The first time I saw open defecation was in a slum in Delhi. I was taken aback. I had always heard about open defecation, but until that point I had never seen it and couldn’t imagine it happening in an overly crowded urban area. It was also at that moment that I knew I had to learn as much as possible about the ways in which people use the bathroom, if they have one at all.
2.5 billion people lack improved sanitation and 1 billion people do not have access to a bathroom and must resort to the undignified practice of open defecation. There are 7 billion people on the planet.
Women who must defecate in the open and who also have to use the community toilets are at increased risk of violence and rape.
When I visit communities and families in low-income countries I always look for toilets and latrines to see the conditions in which people relieve themselves. Below are some photos of toilets I took in India, Ethiopia, Philippines, and South Africa.
On November 8, the world will recognize the one-year anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan, the superstorm that devastated much of the Philippines and claimed 6,300 lives. 1000 people are still reported missing.
It’s difficult to believe that it has already been a year since we were stunned by the horrific photos that raced across the wires of bloated bodies lining the streets, people sitting listless in the middle of rubble, and a huge ship in the middle of Tacloban City. While Haiyan is the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines, the 7100 islands country experiences 19 typhoons every year.
Next Monday I will head to the Philippines along with Social Good Mom and Global Team of 200 member Jeana Shandraw with our partner World Vision USA to see their recovery work on the ground since Haiyan hit the islands last year. We will see devastated areas that are a part of a “no build’ zone, community savings groups that have helped families rebuild, child trafficking protection programs funded by USAID, health centers, and area development programs. On November 8 we will attend a one-year anniversary vigil.
If you follow my work you know I travel often to see NGOs work on the ground. This will be my first time traveling with and seeing World Vision’s work and am interested to report on its recovery efforts in the Philippines. To date, World Vision has reached 760,000 people with a goal of reaching 1 million beneficiaries. World Vision has also provided 51,000 temporary shelter kits and is working with the government to ensure homes are built in safer areas among a long list of recovery services it provides.
Last month, a United Nations team travelled to Western Equitoria, Central Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal in South Sudan to assess road conditions, an important task when famine looms in a region that is mostly agrarian. Without passable roads it is impossible for lifesaving, critical health supplies, health workers, aid agencies, and most importantly food to reach remote areas that are cut off from main city centers especially during the rainy season and when the need is most critical for vulnerable populations.
Aid agencies including UNICEF, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and the World Food Program have warned the world that a famine is quickly nearing in South Sudan amid continued failed peace talks and violence. Famine is an extremely strong word to use when it comes to food insecurity and no one wants to utter it until the very last moment when people, especially children, are already on the brink of dying.
Logistics Clusterposted a telling map of South Sudandated from May 2, 2014. In Western Equitoria, Central Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal there is little infrastructure save for some primary roads, which are questionably passable, and a few primary cities. The lack of reliable infrastructure continues to make humanitarian relief difficult to fulfill.
According to UNICEF, nearly one million children in South Sudan will require treatment for acute malnutrition this year and according to Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, 50,000 may die from malnutrition in the coming months.
“The world should not wait for a famine to be announced while children here are dying each and every day,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in a statement, speaking after a visit to the devastated city of Malakal, where tens of thousands of people still take shelter on a UN base. “Today we spoke to mothers who have struggled through conflict, displacement and hunger to stop their children from dying. We all have to do more, and quickly, to keep more children alive.”
One thing is certain: I do not know how to read a fiscal budget, but I have sat in awe watching experts dissect the President’s budget line by line and then meticulously explain what programs have been cut and programs that have been relatively spared. So, when our partner, End 7, reported that funding for the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Neglected Tropical Disease Program has been cut by $13.5 million I know that as a community of passionate moms we need to do something.
Neglected tropical diseases are “neglected” because they don’t get the big funding and recognition like HIV/AIDS, malaria, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and diarrhea, for example. They are diseases that people can usually live with for some time despite discomfort and debilitating ailments and a lowered social standing.
According to End 7, neglected tropical diseases, like hookworm, trachoma, and lymphatic filariasis affect 1 in 6 people worldwide and keep them in a perpetual cycle of poverty. Most people don’t know about these diseases. Their names are too long and technical and don’t grab headlines, but they can be prevented. The global health community has committed itself to controlling and eradicating these neglected tropical diseases by 2020. In order to reach this goal the funding cannot stop now, especially when so much progress has already been made.
In 2012 the London Declaration Committment brought together an array of partners from the World Bank to USAID to GlaxoSmithKline to set strategic goals to eliminate the most common neglected tropical diseases by the end of the decade. A recent update report was released showing that more low income countries are implementing programs to control neglected tropical diseases in their own populace, the demand and allocation of drugs to prevent the diseases is higher, and more research and development is going into fighting these diseases. Even more importantly since 2012 the global efforts to control or eradicate neglected tropical diseases has now turned into a global movement. Read Delivering on Progress and Driving Progress.
End 7 is asking its supporters to encourage members of Congress to rethink the proposed spending cut to USAID’s Neglected Tropical Disease Program and to thank Congresswomen Granger and Lowey for keeping neglected tropical diseases on the funding agenda.
Exactly how does the global community end poverty by 2030? According to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), it’s by working together.
Today marks the official launch of USAID’s Global Development Lab, a new initiative that uses science and technology to improve global health and development outcomes around the world. Utilizing data and analytics USAID is quickly moving towards more efficient ways to track, report, scale, and improve the ways in which hundreds of millions of people worldwide can plausibly leave poverty behind in 16 years. Poverty is currently calculated as those who live on less than $1.25 a day.
The depth and scale of global poverty obviously requires increased innovative methods to tackle what many attest is an attainable goal by 2030. That is why USAID has brought together leading organizations and foundations from the private sector, universities, as well as corporations to tackle the issue collectively under the wide-reaching umbrella of the development lab.
“We do know things are improving and the interventions that are most cost-effective,” said Karen Cavanaugh, Director, Office of Health Systems at USAID during a recent discussion about global health best buys. “We need to invest in implementation science.”
NGOs like CARE and Save the Children have already become “Cornerstone Partners” that have committed to using their expertise and data driven global programs to join this poverty eradication effort. For example, CARE is already using cell phones to monitor pregnant women in Bihar, India and is helping savings group members in Kenya and Tanzania access their funds.
Corporations such as Coca-Cola and Unilever are lending their consumer-driven insights about scale and distribution of goods to the lab and innovative companies like Microsoft and Intel will likely bring their technology expertise to the table. Thus far, $30 billion in investments have been pledged by the Cornerstone Partners as well as by USAID to bolster the efforts and outcomes of the lab.
USAID is also rallying the most brilliant minds through global challenges, open data, and fellowships to accelerate the rate in which technology and science is used to save and improve more lives.
Today USAID Administrator Raj Shah will give the keynote at the official Global Development Lab launch in New York City. Only months into his administration Shah had already laid the framework for the lab in speeches about the ways in which USAID can advance to save more lives through “embracing innovation, science, technology and research.”
Did you know that diarrhea kills 2,195 children every day more than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined? What’s so disheartening about this statistic is the deaths from diarrhea for children under the age of five are easily prevented by increased breastfeeding, the rotavirus vaccine, and improved sanitation and hygiene and access to clean water.
There are, however, innovative interventions that have been created to treat children with diarrheal disease. Diarrhea leads to dehydration and malnutrition. In fact, according to the World Health Organization diarrhea is a leading cause of malnutrition in children under the age of five. With every bout of diarrhea children who go untreated lose essential liquids and salts as well as vital nutrition.
ColaLife, an organization that provides essential medicines and health interventions using the same distribution channels as Coca-Cola, has created an essential diarrheal prevention kit, Kit Yamoyo, that includes zinc tablets and oral rehydration salts. ColaLife believes that if its kit is adopted globally it has the potential to save one million lives by 2015.
As aforementioned the best way to save more children’s lives and prevent diarrhea is through improved sanitation to decrease the parasites in drinking water.
Tomorrow is World Water Day and leading up to the momentous occasion we have been working with WaterAid America on an exciting awareness campaign that calls upon clean water access and sanitation for all.
First, Social Good Mom and Global Team of 200 member, Jennifer Barbour, traveled to Nicaragua last Sunday with WaterAid America to report from the field about WaterAid’s water and sanitation programs in the country. Jennifer has been tweeting, publishing blog posts, and video of everything she has been learning in Nicaragua. Read Jennifer’s philanthropy blog at anotherjennifer.com/category/philanthropy and follow her at @anotherjenb for all of her in-country updates.
We ended the week leading to World Water Day with a highly successful #WaterAidNica Twitter chat. Overall, over 1000 tweets went out during the chat that trended nationwide for 20 minutes. Overall, the week of #WaterAidNica tweets and the Twitter chat resulted in 1800 tweets reaching 2 million Twitter accounts with over 10 million impressions and nearly 300 interested bloggers.
This Sunday, Social Good Mom and Global Team of 200 member, Jennifer Barbour, will join WaterAid America on a trip to Nicaragua to see WaterAid’s WASH programs on the ground. Their itinerary is packed from Monday – Friday. While in Nicaragua Jennifer Barbour will be detailing all that she observes and how WASH programs benefit women and girls and entire communities. She will be updating her blog, Tumblog, and social media and using the #WaterAidNica hashtag.
We are excited to follow her journey and share her work. On Friday, March 21 from 1 – 2 PM EST we will join Jennifer and WaterAid America for a chat discussing Jennifer’s trip in Nicaragua. Join us on Friday, March 21. Feel free to ask any questions you might have. You can tweet them to us already at @socialgoodmoms using #WaterAidNica.
One of the main goals of starting Mom Bloggers for Social Good two years ago was to provide key opportunities for members to travel to see the work of our partners on the ground. For me, seeing the work I write about around the world has been immensely instrumental to learn and become a better advocate for programs that work and share issues that need to be better delved into. Last year three Social Good Moms members saw our partners’ work on the ground: in Delhi, India (Nicole Melancon), Johannesburg, South Africa, and in Indonesia (Stacey Weckstein). Today I am proud to announce the fourth Social Good Mom who will travel on an insight trip.
Jennifer Barbour who writes at Another Jennifer and who is a tireless member of both the Social Good Moms and the Global Team of 200 will travel to Nicaragua with our partner WaterAid to see their water and sanitation programs in one of the poorest countries in the world. The trip will be held March 16 – March 23, 2014 and corresponds with World Water Day which is held annually on March 22. You can follow the trip at #WaterAidNica.
“I am honored to be accompanying WaterAid America on this insight trip to Nicaragua on behalf of Mom Bloggers for Social Good. Having worked with WaterAid America in the past and being a current donor, I look forward to seeing their work on the ground and talking with those who have benefitted from access to safer water and improved sanitation.” – Jennifer Barbour
We are excited to work closely with WaterAid America to spread the word about their Nicaragua programs and are honored that they have chosen one of our members to travel on their very first blogger trip.
“When it comes to beating the global water crisis, the Mom Bloggers for Social Good are a powerful voice for change. We are delighted to team up with them for this, WaterAid’s first blogger insight trip”, commented WaterAid Media & Communications Officer, Alanna Imbach.
“What we see in Nicaragua is a telling example of how smart investments around safe water and toilets can drive entrepreneurship, empower women and improve the health and wellbeing of entire communities. For anyone interested in getting to know the changemakers that are breaking down barriers and creating a future in which clean water and toilets are an accessible reality for everyone in their community, you’re not going to want to miss this trip.”
Yesterday World Toilet Day was recognized to bring global awareness about the millions of people worldwide who do not have access to a toilet. In fact, 40% of the world’s population has to use the bathroom in the open and spends billions of hours searching for a place to relieve themselves.
WaterAid, along with the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council recently published a new report, We can’t wait, that shows the effects of low sanitation and hygiene on women and girls. According to the report women and girls are exposed to harrasement, shame, disease, and attacks when they need to use the bathroom. That is what I also heard from a visit to communal toilets (photos below) in New Delhi and Johannesburg. For women and girls going to the bathroom is a harrowing experience.
“One in three [people] lack access to adequate sanitation,” noted UN Deputy-Secretary General, Jan Eliasson and Unilever Chief Executive Officer, Paul Polman in the report. “The result is widespread death and disease and social marginalization. Poor sanitation exposes women and girls to the risk of assault and, when schools cannot provide clean, safe toilets, girls’ attendance drops.”
Communal Toilet in a Slum in New Delhi
Communal Toilets in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg, South Africa