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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Barefoot Guides- contributing initiatives for social change

BAREFOOT GUIDE LOGO colRead Ten years of Barefoot Guides for Social Change: Unlocking collective generosity and intelligence from the Barefoot Connection blog

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World Water Day 2017: Rereading, Reducing, Reusing

Linnane-WaterIsLife-FrontCoverOn the 22nd March every year, World Water Day is recognized across the globe, and the theme this year is ‘wastewater’. To mark the occasion at Practical Action, we are rereading a couple of our recent books centred on water and waste, Sustainable Sanitation for All and Water is Life, which can be read for free.

1.8 billion people use a source of contaminated drinking water; 663 million still lack improved drinking water sources. Poor sanitation and unsafe water cause roughly 842,000 deaths a year (World Water Day, 2017). It is incredible that in the 21st century, basic human rights such as access to safe, dignified sources of drinking water and sanitation are still being denied to those in the poorest countries.

Water is Life (edited by Fagan et al) addresses some of the most fundamental issues with water supply management in rural Africa, focusing in detail on a region in Uganda. At the moment, a safe water source is an inaccessible dream for many people. The book begins by addressing the gender aspect: providing water for the family is the responsibility of the women, and in turn the children, whilst men tend to source water for stock animals or commercial purposes. The enormity of this task has far-reaching consequences, including the hazards of the job (the sheer quantity of water carried each day often causes injuries, back pain, headaches and nosebleeds), as well as the dangers involved, such as the possibility of being attacked or raped on the journey. In addition, precious time is wasted fetching water which could be spent on other, more productive, tasks, and girls’ education suffers as a result.

The book also focuses on a study which investigates the process of harvesting rainwater and the use of SODIS as a treatment. This kind of method could be hugely effective in purifying rainwater for drinking, but it is important to consider that this method may not reach the poorest areas: poorer households with grass-thatched houses are unable to harvest much rainwater.

Sustainable Sanitation for All explores the issues of the poorest and most vulnerable not yet being reached by current sanitation programming. Although enormous strides have been achieved by implementing Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) programmes, with the result that simple toilets have been built by millions of households in Africa, Asia and Latin America, less attention has been paid to their sustainability. This means toilets can fall into disrepair, or people can abandon new habits of handwashing, or governments can cease to support and follow up CLTS programmes. The book, edited by Bongartz, Vernon and Fox, discourages a one-size fits all approach; it explores a wide range of countries and acknowledges the need to reach the poorest and most rural communities, as well as often neglected groups such as the elderly.

Sustainable Sanitation_Cover IMAGE

A delicate balance of thorough, in-depth research and shocking case stories make these texts well worth reading for anyone dealing with or interested in water, sanitation and hygiene issues. But what do they have to do with wastewater?

Very little water goes to waste in the rural situations described in Water is Life, and the per capita consumption of water in most countries of the global south is small compared with industrialized countries. With the global population growing exponentially, it is vital that we in industrial countries reduce and reuse our waste, even by doing small things, such as turning off the tap or not putting food down the sink. We can be inspired to do this by the case studies described in Sustainable Sanitation for All and Water is Life in which every drop really is precious.

To find out more about these books, click here:


World Water Day ‘Why Waste Water? Factsheet’

<> [accessed 22 March 2017].

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The Jeroen Ensink Memorial Prize Recipient 2016


Dr Jeroen H.J. Ensink  1974 -2015

The Jeroen Ensink Memorial Prize commemorates the life and work of Waterlines’ Editorial Board member Dr Jeroen H.J. Ensink.  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. Dr Ensink left behind him an impressive legacy of work but he also left a very personal mark on his many colleagues and friends in the water and sanitation sector.

Launched in 2016, this annual prize is to be awarded for an original non-commissioned paper submitted to Waterlines by a first-time author in the early stages of their career.

In 2016 a sub-committee drawn from the Editorial Advisory Board was evenly split in its recommendations in regard to two  papers that were published in Waterlines Volume 35 Number 2:

  • Payal Hathi, Dean Spears and Diane Coffey (2016) ‘Can collective action strategies motivate behaviour change to reduce open defecation in rural India?’ Waterlines35, 2, 118-135.
  • C Furlong, W T Gibson, A Oak, G Thakar, M Kodgire and R Patankar (2016) ‘Technical and user evaluation of a novel worm-based, on-site sanitation system in rural India’ Waterlines35, 2, 148-162.

Both papers addressed highly relevant sanitation issues, were well-written and presented, and provided important insights for policy and practice.  As the judging committee was split in its recommendation, the journal Editors provided the casting vote, and their recommendation was that the 2016 prize be awarded to Payal Hathi.

It is therefore with great pleasure that we announce the award of the 2016 Jeroen Ensink Memorial Prize to Payal Hathi. We also congratulate Claire Furlong and her team for a likewise excellent piece of research, just pipped to the post in this edition of the prize. In both cases, we realise that the authors form part of teams, and we likewise extend our congratulations to the co-authors.

Following Jeroen’s tragic death, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine established a Memorial Fund in his name to support students from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia who are committed to improving public health in developing countries and wish to undertake the MSc Public Health for Development course.  Preference will be given to those applicants with experience and/or interest in the area of water, sanitation, hygiene and public health.

Applications and all necessary supporting documents must be received by 17.00 (GMT) on Sunday 2 April 2017 at the latest.

See more at:

Richard C. Carter and Sue Cavill

Waterlines Co-editors



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Women leading in the peace

Read the latest Oxfam Policy & Practice blog post from Caroline Sweetman on gender and development.

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International Day of the Disappeared: Breaking the silence

Today is the International Day of the Disappeared. A day to draw attention to the people that powerful and corrupt forces don’t want us to see. People whose existence certain governments, military dictatorships, corporations, or powerful figures have tried to stamp out- and to silence- because they have used their human right to free speech to speak out against injustice. We must raise awareness of individuals the world over who are victims of ‘forced disappearance’- who may have been secretly imprisoned, or even murdered, for standing up for what they believe in.

The nature of enforced disappearances means that the families of those who are taken have no idea of where their loved ones are being held, under what conditions they are being kept, or whether they have been tortured or killed.

Enforced disappearances are one of the gravest violations of human rights laws worldwide, but are particularly prevalent in Latin America. 2015 was reportedly the ‘deadliest ever’ year for environmental activists, and according to statistics by Global Witness 7 of the 10 countries with the gravest death tolls are in that region.


Source/ Credit Global Witness

Brazil is particularly notorious for having the highest rate of murders of activists in the world. During the military dictatorship, there was wide scale involvement of Brazilian government agents in enforcing the disappearances of activists politically opposed to the dictatorship, through imprisonment, torture, and murder. This has been verified by the subsequent investigation by the National Truth Commission, which published a document of their findings from the retrospective investigation that took place between 2012-4. Many of those who were targeted have simply never been found, and their families have been left without answers.

Ana Rosa Kucinski was one of those who was never found. She was a chemistry teacher and activist belonging to the National Liberation Alliance. She went for lunch in April, 1974, and was never seen again.

The story of the heart breaking search for Ana has been retold in the emotional novel K, authored by her brother Bernardo Kucinski. In the novel he re-imagines the tragedy through the eyes of an elderly father searching for his daughter, putting everything on the line to find answers. The re-telling of his years of distress is raw, emotional, and compelling. His words compel the world to not forget- and not only to not forget those who were lost during that period in Brazilian politics- but to not forget those who are still being targeted right now.

While the dictatorship was a particularly bleak period in Latin American history, enforced disappearances continue to this day. People like us, who have the luxury of seemingly being removed from the immediate threat of political terror, must be more aware of the threat to human liberty from disappearances, which shape how we understand power, truth, and the reality of people’s lives. The veil of silence that has been cast over those who dissent against injustice and inequality must be revealed by the alternative power of people and words. Let us let them be known; let us not forget them. And let us share their words, and the words of those left behind.

For more information on enforced disappearances and the impetus for this day of awareness please see the Latin American Federation of Associations for Relatives of Detained-Disappeared (Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones de Familiares de Detenidos-Desaparecidos

 K is available to purchase in print and epub from Practical Action Publishing on the Development Bookshop:



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