy by emailing us at

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Author Diego Angemi discusses his new Open Access book – What Works for Africa’s Poorest Children: From Measurement to Action

What Works for Africa’s Poorest Children? From Measurement to Action identifies the social policies and programmes that are most effective in supporting Africa’s poorest and most vulnerable children, and examines the key features underpinning their documented success. It provides cutting edge examples on how we can identify child poverty and deprivation, analyses innovative ultra-poor child sensitive programmes, and provides new public financing and governance rights suggestions for child poverty elimination. At the time of uncertainty that we face following the Coronavirus pandemic, the positive lessons in this book that strive for a better future, have never been more important.

Diego Angemi, Chief of Social Policy and Advocacy at UNICEF Uganda, introduces this bold and practical book that provides invaluable perspectives and experiences across Africa in social policy. The book focuses on the measurement of poverty and vulnerability; the positive impact of social protection systems on children to alleviate poverty; how effective public financial management can increase the efficiency of services that children need; and child rights at a national level to care for vulnerable children.

‘While the world agrees on the priority of achieving the SDGs, there is much too little known on the practicalities of how to do so, especially in challenging situations. This immensely valuable and rich collection is grounded in perspectives and experiences in a range of African countries. By exploring what has worked for children and what has not – in education, nutrition and health – it is an invaluable guide to policies to improve children’s lives and help them realise their potential.’
Professor Frances Stewart, Development Economics, University of Oxford

Watch the video below, read the book for free (Open Access) online, or order a print copy from our website!

WW Africa's Poorest Childrw

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NEW Open Access book – Living on Little: Navigating financial scarcity in modern Kenya

Living on Little: Navigating financial scarcity in modern Kenya by Julie Zollmann, publishes in July.

In anticipation of the publication of this very special book, author Julie Zollmann talks through the motivation behind writing the book, how the discoveries in it can challenge our assumptions, and about the resilience and ingenuity of ordinary families.

Drawing on four years of systematic research with nearly 300 low-income families, this book offers readers a new and intimate perspective on poverty. This wonderful book, publishing in July, is a window into the systemic barriers getting in the way of getting in the way of people living their fullest lives, including the economic devastations of political uncertainty, and the impact of finance and gender norms on women’s lives. It is a compelling story about people who must do so much with so little.

If you ever want to understand not just the macro picture of poverty, but also the micro picture of what poverty feels like, and the energy with which people fight it, read this book.

Julie has also written several blog posts, continuing her observations of the same diarists over time, including documenting their experience of lockdown. In normal times people survive crises by leaning on people within their social networks, usually from people who don’t happen to be suffering the same crisis at the same time. But with COVID-19, everyone is affected, and the normal routes are drying up. The articles are fascinating to read, and you can find them here.

The book is free to read online. If you prefer a print copy, you can order it on our website or by emailing us at

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NEW book – 40 Critical Thinkers

40 Critical Thinkers for Community Development, by Peter Westoby, David Palmer and Athena Lathouras, publishes in July. To introduce this highly anticipated book, the authors talk us through the origin of book, how the book could be used – for personal enrichment or as a tool for discussion as colleagues and students – and the educational aims of the ideas within it. The authors also reveal their favourite gems of wisdom that they carry with them in their work.

Setting aside the jargon that can cloud community development work, this book gets to the heart of what drives us. It asks us to start afresh, recognising that every community is unique and complex and that there can be no single, simple answer to its development. The book celebrates that by offering a rich and varied collection of wisdom and critical scholarship, from thought-leaders including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ela Bhatt, Jacques Derrida, Frantz Fanon, Paulo Freire, Bell Hooks, John Keats, Rosa Luxemburg, Wangari Maathai, Manfred Max-Neef, Arundhati Roy, E.F. Schumacher, Vandana Shiva, Rabindranath Tagore and Greta Thunberg.

How can we use our own experiences in recent times – in lockdown in the face of a global pandemic – to build a world that works better for people and the planet? Take a look at the video and share your views below!

You can order your copy of the book on our website or by emailing us at

40 Critical Thinkers video

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Our new website is now live!

After a busy few months of planning, designing, developing and testing, we are delighted to announce the launch of our new website.

As well as a new, bold look, we’ve completely rethought the structure of the site to make knowledge resources easier to find, for people who need them most, in the format that suits them best.

We have combined the resources from and onto one NEW platform – Now you can browse practical ‘how to’ manuals, academic texts and journals – online, in print and open access formats – all in one place!

What will you find on our new platform?

  • A new, bolder look!
  • All resources from and on one platform – Browse practical ‘how to’ manuals, academic texts and journals – online, in print and open access formats – all in one place!
  • Simpler navigation and more intuitive search functions – search all publications by author, publisher, or subject
  • A simplified shopping experience and clear pricing options for different formats
  • The option to save your favourites
  • Meet the team!

You will be asked to reset your password to start your journey on our new site. This is for GDPR reasons – we won’t move your data over to a new platform without your permission.


Websites are never finished

The launch of our brand and website is beginning of an exciting phase where we will be adding lots of new content, developing new features and improve existing ones.

We would love to hear your feedback. What do you think of our new website? Is there anything that you particularly like or that doesn’t work for you? Let us know on

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How can WASH practitioners best respond to the COVID-19 outbreak in developing countries?






Richard Carter, editor of Waterlines journal and WASH consultant, worked with the publishing team to put together a collection of WASH resources to guide community response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. These books and articles have been made temporarily FREE to access.


The virus known as SARS-cov-2 and the severe acute respiratory disease COVID-19 which it can cause, represent the most extensive global public health emergency of recent times. All countries face exceptional challenges at this time, although the nature of the crisis will vary by country and region.


In general, low- and lower-middle income countries tend to have a greater proportion of their populations in the younger age ranges; conversely, a smaller proportion of these countries are elderly. This is in contrast to the high-income countries, where populations are generally skewed toward the older age ranges. This matters, since the mortality rate from the disease is higher in older age groups. It seems that younger people generally (but not always) tend to experience milder symptoms, from which they may readily recover.

Health Care facilities

On the other hand, the number of hospital beds, the number of intensive care facilities, and the number of ventilators (needed for treatment of patients with severe symptoms) all tend to be lower in low- and lower-middle income countries than in the wealthier countries. It would not take many acute cases of the disease to quickly overwhelm health systems in such countries.

Social contact

A third contrast between lower-income and wealthier countries lies in the amount of social contact that the elderly have with their peers and with younger generations. This social contact tends to be higher in lower-income countries, while in wealthy countries it tends to reduce sharply with age.

A complex set of interactions

All these, and many other country-specific and community-specific factors, combine to explain the way that the virus would multiply in the population, were no measures taken to mitigate or suppress the infection. A recent paper (Walker et al, 26th March 2020) estimates that in the absence of interventions, COVID-19 would result in 7.0 billion cases of the disease and 40 million deaths globally in 2020. For comparison, the global population in March 2020 was 7.8 billion; and in the absence of COVID-19, the global number of deaths in 2017 was about 56 million.


As a consequence of projections such as these, all countries are implementing measures to mitigate, or to suppress, COVID19 transmission.


Mitigation strategies involve shielding the elderly and other vulnerable individuals (those with underlying health conditions which would render them most susceptible to the most severe symptoms), and reducing social contact in the rest of the population. Such measures are judged insufficient to prevent the health systems of all countries becoming overwhelmed; this would be felt especially in lower-income countries with lower-capacity health systems.


Suppression of infection is thought to be only achievable through a combination of targeted and wide-scale testing, isolation of cases, and strict application of so-called ‘social distancing’ – physical separation and non-contact with people outside the immediate household – together with regular individual hand-washing.

What can individuals do?

The best ways by which individuals can protect themselves are (a) to wash hands regularly, thoroughly, and frequently with soap and water; (b) to regularly clean household surfaces with chlorine-based disinfectant solution; (c) to maintain physical distance of at least two metres from people outside the immediate household; (d) to avoid meeting places where many people assemble; (e) to self-isolate at home if you or a member of your household display symptoms (initially a dry cough and fever, perhaps worsening to more serious breathing difficulties). Of course, several of these measures present real difficulties for both rural and urban households in lower-income countries.

What can those who serve them do?

Some widely important elements in interventions to reduce transmission of COVID-19 are: the availability of sufficient domestic water, near to the home, to permit good household hygiene; the widespread, frequent and effective practice of handwashing with soap and water; and the need for accessible, simple, clear messaging around hygiene and physical distancing.

All local governments, NGOs and private sector organisations which have programmes to provide household water and sanitation, and to promote hygiene, should continue and step up such work, subject to precautions about physical distancing and the avoidance of social contact. This may mean placing a greater emphasis on the use of radio, social media and telephone communication (for example) rather than physical meetings. Emphasising the importance of household- and personal (hand-) hygiene is clearly of particular importance.

These materials

We hope that the materials which we are making available here will be of particular use to organisations seeking scientific understanding of this new infection and guidance on how best to support the communities they serve.

See the collection here


Patrick GT Walker, Charles Whittaker, Oliver Watson et al. The Global Impact of COVID-19 and Strategies for Mitigation and Suppression. WHO Collaborating Centre for Infectious Disease Modelling, MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics, Imperial College London (2020)


Much of the scientific evidence which I have used in this introduction rests on papers produced by the Imperial College (London) COVID-19 Response Team. They are available on-line here:–wuhan-coronavirus/

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Open Access: What Works for Africa’s Poorest

9781780448442Read about What Works for Africa’s Poorest from the editors David Hulme, David Lawson and Lawrence Ado-Kofie at the Global Development Institute in Manchester.

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Menstrual Hygiene Day 2017

IMHD 2Menstrual Hygiene Day (MH Day) is a global platform that brings together non-profits, government agencies, the private sector, the media and individuals to promote Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM).

MH Day raises awareness of the challenges women and girls worldwide face due to their menstruation and highlights solutions that address these challenges.

It catalyses a growing, global movement for MHM and supports partnerships at global, regional, national and local level. MH Day also creates opportunities for advocacy for the integration of MHM into global, national and local policies, programmes and projects.

Read more on MHM from blog posts by our colleagues at Practical Action:




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