Changemaker: Srijana Karki

Srijana Karki is a leader who is influencing significant changes to gender equality in Nepal. Working at the organizational, community, and societal levels, Srijana shares practical solutions to achieving gender equality and access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene.

Srijana Karki is a leader who is accelerating gender equality in Nepal.

 

As a Senior Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Officer with Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO), a partner in CAWST’s Water Expertise and Training Centre program, Srijana has over a decade of experience in project implementation. She brings a gender equity and social inclusion lens to all projects and organizations that ENPHO supports. This means that she provides advice and practical solutions on how water, sanitation and hygiene projects can influence equitable participation across genders to accomplish health and social outcomes.

To achieve her level of focus and expertise in gender equality and WASH, Srijana is studied and systematic in her approach.

“When I completed my first master’s degree in Rural Development, I started to work in WASH. Soon, I ran up against recurring limitations of WASH interventions due to gender stereotypes and a lack of consideration of gender in the design of interventions. Women simply could not access WASH in the same way as men. So, I pursued a second master’s degree in gender to get beyond my surface-level observations. This education opened an opportunity for me to implement my knowledge in bringing gender sensitizing campaigns to life within our interventions.”

So, what were Srijana’s observations around gender equality?

“There are many barriers to gender equity and social inclusion. First of all, I work in a very patriarchal society. Stereotypes around gender run deep and influence all WASH. We’ve seen a commitment to gender equality through government policy, but I feel strongly that the greatest opportunity for practical change starts at the household level.

In many households, there’s a prevailing belief that WASH is women’s work. Men must support it too. We can influence the shift in belief and behaviour with ongoing sensitization and mainstreaming. Sometimes projects include one training on gender roles, but that is insufficient. Shifting stereotypes requires daily repetition of messages on gender equality and strategic interventions, such as creating meaningful leadership roles for women on community committees.”

Looking at gender equality at the societal level, Srijana observes opportunity for change within organizations, as well as communities.

“One of the most exciting areas in my work is within my organization, and others we support, to integrate gender policy. We recently reviewed the ENPHO gender policy. Learning from that, we guided four organizations to complete gender assessments of their organizations. From there, we helped them develop gender policies and implement them in the field. Implementation included creating key positions for women, both at the coordinator level and field staff, and mainstreaming gender throughout the full project cycle. The results are hopeful. On community visits I often see men cleaning and supporting household water work with pride.”

“I simply feel lucky to work in this area. Now, I’m honoured to represent ENPHO at international and national forums, sharing cases and knowledge. But I’m also always eager to learn more.”

We simply feel lucky to work with Srijana. As a changemaker, Srijana is inspiring to us to look more critically at gender equality and social inclusion in water programs. Srijana’s hope for the future is something we can all get behind and something we can walk alongside:

My greatest hope is that in offices, households, communities, and within ourselves, we start a dialogue to fight the stereotypes that permeate media, institutions and culture. That’s my intent to shift gender equality.

Srijana is starting a dialogue next week on Facebook Live. Join us on Wednesday, June 24 at 9 am MDT at facebook.com/cawst to hear more about her perspective and the work of ENPHO and CAWST.

 


Changemakers Impact Report

Changemakers is an impact report produced quarterly for members of the Water Circle. Members of the Water Circle are donors who make a contribution each month to support changemakers, such as Srijana. For more information, visit caw.st/watercircle

Articulate Storyline Trainer

Are you experienced with the Articulate Storyline software and eager to share your knowledge? If so, you could support our learning team with biweekly training and troubleshooting sessions, so that we can more quickly share e-learning with our global network of clients.

The Position: Articulate Storyline Trainer

Purpose of the Role:

Provide training to the Learning Team on the use of Articulate Storyline. This will support our development of e-learning resources with our clients around the world.

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Provide biweekly training to the CAWST Learning Team (via Zoom)
  • Provide advice and troubleshooting into the design of learning assets within Storyline
  • Coordinate with the Director of Learning to plan and schedule sessions

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Experience designing learning materials within Articulate Storyline
  • Strong understanding of adult learning principles
  • Ability to coach and share knowledge

Orientation and Support:

We will provide an introduction CAWST, the team you’ll be supporting, and the status of the project.

Timing: Start as soon as possible. Two hours every two weeks – an hour to deliver training and an hour to prepare/schedule it.

Location: Remote.

To Apply:

If you are already a CAWST volunteer, please email Tori to express your interest at volunteers@cawst.org and she can facilitate next steps.

If you are new to CAWST, please complete the volunteer sign up form and we will get you started.

Additional comments:

All CAWST volunteers are invited to participate in a 4-day training workshop of their choice after completion of 40 volunteer hours. CAWST welcomes volunteers searching for work experience, and is happy to provide letters of reference to interested volunteers.

‘Hygiene Hub’ links science to action to help save lives during COVID-19

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), along with CAWST, announced a new online portal that provides ‘real-time’ support and the latest evidence for hygiene interventions. The project is funded by the Government of the UK and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

New online portal provides ‘real-time’ support and latest evidence for hygiene interventions actors, supported by funding from DFID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

 

CALGARY, May 29, 2020 – Simple hygiene practices are one of most effective measures to reduce transmission of COVID-19. However, hygiene habits and policies vary around the world greatly, depending on available resources.

Implementing best practices in different settings, on a community and government level, is complicated, especially in the context of a fast-evolving pandemic where time is limited and lives are at risk. It can be challenging for governments and organisations to access the best available evidence, or share lessons learned.

These issues were the catalyst for the ‘COVID-19 Hygiene Hub’ – a new free online platform partnership, hosted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). It connects a network of experts from around the world to provide rapid technical support and advice to develop and execute effective hygiene strategies against the novel coronavirus in homes, schools and healthcare facilities.

Aiming to help actors in low- and middle-income countries, the hub aids timely design of evidence-based interventions, or adaptation of existing ones.

The hub brings together governments, international agencies, NGOs and leading public health experts from across the world to share information and expertise to combat COVID-19.

The COVID-19 Hygiene Hub is a collaboration between LSHTM and leading international agencies, such as the World Health Organization, Unicef and the World Bank, and diverse academic and operational partners across the world, including the Centre for Affordable Water & Sanitation Technology (CAWST).

Users across the world can use the hub to talk to technical advisors or gather information in real-time to create a cohesive, effective response to the outbreak.

It draws on scientific, operational and creative expertise from a network of organisations, and continues to be responsive and adaptive to the changing nature of the pandemic.

The project is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The funding from DFID is part of a new global programme with Unilever to urgently tackle the spread of the coronavirus. The programme will reach up to a billion people worldwide, raising awareness and changing behaviour.

There was a soft launch of the platform online three weeks ago, and already it has 67 users from 37 countries.

So how does it work?

The COVID-19 Hygiene Hub connects the low- and middle-income country actors with technical advice and resources online. Visitors to the website can find three options: Resources, Get technical advice, and Connect with others.

Clicking ‘Resources’ pulls up a wealth of up-to-date information and multi-media content which synthesise the current evidence, direct users to up-to-date guidelines and best practices, and provide practical recommendations.

If users still have unanswered questions, or want contextualised advice, they can interact with a technical advisor in real-time who is able to direct users to the appropriate resources or connect them with a larger network of technical advisors to answer their specific questions.

Collaboration during COVID-19 is crucial. The ‘Connect with others’ option allows organisations to share information on what works and what doesn’t, strengthening the platform’s expertise and resources.

An interactive map at the bottom of the homepage shows these different approaches and projects around the world. So far, more than 126 projects have already been shared from 59 countries.

As this platform is being used worldwide, it is being translated into Spanish, French and Arabic.

Dr Robert Dreibelbis, Associate Professor at LSHTM, said:

“A coordinated global response to COVID-19 is crucial to stop its spread. One of the most critical elements in reducing COVID-19 transmission and ‘flattening the curve’ relies on changing behaviour. The COVID-19 Hygiene Hub will bring the technical, creative and operational resources together to support efforts globally.”

Sian White, a Research Fellow at LSHTM, is leading the Response Team. She said:

“Solving problems or receiving advice quickly during a crisis such as COVID-19 is crucial, but often difficult. Our team of experts will be on hand to respond in real-time, ensuring each question is directed to the right expert to provide the in-depth guidance needed. I look to sharing expertise on designing and evaluating water, sanitation and hygiene behaviour change programmes, that could save many lives around the world.”

Minister Wendy Morton, Department for International Development and Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said:

“I am proud the best of British expertise and the latest research from around the world will, through this hub, help developing countries better cope with the devastating impact of coronavirus.

“By strengthening fragile healthcare systems and protecting vulnerable communities we will together slow the spread of the virus globally, save lives and end this pandemic sooner.”

Olivier Mills, Senior Director, Global Services, CAWST, said:

“Acting on the message ‘wash your hands to combat COVID-19’ is complex. For example, clean water is scarce in many areas of the world. Applying our experience designing education and training tools for WASH practitioners in low- and middle-income countries, the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub converges science expertise and distils evidence-based hygiene programme learnings into free resources that people can act on quickly.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

If you have any questions or would like to talk to one of the researchers, please contact Tilly Haynes (press@lshtm.ac.uk).

The COVID-19 Hygiene Hub is a broad partnership housed at LSHTM, developed in partnership by individuals from LSHTM, the CAWST and the Wash’Em team.

The platform is engaging with leading technical experts from across the globe, including Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Indian Institute of Public Health Gandhinagar, African Population and Health Research Centre, Centre for Infectious Disease Research in Zambia and The Malawi Polytechnic, University of Malawi.

About the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) is a world-leading centre for research, postgraduate studies and continuing education in public and global health. LSHTM has a strong international presence with over 3,000 staff and 4,000 students working in the UK and countries around the world, and an annual research income of £180 million.

LSHTM is one of the highest-rated research institutions in the UK, is partnered with two MRC University Units in The Gambia and Uganda, and was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2016. Our mission is to improve health and health equity in the UK and worldwide; working in partnership to achieve excellence in public and global health research, education and translation of knowledge into policy and practice.

www.lshtm.ac.uk

About CAWST

The Centre for Affordable Water & Sanitation Technology (CAWST) is a Canadian charity and licensed not-for-profit professional engineering consultancy. CAWST teaches people how to access safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene in their homes, schools and clinics, using simple, affordable technologies. To do so, CAWST transfers knowledge and skills to organizations and individuals in low- and middle-income countries offering workshops, open content training resources and consulting services. To learn more about CAWST and its work towards making water, sanitation and hygiene a reality for all, visit cawst.org.

– 30 –

Media contact

Hailey Carnegie
Public Relations Lead
CAWST, Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology
hcarnegie@cawst.org
1.403.690.0233

Find the CAWST logo here.

English | Français | Español  | Arabic

Wash’Em Launch Webinar (March 10th, 2020)

Webinar presented on March 10th 2020, launching the first official Wash’Em software release. Below is the recording.


About this project

“This project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents are the responsibility of Action contre la Faim (ACF), The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and CAWST (Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

CAWST Video Editing Support

Do you have basic video editing skills and a passion for storytelling? Help us share the stories of our global partners by creating short videos from a recording of a recent webinar.

The Position: CAWST Video Editing Support

Purpose of the Role:

Edit a webinar recording video into a short series to highlight the work of our partner organizations in response to COVID-19

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • In this role you will be responsible for taking a recent webinar recording and editing it into short videos to highlight the work that our partner organizations are doing in the field

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Experience editing videos
  • Access to a computer and video editing software
  • Passion to help tell the story of global champions

Timing: Start as soon as possible. Flexible hours.

Location: Remote.


To Apply:

If you are already a CAWST volunteer, please email Tal with an expression of interest at twoolsey@cawst.org

If you are new to CAWST, please complete the volunteer sign up form and we will get you started.

Additional comments:

All CAWST volunteers are invited to participate in a 4-day training workshop of their choice after completion of 40 volunteer hours. CAWST welcomes volunteers searching for work experience, and is happy to provide letters of reference to interested volunteers.

CAWST Vimeo Upload Support

We’re seeking support to upload our WASH educational videos to Vimeo, especially loading in subtitles.

The Position: CAWST Vimeo Upload Support

Purpose of the Role:

Support CAWST’s learning team with finalizing educational videos in Vimeo, particularly loading translated subtitles into the videos

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Load subtitles into videos on Vimeo and YouTube

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Must have experience with Vimeo and YouTube, and knowledge of how to upload videos and subtitles in these platforms
  • Access to a computer and internet
  • Eager to contribute to a team and global WASH practitioners

Timing: Start as soon as possible. Flexible hours.

Location: Remote.


To Apply:

If you are already a CAWST volunteer, please email Tori with an expression of interest at volunteers@cawst.org

If you are new to CAWST, please complete the volunteer sign up form and we will get you started.

Additional comments:

All CAWST volunteers are invited to participate in a 4-day training workshop of their choice after completion of 40 volunteer hours. CAWST welcomes volunteers searching for work experience, and is happy to provide letters of reference to interested volunteers.

CAWST Video Post-Production Support

Are you fluent in Adobe After-Effects for video post-production and keen to support our learning team? If so, please consider volunteering with us in this role that will help us to complete and release learning videos for global WASH practitioners.

The Position: CAWST Video Post-Production Support

Purpose of the Role:

Support CAWST’s learning team with completion of educational videos that will be shared internationally

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Complete post-production on a short learning video on grain size analysis for biosand filter
  • Support future video production, including animation and special effects

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Fluent in Adobe After-Effects
  • Access to a computer and Adobe After-Effects program
  • Able to add special effects to videos and animation
  • Eager to contribute to a team and support global WASH practitioners

 

Timing: Start as soon as possible. Flexible hours.

Location: Remote.


To Apply:

If you are already a CAWST volunteer, please email Tori with an expression of interest at volunteers@cawst.org

If you are new to CAWST, please complete the volunteer sign up form and we will get you started.

Additional comments:

All CAWST volunteers are invited to participate in a 4-day training workshop of their choice after completion of 40 volunteer hours. CAWST welcomes volunteers searching for work experience, and is happy to provide letters of reference to interested volunteers.

Coffee with CAWST: Marcio Botto

From kite surfer to snowboarder, Fortaleza, Brazil to Calgary, Canada, Marcio Botto, MEng, PhD is adaptable and eager to learn in any context. The exchange of knowledge is one of the greatest gifts he gives the world, through his career, and now at CAWST as a Knowledge and Research Advisor. Just don’t ask him about coffee.

From kite surfer to snowboarder, Fortaleza, Brazil to Calgary, Canada, Marcio Botto, MEng, PhD is adaptable and eager to learn in any context. The exchange of knowledge is one of the greatest gifts he gives the world, through his career, and now at CAWST as a Knowledge and Research Advisor. Just don’t ask him about coffee. “I don’t drink coffee and as a Brazilian, I am tired of this question. I get my energy from natural motivation to cross the finish line. As a marathoner, I know that 70% is mental, and only 30% is physical.”

Asides from your enviable ability to wake up without coffee, tell us about a day in the life of a Knowledge and Research Advisor at CAWST.

My first priority is providing support to our staff and clients. If people have any doubt or any questions about Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage (HWTS), methods and treatment, I want to support them with technical knowledge.

Secondly, I work on managing knowledge so that clients and staff can find the most current and reliable information they are looking for. On our Knowledge Bases, this means a lot of updating and uploading, and working with the web team to make it all more accessible.

Finally, I support monitoring and evaluation. I’m working on how we can support our partners, including WASH Skills Development Organization in Cambodia and Sehgal Foundation in India, to better understand their outputs and impact. Once they’ve provided services and produced material for their clients, how are they keeping track of how it is being used?

How did you come to work in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)?

Growing up, I always wanted to become an engineer because of my dad. He was a hero. The best engineer in the world. He inspired my motivation to help others and to work in the community. He led a company, designing water and wastewater treatment systems, and for community health facilities, NGO projects and churches, he would work on the designs for free. He is my inspiration for working in this field.

After I graduated from my civil engineering degree, I volunteered for an NGO, which led me to my masters in environmental engineering. In my research, I discovered solar disinfection (SODIS). Since then I have been working in WASH to develop community knowledge. In Brazil, there were, and still are, many people without access to safe drinking water – maybe some have a well, surface water or do rainwater harvesting. For those without access to safe water, the government provides chlorine, but the supply is inconsistent.

So, what do people do when they don’t receive the chlorine? I realized SODIS would be another affordable, simple and accessible option for people to access safe drinking water.

I did lab testing on this and implemented it in the field. I’m proud to share that the community I worked with are still using SODIS.

After that, I started working as an engineer for the National Health Foundation/Ministry of Health in Brazil where I was managing the activities related to project design and construction of water supply systems, sewage systems and solid waste management for small municipalities.  

What leader do you admire?

This might sound funny, but I really admire my children. My son is so capable and sensitive. He is always trying to help people, and when he sees people suffering, he suffers. My daughter is pure joy and happiness. She is always cheering everyone around her. 

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

When I was in my undergrad, my head was always in the books. I was very studious and I knew a lot of theory. But I wish I got out and focused a little more practically. I would say get out and see the real world. There’s a balance to be struck between practice and theory.

 

Speaking of striking a balance, in your latest blog article, you talk about the importance of the performance of technologies, as well as the community context and practices. Can you tell us about an example of this?

What I can tell you is about the importance of capacity development for improving results, which I learned working with SODIS. SODIS is very simple – you put water in a PET plastic bottle and put it in the sun for a specified amount of time. The UV light combined with heat kills bacteria and your water is safe to drink. But even for the simplest technology, you need knowledge to go along with it and make it work.

At first, when I was studying the results of SODIS, I’d pick up sample bottles from the community periodically and test them in the lab. Early on, I ran the test and found the results were terrible – the water quality became worse and had more E-Coli present than the original sample. Surprised and mortified, I went to spend a day in the community. The community members filled their bottles with water, put them up on their roofs for sun exposure, and went to work. While they were at work, I noticed: the sun cast shadows from the trees onto the roofs and bottles. The sun exposure wasn’t direct enough to disinfect the water. But with everyone at work, no one would have noticed.

The article talks about high-performance technologies, but I have mostly worked with very simple technologies. Regardless of the performance, technology is nothing without the knowledge to go along with it.

You also just wrote an article that was picked up by a Brazilian publication, Tribuna do Ceara, can you tell us about it and some of the key takeaways?

I realized that there was a lack of COVID-19 information available in Portuguese, through the response to the Wash’Em resources. I wondered, what can I do to help? Not just Brazil, but Mozambique, Angola. I got a brainwave to write an article about COVID-19 and WASH, and a reporter read it and picked it up too.

I want to transmit a few main things. We don’t need to panic about COVID-19 and the water and sanitation side of things. The main route of transmission is respiratory droplets and direct contact. There is little to no evidence of transmission through water and wastewater, at this time.

Even if the virus is active in water, standard municipal disinfection processes will inactivate the virus. That said, we need to be aware and ready to act if we find that the virus is transmittable through fecal-oral pathways. If that becomes the case, my concern is the vulnerable – the favelas and high-density areas will need swift access to household water treatment technologies such as boiling, chemical disinfectants (chlorine), and solar and UV irradiation.

How are you responding to COVID-19 personally and professionally?

I am following all the guidance from the government here – staying home, keeping physical distance, washing my hands. Personally, we have a schedule (sort of), which allows time for studying with our kids, time to work for my wife and I, and play time as a family. We got some new board games recently. My wife and I try to keep our kids informed, in a simple way so that they understand why our actions are important.

Professionally, I am trying to add my knowledge and share it in ways that are useful to others. For example, this week, I’m working with my colleague Kelly on a brief for Emptying professionals on safety in the COVID-19 context.

How do you see the sector changing in the next 10 years?

Hopefully more and more people will have access to safe water. Not only piped water, I mean universal access that is inclusive of many technologies.

With that underway, I think a lot of the sector will be shifting focus to more sanitation. One thing is for sure, the need for capacity development will remain: Knowledge is forever. 

So is hope.


Coffee with CAWST is a blog series, where we have coffee and conversation to connect our readers with some of the outstanding people behind CAWST. Please let us know what you think, ask questions and stay tuned for more!

Studies on the Drying of Feces

What do poop and mango pulp have in common? Catherine Bourgeault shares the answer she learned when conducting research for two studies that were recently published.

Image: Celebrating World Toilet Day with a Fecal Sludge Management workshop in Bengalaru.
From left to right, Catherine Bourgeault is the third person.

Do you know what poop and mango pulp have in common?

I learned the answer to this question through two studies I completed that were recently published in Water 2019, the Special Issue on Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene in Humanitarian Contexts.

The answer: They both show a sigma-shaped moisture sorption isotherms (MSI) with increasing moisture adsorption at higher values of relative humidity.

You must be asking yourself: What are moisture sorption isotherms (MSI)?

They are a graphical representation describing the sorption process of water molecules into a specific material at a specific temperature.

MSIs illustrate where water molecules are progressively and reversibly released from hygroscopic forces in biological material. In other words, they inform how much energy is required to dry the material.

This method is commonly used in the food industry (hence the reference to mango pulp) to inform drying devices.

Perhaps it’s not too surprising that drying of fresh feces is an under-researched topic. But this method and knowledge can help in the design of sanitation systems and processes that treat and manage feces by drying, such as the LaDePa, in drying beds, and the nano membrane toilet. You can learn more about sanitation solutions in our Fecal Sludge Management Workshop.

If you’re looking to read more, here is an abstract of each article:

Measurement and Modelling of Moisture Sorption Isotherm and Heat of Sorption of Fresh Feces

The drying (or dewatering) of fresh feces and fecal sludge is a productive step in the management of sanitation, waste treatment, and resource recovery services. An improved understanding of fresh feces and fecal sludge drying would contribute to the development and deployment of fecal sludge management services. However, there is a lack of available literature on the fundamental drying characteristics of fresh feces. In response to this gap, this work shares experimental results for equilibrium moisture content of fresh feces at different water activity levels (aw) and proposes the use of the Guggenheim, Anderson, and de Boer (GAB) model for predicting aw, calculating the heat of sorption, and estimating the corresponding energy requirements for drying of fresh feces. This is the first time this work has been done with fresh feces. The total heat of evaporation was significant up to a moisture content of about 0.2 kg water per kg dry solids. In addition to informing drying process design, the sorption isotherm can be used to predict microbial activity, which could improve the management of feces and fecal sludge from a public health perspective. These data in turn will be used to promote access to dignified, safe, and sustainable sanitation.

Experimental Determination of Moisture Sorption Isotherm of Fecal Sludge

Dewatering and drying of fecal sludge (FS) is a key treatment objective in fecal sludge management as it reduces volume (thereby reducing emptying frequency and associated transportation costs), inactivates pathogens, and is beneficial and/or necessary to resource recovery activities such as composting and combustion as fuel. However, studies on dewatering performances of FS are limited. The physical water distribution of such matrices is not fully understood, limiting the progress in the development and optimization of FS dewatering technologies. The objective of this study is to present a gravimetric method intended to assess the dewatering characteristics and associated modelling of FS through moisture sorption isotherms. Samples were placed in airtight jars containing different saturated salt (NaOH, CaCl2, NaCl, KCl, K2SO4) solutions to reproduce a range of relative humidity values (6 to 97%). Results confirmed the achievement of characteristic sigma-shaped moisture sorption isotherms with increasing moisture adsorption at higher values of relative humidity. Furthermore, experimental data best fit the three-parameter Guggenheim–Anderson–de Boer (GAB) model. This method can be replicated to contribute critical data about the characterization of fecal sludge, a seriously under-researched matrix.


Catherine Bourgault, PhD is a Global WASH Advisor on our Training & Consulting team. She has a BA in Food Engineering, and both a Masters and PhD in Water Engineering from the University Laval. Her PhD thesis was entitled “Characterization and Quantification of Faecal Sludge from On-site Sanitation”. Last November, Catherine celebrated World Toilet Day with a Fecal Sludge Management workshop in Bengaluru, which she and CAWST’s Suneel Rajavaram co-delivered with CDD Society India and CASS. She loves mango lassi and dry humour.

COVID-19 Information & Advice

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on all of our lives. Adapting to this new situation has taken, and will continue to take, a lot of hard work from all of us. Thank you for all you are doing to mitigate the risk of transmission and stay safe, while at the same time working hard towards our common goals.

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on all of our lives. Adapting to this new situation has taken, and will continue to take, a lot of hard work from all of us. Thank you for all you are doing to mitigate the risk of transmission and stay safe, while at the same time working hard towards our common goals.

It is not easy to stay up to date and navigate all of the news and information on COVID-19 that is being produced and disseminated. Official guidance and information are evolving as knowledge and understanding of COVID-19 grow. Please follow all directives and advice from national government and local health authorities.

This update is intended to share reliable information that CAWST has gathered, and answer some of the questions that we have been hearing from staff and clients. Please share this information widely with your networks.

This document is based on information provided by the World Health Organization, Alberta Health Services, Wash’Em, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other reputable sources. It is current as of today (April 14, 2020). CAWST will continue to support client organizations and partners and disseminate useful resources and information as they become available. If you have questions or would like further information please contact us at support@cawst.org.

Here is a list of the latest updates

April 14 Update

April 14 Update (French)

April 14 Update (Spanish)


CAWST’s COVID-19 Updates: Information & Advice are prepared by Pete Thomson, MSc, Senior Director, Strategic Initiatives and Melinda Foran, MSPH, Director, Strategic Initiatives.

Lessons on Hygiene Behaviour Change from La Mosquitia, Honduras

CAWST and Pure Water for the World partnered with UNICEF to complete a behaviour change study on hygiene in the remote region of La Mosquitia, Honduras, in 2016. What we learned remains relevant, especially now as we influence and motivate hygiene behaviour change all over the world to combat COVID-19.

To learn about hygiene and handwashing behaviour in the Department of Gracias a Dios, Pure Water for the World Honduras and CAWST partnered with UNICEF to complete a Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices (KAP) study in 2016. Focused on the communities and schools of Puerto Lempira and Villeda Morales municipalities, the study collected and analyzed qualitative and quantitative data from students, teachers, and parents from 12 selected communities.

David Weatherhill, Global WASH Advisor for CAWST reflected, “The Honduras team have great communication skills and they put these skills to masterful use in completing the KAP study, especially when dealing with some sensitive issues such as menstrual hygiene management.”

Report cover: A woman washing dishes in a river.
Handwashing in Schools and Households in La Mosquitia, Honduras: Measuring hygiene behaviour, CAWST and PWW Honduras, 2016.

 

This 2016 study informed our interventions and education on water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in schools in the region. It remains relevant as a case study, especially now as we influence and motivate hygiene behaviour change all over the world to combat COVID-19. Findings emphasized the need for maintenance of existing handwashing infrastructure and enhancing community norms around hygiene to motivate consistent hygiene practices, and building on the strong, preexisting knowledge of handwashing practices in the communities.

The team used the RANAS model of behaviour change, which looks at the factors of risk, attitude, norm, ability, and self-regulation.1 More recently, CAWST has been using the Behaviour Centered Design model, which focuses on changes in the environment, triggering changes in the brain and body of target individuals, which then changes behaviour.2

Read the full case study.

 

 Learn more about behaviour change

Learn more about how behaviour can be understood using the Behaviour Centred Design approach (here), and the Risks, Attitudes, Norms, Abilities, and Self‐regulation (RANAS) model (here).


References

Mosler, H-J. (2012). A systematic approach to behavior change interventions for the water and sanitation sector in developing countries: a conceptual model, a review, and a guideline. International Journal of Environmental Health Research, 22, 431-449.

Aunger, R. & Curtis, V. (2015). A Guide to Behaviour Centred Design. London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.


David Weatherill, MEng is a Global WASH Advisor on the Training & Consulting team at CAWST. He has extensive WASH and humanitarian experience working with leading organizations including RedR, Oxfam, MSF and UNICEF. David has worked closely with our WET Centre partners in Honduras, developing national and regional WASH capacity, particularly in household water treatment, community-led sustainable sanitation, and WASH in schools. David is fluent in English and Spanish. In his personal life, he has a rare fondness for warm English beer at rugby matches, an appreciation for spicy curry, and misses having a good, in-person laugh with the Honduras team. 

Should I choose the highest performance HWTS product?

You may wonder: “Why would I choose anything other than the highest performance technology?” CAWST’s Marcio Botto, PhD, Knowledge & Research Advisor on the Research & Learning team, explains.

Jumping straight to the top line: yes and no.

Admittedly, this is the easiest and most vague way to answer complex questions. However, you may wonder: Why would I choose anything other than the highest performance technology?

Let’s start by discussing performance.

Since 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) has been evaluating Household Water Treatment (HWT) products with the intention to guide Member States and procuring United Nations in HWT selection. So far 30 products have been tested in Round I1 and Round II2. Of those, 23 technologies met the minimum performance criteria.

WHO classifies the performance of a HWT technology based on its ability to remove three classes of pathogens: bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. Depending on the performance of the technology, the product would land in one of four tiers: no star, one star, two stars, or three stars. Products ranked with three stars provide very high pathogen removal for the three classes of pathogens, while those with no stars provide little to no protection. Little or no protection means that the product failed to meet the WHO performance criteria; for example, some products showed inconsistent removal performance across production units. For more details on performance classification and criteria, I recommend reviewing the performance classification table in the Results of Round I of the WHO scheme, on page 14.

In 2019, Bivins and a team from WHO and the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology published a quantitative microbial risk assessment modelling study that challenged the use of the performance classification for selecting HWT. The study indicated that once a technology demonstrated microbial efficacy consistent with the high pathogen removal (two stars) tier, achieving the 3 C’s (correct, consistent, and continued use) is more critical to deliver health improvements than increasing microbiological performance.

What are the 3 Cs again?
• Correct: The household uses an appropriate HWTS system (for the given water source), following best practices or the manufacturer’s instructions.
• Consistent: All members of the household always use treated water at all times of the day and through all the seasons.
• Continued: All members of the household use treated water for the long-term (they do not discontinue use when something happens).

As a result of this study (Bivins et al, 2019)1, WHO endorsed that the decision to choose between two- and three-star product need not be focused on its microbial performance. Instead, the choice should be made based on the likelihood of achieving high rates of correct, consistent, and continued use, and factors that support effective implementation, including supply chain and costs.

Achieving health impact from Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage (HWTS) depends on multiple factors, not only on microbial performance of the technology. Performance is important, but it is not the sole factor. The 3 Cs should be considered and targeted before implementing a HWTS technology.

To conclude

Please check the rating to understand the efficacy of the products you are considering. But don’t forget about the household and community context in decisions on Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage.

Will the product you are considering be used correctly, consistently, and continually?

Think about it. And if you need any assistance, please contact us; we will be glad to help you.

Learn more

Where can you find technical HWTS information that you can quickly put into practice?

Visit the CAWST Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage (HWTS) Knowledge Base.

The HWTS Knowledge Base combines technical and practical information in one location, where practitioners can share their experiences and learn from one another. At hwts.info you will find a reliable and up-to-date catalogue of HWTS solutions based on independent evaluation and evidence-based action research, country-specific information, resources on HWTS in emergency contexts, and projects and experiences with different implementation approaches. Recently, the HWTS Knowledge base was among the top five projects in the category International and Regional Cooperation of the World Summit on Information Society Prize 2020. It’s just one of the ways we are making water knowledge common knowledge.

If you’re looking for a basic introduction to HWTS, visit our new e-learning resource, hwts.info/learn

Seeking additional information on the 3 Cs?


Marcio Botto, MEng, PhD is a Knowledge & Research Advisor who joined the Research & Learning team at CAWST in 2019. His portfolio of expertise centers on Civil Engineering and spans across environmental sanitation, acting on solar water disinfection, municipal water supply and wastewater systems, ecological sanitation, public health, and urban solid waste management. Marcio is fluent in English and Portuguese, and also speaks Spanish. He loves talking about HWTS and is an accomplished marathoner.


References

1 World Health Organization. (‎2016)‎. Results of round I of the WHO international scheme to evaluate household water treatment technologiesWorld Health Organization.

2 World Health Organization. (‎2019)‎. Results of round II of the WHO international scheme to evaluate household water treatment technologiesWorld Health Organization.

3 Bivins, A., Beetsch, N., Majuru, B., Montgomery, M., Sumner, T., and Brown, J. (2019). Selecting Household Water Treatment Options on the Basis of World Health Organization Performance Testing Protocols. Environmental Science and Technology, 53(9), 5043-5051.

COVID-19 Resources

The Wash’Em team is committed to helping local-level actors respond rapidly and effectively to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We encourage you to use and share these resources. We are working on getting these translated into more languages. 

The Wash’Em team is committed to helping local-level actors respond rapidly and effectively to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We encourage you to use and share these resources. We are working on getting these translated into more languages. 

 

Wash’Em Resources

COVID-19 is spreading rapidly across the globe. The situation is changing daily and it is different in different regions of the world. It is important to stay informed via reliable information sources. Wash’Em has not developed its own list of resources, but below you will find a list of reliable resource hubs. 

  • Some of these have general resources and global guidance, e.g., the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 
  • Others are WASH sector specific, e.g., the Global WASH Cluster (GWC) and the Global Handwashing Partnership (GHP). 
  • Some contain more technical information and research, e.g., The Lancet family of journals, the Johns Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center, and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). 
  • We also encourage you to pay attention to the latest guidance from your Government or National Ministry of Health for context-appropriate actions and recommendations. 
  • If you want to learn more, why not try some of the free online courses. 

 

Key websites and resource hubs

 

Free online courses on COVID-19

 

Visual Assets

A picture says more than a thousand words. If you are looking for some quick infographics, posters or videos to share or adapt, we can suggest some resources too. Try to work with a designer and/or instructor if you can, or find someone from your target audience who can provide feedback. This will help ensure your message is robust, and that your message is easily understood as you intended.

CAWST CEO responds to the COVID-19 pandemic

The global community is at the heart of everything we do. Like you, we are watching with great concern as the communities we live and work in are being impacted and affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is our duty as an ethical organization and as global citizens to do what we can to slow the spread of the coronavirus and minimize its impact.

The global community is at the heart of everything we do. Like many of you, we are watching with great concern as the communities we live and work in are impacted and affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is our duty as an ethical organization and as global citizens to do what we can to slow the spread of the coronavirus and minimize its impact. We are focused on two things: the health and safety of our team and communities, and finding new ways to serve our cause.

We are following directives and guidelines by the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta and the City of Calgary, and the World Health Organization (WHO), with a particular focus on handwashing and social distancing as the most effective methods to slow down the rate of transmission.

At this time, the WHO estimates that approximately 80% of cases are mild, 20% moderate to severe, many of whom will require hospitalization1. Without action, we will overburden our health care workers; but with concerted effort, we can limit the spread, particularly to those who are most vulnerable. The Government of Canada site has a useful FAQ on the coronavirus here.

As an organization whose staff is constantly travelling around the globe to achieve our mission, we are thankful to share that all staff travelling on CAWST business have safely returned home. They are now self-isolating. We are strongly encouraging everyone to work remotely, and supporting those who need extra help to look after children and family members.

As the situation surrounding COVID-19 changes rapidly, we will continue to closely monitor the guidance of health authorities and governments, and base our decisions on the available evidence. CAWST is in a fortunate position to have a team with extensive experience in outbreaks such as Ebola, SARS, and cholera, and expertise in analyzing data and information on disease transmission.

It is our commitment to serve water, sanitation, and hygiene practitioners in public health by focusing on our online consulting services and e-learning platforms.

We are inspired by the local and global actions being taken to tackle this crisis, and are most grateful to those of you who are serving all of us on the front-lines.

Together, we will respond to the new realities and emerge fit to face the future.

Stay safe and wash your hands,

Shauna Curry
CEO, CAWST

 

References

World Health Organization. (2020). Clinical management of severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) when COVID-19 disease is suspected: Interim guidance V 1.2.

How to promote handwashing behaviour using posters

One of the most important things we can do to stop the transmission of COVID-19, as well as diarrheal disease and respiratory infections, is to wash our hands. CAWST’s handwashing posters can serve as an excellent reminder of this critical behaviour.

Out of sight, out of mind. On the other hand, however, it’s harder to ignore what’s staring us squarely in the face. It’s one reason that posters—and mirrors—can be useful to promote handwashing.

One of the most important things we can do to stop the transmission of COVID-19, as well as diarrheal disease and respiratory infections, is to wash our hands.

CAWST’s handwashing posters can serve as an excellent reminder of this critical behaviour. Display the posters at handwashing stations, toilets, kitchens, eating areas, and other key places, to remind people to wash their hands frequently. The element of surprise is important; remember to put up different posters regularly, as people ignore posters that have been up for a long time.

Created for six different regions around the world, and available in English, French, Spanish, Swahili, and Creole, you can adapt the language and the message of CAWST’s Handwashing Posters to suit your local context. As with all our WASH education and training resources, the posters are open content (free).

 

Download CAWST’s Handwashing Posters 

 

Posters are a visual cue that prompt us to wash our hands regularly. This helps protect our own health and the health of those around us.


Learn more

 

Further reading

Systematic reviews that support the reductions in diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections via handwashing.

Diarrhea

  • Wolf J, Hunter PR, Freeman MC, et al. Impact of drinking water, sanitation and handwashing with soap on childhood diarrhoeal disease: updated meta-analysis and meta-regression. Tropical Medicine and International Health. May 2018;23(5):508-525.
  • Ejemot-Nwadiaro RI, Ehiri JE, Arikpo D, Meremikwu MM, Critchley JA. Hand washing promotion for preventing diarrhoea. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2015;9:CD004265.
  • Curtis V, Cairncross S. Effect of washing hands with soap on diarrhoea risk in the community: a systematic review. The Lancet infectious diseases. 2003;3:275-281.
  • Cairncross, S., et al. (2010). “Water, sanitation and hygiene for the prevention of diarrhoea.” Int J Epidemiol 39(suppl 1): i193-i205.


Respiratory infections

  • Aiello AE, Larson EL. What is the evidence for a causal link between hygiene and infections? Lancet Infect Dis. 2002;2.
  • Rabie T, Curtis V. Handwashing and risk of respiratory infections: a quantitative systematic review. Tropical Medicine and International Health. 2006;11.

 

Accelerating Gender Equality in WASH and the World

For International Women’s Day, we introduced women leaders in WASH, Srijana and Xenia. As International Women’s Day ends and World Water Day approaches, let’s stop thinking of women as passive beneficiaries who need to be helped. Let’s see them for their full potential as capable providers who are highly motivated to improve their communities.

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we honour and appreciate the women alongside whom we have the pleasure of working. At the front of workshops, boardrooms, and movements, women are powerful agents of change. They are leaders in accelerating gender equality in WASH and the world.

In case you missed it, we introduced two inspiring women, Xenia Castellanos in Honduras and Srijana Karki in Nepal in celebration of International Women’s Day. Around the world and at CAWST, we are privileged to work with many inspirational women, like Kelly James, Rebecca Morante, or Amanda Deis. In fact, our executive leadership team is entirely made up by women. At the head is Shauna Curry, our CEO, and by her side are Keri Smith, Vice President of Business Operations, and I, Millie Adam, Vice President of Global Services. 

Our cause, water, sanitation and hygiene, is a women’s issue. We often hear about the burden women and girls face in collecting water. Women are generally responsible for water in their homes, and they are most negatively affected when it’s lacking. However, seeking only to eliminate their burden misses an important opportunity. When we build the knowledge and skills of women to look after the WASH needs of their homes, schools, and clinics, we are seizing an opportunity to empower women by giving them the opportunity and capacity to lead change. Many of the women we train generate an income from what they’ve learned and become leaders in their community. Gender equality and WASH are closely linked.

As International Women’s Day ends and World Water Day approaches, let’s stop thinking of women as passive beneficiaries who need help. Let’s see women for their full potential as capable providers who are highly motivated to improve their communities. As technicians, trainers and leaders, women earn incomes, challenge gender norms, and pass on their knowledge, all while providing a basic human right (water and sanitation), a foundation for poverty reduction and development. If we mobilize this massive resource, we can meet the global need for safe drinking water and sanitation, and make huge strides in gender equality. Or rather, they can, with a little support.

Learn more

Coronavirus: How to change handwashing behaviour

The global spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in public officials and mainstream media encouraging people to wash their hands with soap as regularly as possible. The simple act of handwashing with soap remains our best defence against coronavirus and common global killers such as diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections. However, rates of handwashing with soap at critical times are less than 20% globally.

[ Download a PDF version of this article ] 

Handwashing with soap – our best defence against the coronavirus

The global spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has resulted in public officials and mainstream media encouraging people to wash their hands with soap as regularly as possible. The simple act of handwashing with soap remains our best defence against coronavirus, other outbreak pathogens, and common global killers such as diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections. However, rates of handwashing with soap at critical times (such as after using the toilet or before eating) are less than 20% globally. 

In this guide we give you practical tips for how to encourage community-level handwashing behaviour with the aim of controlling and preventing the spread of the coronavirus. This guide is not a technical brief about COVID-19; please refer to reliable sources such as the CDC or WHO for this information. If you are working on water, sanitation or hygiene we recommend you read this technical guide also.

How to change handwashing behaviour

  • Globally most people know the benefits of handwashing. Despite knowing this, people all around the world often forget or deprioritize handwashing with soap. To really change behavior we need to do more than just hygiene education. 
  • People sometimes don’t practice handwashing because it is inconvenient or because they have other priorities. So to change handwashing behaviour we need to create an enabling environment, establish positive social norms, and make it a desirable thing to do. 
  • In an outbreak, people normally start to wash their hands more frequently and more thoroughly. This is because they perceive themselves to be more vulnerable to disease than usual. Our job is to support this natural instinct without creating unnecessary fear and do so in a way that establishes handwashing as a habitual practice that persists even after the outbreak. 

What is Wash’Em and how does it relate to coronavirus?

Wash’Em provides humanitarian organisations with a way of designing rapid, evidence-based, and context adapted hygiene programmes. The Wash’Em process combines 5 rapid assessment tools to learn about the determinants of handwashing behaviour with a software that helps humanitarians to identify contextualised hygiene promotion activities.  To date, Wash’Em has been used in 34 humanitarian emergencies by 45 NGOs. In each case Wash’Em has facilitated handwashing programmes to be designed in just a week. 

Wash’Em has also been used in the acute phase of cholera outbreaks and for Ebola prevention. Wash’Em is also a useful resource for hygiene promotion in the context of the coronavirus because it includes a set of 80 easy-to-implement activities that can be used to promote handwashing in regions of the world where the coronavirus is spreading.

Early stage response recommendations

The activities below are designed to be used in the coming month (March 2020) for coronavirus control and prevention. They have been chosen because they are quick, easy, and low cost. 

  • Make handwashing easier by increasing the availability of handwashing facilities, soap and water. Did you know that the presence of a handwashing facility can make people 60% more likely to wash their hands? Focus on providing handwashing infrastructure in visible places. This may include at the entrance of buildings, in places where lots of people gather (like markets or bus stops) and in places where handwashing is most needed (outside toilets and in places where people eat). Read our guide on how to design handwashing infrastructure that will actually change behaviour. 

  • Share real experiences of the coronavirus. When a new disease emerges it can create a lot of fear. It is normal to be worried about an outbreak like the coronavirus but fear can cause people to act in unpredictable and harmful ways. We suggest that you partner with health authorities to interview people who have been exposed to the virus and who have recovered. Sharing the lived experiences of these individuals (with their permission) will help you build an accurate understanding of COVID-19. Getting these individuals to speak out about the importance of handwashing with soap is likely to be much more believable and have a much more persuasive effect on the behaviour of others. Find out more about how to do this activity here

  • Make handwashing messages surprising. Placing messages (e.g., on posters) in key locations can act as a cue to remind people to wash their hands with soap at critical times. However, if these posters stay the same they will begin to go unnoticed and over time they may no longer trigger handwashing behaviour. Changing the handwashing message every few days will help to capture people’s attention time and time again. While COVID-19 is a serious disease, our handwashing messaging can still be aspirational and fun. Find out more about this activity here as well as examples of hygiene messages that can be used on rotation

  • Remind people of the power of soap! Soap has been around since 2800 B.C. so it is easy to forget what a miracle product it is. In most countries, people often just wash their hands with water—but handwashing without soap will not result in truly clean hands. Wash’Em includes several fun activities to show the power of soap. All you need are simple props like pepper, glitter, Vaseline and water. Watch these videos and try these when you visit communities or within workplaces and schools. Make sure to assess the risk before doing any in person activities in the areas where you work. If the risk is high you can also share these activities on social media so people can try them at home. 

 

  • Normalise and celebrate handwashing. Controlling an outbreak like COVID-19 requires the whole community work together and practice handwashing with soap regularly. Rewarding people when they do the right thing is more likely to encourage them to do it again and can lead to long-lasting habit formation. If you are working in a setting where social media is common, then share photos of people washing their hands with soap and praise them for doing the right thing. If you are working in a setting where social media is less common, then consider creating a champions wall where you feature similar photos on a wall in a public place. Find out more about how to do these activities by following the links.

 

 

A longer term approach (for use if COVID-19 continues to spread)

The activities above are designed to be simple short-term ideas to promote handwashing with soap in countries where the coronavirus is spreading. If the coronavirus continues, those implementing hygiene promotion programmes will need to change their approach in the following months. This is because behaviour change is complex and often you need to include a range of activities which reach people through a range of mediums in order to sustain behaviour. From April 2020 onwards it may be worth developing a contextualised and longer-term response to the COVID-19 outbreak. For this we suggest using the Wash’Em process. To learn about Wash’Em, visit our website or access the software. Here you can download the rapid assessment tools and the training package or watch video-based guides. You can also use the software to generate additional handwashing programme activities.

 

The 5 Wash’Em Rapid Assessment tools can be adapted in simple ways for COVID-19 prevention

  • Handwashing Demonstrations tool – use as per the guide
  • Disease perception – The guide uses diarrhoea as the case study disease. To adapt it change each ‘diarrhoea’ reference to coronavirus.
  • Motives – use as per the guide. If you do not have time to do all the Rapid Assessment tools then the Motives tool can be dropped. 
  • Personal Histories – use the worksheet that is designed for outbreak prevention. Adapt the second column so that you ask participants to describe what would happen should they get coronavirus.
  • Touchpoints – use as per the guide.

 

Handwashing Facts

  • 80% of all germs are transferred through hands. In fact, at any one time we have about 3,200 microbes on our hands (many of which are not harmful). 
  • Hands get easily re-contaminated. An hour after handwashing with soap they will typically be as contaminated as prior to washing them. This means it’s important to wash your hands as regularly as possible. 
  • Viruses are much smaller than bacteria and are typically harder to remove from hands. This means it’s important to wash hands thoroughly (for about 20 seconds), creating a nice soapy lather, scrubbing all over your hands and then rinsing the soap off fully. Drying your hands can also help to remove any remaining germs. 
  • Alcohol-based hand gel can be used when you do not have easy access to water and soap. 

About the Wash’Em project

The Wash’Em project is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)The contents are the responsibility of Action contre la Faim (ACF), The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), and CAWST (Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology) and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

International Women’s Day: Srijana Karki

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we honour and appreciate the women alongside whom we have the pleasure of working. Srijana Karki is a systems leader, accelerating gender equality in Nepal.

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we honour and appreciate the women alongside whom we have the pleasure of working. At the front of classrooms, workshops, boardrooms, and movements, women are powerful agents of change. They are leaders in accelerating gender equality in WASH and the world.

Srijana Karki is a leader who is accelerating gender equality in Nepal.

As a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Officer with Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO), a partner in CAWST’s Water Expertise and Training Centre program, Srijana has over a decade of experience in WASH planning and project implementation. She brings a gender equity and social inclusion lens to all projects and organizations that ENPHO supports, to influence practices that will enhance equitable participation in decision making. 

“There are many barriers to gender equity and social inclusion. First of all, I work in a very patriarchal society. Stereotypes around gender run deep and influence all WASH. We’ve seen a commitment to gender equality through government policy, but I feel strongly that the greatest opportunity for practical change starts at the household level.

In many households, there’s a prevailing belief that WASH is women’s work. Men must support it too. We can influence the shift in belief and behaviour with ongoing sensitization and mainstreaming. Sometimes projects include one training on gender roles, but that is insufficient. Shifting stereotypes requires daily repetition of messages on gender equality and strategic interventions, such as creating meaningful leadership roles for women on community committees.

Indeed, WASH is a powerful platform for gender equality at the community level. As Srijana sees it, shifts must happen at the organizational level too. 

“One of the most exciting areas in my work is within my organization, and others we support, to integrate gender policy. We recently reviewed the ENPHO gender policy. Learning from that, we guided four organizations to complete gender assessments of their organizations. From there, we helped them develop gender policies and implement them in the field. Implementation included creating key positions for women, both at the coordinator level and field staff, and mainstreaming gender throughout the full project cycle. The results are hopeful. On community visits I often see men cleaning and supporting household water work with pride.”

A champion for gender equality in all that she does, Srijana walks the talk. We’re privileged to walk alongside her in her work.

“I simply feel lucky to work in this area. When I completed my first master’s degree on Rural Development, I started to work in WASH. Soon, I ran up against recurring limitations of WASH interventions due to gender stereotypes and a lack of consideration of gender in the design of interventions. Women simply could not access WASH in the same way as men. So, I pursued a second master’s degree in gender to get beyond my surface-level observations. This education opened an opportunity for me to implement my knowledge in bringing gender sensitizing campaigns to life within our interventions. Now, I’m honored to represent ENPHO at international and national forums, sharing cases and knowledge. But I’m also always eager to learn more.”

Srijana is keen to learn and we’re keen to learn with her as well, especially in our upcoming gender assessment. Currently, Srijana is leading a gender assessment of our work together on the Global Affairs Canada-supported Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund. The 2015 earthquake in Nepal was devastating, and left many without access to water. ENPHO and CAWST educated on water and sanitation solutions to help those with the least access – women, children and low-income people – recover, rebuild, and stay healthy in the aftermath. Srijana’s gender assessment will reveal where we’ve advanced on gender awareness to inform our future work.

Srijana is hopeful for the future of gender equality in WASH and the world. 

“First of all, let’s not just talk about gender equality, let’s invest in it. The proper investment means developing the capacity of local organizations for gender mainstreaming. Once we have that proper investment, my hope is that anything done in WASH considers the needs of women in both the practical and strategic senses. Perhaps most importantly, my hope is that in offices, households, communities, and within ourselves, we start a dialogue to fight the stereotypes that permeate media, institutions and culture. That’s my biggest hope to shift gender equality.”

Learn more

International Women’s Day: Xenia Castellanos

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we honour and appreciate the women alongside whom we have the pleasure of working. Xenia Castellanos is a champion for gender equality through her training style and the subject matter she addresses in Honduras.

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we honour and appreciate the women alongside whom we have the pleasure of working. At the front of classrooms, workshops, boardrooms, and movements, women are powerful agents of change. They are leaders in accelerating gender equality in WASH and the world.

Xenia Castellanos champions gender equality through training in Honduras.

Working with Xenia Maribel Castellanos Rodriguez in Honduras since 2016, our staff are continually inspired by her growth, determination, and agency. As a Water Expertise and Training Centre Facilitator for Pure Water for the World Honduras, Xenia trains groups in remote regions of Honduras and Guatemala on water, sanitation, and hygiene. Never satisfied with the status quo, Xenia always pushes to improve herself; her tenacity and encouragement are contagious, even in new and challenging workshops.

“It can be challenging to gain the confidence and buy-in of those for whom I facilitate. Is it a gender issue? I can’t say. But I find workshop participants can be closed to learning because I am new to them and their community. By facilitating (and participating in) icebreakers and using participatory approaches, I find I can be successful, no matter the gender and power dynamics present in the room. In part, CAWST supported me to grow in these competencies and my confidence as a trainer.”

For several years, PWW Honduras has been in high demand for their expertise on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools. They train teachers to incorporate WASH knowledge into all subjects and curricula to influence behaviour of students at the school and throughout their communities. What does that look like? It’s everything from measuring the flow rate of a water filter in mathematics to writing a WASH-related story in Spanish grammar class.

As Xenia knows, WASH in schools also touches on gender-related subjects that are uncomfortable to some. Menstrual hygiene, for example.

“Most recently I was on a trip to Guatemala, delivering a WASH in Schools training to a group of teachers. When I brought up menstrual hygiene, a male teacher asked ‘why would I ever talk about that?’ I am resolute that menstrual hygiene is a topic for everyone to understand. In that workshop, I led teachers to identify the challenges that girls face coming to school during their menstrual cycle. They brainstormed solutions and became more comfortable with the topic. By creating a dialogue on the subject, we created a safe and inclusive environment for men and women to engage in the topic of menstrual hygiene.

Little by little, and with persistence, we are dismantling barriers and removing taboos by opening up the conversation. When teachers can talk about it, girls are encouraged to talk about it, and those girls become the trainers, training other girls in their school and community. At PWW, we’ve seen this shift in communities in Honduras and Guatemala.

Beyond the content, Xenia champions gender equality in her training style.

“There are things that we all need to know. Things that women know that men need to know, and things that men know that women need to know. My contribution to gender equality is to create an environment that encourages inclusive dialogue and equally values what everyone has to say. In training, everyone should have a voice and an opportunity to share their knowledge.”

Looking ahead, Xenia has high hopes for the future of PWW as a recognized leader in WASH nationally and internationally, and for gender equality in WASH.

“Yes, women have the confidence to take on leadership roles, but they don’t get recognized in the same way as their male counterparts. My hope for the future is that more women lead more processes and that they are recognized for doing so. Furthermore, I hope that the perspectives of women are taken into account in all areasnot just in theory, but in a meaningful way.” 

Learn more