Senior Director, Business Development

We are seeking a professional fund and business development leader who recognizes that giving is an emotional act, not a financial transaction. You work hard to nurture strategic relationships with those who share our vision. You are an effective communicator, negotiator, and influencer.

The Position: Senior Director, Business Development

Reports to: CEO

Type: Full time, permanent

Location: CAWST is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Position start date: As soon as possible

Application due date: Applications will be reviewed on a continuous basis until the position is filled

Who we are

CAWST is a Canadian charity and licensed engineering firm. We address the global need for safe drinking water and sanitation by building local knowledge and skills on household solutions people can implement themselves.

At the heart of everything we do is our belief that when people have their basic water and sanitation needs met, they have the opportunity to succeed. This is what drives our dedicated team to work with a global network of more than 1,500 clients and partners. Together, we have reached more than 16 million people since our inception in 2001.

Collectively, we are making a difference at a scale beyond what any of us could do individually. But our job isn’t done yet and we need you to help us expand our reach.


The role

Leading a team of nine and reporting directly to the CEO, the Senior Director, Fund and Business Development leads the design and execution of CAWST’s business development, donor and funder strategies and pipelines, including existing and new markets of clients, partners, collaborators, funders, and donors.

Success in this role will position CAWST to influence the WASH sector, increase awareness of CAWST and our cause amongst Canadians, and increase donations and funding opportunities.

Strategy

  • Provide strategic direction by developing goals and objectives for the fund and business development function
  • Contribute to high level decision making, assisting with implementation and organization-wide strategic planning and team activities
  • Initiate, lead and/or contribute to other initiatives that support CAWST’s mission, as defined by the CEO and executive team
  • Develop and execute on all strategies to fulfill the mandate of this role, and identify new initiatives to support the strategic direction of the organization
  • Actively work with the VP of Global Services and CEO to develop and implement a comprehensive fund development strategy (i.e. corporate, foundation, government grants)

Business Development

  • Expand market penetration for CAWST services and create new business development opportunities through all outreach methods
  • Generate and qualify leads for clients, partnerships, and collaborations to achieve impact and reach
  • Generate and qualify leads for funding CAWST’s and partners’ work, with an emphasis on designated funding for programs and projects
  • Work with the CEO and other members of the senior leadership team in expanding partnerships with major donors, WASH foundations, governmental agencies, and other organizations, to diversify and leverage resources and fundraising
  • Engage and influence the WASH sector to accelerate adoption, correct, consistent and continual use of affordable technologies via capacity building
  • Maintain and strengthen existing key relationships with donors and funders, and build new ones
  • Work with the fund development team to create contract-winning proposals for current and prospective donors and funders
  • Negotiate contract terms and conditions for proposals and funding arrangements

Collaboration

  • Work collaboratively with the communications team to support efforts to increase the organization’s visibility and name recognition among donors, funders, clients, and partners
  • Work collaboratively with the Global Services team and staff to identify new funding opportunities by developing concepts and identifying new partnership and funding opportunities

Management

  • Manage fund development team
  • Carry out supervisory responsibilities including interviewing, training, planning, performance evaluations, employee discipline and problem solving
  • Manage staff and support the development of program goals and objectives, defining performance metrics, monitoring progress, and reporting on results

Budget oversight

  • Develop, maintain, and be accountable for functional budget responsibilities
  • Provide timely and accurate reports to leadership, including periodical updates to the Board of Directors

 


Who you are

You are a professional fund and business development leader who recognizes that giving is an emotional act, not a financial transaction. You work hard to nurture strategic relationships with those who share our vision. You are an effective communicator, negotiator, and influencer.

In addition, you have the following qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience in related field
  • Demonstrated achievement in fundraising
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills, including facilitation of group presentations
  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office applications, including Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and industry-specific analysis software
  • Basic understanding of international development and fundraising, with the ability to become a subject matter expert on the job
  • High level of initiative, with limited supervision
  • Able to engage and mobilize staff from across the CAWST team

To apply

Please submit your application here

Please note: Only resumes from candidates eligible to work in Canada will be reviewed; and only those applicants granted an interview will be contacted. No phone calls, please.


Organizational Background

CAWST is a Canadian charity and registered engineering consultancy. We teach people how to get safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene in their homes, schools, and clinics, using simple, affordable technologies. To do so, we transfer knowledge and skills to organizations and individuals in low- and middle-income countries through education, training, and consulting resources and services. In turn, our clients catalyze local leaders, trainers, and change agents into taking action to meet their water, sanitation, and hygiene needs. Since 2001, CAWST’s network of clients has expanded to over 5,000 organizations worldwide across 190+ countries. Collectively we are making a difference at a scale beyond what any of us could do individually. Together, we are helping millions of people get better water, sanitation, or hygiene.

Our vision is a world where people have the opportunity to succeed because their basic water and sanitation needs have been met.

CAWST values equitable opportunities, sustainable solutions, and collaborative and inclusive processes. We seek to grow in our knowledge of diversity and inclusion, and appreciate the learning that results from differences in cultural and religious beliefs.

Graphic Designer / Illustrator

Looking for a highly creative, self-motivated, and kind person to join our communications team. Are you as comfortable in the world of CMYK as RGB, totally at home in Creative Cloud (especially InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator), and a stickler for the brand guide? Do you have video editing and animation skills to boot? You sound like you could fit right in with the #CAWSTTeam!

The Position: Graphic Designer / Illustrator

Reports to: Senior Graphic Designer

Type: Full time, fixed term (1 year).

Location: CAWST is based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Position start date: January 11, 2021

Application due date: Applications will be reviewed on a continuous basis until the position is filled

Compensation: $45,000 – $50,000 per year, commensurate with experience.

Position Summary

Looking for a highly creative, self-motivated, and kind person to join our communications team. The Graphic Designer / Illustrator will work closely with the communications team, in service of the entire organization, to uphold and advance the CAWST brand and design compelling and thoughtful materials to engage both Canadian and international audiences. The successful candidate will be able to follow art direction and adapt existing styles in some cases, and at other times generate new ideas and complete projects from start to finish.

The Graphic Designer / Illustrator is as comfortable in the world of CMYK as RGB, totally at home in Creative Cloud (especially InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator), and, although our designers groan about it, you’ll still need a working knowledge of Word and PPT. Additional bonus points for skills in video editing, photography, and animation.

Experience with reports, advertising, promotional material, or web design is desirable but not indispensable.

Everything we do at CAWST, we do in partnership – come join us!


The Responsibilities

  • Reporting to the Senior Graphic Designer, execute on a variety of interesting projects and liaise with various departments to produce graphics and illustrations, from conception to completion, adhering to project deadlines
  • Help to execute day-to-day design requests such as edits, resizing, reformatting, and/or layouts
  • Design strategic and creative graphics for print, social media, and online advertising purposes that are print-ready, web-friendly, and consistent with our brand guidelines
  • Ensure consistent use of branding on all materials
  • Create visuals that will be used in our public engagement initiatives and international training materials

 

Education

  • Bachelor’s degree or diploma in graphic design or similar field

The Person

The ideal candidate is a proactive self-starter with 2-5 years of experience, who has excellent design skills and strong attention to detil. (Yes, like that – exactly). Working with a small but mighty (and fun!) communications team, the successful candidate has a positive, can-do attitude and a zest for design that informs and inspires.

Qualifications

  • An eye for great design and the skills to execute on them
  • Comfort and ability working in a Mac environment
  • Knowledge and understanding of international development and experience working with low- and middle-income countries is an asset
  • Thirst to learn and contribute to the learning of others. A commitment to practice and grow cultural humility

Competencies

  • Proficiency in Creative Cloud, especially InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Working knowledge of design in Word and PowerPoint
  • High degree of professionalism and empathy
  • Ability to problem-solve
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively
  • Ability to meet deadlines and work under time pressure
  • Ability to develop and execute communications and marketing content

To Apply

Please submit your application here

Your application should include:

  • A cover letter that gives an overview of your experience as it applies to this role, and explains why you are interested in working in the field of WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) and international development
  • Your resume
  • A link to your online portfolio

Please indicate the following in your cover letter: What are your main interests and strengths within communications (design, writing, social media, fundraising, media relations, video, etc.)

Applications will be reviewed on a continuous basis until the position is filled.

Please note: Only resumes from candidates eligible to work in Canada will be reviewed; and only those applicants granted an interview will be contacted. No phone calls, please.


Organizational Background

CAWST is a Canadian charity and registered engineering consultancy. We teach people how to get safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene in their homes, schools, and clinics, using simple, affordable technologies. To do so, we transfer knowledge and skills to organizations and individuals in low- and middle-income countries through education, training, and consulting resources and services. In turn, our clients catalyze local leaders, trainers, and change agents into taking action to meet their water, sanitation, and hygiene needs. Since 2001, CAWST’s network of clients has expanded to over 5,000 organizations worldwide across 190+ countries. Collectively we are making a difference at a scale beyond what any of us could do individually. Together, we are helping millions of people get better water, sanitation, or hygiene.

Our vision is a world where people have the opportunity to succeed because their basic water and sanitation needs have been met.

CAWST values equitable opportunities, sustainable solutions, and collaborative and inclusive processes. We seek to grow in our knowledge of diversity and inclusion, and appreciate the learning that results from differences in cultural and religious beliefs.

Latrine Construction, Sustainable Sanitation, and World Toilet Day

Lately, and leading up to World Toilet Day, Global WASH Advisor Taya Raine has been thinking a lot about the integrity of the toilet. While approaches like community-led total sanitation have made impressive gains over the last 20 years, access to sustainable and safe toilets is not as common as we think. Collapsing latrine pits are a significant setback. After a summer of researching and piloting methods to prevent latrine pit collapse, Taya shares her perspective on global sanitation challenges and our process of learning about different latrine solutions.

World Toilet Day? Is that really a thing?

This was my friend’s reaction when I shared what I’d be working on today. A blog. About toilet construction. For World Toilet Day. No wonder my friends think my chosen career path is “unique.”

But yes, World Toilet Day is, in fact, a thing. Although not as widely celebrated as Mother’s Day, or World Tuna Day, or even Friday, World Toilet Day on November 19 is a United Nations day that “celebrates toilets and raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. It is about taking action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030” (UN Water, 2020).

It doesn’t take a lot of convincing to get people to realize that toilets are important. Just imagine your life without one. In fact, imagine your life without one if you were sick—perhaps with the stomach flu, or a nasty case of food poisoning.  At the risk of being graphic, what would you do?  Go behind the house?  Use a bucket or a plastic bag?  Sweaty and feverish, where do you put it?  In a garbage can? Back alley? Wait for your neighbour to leave for work so you can spread it under their rose bushes? They needed some fertilizer anyway, right?

Here in Canada we usually have access to a toilet when we need it. And we never need to think about the integrity of the toilet itself. Sewer systems and indoor plumbing make for a generally comfortable experience, and by and large the most traumatic affair most of us will ever face is having to use a toilet that doesn’t quite meet our cleanliness standards.

But humour me for a moment and think about what it would be like to live in a place where there is no sewer network, and you are responsible to meet your family’s sanitation needs. There is no municipal system or plan. You have no construction skills or experience, and you don’t know anyone in your community who has built a toilet before. The locally-available construction materials include mud or concrete blocks, and organic materials like bamboo, wood, and thatch. You may be able to get plastic plumbing parts from another city or town, but doing so would be very costly. What kind of toilet do you think you’d end up with? Would it be comfortable and safe?

Millions of people around the world find themselves in this situation. And to complicate matters further, many of those people live in challenging environments, contending with seasonal flooding, high groundwater tables, impossibly rocky ground, unstable soil formations that threaten collapse, or limited space due to urban or peri-urban crowding. These factors seriously impact toilet construction options and are barriers many find too great to overcome. Furthermore, in the face of climate change, these barriers are mounting.

lady-latrine-construction-calgary
-A local resident in Nepal has access to a completed latrine beside her home in a village that was almost completely destroyed during the 2015 earthquake.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about collapsing latrine pits and what they mean for a community. While it’s encouraging to note that over the last 20 years, governments, community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, and other groups have used approaches like community-led total sanitation to raise awareness of the dangers of open defecation. Although these groups have made impressive gains in attaining open defecation free status in many communities, access to sustainable and safe toilets is not as common as we may think (JMP, n.d.). Pit collapse is a contributor to this problem, rendering toilets useless after a single rainy season or making pit excavation impossible and dangerous from the get go. Just as one bad apple spoils the bunch, one collapsed pit in a community is enough to create fear and doubt about the integrity of pits in the whole area. This discourages the sustained use of toilets and is disheartening for people who have invested precious time and money into building a latrine only to have it collapse a few months later. You can’t blame people for feeling this way. Besides the loss of time and resources, falling into a poop pit is a baptism no one wishes to experience.

So what to do? Because CAWST has repeatedly heard from our partners around the world that this is an issue, I spent the summer looking into solutions. Ranging from fancy prefabricated plastic pit liners that can be shipped from the UK to close-to-free sand bags that are incredibly costly in sweat equity, solutions are out there if you’re willing to look. I narrowed the options by developing a list of criteria. Suitable designs would be: low cost, use locally available materials, resist soil pressures, allow liquid infiltration, resist decomposition, be easy to construct and install, have a reasonably long lifespan, and can be emptied. This was a tall order, and to be honest I didn’t find any lining methods that ticked every box. However, a number of options seemed promising. I wanted to see how difficult they were to construct in “real life.”

Taya working on the cement and dirt pit latrine using the stabilized soil method.
-Taya working in the stabilized soil pit.

So, with nowhere to go during the COVID-19 pandemic, we went underground. A group of CAWST colleagues started digging and lining pits at a board member’s business place in an industrial area in Calgary. Our first experiment was the rebar reinforced fabric lining (Grossnickle et al., 2017). We used $100 worth of 8mm rebar, chicken wire and fabric (in our case, landscaping fabric) to create a cage-like structure that would support the pit walls while allowing liquid infiltration. We cast a small concrete footing (10 cm deep) and placed a concrete dome slab on top. It was quick and easy to build, although bending the round bar into circles required some serious muscle. But if a gaggle of office staff with soft hands can do it, anyone can.

The second lining used the stabilized soil method (iDE, n.d.). This one was a bit more involved, as it required the fabrication of a circular metal mold, which was used to form the lining. Excavated material from the pit was dried and sifted, and then mixed in a 1:2:10 ratio of cement to water to soil. The mold was placed into the bottom of the pit, and the soil-cement mixture was shoveled behind the mold and tamped to create the lining. After 10 minutes or so, the mold is wiggled upward, another layer of backfill is added and tamped, and the process continues until the entire pit is lined. We did not construct a footing for this pit, but placed a square reinforced concrete slab directly on the lining. Although this method gave us a fair bit of trouble (for example, the mold became badly stuck when we stopped too long for lunch. How embarrassing…), I think it could be a promising and cost-effective solution once proper soil-cement ratios are determined and the builder has a little practice. Our 1.5 metre pit cost approximately $20 and, once again, was constructed by a bumbling office person (me) and somewhat less-bumbly colleagues.

It’s now winter time in Calgary, and our pits and slabs are sleeping peacefully under a blanket of snow. Until we can resume our experiments next summer, we plan to share what we’ve learned about the rebar reinforced fabric lining and stabilized soil method with our friends and partners in Zambia, Ethiopia, and anyone else we encounter who is struggling with pit collapse. We’ll share short videos to document what we did and learned, and encourage clients and partners to test out these methods for themselves.

I hope that by working together and through a process of testing, tweaking, trying, failing, and succeeding, we can find simple, affordable solutions to pit collapse that our partners and the people they serve feel happy to use.

So when you’re sitting on the can this World Toilet Day, comfortably reading that June 1998 edition of Chatelaine you just can’t bring yourself to throw away, give thanks for the humble toilet and the important function it serves. Bathroom times aren’t nearly as nice without one.


To learn more, check out CAWST’s Latrine Design and Construction Workshop.

This collection contains the resources for both trainers and participants for the Latrine Design and Construction Workshop. This five-day workshop is designed for latrine project implementers and masons. In this workshop, participants will learn how to design and construct latrines for low-income communities not connected to a sewerage system. The focus is on designing latrines that are technically and environmentally appropriate, and that people will actually want and use.

Seeking support as you design your latrine?

You can now apply for 90 minutes of free consulting support from CAWST staff like Taya. Find out more here.

References

Evenproducts. Pit liner (n.d.). https://evenproducts.co.uk/humanitarian-aid/latrines/pit-liner/

Grossnickle et al. (n.d.). Affordable solutions to pit latrine collapse.

iDE (n.d.). We Changed Dirt to Opportunity.

Institute of Development Studies. (2011). The CLTS approach.

Joint Monitoring Programme. (n.d.). World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). https://washdata.org/

UN Water. (2020). World Toilet Day 2020: Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change.


Taya Raine is a Global WASH Advisor with CAWST and brings almost 10 years of experience working in the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector in Africa. She has implemented WASH programs in Kenya and Liberia, and she was part of the Ebola response and recovery programs in Liberia from 2014 to 2016. For her many achievements and commitment to global health, Taya was recognized on the Canadian Women in Global Health list.  Taya’s WASH training experience includes household water treatment and safe storage, water supply, health promotion, and sanitation. Though self-proclaimed “bumbling office person,” anyone who has seen Taya use a drill, pour concrete, or whip up a handwashing station knows she is equally competent in technical theory and practice.

New problems, new solutions: distance learning during COVID-19 and beyond

New problems require new solutions. We’ve all become familiar with the challenge of physical distancing this year. Distance learning allows us to reach people wherever they are are in the midst of the pandemic. Lona Robertson, EdD, CAWST’s resident Doctor of Education, shares introductory theory of distance learning and stories of our forays into virtual WASH training—during COVID-19 and beyond.

New problems require new solutions. Or, in some cases, the solutions already exist, but the need for them increases. This has been the case for CAWST this year, shifting our services and training to new formats at a safe distance. We’ve learned a lot about learning this year, and in particular, distance learning.

Distance learning is about reaching people wherever they are and however we can. While it is often equated with online learning, not everyone has equal access to the internet. So, we first have to ask ourselves: “What does the learner need?” And then we have to get creative: audio, phone, and TV are all possible vehicles for distance learning. 

Too often, we make assumptions about learners’ needs, and get caught up in the solution, instead of understanding the problem. For example, COVID-19 has created a need to promote handwashing and the use of hand sanitizers. However, providing training on how to wash hands would be useless if the real reason people were not washing their hands was because they had no access to handwashing facilities. 

Speaking of shifting gears, we did that with our clients a lot this year, using distance learning approaches, from asynchronous to synchronous. 

 

Experimenting with asynchronous learning

In Nicaragua, we had planned to deliver introductory training on household water treatment and safe storage. The workshop was planned for the Ministry of Health, which has convened an intersectoral department of the government to work together towards Sustainable Development Goal 6 (ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all).

As we looked to new ways to deliver knowledge and training, my colleague Eva Manzano came up with the idea of using the Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage (HWTS) Learn Space in an asynchronous learning approach. 

What’s asynchronous learning? you might wonder. It’s learning anytime, anywhere, and at any pace. 

“When I found out it wasn’t going to be possible to travel, I envisioned the HWTS learning tools and decided they could be made into a workshop instead,” recalls Eva Manzano, CAWST Global WASH Advisor. We were well on our way, since for an introduction to the topic, we had already designed the HWTS Learn Space.

With the HWTS Learn Space activities as the basis, Eva and the learning team structured a course within Google Classroom, a learning management software. Each week, participants would independently complete lessons in the Learn Space and then complete a quiz. They would also have a webinar once a month to cover key topics and questions. 

The asynchronous, distance learning approach enabled a greater reach – instead of 30 or 40 participants, there were 120. This course is still underway, but the feedback has been positive thus far. It will culminate with an assignment for participants to apply their learning in a practical way, choosing a community to start designing an HWTS program, identifying the options to improve water quality and the challenges they may face. This will help us support participants in their next steps to bring the learning from the Ministry of Health to water committees, other departments of government, and NGOs. 

 

Adapting a planned workshop to synchronous learning online

What is synchronous learning? It is meeting with learners in real time. By nature, face-to-face lessons are always synchronous, and now new technologies allow synchronous learning to also happen through a variety of platforms, such as webinars, Zoom sessions, live chat, and more. 

Our first foray into synchronous online learning was with WASH Program Design. This course had been planned for face-to-face delivery with our client A Vision for Clean Water in Michigan, but when COVID-19 hit, we had to adapt quickly. To shift the format and still deliver on the course, we quickly re-developed the materials for synchronous online delivery. In its new format, 20 learners participated twice per week for six weeks, engaging with the instructors and other geographically dispersed classmates through webinars, real-time Zoom meetings and a digital whiteboard.

A few of our key takeaways from this course included:

  • People can become overwhelmed with learning technologies, which may interfere with learning the content. As trainers, we need to make it easy for learners to find materials, navigate the programs we’re using, and minimize the impact of technology on the cognitive load. Training learners on how to use the digital tools beforehand is imperative.
  • We also observed the importance of social interactions in learning. Research has found that learning requires interactions between the learner and the teacher, the learner and other learners, and the learner and the content. Due to physical distance inherent in distance learning, these interactions take on greater importance. As a result, we realized that we need to be more thoughtful about how we create and maintain strong social bonds when delivering training at a distance. 

 

Blended learning: WASH’Em Training & Citywide Sanitation Planning

Zoom Image of Distance Learning for Wash'Em Training

Taking those learnings forward, we worked with Tearfund to deliver Wash’Em training at a distance. Tearfund program managers are dispersed around Africa and South Asia responding to humanitarian crises and COVID-19. The training focused on how to use the Wash’Em tools in the field to complete rapid assessments that enable the development of context-adapted hygiene programs.

Using a digital whiteboard for the course materials and assignments, and Zoom to deliver the real-time sessions, the course blended synchronous and asynchronous delivery. While there were challenges for participants experiencing unstable internet connections, learners appreciated the opportunity to learn the Wash’Em tools with classmates from around the globe. Most experienced a big “aha” moment at the end, when they saw the power of the software to generate program recommendations and left committed to using them in the field.

We also piloted Citywide Sanitation Planning in a blended learning format this year. Bringing together partners from the African Water Association (which is based in Côte d’Ivoire) and ITN-BUET (which is based in Bangladesh), training participants experienced firsthand how online training can be an interactive experience. Admittedly, four sessions delivered in a week didn’t leave much time for the asynchronous homework. There was also a sense that the technical skill and bandwidth demands of the digital whiteboard would not be suitable for many learners in more remote settings. Lessons like these highlighted some of the improvements that we could make for the next target audience.  

Supporting our partners

These are just some of the CAWST-hosted trainings that we brought online, but we also had the opportunity to support our partners to do the same with their workshops. In Honduras, Pure Water for the World has transitioned their WASH in Schools training online, delivering it to eight cohorts of 50 teachers. In India, CAWST supported the Sehgal Foundation in transitioning to use phone, webinars, and radio to reach their clients with biosand filter learning.

Do we miss being in a room together and delivering face-to-face environments? Of course. But seeing people stay engaged in virtual environments can be equally inspiring. Challenging though the distance learning experience may be, it is fulfilling to see learners from around the world so connected, motivated to collaborate, cooperate, and achieve despite the geographical distance between us. Facing challenges together has drawn us closer than ever—to our self-learning, and to each other. 


WASH Up Close Designing WASH Training for Distance Delivery

 

Let’s learn more, together

We’re learning about learning and you’re invited to come along with us. Join us for a webinar on November 26, at 7:30 am MT: Designing WASH Training for Distance Delivery. Register now for free!

 


References

Garrison, D. (2009). Communities of Inquiry in Online Learning. Encyclopedia of Distance Learning. 352-355. 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch052.

The time and space of water and health

Shortly after she transitioned from UNC Postdoctoral Research Associate and lead communicator of the HWTS Network to Associate Professor at the University of Twente, we caught up with Carmen Anthonj to learn more about her life, research, and advice for the future of the HWTS Network and water, sanitation, and hygiene in general. 

The time and space of water and health: an interview with Carmen Anthonj, PhD

Carmen Anthonj is a natural connector. Her profession as a medical geographer says it all. Connecting topics, people, disciplines, and methods, Carmen lives the first law of geography, “everything is related to everything else.” Carmen sees and studies those relations with a keen eye and endless enthusiasm. We caught up with Carmen over a coffee (wine in her time zone) and conversation shortly after she transitioned from UNC Postdoctoral Research Associate and lead communicator of the HWTS Network to Assistant Professor at ITC at the University of Twente.

We couldn’t pass up this opportunity to connect to learn more about her life, research, and advice for the future of the Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage (HWTS) Network and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) in general.

So, you’re a Medical Geographer. Tell us about what that entails and how did you get into this line of work?

When I was a child, I decided I would work in international development. I wanted to work with Indigenous and rural communities.  Later in life, when I first traveled to Brazil in 2006 to assist a medical doctor, who provided medical services in favelas, I had a recognition: clean water is at the core of development and of human health. There, I learned that to work effectively in the context of water, health, and development, one discipline alone would not suffice. From then on, I wanted to work on water and health issues. I debated whether to study medicine to become a doctor, engineering to learn how to build wells, social science or anthropology to learn how to see the communities’ perspectives. I even thought urban planning and infrastructure would be vital, as well as politics, economics, demography, and so many more disciplines. Ultimately, I came to realize that an interdisciplinary approach is what I was looking for, and geography—and specifically medical geography—was exactly what I needed.

Carmen walks across a log
Constantly bridging gaps, Carmen explores the health-promoting potential of water in North Carolina

The beauty of medical geography is that it is a very interdisciplinary field that uses holistic approaches. It draws on concepts, theories, and techniques of geography and geospatial analysis, but also spans environmental, biological, and social sciences, and uses both quantitative and qualitative methods. In medical geography, we apply geographical concepts and techniques to analyze spatial patterns of disease and health care provision. We look at the interactions of humans with the environment through time and space. That’s where spatio-temporal dynamics come in. Investigating spatio-temporal dynamics of disease involves epidemiology and disease ecology, and the geography of health services considering access to health care, health care delivery, and the planning of health services. However, we do not only look at disease, but also at how the environment can promote health. By health, I mean the World Health Organization definition of health as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

Through medical geography, I’ve had the opportunity to work and conduct water, environment, emergency, and health risk research with various research institutes, international organizations, and governments around the globe.

Back to my childhood ambition, my focus is on the links between global health and water security in areas of water abundance and water scarcity in rural, urban, and indigenous communities in low- and middle-income countries. I look at health promotion (i) through water (e.g. safe drinking water and sanitation) and (ii) from water (e.g. flooding, extreme weather events). My major interest is water- and health-related local knowledge and risk perceptions and how they determine risk behaviours, and the cultural context of water, health, and disease.

What is one of your favourite or most influential books that you’ve read?

Picking only one book is tricky. The book that fascinated me most is ‘On airs, waters and places’ by Hippocrates of Kos (~460-377 BC), a Greek physician of the Age of Pericles and one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. I find it remarkable how almost 2,500 years ago Hippocrates related health and disease not only to the environment, but also to human behaviour. Hippocrates stated that whoever wishes to investigate human health properly should not only consider the geographical peculiarities of each locality, seasons of the year, characteristics of water, such as quality and quantity, but also human behaviour, different lifestyles, and habits. My favourite quote is in Part 7 of the book, and I love to use it to start my lectures and presentations. He says “I wish to give an account of the other kinds of waters, namely, of such as are wholesome and such as are unwholesome, and what bad and what good effects may be derived from water; for water contributes much towards health.” This is just as relevant now as it was then.

You are currently in transition from the University of North Carolina to ITC at the University of Twente. What are you looking forward to? What do you think you’ll miss?

I am very excited to join ITC, the University of Twente’s Faculty of Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation. Our mission is to develop capacity, particularly in less developed countries, and to utilize geospatial solutions to deal with national and global problems. What I like most is that students are educated to be capable of acquiring knowledge and translating this into practical solutions to real-world problems, aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

From a professional point of view, I am looking forward to transitioning from a Postdoctoral Research Associate position at the Water Institute at University of North Carolina (UNC) into my new position as Assistant Professor GeoHealth with new, challenging responsibilities. These include building the GeoHealth team, teaching and mentoring students, developing educational materials, and shaping the direction we are taking in water and health issues. From a disciplinary point of view, I am looking forward to integrating water and health issues at a larger scale and linking global challenges with local solutions and perspectives. From a cultural and personal point of view, I am looking forward to moving back to Europe after many years of living abroad, and to join an international team of wonderful individuals. And I certainly am excited for new collaborations in the Netherlands, Europe, and the world.

I will miss the amazing team at the Water Institute at UNC most. Thankfully, I am staying connected with my former colleagues, jointly working on some publications and a side event for this year’s UNC Water & Health Conference.

How did you become involved as the communications lead of the HWTS Network? Tell us about the intersection between Medical Geography and HWTS.

Carmen presents water and health research at the Institute for Hygiene and Public Health at the University of Bonn
Carmen presents the value of local communities as key informants in wetland management that promotes health, Institute for Hygiene and Public Health at the University of Bonn

From 2013 to 2017, as Research Associate at the GeoHealth Centre at the Institute for Hygiene and Public Health at the University of Bonn, a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Health Promoting Water Management and Risk Communication, I co-edited the bi-annual WHO Water & Risk Newsletter. So, issues related to water quality and household water treatment and storage became very familiar to me.

When joining the Water Institute at UNC, I became the lead researcher for two large UNICEF-funded research projects. One of them was on WASH Sector Monitoring in Pacific Islands project in households, schools, and healthcare facilities in Fiji, Kiribati, and the Solomon Islands. This project was amazingly complex, given that small island developing states are at the frontline of climate change, and frequently hit by extreme weather events, such as tropical cyclones and flooding. Extreme weather events massively impact health service provision – this an ideal topic for a medical geographer. Drinking water access and behaviours were one of the components of the project, and highly interesting, as the people in the Pacific used various drinking water sources throughout the year, according to the season. Related to this, we also produced a WASH Policy Research Digest under Clarissa Brocklehurst’s lead on multiple water source use as a common household practice that contributes to resilience. I believe those different experiences caused Prof. Dr. Jamie Bartram to offer me the opportunity to lead the communications on HWTS and I was grateful. I took the communications lead over from Dr. Edema Ojomo, who did a wonderful job in introducing me to the world of HWTS, the Network, the Secretariat, and our partners. I am excited that now CAWST is taking the Network to the next level.

What is your hope for the future of the HWTS Network? Do you have any words of wisdom for those of us engaging in the Network? 

What I love about the HWTS Network is the variety in network members, coming from UN agencies, development agencies, non-governmental organizations, research institutions, international professional associations, and the private sector. I have seen the Network grow closer over the course of the past 2.5 years, and my hope is to see this continue.

I hope to see the facilitation of even more exchange of thoughts, ideas, solutions, and technologies. This Network is a unique opportunity to bridge the gaps between research, policy, and practice; my hope would be to see even more engagement across disciplines, sectors, and levels.

You have a long list of publications and projects. What is one of your favourites and why?

Carmen researches perceptions of water-related health risk with local populations in Kenya
Capturing local knowledge on water-related health risks in Laikipia, Kenya

There are several publications and projects I find exciting. One study I really enjoyed was on water-related infectious disease exposure among wetland users (farmers, nomadic pastoralists, service sector) in Kenya. It included a literature review to ground a theory on disease exposure related to different wetland uses, a health risk assessment with innovative approaches, such as observational assessments and syndromic surveillance, and risk perception and behaviour studies. The study revealed that the literature on wetland use-related disease exposure does not reflect real risks that the rural marginalized population faces. These real risks differ between different occupational groups, and are perceived differently according to cultural aspects and prevailing health beliefs. The study demonstrated that local risk perceptions reflect real risks, and that risk perceptions determine health-related (protective and risk) behaviour. This study underpinned the vital role of wetland users as key informants. It demonstrated that risk perception studies and resulting recommendations from the grassroots level serve as supportive tools for wetland management that also promotes health. This requires a sensitive, integrative approach that takes into consideration any and all of the humans, ecology, and animals affected. The resulting recommendations are relevant on the national and international level, for global policy making and for achieving progress towards SDG 6 to “ensure access to water and sanitation for all”, and others.

Five papers were published from this project, and my favourite is:

Anthonj, C., Diekkrüger, B., Borgemeister, C., Kistemann, T., 2019. Health risk perceptions and local knowledge of water-related infectious disease exposure among Kenyan wetland communities. International Journal for Hygiene and Environmental Health 222 (1), 34-48.

Why are local knowledge and risk perceptions so important? How can WASH practitioners leverage that in their work?

The above-mentioned study shows that communities’ risk perceptions realistically reflect prevalent health risks related to inadequate WASH conditions, the seasonality of diseases, the difference in disease exposure among different occupational groups, and the peculiarities of health risks in a semi-arid environment. The facts that (i) the perceptions correspond to the actual risks, and that (ii) the emic perspectives of the community members in the wetland allow for a more detailed picture of the situation, make the local communities’ perceptions invaluable. Risk perception studies, particularly in data-scarce settings, are precious for capturing the situation and challenges that communities are facing. Moreover, the subjective perceptions and judgements of affected individuals towards health hazards are vital in managing health and controlling diseases in complex environments.

Carmen in semi-arid part of a wetland in Kenya, investigating local knowledge on water-related health risks
Experiencing the semi-arid part of the investigated wetland in Laikipia, Kenya

Most importantly, local knowledge and risk perceptions have the potential to motivate and shape health-related behaviour, thereby reducing or accelerating the risk and exposure to diseases, e.g. through the application of (or failure to apply) protective health measures such as household water treatment and safe storage, or, in the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, hygiene measures. Risk perceptions can provide an entry point to inform targeted health messaging and health-related interventions. If community members are acknowledged as valuable informants, they can inform health officials and managers.

Our study, for example, resulted in detailed and concrete community-based, low-cost, and locally feasible recommendations to improve WASH and health-promoting wetland management that health officials and WASH practitioners could make use of.

In your work, how have you seen cultural contexts influence health, disease, and WASH?

Let me refer to two studies here, starting with the one I have introduced already. In the Kenyan wetland where I captured health-related local knowledge and risk perceptions, the nomadic pastoralists had more distinct health beliefs as compared to the majority population. This animated the group to use surface water sources for bathing, for example, as this was perceived as health-promoting and healing. However, contact with standing water sources in that region could pose the risk of infection with water-based diseases such as schistosomiasis. Moreover, due to their semi-nomadic lifestyle deeply rooted in their tradition, pastoralists’ sanitation infrastructure was either unimproved and less reliable or inexistent, leading to a higher level of open defecation among this group. Such risk behaviour also comes with a higher likelihood of water-related infectious diseases such as waterborne, e.g. diarrheal, diseases. There are numerous other examples that show the influence of the cultural context on health, disease, and WASH – not only from Kenya, but also from Europe.

Another study on WASH among Roma communities, Europe’s largest ethnic minority, shows that Roma populations commonly have a very distinct understanding of the meaning of health and health risks. This is partly because of limited access to formal or informal health education, partly because of prevailing health beliefs. Considering that their WASH access in the marginalized, low quality housing at the outskirts of cities and informal settlements is often inadequate and worse than that of the majority population, this increases risk of contracting diseases, and can create an extra health burden. Distinct health beliefs and attitudes related to health and diseases may impact health-seeking behaviour and management of ill-health. In Roma culture, a spiritual base exists for certain kinds of illness and they believe in traditional curative remedies such as the power of spittle to treat wounds. Besides, in some communities, patients fear to disclose their health status because a severe illness triggers shame, social rejection, and stigmatization. Perception, acceptance, or rejection of certain diseases may determine the willingness to seek medical help or support from the communities, affecting rehabilitation. For the Roma, there is an extra layer of complexity when it comes to WASH- or health-related behaviours. Due to their centuries-long experience of discrimination and stigmatization, they oftentimes hold negative attitudes and distrust in non-traditional health practices, which may for example cause reluctance to receive immunization or other health services.

Both examples show that the cultural and traditional understanding of the ‘real’ causes of illness goes far beyond (and can contradict) the biomedical concepts of health promotion and disease risks.

Convictions, health beliefs, social stigma, and (mis) conceptions about the health scare sector are decisive factors as well. These can also go beyond, or in some cases even against, the biomedical understanding of diseases. Some illnesses are simply perceived as ‘not for hospital’, are treated by traditional healers or herbalists, by self-treatment, or not treated at all.

This is relevant both to the WASH and the health sector, as practitioners and decision-makers must consider that the success of interventions will critically depend on the involvement, support, commitment, and participation of the community.

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

Global environmental change, increasingly frequent and unpredictable extreme weather events, water scarcity, food insecurity, conflict, migration, urbanization, and other processes have been impacting water security at global, regional, national, and local levels over the past decades. The contexts within which safe WASH for all shall be achieved by 2030 (UN SDG 6) are increasingly complex, and this will further challenge the WASH sector—not only in low- and middle-income countries, but among minority populations and low socio-economic and other groups in high-income countries as well.

The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic is a brutal reminder of how vital WASH in households, schools, and health care facilities is for survival, and that the progress that has been made in achieving SDG 6 so far is vulnerable. The pandemic has also shown how vital science is for decision-making. COVID-19 is not the first, and won’t be the last pandemic. This is what the WASH sector needs to prepare for, on top of the complexities and unprecedented changes that accompany global environmental change.

Carmen relaxes on a hike, taking a break from her water and health researchCarmen tells us when she’s not conducting researching or teaching class, she’s being a social butterfly, often doing extreme outdoors activity

The First Law of Geography, according to Waldo Tobler, is “everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.” The WASH sector must address and manage this complexity by the means of even closer collaboration between science, practice, and policy, collaboration across and beyond sectors, and the involvement of the private sector. Interdisciplinary, holistic approaches and system thinking—and in my opinion, medical geography and GeoHealth—are more important than ever. It is time to facilitate the transfer of local solutions to other areas of the globe, and bring global knowledge back to the local level.

Moreover, there is a tremendous opportunity for the sector in using existing data and applying new technologies to address and solve WASH challenges. But the sector is still behind in adopting such. Remote sensing, Earth observation, geospatial analysis, big data, artificial intelligence: these and other technologies bear huge potential to inform WASH-related understanding and decision-making. It is time for the WASH sector to divert its focus from mainly using primary data towards also making use of existing information and secondary data, in order to reach its full potential.

ITC at the University of Twente has been using these technologies in disaster management, water and natural resources management, governance, urban planning, food security, and GeoHealth, and I am excited to be part of a team with the skillset to apply the same technologies to solve WASH-related problems globally. If you would like to learn more, please reach out to us at ITC.


Warmest gratitude to Carmen for her leadership and contributions to the HWTS Network, and all the best in her new role! We’re excited to follow this inspiring rising star as she continues to cleave insights in the space of water and health. Do you share our mutual passion for water and health? Please join us as a member of the HWTS Network! Membership is free.

CAWST in the News: Olivier Mills on Global News Morning Calgary

In observance of Global Handwashing Day, CAWST Senior Director, Olivier Mills, appeared on Global News Morning Calgary to share facts, barriers, and opportunities to achieving handwashing globally, and even in our own households in Calgary.

In observance of Global Handwashing Day, CAWST Senior Director, Olivier Mills, appeared on Global News Morning Calgary to share facts, barriers, and opportunities to achieving handwashing globally, and even in our own households in Calgary. Handwashing is a disease-preventing action, and crucial to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“It’s not straightforward. Because often it’s not done well,” Olivier explains. Reporter Jodi Hughes asks, “So, how can we make a difference if [kids, family, or coworkers] aren’t listening by now?” Olivier shares ideas to make handwashing more desirable, such as enjoyable soap, well-placed nudges, and singing songs, which can motivate the behaviour. Jodi and Olivier also touch on the hot topic of soap and water versus sanitizer.



After 19 years of working on water, sanitation, and hygiene, CAWST is grateful that handwashing is getting such attention today. CAWST is collaborating with London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Wash’Em partners on the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub, a free service to help practitioners working in low- and middle-income countries share, design, and adapt evidence-based hygiene solutions to combat COVID-19. The Hub works around the world and around the clock to provide up-to-date resources and technical advice, and connect organizations responding to COVID-19. Today, they shared 10 lessons learned and actions on changing handwashing behaviour, effective program design, and strengthening the hygiene sector.

To learn more about handwashing, behaviour change, and global collaboration in the face of COVID-19, join our upcoming CAWST Live with Marike van Kuyper, CAWST Global Learning Advisor, and Sian White, LSHTM Research Fellow, on Monday, October 19. You can register here.

From earthquake to pandemic: building resilience in Nepal

When COVID-19 hit, everything changed for everyone. For our partners in Nepal, it felt a bit like another earthquake. But ENPHO quickly adapted to new realities, shifting programming with a consistent focus on building resilience.

When COVID-19 hit, everything changed for everyone.

For our partners in Nepal, it felt a bit like another earthquake. Everyone was locked down at home with fear, confusion, and dilemma around what to do and what not to do. But our partners had clarity on the next steps and quickly sprung into action.

“After couple days of lockdown, we realized that we had to do something to make people aware of COVID-19 and preventive measures to stop transmission,” recalls Ash Kumar Khaitu, Training Centre Manager of Environment and Public Health Organization Nepal (ENPHO), a partner in CAWST’s Water Expertise and Training Centre program. “We called an urgent online meeting and decided to start something. Within a week, we compiled information and prepared an online package on COVID-19 & Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) for frontline workers and started to deliver information sessions to ENPHO staff and local organizations. It was so popular that we opened it up to all the interested people.”

Mr. Khaitu added, “Most people were stuck at home, confused, but our team was intensely engaged in developing the packages and delivering them. We had this sense of ‘let’s fight COVID-19 together’ reaching new audiences with updated information. Appreciation and requests from those who used the info packs energized us to do more and more.”

In the early days of the pandemic, the ENPHO team developed information packages, including COVID-19 & WASH for Officers, COVID-19 & WASH for Quarantine and Isolation Centres, WASH Preventative Measures for Office Reopening, and COVID-19 & Handwashing Campaign Implementation. They shared the packages along with introductory sessions held on online platforms, like Zoom. Poring over World Health Organization and Centres for Disease Control websites, they extracted new information to share in short, digestible formats with teachers, health workers, and community groups.

Our quick adaptation in the lockdown helped many organizations and people become aware of COVID-19 and WASH preventative measures, reflects Ash Kumar.

“Because Ash Kumar is an incredible manager, the WET Centre team is so strong, and ENPHO is well-known all over the country, they were able to quickly shift their focus. Further to that, I can’t emphasize enough how flexible Global Affairs Canada was in allowing us to pivot the project. We completely changed the activities and budget lines and they’ve been with us each step of the way in doing so,” reflects Lena Bunzenmeyer, PEng, Senior WASH Advisor and WET Centre Program Manager.

Since 2017, CAWST and ENPHO have focused on household water treatment and safe storage (HWTS), and safely managed basic sanitation, to support in the recovery of the earthquake that devastated Nepal. Together, with the support of Global Affairs Canada Nepal Earthquake Relief Fund, we set our targets on an ambitious rate of adoption of water and sanitation technologies, and equally, behaviour change. We’re working to ensure technologies, such as water filters and latrines, are used all day, every day, by everyone in the household.

Hygiene was new, but the fundamentals we had been working on remained. ENPHO and their local partners were in a unique position to respond because of their earlier work on this project.

“Fundamentally, our work has been focused on building resilience and wellbeing through behaviour change. That remains true, but now the behaviour we are trying to influence has changed because of the pandemic. We’re trying to influence handwashing with soap, mask use, physical distancing, and proper use of chlorine for cleaning, as well as continuing to focus on proper use and cleaning of latrines,” explains Melinda Foran, MSPH, Director of Global Services at CAWST.

Originally, ENPHO worked to build the capacity of “triggerers” – community facilitators who convened big community events to inform and inspire water and sanitation behaviour change. They visited households and communities to troubleshoot and monitor progress on adopting technology and practices for better health and wellbeing.

Of course, with the onset of the pandemic and physical distancing, big events were no longer possible. ENPHO started to look at possible communication channels.

They created a new Facebook page called WASH for Healthy Life. They engaged all the local municipalities and their pages to push targeted messaging together. But not everyone has access to reliable internet, especially in rural areas. So, they designed their content for radio too.

The content is clever and compelling: they create a bi-weekly, six-minute segment called The COVID Show. The show is part content, part Q&A, and part call to action. Each show focuses on a theme, often starting with information about COVID-19 in the world, then zooming into Nepal. For example, early episodes focused on transmission and how to protect the people we love from COVID-19. Later episodes focus on how to keep yourself safe doing everyday activities, such as going to the market or going to the water source to fetch water. Viewers and listeners appreciate that the show includes real people asking questions and receiving answers from a trusted source, such as a doctor. Each episode elicits a call to action to “take no chances with COVID.” Viewers are asked to build handwashing stations at home, make soap or masks, and practice handwashing with soap regularly.

Community triggerer shares knowledge and motivates community members to wash their hands

Sharing the information in a way that is trustworthy and engaging fulfills a demonstrated desire for information about COVID-19 symptoms, health issues, transmission, and the status in Nepal (Johns Hopkins, 2020). The campaign has been designed using behaviour change principles to increase the likelihood that people will practice behaviours to keep themselves and their families safe from COVID-19. Feedback indicates that the show is influencing behaviour change, with listeners sharing comments such as, “I had various queries regarding this virus for which I had sent questions; after listening, the program not only answered my questions, but  other related questions. This was very helpful to make me understand more about COVID-19.” Shanti Chepang, Benighat, Rorang, Dhading. Usha Tamang in Mandan Deupur, Kavre also shared, “There was an episode of the radio program with a doctor talking about mask use and physical distancing. I am well convinced hearing his logic. Still, I am using mask and maintaining physical distance while going to market.”

Furthermore, ENPHO has continued to engage with triggerers, leveraging their skills to engage with communities. These key community activators now make regular phone calls to check in on households. The phone calls also support monitoring efforts to understand household hygiene behaviour, provide feedback on The COVID Show, and share learnings and results with ENPHO. With that feedback, ENPHO and the creative team developed the final four episodes to include the perspective of a person who recovered from COVID-19 and the Nepal government’s perspective on the pandemic.

Woman washes her hands in Nepal at a handwashing station

So far, we’ve found 37,772 households have been reached, exceeding the original target of 29,000. As of September 11, this includes more than 18,000 households who have constructed a handwashing station since the campaign began.

Though the world has changed everywhere for everyone as a result of COVID-19, in Nepal, ENPHO is changing the world for the better. They’re building the knowledge, skills, and motivation of people to practice hand hygiene now and in service of a more resilient society in the future.

Learn more at our upcoming poster presentation at the Canadian Conference on Global Health.


References

Johns Hopkins. 2020. KAP COVID Dashboard.

Calgary charity joins Global Handwashing Partnership in time for Global Handwashing Day

In time for Global Handwashing Day on October 15, and especially timely for COVID-19 responses and the second waves we are seeing in parts of the country, the world-renowned Global Handwashing Partnership is releasing its Handwashing Handbook. Calgary-based charity, the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST), is a newly appointed member of the Partnership and contributor of the Handbook. Compiled by a coalition of international stakeholders, the Handbook is a comprehensive guide, presenting best practices and new concepts to improve the adoption of handwashing.

MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Calgary charity joins Global Handwashing Partnership to share Handwashing Handbook in time for Global Handwashing Day

Calgary, October 13, 2020 – In time for Global Handwashing Day on October 15, and especially timely for COVID-19 responses and the second waves we are seeing in parts of the country, the world-renowned Global Handwashing Partnership is releasing its Handwashing Handbook.

 

Calgary-based charity, the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST), is a newly appointed member of the Partnership and contributor of the Handbook. Compiled by a coalition of international stakeholders, the Handbook is a comprehensive guide, presenting best practices and new concepts to improve the adoption of handwashing.

 

“Handwashing is a simple, effective, disease-preventing action. Yet, it’s an action not everyone can or will take. Collaborations are contributing to a growing body of evidence on how to best influence handwashing behaviour,” said Shauna Curry, CEO of CAWST. “CAWST is proud to support the promotion of worldwide hygiene efforts through the Handwashing Handbook, as well as other partnerships we’re engaged in, such as the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub.”

 

The Global Handwashing Partnership is led by experts from multiple sectors. The steering committee and strategic partners include FHI 360, the US Agency for International Development, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, UNICEF, the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council, Colgate-Palmolive, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Essity, and the World Bank Group. CAWST is honoured to become a member of the Partnership, and to be a contributor to the Handbook.

 

“We share a warm welcome to CAWST and many thanks for their contribution. Partnership is fundamental for universal hand hygiene. For Global Handwashing Day, each of us has a role to play. We call on everyone—no matter what your work is, how old you are, or where you live—to join us as we collectively move forward in advancing handwashing with soap and all of its benefits for health and wellbeing. We can all be handwashing heroes to promote handwashing at home, schools, health care facilities, workplaces, and throughout our communities,” said Ron Clemmer, Secretariat Director, Global Handwashing Partnership.

 

The Handbook makes the case for handwashing; shares best practices for designing handwashing programs at the global, national and local levels; and provides insights for improving handwashing in schools, healthcare facilities, workplaces and public settings. The Handbook aims to catalyze the widespread increase of handwashing and sustain its benefits beyond any one outbreak or pandemic.

 

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.

 

About the Global Handwashing Partnership

The Global Handwashing Partnership is a coalition of international stakeholders who work explicitly to promote handwashing with soap and recognize hygiene as a pillar of international development and public health. Steering Committee and Strategic Partners include: FHI 360, the US Agency for International Development, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, UNICEF, the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council, Colgate-Palmolive, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Essity, and the World Bank. To learn more about the Global Handwashing Partnership and to download the Handwashing Handbook, visit globalhandwashing.org.

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Media contacts

CAWST, Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology
Hailey Carnegie
Public Relations Lead

hcarnegie@cawst.org
1.403.690.0233

Find the CAWST logo here.

Global Handwashing Partnership

Contact@globalhandwashing.org

 

Biosand Filter Construction Video Series

The Biosand Filter (BSF) Construction Video series is designed to show step by step how to build and install a concrete biosand filter.

The Biosand Filter (BSF) Construction Video series is designed to show step by step how to build and install a concrete biosand filter. The instructional video series covers all topics associated with concrete filter construction from preparing materials prior to production, inspecting and preparing the steel filter mold, mixing and pouring the right concrete mixture, demolding, checking the quality, and correctly installing the BSF at the household level.

The videos are broken into manageable segments that can be used to refresh technicians on specific aspects of concrete BSF construction, used by trainers in BSF instruction workshops or to inform implementers on correct procedures and quality control.

  1. Preparing Construction Materials
  2. Mechanical Sand Screening
  3. Steel Mold Properties
  4. Preparing the Mold
  5. Mixing the Concrete
  6. Pouring the Concrete Filter
  7. Pouring the Filter with Wet and Dry Concrete Mixes
  8. Demolding the Filter
  9. Quality Check and Curing the Concrete Filter
  10. Demold and Check Wet and Dry Concrete Mix Filters
  11. Wash that Sand
  12. Wash Separation and Drainage Gravel
  13. Installing a Concrete Container
  14. Installing Alternate Container

We’d like to hear from you! Let us know how you are using the videos, what is working well for you, and how we can improve.  You can also suggest ideas for future videos that you are interested in, such as how to build the lids, diffuser, etc.

If you have any questions or need additional support please do not hesitate to contact  our team through our communication chat. We will be glad to support you!

Equality Fund

The Equality Fund is an international feminist fund based in Canada, providing resources to women’s rights and feminist organizations that work from the grassroots level to the regional and global stage.

General funding priorities include organizations that:

  • are led by women, youth, girls, and non-binary people most at the margins and facing multiple forms of discrimination
  • address issues that are under-funded or contested

Equality Fund grant sizes range from $10,000 CAD/year to $100,000 CAD/year for larger organizations. The application process takes place in two stages. In stage one, organizations must complete the eligibility quiz, and then submit an organizational profile. In stage two, qualifying organizations will be invited to submit an advanced application. Organizations based in Africa should apply to Equality Fund’s partner organization, African Women’s Development Fund directly.

IRONMAN Foundation: IRONAID COVID-19 Support Fund

The IRONAID COVID-19 Support Fund supports health-related nonprofit organizations around the world, with a focus on serving communities in the wake of COVID-19.

Potential projects to be considered for grant funds include:

  • Providing personal, protective equipment (PPE) and for supplies such as ventilators, CT/x-ray machines, etc.
  • Supporting programs in the areas of housing/homelessness, healthcare, nutrition/food support, mental health, domestic violence, care for seniors, etc.
  • Finding ways to support quarantined individuals.
  • Funding organizations that are working in areas with poor access to regular medical services.
  • Supporting groups that are focused on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene).
  • Supporting the research into SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19.

Grants must be used within one year.

CAWST in the News: Avenue Magazine recognizes Global Handwashing Day & CAWST

CAWST is honoured to have Calgary’s premier lifestyle magazine, Avenue Magazine, recognize Global Handwashing Day and CAWST in its latest issue.

October marks the month the world celebrates Global Handwashing Day. On October 15th, it’s a day dedicated to increasing hand hygiene awareness and emphasizing the important role of washing your hands with soap for health. As the world continues navigate the pandemic, the relevance of this day is top-of-mind.


This month, we’re honoured to have Calgary’s premier lifestyle magazine, Avenue Magazine, recognize Global Handwashing Day, encouraging Calgarians to become informed about its importance with a feature on CAWST. Senior director, Olivier Mills, shared his hopes for October 15th with Avenue and his appreciation for the opportunity to amplify our collaboration with the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub and CAWST’s work.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

CAWST has worked with the Hygiene Hub to create an online platform that brings together practical information, case studies, technologies, and access to long-term support for agencies that work within developing countries.

“The idea is that any organization or agency that is doing COVID-response work in any country could reach out to the Hygiene Hub and we could direct them to any resource or service they require to help them achieve their goal and keep people safe,” says Mills.

To read the full article, pick up the October issue of Avenue Magazine or find it online here.

 

Avenue Magazine is Calgary’s premier, city lifestyle magazine. Every issue of Avenue brings readers the best of the city from civic topics and local profiles, to events, store openings and getaways.


Photograph in the article shows children at the International Peace Initiatives in Meru, Kenya using the Well Beyond Sanitation and Hygiene training app to learn how to make and use ‘tippy-tap’ handwashing stations to protect against the spread of coronavirus in their community.

Coffee with CAWST: Andrea Roach

From chemical engineer to Translations Coordinator, Andy Roach is bringing people together through language. Thomas Coldwell sat down with Andy for an interview over coffee to learn more about her life and love of translation, and honour the crucial work of translators for International Translation Day.

From Chemical Engineer to Translations Coordinator: Bringing People Together Through Language

Translators work behind the scenes to facilitate communication and connection in a multitude of settings. Today, on International Translation Day, we want to bring professional translators to the forefront and honour their efforts to bridge differences and build understanding across cultures, communities, and countries.

Andrea Roach—or Andy, as we like to call her—is CAWST’s only Translations Coordinator on staff. But that doesn’t mean she works alone. Andy is surrounded by a team of language professionals based around the world. Translating CAWST’s resources makes it possible to provide water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) knowledge in four main languages: Arabic, French, Spanish, and English.

I asked Andy several questions to better understand what it’s like to be CAWST’s Translations Coordinator, and why she’s so passionate about her line of work. You can read the full interview that follows:

Tell us a bit about yourself. Why did you get into language services/translation work?

I wanted to be a translator ever since I was a kid, studying in a French immersion program in an English-speaking part of Canada. I’ve always been fascinated by languages and how they work. I started learning Italian at the local college when I was 11, then Spanish when I was in university, then Portuguese when I was about 25. I even learned Haitian Creole before I went on my first trip as a CAWST staff to Haiti and the Dominican Republic in 2004. In my spare time, I often listen to language- or linguistics-themed podcasts (like The History of English and Lexicon Valley), read books about language (especially etymology), and sometimes I’ll even study bits of other languages. When I was working in other countries for CAWST, I loved seeing how different things were said in different countries, or even different regions. I learned a lot of different varieties of Spanish and Portuguese that way.

Andy teaches a CAWST course
Andy delivers a workshop in Brazil.

Like a lot of translators, I have a varied background—I have a degree in Chemical Engineering, and I worked as an engineer in different fields and in different countries. My most interesting position was as a Global WASH Advisor for CAWST in Latin America, from 2004 to 2008, delivering workshops in Spanish, Portuguese, and French. This was often tiring because it involved not only translating newly-produced material the night before a workshop, but also working in all the different varieties of those languages. Despite that, it was so rewarding, and these experiences definitely led me to become a better translator.

Throughout my life, I’ve always had a passion for languages and for translating, and all of my previous experience informs the work I do every day now as a freelance translator, and as CAWST’s Translations Coordinator.

How did you come to work with CAWST? Why do you choose to support an organization like CAWST in your translation work?

Back in 2003, I came back to Canada after working with the Red Cross in El Salvador on a rural water project, I was looking for an organization that worked in water where I could contribute my field experience, my engineering knowledge, and my language skills. CAWST was the perfect fit. I spent four years as a Global WASH Advisor, and then I came back to CAWST in 2011 as Translations Coordinator.

How has translation changed for CAWST over the years?

In the early days of being a Global WASH Advisor, those of us who worked in Spanish or French all did our own translations. I personally loved this, but I admit it was exhausting to have to do on top of my “regular” work. And not all the other Global WASH Advisors loved it as much as I did. At some point, we started outsourcing translations to volunteers. By the time I took over as Translations Coordinator, we had a roster of about 50 amazing volunteer translators. It was wonderful working with them—the volunteers were all dedicated and loved CAWST’s work. But it took a lot of effort to coordinate so many people, and especially to keep the quality and terminology consistent. Later, we decided to start paying for all of our translations, so that we could concentrate the work among just a few people. This made things go a lot faster, and also increased our quality and consistency. A few years after I took over the role, we decided to implement a computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool. Note that CAT tools are not to be confused with machine translation, such as Google Translate. Rather, a CAT tool stores every sentence we  ever translate, so we never have to translate the same thing twice and making it easy to reference things. It also stores a glossary, which we are constantly adding to. The CAT tool we use is called XTM; it’s cloud-based so all of our translators have access to it, and they can see each other’s work and add entries to the glossary on the fly. That has been a game changer for us. It has improved our efficiency, quality, and consistency.

We translate all of our training materials into French and Spanish as a matter of course, but this year we also translated a good portion of our materials into Arabic, and some into Portuguese. With the addition of Arabic, we have been able to reach new clients in the Middle East, including NGOs working in Syrian refugee camps.

How has COVID-19 changed CAWST’s translation requirements?

When COVID-19 hit, all of our international trainers were grounded. They started working on developing new training materials for online platforms, which needed to be translated as quickly as possible. CAWST also entered into a partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine to develop the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub, which was to be translated into French, Spanish, and Arabic. Because of the nature of the content, it all needed to be translated urgently, and we also needed to respond nimbly to changing recommendations. During that fast-paced time, the hours I worked for CAWST went from about ten a month to ninety. Our translators also sprang into action to translate all the new material that was being developed, much quicker than we would normally ask for it. I’m so thankful for how responsive and engaged they were then, and continue to be today.

How do you select your translators?

Andy takes a sip of water from a biosand filter
Andy takes a sip of water from a biosand filter in Bolivia.

One thing I would like to emphasize is that we don’t see translations as a “commodity”—it’s not just “here’s your translation and the invoice, thank you very much.” Rather, we have built up relationships with our translators over the years, and we’ll sometimes go back and forth on something to make sure the translator understands the source text, and can convey it in a way that our clients will understand. Some people think that anyone who speaks two languages can be a translator, but that’s not true in all cases. You can usually tell the difference between a translation done by an experienced translator, and one done by a novice—the one done by the experienced translator will sound natural, as though it had been written in that language right from the start, whereas translations done by someone who doesn’t have a vocation for translation might not sound “quite right.”

All of the translators we work with at CAWST not only have impeccable language skills, but they also understand and love our work. I know I can always count on them if we have something urgent; if something is really tight, they’ll work together to see who is available to take the job on.

I would like to take this opportunity to recognize our translators and the amazing work they have done for us over the years. I truly love working with them. They are: Mayra Cavilla and Cecilia Perretta (who both live in Argentina); Thibaut Demaegdt, Dominique Philippe-Suzon, and Michèle Mahler (who all live in France); and Ahmed Youssef, who does Arabic translations for us through Immigrant Services Calgary. Although our translators may work behind the scenes, we all collaborate together as a team.

What advice would you give someone planning to become a translator someday?

Be curious. Never assume your language skills are as good as you think they are—challenge that by learning from other translators; going to conferences; and taking webinars, courses, and exams. Read a lot and listen to music in your A, B, and C languages. It took me several years to become a certified translator. I studied, took practice exams, and learned from more experienced translators. I actually often say that it was harder to become a translator than it was to become a chemical engineer.

 

Andy and the translations team work closely with CAWST Global Services staff and partners, two of whom shared their perspective on why translation work is so valuable:

Translations are an essential piece for the work we do in Latin America. Our resources are generally created in English, but thanks to the passion and commitment of the team of translators that supports us in Spanish, CAWST significantly grows the potential reach to more than 400 million people. —Eva Manzano, Senior Global WASH Advisor, CAWST

 

CAWST’s translation team has provided rapid translations from English to Spanish, French, and Arabic across all the Hygiene Hub resources. Having these diverse resources available in all of these languages has regularly been cited by COVID-19 response actors as one of the main selling points of our work. At the beginning of the pandemic, our users faced numerous challenges because of the “English Infodemic” around COVID-19—CAWST’s translation work helped break down this barrier.
—Sian White, Research Fellow, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Today and every day, we are grateful for the passion, curiosity, and professionalism of our translators. The impact of translation cannot be overstated, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the support of translators, we are able to share WASH and COVID-19 resources with more people in more languages and more diverse contexts, to improve hygiene and health in the long run.

Thank you, Andy and all the translators, for your crucial efforts in sharing information, improving communication, and fostering relationships to make our interconnected world a better place.


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!

Changemaker: Emma Chepkoech

Emma is working to break the cycle of poverty by growing the capacity of community water, sanitation, and hygiene promoters, and in turn, their communities. By developing confidence, knowledge, and access to technology, Emma contributes to happier, healthier communities in Kenya.

Emma Chepkoech is a changemaker who grows capacity for community empowerment in Kenya.

 

We work with Emma through our longstanding partnership with Aqua Clara Kenya (ACK), newly a partner in our Water Expertise and Training Centre program. One of the most seasoned ACK team members, Emma started as a Community Health Promoter in 2012. She ran hygiene clubs in schools and visited households to ensure biosand filters were being used correctly, consistently, and continuously. Now, Emma manages all the Community Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Promoters in ACK’s community health club program. Between then and now, Emma has worked in most of ACK’s programs. For example, engaging entrepreneurs in the South Rift Region, Emma worked to ensure tea farmers could access safe water through the use of membrane filters.

Regardless of the program, Emma stays focused on developing the capacity of the communities in which she works. Emma has trained hundreds of community WASH promoters in multiple counties. Community WASH promoters engage communities to share knowledge on water, sanitation, hygiene, and health. They improve community health by informing and influencing families to adopt healthy WASH practices and appropriate technologies, and then being available to troubleshoot and monitor progress. Emma is committed to facilitating their success.

It starts with the community WASH promoter. When I lead training sessions, they are not only about the learning objectives, but also about growing confidence. People who come into the session shy grow their confidence to stand in front of others and share knowledge.

They come to understand themselves better, and realize they are capable. They motivate themselves and then they motivate others. My only problem is when they do so well in the communities, they progress to new opportunities with the government.”

It is a good problem to have in that it is a sign of capacity growth. Emma has been a trailblazer in designing and coordinating the community health club program, facilitated by community WASH promoters. The program is called WASHiriki, which, in Kiswahili, means coming together for a common goal. Communities convene to form clubs and work through a carefully crafted curriculum, from identifying the key challenges they face as a community, to learning about accessing safe water, and finding appropriate solutions.

“After learning with Africa Manzi Centre (CAWST Water Expertise and Training Centre in Zambia) on their community health club program, I sat down with John, CEO of ACK, to design how and who would facilitate the sessions. We wanted to merge the market-based approaches (selling our filters) with our awareness approaches (the work of community WASH promoters and training).

For us, this program is about sharing knowledge and direct access to ACK products, like biosand filters. Furthermore, we realized that financial literacy would play a key role in adoption of WASH products and other economic activities. We made an initial plan for the curriculum and CAWST helped us refine it and integrate participatory approaches. I knew from the beginning that through songs, pictures, and role-playing dramas, our clubs would be engaged in learning.”

And she was right.

“I can testify that people come to the sessions, engaged and willing to adopt new practices. Even if they cannot afford the water filter yet, they are willing to do what they can to improve their health. At the end of sessions, people ask me – when are you coming back for another training?”

Tirelessly, Emma is working to break the cycle of poverty by growing the capacity of community WASH promoters, and in turn, their communities.

“I’m someone who doesn’t sleep until I attain my target. That comes from my mother. She has driven me to follow my heart. From her, I learned when you want to do something, do it to the best of your ability.”

I will not stop until I’m happy. I’ll be happy when community members are happy. They’ll be happier when they can prevent disease, putting in place measures to avoid diseases. Most people are spending their money to react and get better when they get sick. I want to flip this, so that they can prevent it. The programs we facilitate are catalysts – it’s my prayer that communities will come together for WASH, and continue to empower themselves financially and in other ways going forward.

 


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 Emma. For more information, visit caw.st/watercircle

Connecting water and hygiene expertise with need in a smaller world

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Olivier Mills, senior director at CAWST, knew a response needed to be quick to support organizations working in low- and middle-income countries. Working closely with friends and colleagues around the world, the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub was created. He shared his experience and his article was featured in Western Canada Water Magazine’s fall issue on public health. Read the full story here.

In late March 2020, the world suddenly got smaller. Unprecedented, is how the world would define our new reality as we all reacted to the very same threat. I received an online message from a friend and colleague based in London, UK. Sian White, an expert in hygiene behaviour, sits next to some of the world’s leading researchers in virology, epidemiology and hygiene. She is a research fellow on WASH and behaviour change at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).

“We need to do something about this,” Sian messaged. As the outbreak became a pandemic, we both knew that people in low- and middle-income countries we worked in would be hit much harder, since they lack the systems and resources that so-called “developed countries” have. Along with the disease, misinformation about the coronavirus had started spreading already. It was important to act quickly.

Both of our organizations, the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST) in Calgary, Alberta, and the LSHTM, work to alleviate poverty through safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene. We do this through practical research and building people’s knowledge and skills. LSHTM has researchers and experts; we have practitioners, reach and online technology. So in less than a week we built the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub, an online space that connect experts with practitioners to share scientifically-backed information about COVID-19 and how to fight it.

Homepage of the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub
Screenshot of the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub.

Within a month, we had hundreds of organizations, governments, water professionals and individuals accessing the technical resources and expertise. The World Health Organization, UNICEF and half a dozen leading global agencies chipped in with their expertise and guidance. We witnessed engineers, scientists, researchers, community health leaders and academics come together for one common cause. As the evidence-based knowledge on COVID-19 grew, the Hygiene Hub’s informational resources did too. We translated everything into French, Spanish and Arabic, to maximize our reach and ensure resources were available for people who needed them the most. In our first three months, over 14,000 users from 180 countries accessed the Hub.

The power of human adaptability

As a water organization based in Western Canada, our staff could no longer travel to provide the in-person training and consulting services, as we had for the past 19 years. To stay connected with our clients globally during the pandemic, we redoubled our service delivery and resources into the online space. Water and hygiene knowledge has been crucial to building solutions. But what works in some places, doesn’t in others. For example, clean water and soap are in short supply in some parts of the world. With handwashing being key to prevent the spread of COVID-19, how can people wash their hands well if water and soap are scarce? Is handwashing with grey water effective or does water have to be treated first? How can we build low-cost touch-free hygiene stations for public spaces? If internet connectivity is poor, what other means are proving effective to reach communities with hygiene messaging? In a pandemic, when individuals have to choose between using water to drink, bathe or wash their hands, these are time sensitive, life-and-death questions. We realized that people in low-resource countries needed guidance on how to respond quickly to COVID-19 in their communities. They were looking for a source of reliable information about hygiene program behaviour change, hygiene kits, personal protective equipment and effective communication. Knowledge about what’s working in similar settings, what isn’t, and how to make the best of what resources they had. The online space was the fastest, safest and easiest way to reach them with this information. So we brought together local and global technical experts to provide and share answers.

Person uses a tippy tap handwashing station. Photo courtesy of Well Beyond
Child uses a handwashing station at the International Peace Initiatives in Meru, Kenya. Photo courtesy of Well Beyond.

If there is one thing I have learned through this initiative, it is the power of human adaptability and ingenuity. As a water engineer trained in both the technical aspects of water supply and the social aspects of sustainable water access in low-income contexts, it has become clear to me that when the right people get together for the right purpose, we can quickly find solutions that work. This initiative was one great example of that. The wide range of disciplines, from virus research to web development to hygiene programming, created a positive tension in the design process. While we were struggling at home here in Canada, figuring out who was going to take care of the kids or disinfect the groceries, we were also thinking about the organizations we support overseas. People who weren’t getting any science-based information or technical support in their country, yet were motivated to take action in their communities. As they started sharing their COVID-19 response initiatives, we were blown away by the resourcefulness emerging from places with scarce financial means. Innovations rich in creativity: attention-grabbing messages, low-cost handwashing station designs and inclusive community engagement approaches. So far, our online map has captured over 211 different initiatives in 65 countries, ranging from a response app in Kenya, to working with faith leaders in Afghanistan and with sports celebrities in Tanzania.

As the world continues to shrink, and the future stays uncertain, one thing we can be sure of is that we all play a role in each other’s future. While we need to keep physically distant from each other, working closely online to find solutions is essential to collective public health, not just for ourselves, but for those around us. The water sector builds more than infrastructure or knowledge. We build motivation, resilience, hope, and a sense of togetherness. Because it is by coming together in new ways, that we all grow.

 


Headshot of Olivier Mills

Olivier Mills, MEng, MSc is a senior director at CAWST. He has spent over 15 years in the water sector working in Uganda, Burkina Faso, Mali, Congo, India, Tunisia, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Zambia, Cameroon and Haiti. Calgary has been home for Olivier and his family since 2008. Passionate about most things water and web, he leads the Virtual Services team at CAWST, Wash’Em, and the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub. Connect with Olivier on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/in/oliviermills/.

 

 


Western Canada Water Magazine - Public Health Issue

This article was first published in Western Canada Water Magazine Public Health Issue, Fall 2020, pages 50-51. With written permission from publisher, Craig Kelman & Associates Ltd., we reprinted it here on the CAWST Blog.

India: a tale of two partners

India is one of the greatest economic success stories of our time. Yet, it is home to the highest number of people in the world without access to safe water. How do we achieve sustainable access to safe drinking water and safely managed sanitation at such immense scale?

India is one of the greatest economic development success stories of our time. With a healthy economy, came broader health improvements: From 1947 to 2011, life expectancy doubled (UN India, 2017). Yet, with 18% of the world’s population, only 4% of global water resources (World Bank, 2019), and the highest number of people in the world without access to safe water (UNICEF & WHO, 2019), how do we achieve sustainable access to safe drinking water and safely managed sanitation at scale?

 

In CAWST’s approach, we start by building on the success, capacity, and talent of organizations across the country. Working together with a partner based in Gurugram in the north, Sehgal Foundation, and a partner based in Bengaluru in the south, Consortium for DEWATS Dissemination (CDD) Society, each with a distinct technical expertise, we believe that reaching everyone with safe water and sanitation is possible.

Back in 2005, Shauna Curry, PEng, CAWST CEO now, Technical Advisor then, presented on household water treatment and safe storage solutions, such as the biosand filter and rainwater harvesting, in India. Following the presentation, Lalit Mohan Sharma, MTech, Director of Adaptive Technologies invited her to the Sehgal Foundation office to explore the feasibility of implementing these types of solutions. Many cups of tea and several hours later, a relationship was germinating.

“Immediately, when I saw Shauna’s presentation, I recognized we could reach the most vulnerable populations with these simple, affordable technologies,” recounts Lalit. But as Sehgal Foundation started implementing technologies like the concrete biosand filter, they discovered unique challenges. “One day I saw a concrete biosand filter being transported on a motorcycle with a child on the back holding on. I asked myself, if this biosand filter cracks on the way to the household, who is responsible for this?”

Lalit felt the weight of the responsibility and started to test alternatives. Reinforced plastic and galvanized iron were among the prototypes, but Lalit found that a stainless steel biosand filter was the ticket to a more context-appropriate solution. This version was improved for weight and transportability. Plus, in some communities, the material is a symbol of status, motivating more people to own and use the filter. “Lalit’s engineering brilliance and creativity doesn’t need much input, but CAWST was able to help along the way with encouragement, moral support, and some technical advice,” explains Suneel Rajavaram, MEng, PGDRM, IPMP, Senior Global WASH Advisor with CAWST.

Building on a friendly relationship, in 2016, CAWST proposed that Sehgal Foundation could begin to host CAWST training. Lalit readily agreed.

Thanks to CAWST, we established our credibility as a training organization in the sector. Together, we have delivered ten training workshops in the last four years; and on our own, we have delivered ten more training workshops.

Sehgal Foundation has trained 80 organizations, resulting in ten organizations and two entrepreneurs implementing biosand filter projects, which have benefitted about 10,000 families to access safe water, and 200,000 families to receive education on safe water.

Lalit presents the concept of healthy homes to a community where Sehgal Foundation is currently implementing a biosand filter project
Lalit (centre, arm extended) presents the concept of healthy homes to a community where Sehgal Foundation is currently implementing a biosand filter project. Healthy homes would extend the program from a focus on drinking water, to an integrated approach to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene practices in households.

 

Inextricably connected to safe drinking water, safely managed sanitation is also an area of promise. Progress has been achieved through the Swachh Bharat Mission (Clean India Mission), an initiative to provide toilets and end open defecation. 2019 marked the fifth anniversary of this national initiative, with more than 110 million toilets built and 600 million people with access to them (Regan & Suri, 2019). But access to the technology and sustained use of it are two separate issues.

What happens beyond the toilet? Capacity and technical knowledge are mandatory for fecal sludge management, solid waste management, and wastewater treatment. That’s where CDD Society comes in.

Leanne and Roopa in a small group coaching session on communication skills at CDD SocietyLeanne (second from right) with Roopa (right), in a small group coaching session on communication skills at CDD Society. Coaching like this helps to boost the confidence of CDD Society trainers to deliver sessions at events with high-level officials.

In 2016, CAWST met CDD Society working on a common project to develop capacity of the National Institute of Urban Affairs on decentralized sanitation solutions. CDD is a pioneer in implementation of decentralized wastewater treatment systems (DEWATS) and in fecal sludge management.

“We appreciate the support provided by CAWST to CDD in developing a training package on waterbody rejuvenation. Because of this  support, the training module was developed in a very systematic way. When we delivered the workshop, we got excellent feedback from our trainees,” says Roopa Bernardiner, PhD, Senior Manager of Centre for Advanced Sanitation Solutions, with CDD Society.

The CAWST training support complements CDD Society’s advanced technical knowledge on sanitation, which has far-reaching potential for achieving universal sanitation in India.

We can’t do this alone. We have reached many people, but from our learning experiences on the ground, we want to be able to consolidate it, develop content, and build the capacity of stakeholders in the sanitation sector, from toilet builders to government decision-makers.

Plus, CAWST and CDD Society co-delivered introductory training on fecal sludge management in Bengaluru, “allowing us one more opportunity to observe and practice the participatory techniques in sanitation trainings.” As they see it, by having more capable and confident trainers, they will reach higher-level participants and an international audience to enable action across the country.

 

Partnerships built on the strengths of CDD Society and Sehgal Foundation are creating synergy to scale up solutions for those in need across the country. Through non-networked solutions and local capacity, we hope that through partnerships such as this, the tale will be one where India becomes one of the world’s greatest water and sanitation success stories.

 

References

UN India. 2017. Health, Water and Sanitation. United Nations in India.

Ghoshal, D. 2019. World Bank. Helping India Overcome its Water Woes. World Bank News.

World Bank. 2019. Helping India Manage its Complex Water Resources. World Bank News.

World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund. 2015. Joint Monitoring Program for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. 

Regan, H & Suri, M. 2019. Half of India couldn’t access a toilet 5 years ago. Modi built 110M latrines – but will people use them? CNN Asia.


This story of impact is part of our 2019 Annual Report. To read the full report, click here.

Bridging islands of excellence: non-networked sanitation

Projections show that by 2050 close to 7 billion people will live in urban areas (Ritchie, 2018). With great, rapid urbanization, comes great responsibility. That includes providing adequate and inclusive sanitation services that meet the needs of the whole population. To do so, coordination and capacity in non-networked sanitation are key. CAWST is building partnerships that bridge islands of excellence to fulfill these needs.

Currently, more than four billion people live in urban areas. And counting. Projections show that by 2050 close to 7 billion of us will live in urban areas (Ritchie, 2018). With great, rapid urbanization, comes great responsibility. This includes providing adequate and inclusive sanitation services that meet the needs of the whole population.

 

Nearly 57% of people who live in cities lack safely managed sanitation, and 16% don’t have access to even basic sanitation (UNICEF & WHO, 2019). Imagine what this shortfall implies for public and environmental health. Fecal matter that is mismanaged or unmanaged contaminates water bodies, proliferates disease, and ultimately affects the livelihoods of people all over the world.

A fecal sludge treatment facility in Naruku, Kenya.
A fecal sludge treatment facility in Naruku, Kenya. A sanitation system deals with human excreta from the time it is generated until it is used or disposed of safely. Fecal sludge management includes emptying, transportation, treatment, and use or disposal of fecal sludge from an on-site sanitation technology (like a pit latrine or septic tank). It addresses the last three components of a non-sewered sanitation system.

Addressing this challenge requires a mix of solutions, people, and organizations converging across sectors to develop and enact sanitation strategies. A range of sanitation solutions, from traditional toilets and sewers to less-accepted non-networked solutions such as latrines and fecal sludge management, must all be used and integrated to achieve universal sanitation. Mayors, municipalities, or utilities lead policy development, and plan and regulate sanitation services. Businesses, such as emptiers, often provide those services, including emptying and transporting fecal sludge from latrines to be safely treated. Technical and academic institutions also have a role in providing training opportunities to support the skills development necessary to enable sanitation systems.

Coordination is key. And so is capacity. Timely and targeted capacity development services can reinforce the coordination of these organizations.

Focusing on the less accepted, but absolutely necessary non-networked solutions, in 2018 CAWST conducted a study of the existing services, knowledge, and skills available to sanitation service providers in ten African and South Asian countries.

“What we observed out of the study were ‘islands of excellence’—strong, one-off training workshops or courses, but a disconnect between the offerings and the needs of learners,” explains Laura Kohler, PhD, Senior Knowledge and Research Advisor. “Many of the opportunities were expert-led lectures, which lend themselves to knowledge transfer, but which do not necessarily translate to participants taking action based on their learning.

Moreover, CAWST discovered that although there were many people and organizations working towards inclusive sanitation, they lacked the support they needed to succeed.

So we asked ourselves, how do we develop capacity at both the organizational and individual levels to better support sanitation service delivery for all?”

The answer: strategic partnerships.

Working alongside the organizations best equipped to reach and serve sanitation professionals who were delivering the services, CAWST engaged in three strategic partnerships:

  • With emptying professionals, through the Pan African Association of Sanitation Actors (PASA)
  • With the African Water Association (AfWA), to actualize their mentorship and training program for African municipalities and utilities for implementing citywide inclusive sanitation
  • With ITN-BUET in Bangladesh, to develop and deliver citywide inclusive sanitation through fecal sludge management training for municipalities.

Pan African Association of Sanitation Actors launch at Fecal Sludge Management 5 conference
Pan African Association of Sanitation Actors launches at Fecal Sludge Management 5 conference. With members from over 19 countries across Africa, the association convenes emptying professionals to advance their rights and reputation through networking, peer-to-peer learning, and advocacy.

Pan African Association of Sanitation Actors

Emptying professionals are responsible for the safe collection and transport of fecal sludge, from latrines and septic tanks to disposal sites. Despite providing services that are essential to public health, the work of Emptiers is usually misunderstood and underappreciated. Facing common challenges and stigma, emptying professionals convened to form an association for advancing their rights and reputation.

The Pan African Association of Sanitation Actors (PASA) was officially launched in 2019 at Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) 5, a biennial international conference that advances sanitation policy and practice. “Emptiers were previously underrepresented in conversations about sanitation policy. Bringing together the secretariat from across the continent for the official launch of PASA at the FSM 5 conference was an exciting occasion, as this was one of the first times they were well-represented at this type of high level event,” explains Kelly James, MSc, CAWST Knowledge and Research Advisor.

Comprised of representatives of municipal and national emptying associations from 19 countries across Africa, PASA facilitates networking, peer-to-peer learning, and capacity development. They advocate and ensure that Emptiers are present in all conversations about sanitation service delivery and expand the ways in which Emptiers engage in fecal sludge management.

CAWST worked with PASA even before their official launch. Together, CAWST and PASA have hosted workshops amongst Emptiers from across the continent, and designed capacity development tools to structure training and services for Emptiers. Collaboratively, we also began thinking about PASA’s capacity development strategy, with a vision to expand PASA’s network and support all members through peer-to-peer learning and sharing.

 

African Water Association meets to evaluate the first phase of their program that engages 30 cities across the continent to plan and implement inclusive sanitation strategies
African Water Association meets to evaluate the first phase of their program that engages 30 cities across the continent to plan and implement inclusive sanitation strategies to reach the growing need of cities. The next phase of the program will scale training, mentoring, and training-of-trainers in support of citywide sanitation planning.

African Water Association

While many of our efforts started with members from the emptying community, supporting them without strengthening the contexts in which they work would nullify their achievements.

Strengthening said contexts meant exploring opportunities to support African municipalities and utilities, which are the authorities typically delegated to manage water and sanitation services in cities. The African Water Association aims to strengthen the capabilities that underpin access to sustainable water and sanitation for all, and has been doing so since its inception in 1980. AfWA now also operates as a platform that facilitates knowledge sharing, networking, collaboration, and advocacy across Africa.

Through 2019, CAWST and AfWA’s relationship centred on supporting PASA. In doing so, new opportunities for collaboration emerged.

Under one of their many programs, AfWA aims to build the capacity of 30 African cities to implement citywide inclusive sanitation. As AfWA concluded and evaluated the first phase of their program, CAWST supported in defining criteria to select participating countries and cities going forward. We also collaborated on designing questionnaires to assess sanitation in participating cities and the strengths of AfWA’s five regional implementing partners. This included documenting municipal and utility competencies to inform training and mentorship, and Citywide Sanitation Planning training-of-trainers.

AfWA’s program is a great example of how capacity development can contribute to the enabling environment for inclusive sanitation solutions. It is multimodal, growing both capacity and coordination among key stakeholders to improve the coverage of sanitation options and the management of urban fecal sludge, wastewater, and more.

 

International Training Network - Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology trainers Dr Lona Robertson, CAWST Global Learning Advisor (centre), with participants and trainers of a sanitation workshop, developed in collaboration with International Training Network – Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology.

International Training Network – Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology

Non-networked sanitation programs in urban contexts are unlikely to succeed without participatory, action-oriented courses on citywide inclusive sanitation. Fortunately, with International Training Network – Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (ITN-BUET), we have co-developed exactly that type of curriculum. Together, our goal is to develop a national-level capacity building platform that will support municipalities in Bangladesh to implement non-networked sanitation. This shifts away from the typical model of expert lectures. Instead, we’re aiming for modular learning, where each module addresses one step in the planning process. The goal is for participants to emerge from the course with an action plan for applying what they learned into their own municipalities.

“We transformed the course, Fecal Sludge Management in Cities: An Element of Citywide Inclusive Sanitation. The most rewarding part for me was supporting ITN-BUET to develop something that was truly theirs and truly participatory. And they were pumped when they saw the results,” explains Lona Robertson, PhD, Global Learning Advisor. Lona supported the instructional redesign of the course, and led its evaluation.

The results of a more participatory approach were astounding. Following the first course, every paurashava (municipality) in attendance reported that they created action plans within two weeks to share their learning with stakeholders and increase public awareness. Moving forward, CAWST and ITN-BUET are exploring ways to work together. Our mutual goal is to increase and strengthen capacity development opportunities and resources to support the scale-up of non-networked sanitation services.

 

Strategic partnerships like these, which span continents and engage stakeholders across sectors, are indispensable to achieving safely managed sanitation, which so much of the world still lacks. “No one actor or solution is sufficient to serve an entire city; it takes collaboration and innovation, which AfWA, PASA, and ITN-BUET aim to foster,” Laura explains.


Learn more about non-networked sanitation through these resources:

  • In response to COVID-19, we worked with the Pan African Association of Sanitation Actors to create a poster and technical brief on what is known about COVID-19 and sanitation, including practical tips on how to safely continue offering latrine and septic tank emptying. These resources are available in English, French, and Spanish.
  • Learn the basics of sanitation
  • Start, strengthen, or scale up your non-sewered sanitation programs using our open content Sanitation Resources

References

Ritchie, H. 2018. Urbanization. OurWorldInData.org. https://ourworldindata.org/urbanization

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization. 2019. Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2017: Special focus on inequalities.


This story of impact is part of our 2019 Annual Report. To read the full report, click here.

Crafting livelihoods: ceramic pot filter course

In a world gone plastic, potters’ livelihoods are threatened by decreasing demand for their ceramic products. Many also live without safe water. In partnership with Potters for Peace, CAWST clients are helping them craft a solution that honours tradition and improves economic opportunity.

In a world gone plastic, potters’ livelihoods are threatened by decreasing demand for their ceramic products. Lalit Sharma, MTech, who hails from our training partner, Sehgal Foundation, has worked extensively with traditional potters in northern India. Potters and their fellow villagers live in challenging conditions, often without safe drinking water. But Lalit saw a way for potters to shape a solution.

 

Ceramic filters have been used for hundreds of years in multiple geographies. In these filters, water passes through a porous ceramic pot, trapping particles and pathogens, then producing water that only needs disinfection (like chlorine) before drinking.

Lalit Sharma inspects ceramic pot filters in his lab. He has worked closely with local potters in India, and Potters for Peace to mesh traditional practices with technical specifications.Lalit Sharma inspects ceramic pot filters in his lab. He has worked closely with local potters in India, and Potters for Peace to mesh traditional practices with technical specifications.

In many places, ceramic pot filters have brought new purpose and prosperity for artisanal potters. Potters for Peace, a US-based charity, arose from supporting potters in Nicaragua. Within their mission, potters from the US exchange learning and do voluntary trips to help potters from Nicaragua build kilns and advance their business capabilities. This enables potters to preserve their traditions, while becoming more economically independent. As an extension of their craftsmanship skills, Potters for Peace are also leading experts on the subject of ceramic pot filters.

CAWST’s relationship with Potters for Peace dates to 2004, when they provided a workshop at a CAWST learning exchange to introduce the technology. Unlike the biosand filter, the ceramic pot filter does not have a simple, straightforward recipe. As engineers, we tend to see technology as a science. The ceramic filter challenges us to approach it as an art, too. Keeping in touch over the years, when Potters for Peace requested help to develop a training on producing high-quality ceramic filters, a decision to partner on developing the training came easily.

The nature of the true partnership combined our strengths. With Potters for Peace as the subject matter experts, and CAWST on instructional design, “We grew knowledgeable on the technology, while Potters for Peace staff grew into instructional designers in their own right, building engaging lesson plans on the ceramic filter,” reflects Lisa Mitchell, MES, CAWST Director, Learning.

The course was piloted in the USA. After this first round, the resounding reflections of course participants included the complexity of the filter, and the determination required to follow through with ceramic pot filter production. The production requires multiple clay samples and ample patience to get the right results. Yet, for those who persist in their efforts, the rewards and impact are well worth it.

Darrell Nelson steps out of the kiln with a ceramic pot filter in the Clean Water International production facility in Davao City, Philippines

Darrell Nelson, Executive Director and Founder of Clean Water International, is exceptionally persistent, with the results to show for it. A client of CAWST from the very beginning, Darrell leads a well-established biosand filter factory and projects across the Philippines.

“In the Philippines, there are people in extreme poverty and there are people who are extremely wealthy. And in the middle, you have a massive amount of people who would be doing a lot better with safe water. They have kids and dreams, but they never get a hand up.  After learning about ceramic pot filters, I saw the need and potential of helping that middle group of people.”

Following the first course, CAWST and Potters for Peace continued to support course alumni like Darrell in the Philippines, as well as a factory in Indonesia. In 2019, CAWST and Potters for Peace hosted the course for the second time, bringing together participants from all over the world. Four people from Kenya. A woman from Nigeria. Two people from Haiti. One man from India (Lalit Sharma). Three people from the US. Some participants were seeking to improve manufacturing at their existing factories, and others were at the early stages of the manufacturing journey.

 

Since then, Potters for Peace staff have visited the Philippines, Indonesia, and India to provide hands-on consulting support. As Darrell shares,

Potters for Peace started consulting with us right out of the course. They were guiding us as we figured out what kiln to get, finding a press, experimenting with clay. Kilns are like an oven, and everyone’s oven is different. The right oven was difficult to find, and then we needed to learn to use it. It made a huge difference when they came to visit. Our local staff learned directly from them, but using our equipment: it was very hands-on and rich with learning.

Ceramic pot filters are carefully inspected for flaws as they are removed from the kiln at the Clean Water International production facility in the Philippines. The ceramic pot filter course co-developed by Potters for Peace and CAWST focuses on maintaining production practices that contribute to high-quality filters.Ceramic pot filters are carefully inspected for flaws as they are removed from the kiln at the Clean Water International production facility in the Philippines. The ceramic pot filter course co-developed by Potters for Peace and CAWST focuses on maintaining production practices that contribute to high-quality filters.

While finding a kiln was challenging for the Philippines factory, Lalit faced a different challenge in India: using the traditional square kiln that has been used for generations in the region, to suit ceramic pot filters. “I think what’s really unique about the work of Lalit and the Sehgal Foundation is how they will have to mesh the best technical recommendations with the tradition to find something that works and honours both,” explained Lisa.

Both Darrell and Lalit are bringing this solution to scale, but in two different ways. Darrell’s factory will be large and centralized, with many workers and an opportunity for entrepreneurs to get involved in distribution. Whereas Lalit is engaging with hundreds of family-run pottery businesses to add this product and skill to their offering. Each remains on track to distribute filters in the 2020 calendar year, even with the setbacks of COVID-19.

The partnership between CAWST and Potters for Peace doesn’t end with the course. Going forward, they will bring their complementary skill sets to offer consulting services to filter factories. Potters for Peace will continue to support factory start-up and quality improvement, while CAWST will support ceramic filter users and distributors with education and follow-up. Indeed, ceramic filters remind us that art, science, tradition, and teamwork all have a place in crafting and implementing safe water solutions.

 

Are you crafting a new interest in ceramic pot filters? Learn more:

 


This story of impact is part of our 2019 Annual Report. To read the full report, click here.

CAWST in the News: Western Canada Water Magazine

Olivier Mills, CAWST Senior Director of Global Services, takes pen to paper to share his experience of the early moments of the pandemic and getting the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub off the ground. His article was featured in Western Canada Water Magazine’s Fall issue on public health.

Olivier Mills, CAWST Senior Director of Global Services, recently took pen to paper to share his experience of the early moments of the pandemic and getting the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub off the ground. His article (see pages 50-51) was featured in Western Canada Water Magazine‘s Fall issue on public health, which covers the full spectrum of water issues. The magazine is distributed to the biggest water and wastewater membership in Canada with over 5,400 members throughout the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.


Child uses a handwashing station at the International Peace Initiatives in Meru, Kenya

The photograph featured here and in the article is courtesy of Well Beyond. It shows a child at the International Peace Initiatives in Meru, Kenya using the Well Beyond Sanitation and Hygiene training app to learn how to use a handwashing station, called a ‘tippy-tap.’ This app reaches remote populations with knowledge of how to protect against the spread of coronavirus in their communities. To learn more about this project and other COVID-19 responses worldwide, you can read the case study featured on the Hygiene Hub.

With the magazine’s permission, the article has been reprinted on our blog for your reading pleasure. Click here to read the full article.

A refreshing approach to wastewater

When we found out that Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets, Xylem Inc., and Village Brewery teamed up to craft a beer out of wastewater, we put it to the test. The taste test, that is. Laura Kohler, PhD, Senior Technical Advisor shares her review and perspective on how we can innovate to achieve safe sanitation for all.

Image Credit: Riley Brandt, University of Calgary.
Alberta’s first beer made with treated wastewater was brewed as a collaboration between UCalgary’s Advancing Canadian Water Assets (ACWA), Village Brewery and Xylem Inc. The limited batch of Village Blonde is on sale now.

 

For the last four years with CAWST, I have been working as a technical advisor on sanitation. In Canada, we commonly refer to wastewater when discussing issues around the sanitation system. However, sanitation encompasses much more than the water that flows in our sewers, including: solid waste, stormwater, wastewater, and in the majority of countries around the world, fecal sludge, which is collected from non-networked systems such as latrines and septic tanks. 

Though my work often surprises me with interesting challenges and tasks, last week one request took the cake. I was asked to taste beer. But it wasn’t just any beer. This beer was special, and I like to believe it was specially crafted for me 🙂 Why?  Because it was brewed with treated wastewater. 

Some of our Calgary friends and partners worked together on this experimental beer. Xylem Inc., a corporate partner who has supported us with many volunteers, and Advancing Canadian Wastewater Assets (ACWA) at the University of Calgary, who has supported our past World Water Day events, teamed up with Calgary-based Village Brewery on this limited edition Village Blonde. 

As Christine O’Grady, longtime friend of CAWST and coordinator of ACWA explains, “Ensuring sustainable water solutions for all requires collaboration and knowledge mobilization. The ACWA, Village and Xylem partnership demonstrated that water reuse is possible. ACWA was honoured to work with CAWST on past World Water Day initiatives to foster understanding and enhance awareness of water security challenges.”

 

What was my review of this limited edition Blonde Ale?
It tasted like beer! Refreshing. Cold. And no hint of wastewater. 

When we think about wastewater, we don’t typically think of drinking it.
But here’s the reality: Every drop of water, whether it’s from a river or the effluent of a wastewater treatment plant, has been in someone’s or something’s body at some point. After all, there’s a finite source of clean water available to us on the planet. So it comes down to perception. At the end of the day, treated wastewater is just… water. 

Where resources such as water or nutrients are stressed, we need to flip the paradigm on its head and consider different waste streams as opportunities for resource recovery and energy generation. For example, we can recover waste for the production of useful byproducts such as compost or biofuels. For Village beer, the opportunity was something a bit more familiar: water. The only difference was its source: the wastewater treatment plant.

This paradigm shift is happening globally.
More and more cities employ innovative sanitation solutions to conserve and recover resources, enabling them to provide and sustain sanitation to their citizens. 

But this is no small challenge.
To reach everyone with safely managed sanitation services, a range of options are required. Furthermore, the human capabilities to design and deliver these options underpin their feasibility. Therefore, the innovations to design and deliver learning opportunities at scale are as important as the technological innovations to reach everyone with sanitation. This is where CAWST comes in. Capacity development must evolve to be more than just an output (i.e., a training workshop or webinar delivered), which means we must continue to build our own capacity, within capacity development.

At the end of the day, to be most effective, learning opportunities should consider the needs of the professionals delivering these sanitation services as well as how they prefer to learn.

At the end of the day, to be most effective, learning opportunities should consider the needs of the professionals delivering these sanitation services as well as how they prefer to learn. Working with organizations such as African Water Association, the Pan-African Sanitation Actors Association, and International Training Network Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (ITN-BUET), we’re exploring innovative approaches to capacity building. For example, with ITN-BUET, we co-designed a training guide for Bangladeshi municipalities to conceptualize, plan, and implement non-sewered technologies and services to reach their constituents with safe and sustainable sanitation. 

In Calgary, our friends at Xylem, ACWA, and Village Brewery are challenging our perceptions on waste, by making a beer made from it. Cheers to our partners, from Calgary to Bangladesh and beyond. I’m excited for the future of sanitation, and appreciative of all those who are leading the way.

 

Read more

Coming Soon! Resources on:

  • Emptier Service Competency Framework
  • Citywide Sanitation Planning training
  • Demand Creation Training for Mayors
  • Citywide Sanitation Planning Guide for Municipalities
  • Citywide Inclusive Sanitation through Fecal Sludge Management Training