Weaving Opportunity in Colombia

In honour of the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, we share the story of Amalfi Romero and her community of Los Cabritos in La Guajira, Colombia. With knowledge and skills on the biosand filter, they are weaving opportunity and wellbeing through water.

When asked about her role in the community, Amalfi Romero’s answer is straightforward, “I’m the leader; I lead my community.” But the realities she faces as the leader of the community of Los Cabritos in Colombia are anything but that.

“Los Cabritos is well-organized. We are a vulnerable population, living in one of the most remote parts of Colombia, La Guajira. At times, it feels like we are abandoned. As community leader, my job is to work for the wellbeing of this community.”

Indigenous Wayuu communities face persistent inequality with challenges to safe water and community wellbeing. They live in the desert region of La Guajira. Rivers are rare. Wells are often salty. Rainwater is commonly collected, but easily contaminated. It seems an impossible feat to survive in these conditions, yet Wayuu communities have been doing so for centuries.

Beyond the water conditions, barriers also exist for communities to access support from government and non-governmental organizations. “I visited a community in the vicinity of Los Cabritos for the first time in 2016. Seeing the hardship the children were living in broke my heart. At that point, I committed to their teacher that I would help them find a solution to treat their water,” reflects Eva Manzano, BEng, MA, CAWST Senior Global WASH Advisor. “At the time, the funding to work with them was insufficient, and so was our connection to the community. Trust and understanding of power dynamics is essential with Wayuu communities. Often, literacy level of community members, particularly women, is limited and most communities in the region speak only Wayuunaiki, which presents a language barrier for us who speak Spanish.”

Man overlooks a Jagüeye, which is a traditional rainwater collection method and technology that the Wayuu people have been using for centuries. Although effective, jagüeyes are often contaminated by competing needs for water, such as bathing and goat herding.
Jagüeyes are a traditional rainwater collection method and technology that the Wayuu people have been using for centuries. Although effective, jagüeyes are often contaminated by competing needs for water, such as bathing and goat herding.

Three years later, the opportunity to support the region became a reality. In Bogota in 2017, CAWST and our training partner, Fundación Red Projecto Gente (FRPG) facilitated an introductory workshop on household water treatment and safe storage techniques and technology, such as the biosand filter. In attendance was Fundación Hilo Sagrado, a social enterprise with a long-standing relationship with Wayuu communities, especially Los Cabritos. Hilo Sagrado (which means Sacred Thread in Spanish) empowers Wayuu communities to advance income-generating activities, such as selling the distinct, woven mochilas (purses and satchels) of La Guajira. They enhance the design of the mochilas, increasing the value of the bags, and improving access to market. In turn, the women who weave mochilas receive a fair wage, empowering them as economic actors in their community.

Fundación Hilo Sagrado had been searching for years to find best practices and cost-effective technologies for improving water systems in the communities in which they worked. Most solutions were too expensive or not viable to maintain. At the workshop, they discovered that the biosand filter could be viable—not only as an effective technology, but an opportunity for Los Cabritos to learn and multiply the benefits of the technology in the region. They invited CAWST and FRPG to lead several workshops on biosand filters in the community of Los Cabritos.

“Often the community can be soft-spoken and hesitant with outsiders. But the workshops didn’t allow anyone to sit on the sidelines, and one community leader pushed the boundaries to set an example for other women in her community. That’s Amalfi,” recounts Leanne Madjidi, MEd, CAWST Global Learning Advisor.

Community leader Amalfi Romero walks emerging community leaders through the construction materials and mold for the biosand filter. Combining skills development and creating space for women like Amalfi to address an immediate community need. It’s an opportunity for women to model different gender norms, with positive reinforcement towards gender equality.
Community leader Amalfi Romero walks emerging community leaders through the construction materials and mold for the biosand filter. Combining skills development and creating space for women like Amalfi to address an immediate community need. It’s an opportunity for women to model different gender norms, with positive reinforcement towards gender equality.

“Maybe people think that this is a job just for men, but we as women are also capable of building a filter. Just like Rocío [of FRPG], like you [Eva and Leanne of CAWST], or even me, we can demonstrate—to men, to children, and to each other—that we are just as capable,” emphasizes Amalfi.

Local technicians installed 82 filters in 2019. They were not only trained to build the filters, they also learned techniques for following up with neighbours, so they could reinforce best practices for correct, consistent, and continued use, and troubleshoot issues down the road. Following hands-on construction, community workshop participants visited other households in other communities where biosand filters were installed. The purpose of these household visits was to follow up and support other families to sustain the technology and practices.

“On that day, we saw so much growth. There was one fourteen-year-old boy in particular who would barely speak in the first few household visits. But with repetition, and the opportunity to practice with the support of us and other community members behind him, he gained confidence and was leading the household visits by the end of the day,” shared Leanne.

Amalfi and community members who completed the biosand filter training also conduct regular household visits to support the correct use, maintenance, sustainability, and understanding of families using the filter.
Amalfi and community members who completed the biosand filter training also conduct regular household visits to support the correct use, maintenance, sustainability, and understanding of families using the filter.

As Amalfi remembers, “You saw the people who were trained doing our household visits. They didn’t just get certified because they were sitting there. Each person made an effort to learn and none of this would have been possible without the support of Iván and Rocío [of FRPG]. They trained us, motivated us, and at the end of the day we are now capable and confident to handle water issues, handwashing, and educating our families.”

The community of Los Cabritos is highly motivated and entrepreneurial. They see biosand filters as a potential business opportunity: becoming technicians that construct the filters and sell them to other communities in the region, while sharing their knowledge.

While the business idea is still being tested, the results in Los Cabritos are already easy to see. In merely a year of active capacity development and biosand filter implementation, changes towards the wellbeing that Amalfi works so hard to achieve are evident.

The biosand filter helps families consume drinking water that is safe. Thanks to this filter, our health and quality of life are improving. Our children are less sick with diarrheal diseases and skin infections. Water is life. Water is everything.


We are sharing this story in honour of the International Day of Indigenous PeoplesCelebrating the resilience of Indigenous peoples all around the world, we appreciate the opportunity to support communities like Los Cabritos and learn from their experience and perspectives.

This story will also be featured as a Story of Impact & Acceleration in our Annual Report. To receive updates and a copy of the CAWST Annual Report, sign up for our mailing list.

Coffee with CAWST: Astrid Hasund Thorseth

From her flat in northeast London, Astrid has been working the front lines in the global response to COVID-19. Astrid is a Research Assistant in WASH and Behaviour Change at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). As a key member on the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub and Wash’Em teams, Astrid works with CAWST to ensure the latest information, research, and resources on hygiene interventions are available to people who need them most.

From her two-bedroom flat in northeast London, Astrid has been supporting the front lines of the global response to COVID-19. Astrid is a Research Assistant in WASH and Behaviour Change at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and a key member on the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub and Wash’Em teams. Through these teams, she works with CAWST to ensure the latest information, research, and resources on hygiene interventions are available to people who need them most.

Recently we had the opportunity to sit down with Astrid (via Zoom, of course) to talk about a variety of topics from handwashing to wedding deposits, and why her first trip post-COVID will be to a small island off the coast of Norway.

Tell us about what a typical day looks like for a Research Assistant at LSHTM

Pre-COVID, I’d spend approximately 70% of my time in the office and 30% in the field, doing research projects, trainings, or attending conferences. Office days start with a 12 km bike ride to work and lots of time in front of my computer, with quick breaks hunting for treats from my colleagues. Fun fact: researchers are fueled on chocolate. When travelling, my days are busy and often long, but loads of fun. I get to meet new people, cultures, and garner new experiences.

During COVID, I’ve been working from home each and every day, while doing my best to keep some normalcy by running regularly, spending time in my garden, making masks for friends and family, and trying to maintain a routine. There have been longer hours with the launch of the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub, which has been my full focus over the past few months. Half of my team is in Calgary at CAWST and then the other half here in London, so I’ve been juggling time zones with many online meetings. However, my passion for WASH and knowing that I’m playing a role in the global response keeps me motivated.

How has your role changed since the COVID-19 pandemic?

It has dramatically changed. I planned to spend the spring in Tanzania on a research trip and it was cancelled the day before I was to depart. I have, more or less, paused all of my research and I’ve shifted complete focus to prevention of the coronavirus. It’s a unique scenario because so much has happened, so much has changed; yet, it’s all taken place from the same chair I’ve been sitting in for the past 4 months!


Thumbs up for handwashing! Astrid and colleague from Action contre la Faim (also a Wash’Em partner) during a intervention research study for Wash’Em in Ethiopia.

We are still in the middle of the pandemic, but have there already been specific learnings that are emerging?

Definitely, two things stand out. Firstly, that rapid response is everything. Acting fast when we saw the initial warning signs proved to be incredibly important in combating the coronavirus.

Secondly, while there was a lot we didn’t know, and still don’t know about the virus, the core principles of infectious disease control have remained true. For example, the intensive testing and tracing that we saw early on in South Korea and Iceland demonstrated a slow to the spread by isolating those infected.

How are the challenges you may be facing in the UK different or similar compare to the people living in low- and middle-income countries?

In the UK and similar countries, we’ve demonstrated that the key behaviours for preventing COVID-19 are to some extent possible to adapt by the general public. This includes frequent handwashing and social distancing, including working from home. We experienced drastic changes when the pandemic hit, but we were able to adapt quickly to government enforcement. While there are obviously exceptions to this, many of us were able to adopt these measures without too many insurmountable challenges. We brought our laptops home, we ordered essential goods straight to our homes, and we could use the water flowing from our taps to regularly wash our hands.

However, in low- and middle-income countries, people face significant challenges in adopting these measures. This is due to many factors, including economic insecurity, poverty, and communal living. For example, if families and neighbours share close housing quarters, physical distancing and shielding are impossible. It’s also challenging to avoid public areas and transport if a scheme like the paid furlough we have in the UK or Canada is not available, and if it is just not possible to do your job from home. In areas that lack piped water, regular handwashing with soap is challenging. So, to adopt similar protective measures and support their citizens, governments in low resource countries have to come up with innovative and context-adapted solutions that resonate in different communities and most people can apply.

You’ve created many of the social videos for Wash’Em. There’s the glitter one and your most recent, managing handwashing in challenging settings. Do you have a favourite?

It was fun discovering my kitchen was social media friendly! I have a perfect shelf for holding my phone to create these. I enjoyed making all of the videos, but if I had to pick a favourite, it would be the pepper video. It was cool to see the pepper run away from the soap so clearly.


Astrid at a Wash’Em training for WASH Cluster member organization in Myanmar, July 2019.

What’s the number one question about your job you get from friends when they learn about what you do?

So, basically you research poop!? When I explain the need for WASH research, especially in low- and middle-income countries, people tend to be most fascinated with the fact that I research feces.

Is there anything that you wish you could’ve told your 2019-self to prepare for the year we’re having in 2020?

Don’t put down a non-refundable wedding venue deposit! I was supposed to get married this summer, and while everything turned out fine, we had a bit of a scare with our deposit. However, the venue and all of our bookings were very generous and everything has been shifted a year.

I’ve heard you like to travel. What will be your first destination post-pandemic?

I would go home to Ulsteinvik, which is a small island off the coast of Norway. I think so many of us miss our friends and family during this pandemic, especially if you don’t live in the same country. So, my first trip would be to visit Ulsteinvik and then head to my partner’s home island, Sicily, to visit his family.

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

I believe there will be a lot more focus on the ‘H’ in the WASH acronym. Hygiene is crucial to the prevention of disease and likely the least researched out of three—water, sanitation and hygiene. We don’t know enough about hygiene and already we’re seeing initiatives like Hand Hygiene for All, in which Hygiene Hub is a core partner, emerge to address this imbalance. I believe there is going to be a long-term focus on building capacity for disease outbreak preparedness and that COVID-19 will start and ignite even more initiatives, both in programs but also research and academia. I look forward to continuing to be a part of it with LSHTM and CAWST.


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!

 

Espacio de aprendizaje sobre TANDAS

Justo cuando la COVID-19 nos obligó a salir de las comunidades a las que servimos y a sentarnos frente a nuestras computadoras, acabamos de terminar de crear nuestro Espacio de Aprendizaje de Tratamiento de Agua para el Hogar y Almacenamiento Seguro (TANDAS). En el Espacio de aprendizaje, puede moverse a través de módulos de aprendizaje interactivos de 2 a 5 minutos para aprender sobre TANDAS.

Dado que la COVID-19 nos obligó a salir de las comunidades en las que prestamos servicio y a sentarnos frente a nuestras computadoras, se sintió extrañamente fortuito que acabáramos de terminar nuestro Espacio de aprendizaje sobre el tratamiento del agua a nivel domiciliario y su almacenamiento seguro (TANDAS). Cuando creamos el Espacio de aprendizaje, nuestra intención era proporcionar a los clientes que enfrentan desafíos para asistir a nuestra capacitación presencial la oportunidad de aprender más sobre el tratamiento del agua a nivel domiciliario. Lo que no sabíamos era que casi todos nuestros clientes pronto estarían en esta posición.

Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage

El TANDAS es un enfoque económico y efectivo para proporcionar agua segura para el consumo a las poblaciones más marginadas. Cuando los sistemas no son confiables, o enfrentan problemas operativos (muchos como resultado de la pandemia), las soluciones de TANDAS pueden proporcionar soluciones temporales o a largo plazo. En varios países, como Colombia e India, las adaptaciones de políticas han comenzado a considerar el TANDAS como una alternativa viable para complementar a los sistemas tradicionales de tuberías.

Pero, ¿por dónde comenzar? Ingrese al Espacio de aprendizaje sobre TANDAS, donde descubrirá diferentes opciones de tratamiento y aprenderá a combinarlas como parte del enfoque de barreras múltiples para obtener agua segura para el consumo. También aprenderá más sobre criterios, barreras y enfoques a considerar al llevar a cabo un proyecto de TANDAS. Toda esta información se proporciona en módulos interactivos de dos a cinco minutos de duración que se pueden completar en forma independiente o combinar en rutas de aprendizaje específicas basadas en sus necesidades e intereses. Todos los módulos están disponibles en español, además de francés e inglés.

Manju Kabba, director de Health Education Network en Liberia, hace poco vio el Espacio de aprendizaje y le encantó lo fácil que fue recorrer los módulos. “Una vez más, tengan la amabilidad de aceptar mi profundo aprecio(…) por los módulos de aprendizaje virtual que encuentro muy efectivos. Me gustan especialmente las evaluaciones rápidas que hay en el medio. Hacerlos fue y sigue siendo una experiencia increíble”.

Para Rocío Robayo de Fundación Red Proyecto Gente en Colombia, esta web constituye una gran herramienta para fortalecer el aprendizaje y conocimiento sobre el “TANDAS”. El que sea virtual, permite su fácil difusión a grupos y personas interesadas o involucradas en proyectos a diferente escala, que no tienen acceso a asistir presencialmente a una capacitación.

Nuestro equipo de América Latina ha comenzado una emocionante iniciativa para diseñar cursos en línea personalizados, utilizando los módulos del Espacio de aprendizaje TANDAS. Estas rutas de aprendizaje se complementarán con información contextualizada para diversos países y desafíos específicos. Como parte de esta iniciativa, están desarrollando un curso piloto en Nicaragua que estará dirigido a los trabajadores de la salud en colaboración con RASNIC (Red Agua y Saneamiento de Nicaragua) y el Centro SMART. El equipo también está trabajando con otras organizaciones para incorporar los módulos del Espacio de aprendizaje sobre TANDAS en sus cursos e iniciativas de desarrollo profesional existentes.

Únase a nuestro equipo y socios el 21 de julio para obtener más información acerca del Espacio de aprendizaje sobre TANDAS y cómo usarlo para avanzar en su conocimiento sobre el tratamiento del agua a nivel domiciliario y su almacenamiento seguro, como una opción viable para llegar a los más marginados con agua segura para el consumo y cumplir con los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible.

Herramientas interactivas en linea - TANDAS y Aqua Segura

Regístrese al seminario en línea: caw.st/tandas-learnspace

El Espacio de aprendizaje: hwts.info/learn

Step into the Learn Space

As COVID-19 forced us out of the communities we serve and into the chairs in front of our computers, we had just finished creating our Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage (HWTS) Learn Space. In the Learn Space, you can move through interactive learning modules of 2 – 5 minutes to learn about household water treatment and safe storage.

As COVID-19 forced us out of the communities we serve and into the chairs in front of our computers, it felt oddly serendipitous that we had just finished our Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage (HWTS) Learn Space. When we built the Learn Space, our intention was to provide clients who face challenges coming to our face-to-face training with an opportunity to learn more about household water treatment. Little did we know that almost all of our clients would soon be in this position. 

Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage

HWTS is an affordable and effective approach to providing safe drinking water to underserved populations. When centralized systems are not reliable, or facing operational issues, as many are as a result of the pandemic, HWTS solutions can provide interim or long term solutions. In several countries, such as Colombia and India, policy adaptations have started to accommodate HWTS as an alternative to traditional, piped systems.

But, where do you begin? Enter the HWTS Learn Space, where you’ll discover different treatment options, and learn how to combine them as part of the multi-barrier approach to safe drinking water. You also learn more about criteria, barriers, and approaches to consider when delivering an HWTS project. All of this information is delivered in two- to five-minute, interactive modules that you can do independently or combine into specific learning paths based on your needs and interests. Best of all, modules are available in Spanish and French, as well as English.

Early Reviews

Manju Kabba, Director of the Health Education Network in Liberia, recently viewed the learn space, and was delighted at how easy it was to go through the modules. “Again kindly accept my profound appreciation (…) for the HWTS E-Learning modules which I find very effective. I especially like the quick evaluations that come in between. Going through them was and still is an amazing experience.”

For Rocío Robayo, Founder of Fundación Red Proyecto Gente in Colombia, this site was a great tool for strengthening learning and knowledge about HWTS. Being virtual, the tool allows for easy dissemination to groups and people with different interest and involvement levels, who don’t have access to attend training in person.

Find your learning pathway

Our Latin America team has started an exciting initiative to design tailored online courses using the modules from the HWTS Learn Space. These learning pathways will be supplemented with contextualized information for specific countries and challenges. As part of this initiative, they are designing a pilot course in Nicaragua that will target health workers in collaboration with RASNIC (Red Agua y Saneamiento de Nicaragua) and the SMART Centre. The team is also working with other organizations to incorporate the HWTS Learn Space Modules into their existing courses and professional development initiatives.

Join our team and partners for a webinar on July 21st at 8 am MT to learn more about the HWTS Learn Space and how to use it to advance your knowledge of Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage as a viable option for reaching the underserved with safe drinking water and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

Register for the webinar (hosted in Spanish): caw.st/tandas-learnspace

Explore the HWTS Learn Space: hwts.info/learn

New Global Hand Hygiene Initiative Launched with COVID-19 Hygiene Hub as Core Partner

The Hand Hygiene for All Global Initiative, co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, launched on June 26. With an aim to increase hand hygiene to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Initiative will implement WHO’s global recommendations on hand hygiene to ensure hand hygiene infrastructure and behaviour beyond the pandemic. CAWST is honoured to contribute to this initiative as a partner of the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub. 

Photo Source: UNICEF

As the world faces new and exacerbated challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, collaborative responses emerge. The Hand Hygiene for All Global Initiative, co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF, launched on June 26. With an aim to increase hand hygiene to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Initiative will implement WHO’s global recommendations on hand hygiene to ensure hand hygiene infrastructure and behaviour beyond the pandemic. CAWST is honoured to contribute to this initiative as a partner of the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub. 

Achieving hand hygiene for all requires broad participation. UNICEF and WHO co-lead the Initiative; they will be supported by core partners including the COVID-19 Hygiene Hub, the World Bank, Sanitation and Water for All, the International Federation of the Red Cross, Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the World Economic Forum, the UNHCR, the Global Handwashing Partnerships, and WaterAid. The Initiative will mobilize engagement from diverse stakeholders, including governments, non-profit organizations, academia, investment banks, businesses, and households.

Public health depends on good hand hygiene. Good hand hygiene relies on each and every individual practicing frequent handwashing behaviour and having sufficient resources to do so. The current pandemic has illuminated the importance of hand hygiene as a cost-effective measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases. 

Yet, many barriers exist to hand hygiene for all. Even in high resource settings, where soap and water are readily available, hand hygiene is often deficient, with most people washing their hands less frequently than needed, and for ten seconds or less (when it should be 20-30 seconds at minimum).1 In low resource settings, even greater barriers to hand hygiene exist, including competing priorities for soap and water.

In a joint statement by Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, “According to our latest data, the majority of people in the least developed countries are at immediate risk of COVID-19 infection due to a lack of hand hygiene facilities. In the 60 highest-risk countries, 2 out of 3 people – 1 billion people in total – lack basic handwashing facilities with soap and water at home. Around half are children.”2

Hand Hygiene for All is about the long view. Specifically, it is focused on responding to the immediate pandemic, rebuilding infrastructure, and reimagining hand hygiene at local and national levels. Hand hygiene must become a pillar for short-term and long-term national development plans. The Initiative also proposes a framework for coordination and collaboration amongst regional and global actors.

As one of the first actions of the Hand Hygiene for All Global Initiative, COVID-19 Hygiene Hub helped to launch a discussion forum. The discussion forum will promote peer-to-peer exchange on responses to COVID-19 and share evidence-based tools for hygiene program design. Engage in the COVID-19 Discussion Forum now.

Hand in (virtual) hand, hand over heart, working together, we can increase Hand Hygiene for All. 

Learn more:

 

References

1 Chugh, A. (2020). How long should hands be washed for? COVID-19 Hygiene Hub Resource.
2 WHO & UNICEF. (2020). Joint Statement: To control COVID-19, we have to make hand hygiene accessible to all.

Changemaker: Srijana Karki

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


Changemakers Impact Report

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

Articulate Storyline Trainer

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

The Position: Articulate Storyline Trainer

Purpose of the Role:

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

Duties and Responsibilities:

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

Skills and Qualifications:

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

Orientation and Support:

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

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

Location: Remote.

To Apply:

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

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

Additional comments:

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

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

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

MEDIA RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how does it work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Robert Dreibelbis, Associate Professor at LSHTM, said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

Notes to Editors

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

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

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

About the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

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

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

www.lshtm.ac.uk

About CAWST

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

– 30 –

Media contact

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

Find the CAWST logo here.

English | Français | Español  | Arabic

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

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


About this project

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

CAWST Video Editing Support

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

The Position: CAWST Video Editing Support

Purpose of the Role:

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

Duties and Responsibilities:

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

Skills and Qualifications:

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

Timing: Start as soon as possible. Flexible hours.

Location: Remote.


To Apply:

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

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

Additional comments:

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

CAWST Vimeo Upload Support

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

The Position: CAWST Vimeo Upload Support

Purpose of the Role:

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

Duties and Responsibilities:

  • Load subtitles into videos on Vimeo and YouTube

Skills and Qualifications:

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

Timing: Start as soon as possible. Flexible hours.

Location: Remote.


To Apply:

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

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

Additional comments:

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

CAWST Video Post-Production Support

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

The Position: CAWST Video Post-Production Support

Purpose of the Role:

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

Duties and Responsibilities:

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

Skills and Qualifications:

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

 

Timing: Start as soon as possible. Flexible hours.

Location: Remote.


To Apply:

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

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

Additional comments:

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

Coffee with CAWST: Marcio Botto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What leader do you admire?

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

What career advice would you give to your younger self?

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So is hope.


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

Studies on the Drying of Feces

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Experimental Determination of Moisture Sorption Isotherm of Fecal Sludge

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


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

COVID-19 Information & Advice

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a list of the latest updates

April 14 Update

April 14 Update (French)

April 14 Update (Spanish)


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

Lessons on Hygiene Behaviour Change from La Mosquitia, Honduras

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Read the full case study.

 

 Learn more about behaviour change

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


References

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

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


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

Should I choose the highest performance HWTS product?

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

Jumping straight to the top line: yes and no.

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

Let’s start by discussing performance.

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

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

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

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

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

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

To conclude

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

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

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

Learn more

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

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

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

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

Seeking additional information on the 3 Cs?


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


References

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

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

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

COVID-19 Resources

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

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

 

Wash’Em Resources

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

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

 

Key websites and resource hubs

 

Free online courses on COVID-19

 

Visual Assets

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

CAWST CEO responds to the COVID-19 pandemic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay safe and wash your hands,

Shauna Curry
CEO, CAWST

 

References

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