Posts tagged ‘mumbai’

November 6, 2012

WASH in School in Nigeria: findings of a Journalist


The school is overtaken by floods

Thursday, 27th September, 2012. 10:00a.m or thereabouts. Abies (not her real name) has just been asked out of the class. She had been down with illness and has not been in school for about a week and half now. Her peasant mother said the nurses at the health centre, (not too far from the school premises) had diagnosed stubborn malaria. But it looks like there is more to it than meets the eyes.

Abies managed to show up in school today but, midway between her classes, she began to throw up. The “Arithmetic Auntie” (subject teacher) had asked the 6 year-old girl to go out of the class so as not to vomit inside the jam-packed classroom, nor possibly infect the other pupils.

She had barely reached the corridor when her bosom friend and playmate, Kate (not her real name) also in primary 2, met her in an unusual position and gestures curiously. “… your belle dey pain you?” Kate queried her friend in pidgin English, meaning “…is your belly aching?’’. But Abies was busy battling for her life. She held her stomach a second time in split seconds and resumed her vomiting. “Doe o!”

Flooded school presmises

Kate quipped in vernacular, meaning “sorry!” “Your belle dey pain you?” She asked a second time, inquisitively. “No. E dey turn me and I dey feel cold”, Abies managed to reply at last but instantly resumed the battle for her health. Just then my camera’s lenses clicked to record the ensuing drama from my (investigative) “hide out”.

There is an apparent state of emergency here!

The rains this year have refused to stop and  the daily misery, environmental /health hazards and pains borne by inhabitants and indigenes of this large community and their immediate neighbours in Egor Local Government Area, Edo State,  South South Nigeria, are now a normal ritual and culture of sorts; and if the predictions by environment and climate change experts are anything to be taken serious, next year’s rains and its resultant flooding , erosion menace and health havoc should be worse than this year’s experience – just as this year’s rains and its resultant floods have eclipsed the 2011 flood furies in this part of the state.

Alas! Here at Evbuotubu Community, the worst hit victims are school children; and unless something urgent and drastic is done now by all relevant stakeholders, the gradually submerged school buildings may soon collapse on the helpless children and their teachers. Or, at least, an imminent epidemic might break out sooner or later. Why? How?

Open urination by a pupil

Minutes earlier, I was heading to the office of the headmistress of the second arm of the school, to book an appointment. The office was in the middle of a block of four classrooms, and walking across the first two classrooms to her office was very revealing.

Dutiful teachers were busy teaching and writing on the chalk boards or marking books on their tables while enthusiastic kids- some of whom sat on the muddy wet floor for want of chairs to sit on – listened with rapt attention while others were too busy copying notes to notice a visitor’s presence by the corridor.

As I approached the door of the school head, pungent smell filled the atmosphere around me. I looked around the erosion-ravaged premises and the large pools of water around, looking for any dead animal in the flood water.

Just then I noticed at the extreme end of the building- about half a pole from the school head’s office- an abandoned school latrine overtaken by weeds and flood water; (obviously out of  use because of the erosion, the flood may have washed ashore the faeces inside the abandoned latrine onto the surface).

 “Good morning, everybody!” I politely greeted two elderly ladies chatting away in the office. “Please is this the headmistress’ office?” The fair lady seated at the far end of the room immediately responded in affirmation and reciprocated my greeting in a friendly and receptive manner, while her dark complexioned colleague seated by my right hand just kept starring at me as if  I was a tax collector or one of those “area boys”.…

“I am a journalist… and also a resident of this community. I use to have my child in this school but she has passed out…” I began introducing myself and my mission. “

More floods

I have been greatly concerned about the state of things in this school for a long time now but I decided to come and see what I can do to help draw the attention of those concerned in government to the plight of children in this school, even though I know there may have been various efforts regarding this in the past…”

Did you say your child is in this school?” the fair lady queried me. “She used to be in this school but she passed out two years ago and now she is schooling in Asoro Grammar school” I replied and continued.

“I wanted to see the Headmistress to seek the cooperation of the school authority to carry out some research and investigation on the way this yearly flooding is impacting daily on the pupils and their academics, and to ask a few questions regarding what currently the school has done or is doing to make the government speed up efforts to keep their promise…”

While her mate just kept looking at me as though waiting to cross examine me, the fair lady cut in, “oh that’s good… you’re welcome. The headmistress just left some minutes ago to their office in town but she will soon be back. You can still speak with her (pointing to the dark lady), she’s the vice. My God! The same woman who has refused to give me a welcome look or say anything to me was the very one I have to speak to! I took pluck, anyway, and eyeballed her.

“You’re a journalist, what kind of cooperation are you expecting from us?” she asked intimidating and suspiciously. “Well, I would like the school authority to permit me to observe the experiences of the school children under this heavy flooding they learn in and to take some photographs, ask you people a few questions – like how is the daily flooding of the school premises affecting the children and teachers academically and health – wise; are mosquitoes and other insects affecting the pupils and teachers in the classes as a result of the flooding, is the situation affecting the attitude and input of teachers to work as well as their health? All these will help me in my report about what is going on here in this school”. I explained.

Have you been in this community or you just came newly?” the Vice Headmistress queried me again. I was yet to answer when she dropped a bombshell, “you see that I have been very reluctant to talk all this while, because it’s like you’re a stranger here. You see, I’m somebody that doesn’t like wasting my time in what will never work”. At this point I became confused and curious. Is she implying I’m on a futile mission?

“Madam, how do you mean?” I politely asked. Then she opened up: “If you are old in this community you will know that the main problem of this school is the community and their leaders. In all my 33 years as a teacher I have been transferred to several communities. I have never seen a community that hates to develop.

Here you have a problem that has deteriorated for several years, and yet you couldn’t do anything about it as a community, instead you are adding to the problems. All they are good and fast at is recklessly selling lands without considering the impacts on the land. They keep selling off lands indiscriminately…”

She continued, “Anywhere in the world whenever you want to sell community lands, you first of all consider three basic things: you consider school, market and hospital – these basic essential needs of the people. But here, the community leaders and the people don’t care about all of these provided they get money.

And you were asking me you want to find out if mosquitoes bite pupils and if teachers are comfortable working under this condition. I think such a question should not arise at all. From my little knowledge of elementary science, we were taught the various reproduction stages of mosquitoes breeding and multiplying and we were taught that pools of standing water is the breeding ground for mosquitoes, how much more this river and lake of erosion that has taken over the entire school compound for several years.

“So, I’m surprised that such a question is coming from an enlightened person like you, a journalist for that matter. You also talked about how it is affecting teachers … you can see me now, I’m sitting here with hands folded. Because I’m feeling cold and you don’t have to be told that a major part of the reason is because the whole premises are filled with water. What do you expect? Anyway, we are willing to give you the cooperation you asked for but the headmistress, as you have been told, is not a round now. Except you wait or come back another time”.


The Deputy school head may be right – as I later got to discover, the flooding situation at the Evbuotubu Primary School has entered its 12thyear, but there is nothing to show that help is in sight for these children. Year after year they learn under mosquitoe-infested environment. Their entire school premises have been overtaken by flood and bushes. The school buildings are gradually submerged in flood water.

School latrine overtaken by weeds and flood water

More embarrassing is the fact that without a single rebuke from any teacher or school head, these children daily urinate freely on the flood water and everywhere around the few plain spots of land that show up on the school compound once the flood water wanes a little; and they in turn swim in the infected water, eat food and snacks that fell on the infected ground, and  inhale all the stench and putrid odors emanating from the accumulated urine (and excreta) all around the smelly environment.

They have no access to drinking water, no functional latrine and no playing field for recreation. And because children MUST play, they have turned private properties in adjoining streets/ roads and people’s compounds around the community  to their playing fields  and gadgets without any checks from the  school authorities.

Obviously out of the view and control of the school authorities, many of these pupils get injured in the process,  ill-influenced and some times even bullied or abused by some bad elements in the community with  much impunity.

The negative impact of the situation on the health, psychology, self esteem of these children at Evbuotubu primary school in Egor Local Government Area of Edo state, Nigeria,  and indeed the overall academic output and effectiveness of both teachers and pupils are underscored by the recurrent cases of  pupils’ absenteeism  truancy, illnesses like malaria and other water-related diseases such as that which  Abies and many other children in the school daily have to contend with. Alas! Who really cares?

And how am I sure I’m not already embarking on yet another “fruitless” exercise, as the deputy school head has predicted?

The story is published under the pro poor WASH stories project implemented by the Water and Sanitation Media Network Nigeria, with the support of West Africa WASH Media Network, WaterAid, and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.

January 18, 2012

Jon Lane appelle à davantage d’investissements dans l’assainissement

Jon Lane, Directeur exécutif du Conseil de concertation pour l’approvisionnement en eau et l’assainissement (WSSCC):  « Le chemin pour attirer plus de fonds vers l’assainissement, c’est d’être capable d’expliquer aux chefs d’Etats, que le financement de l’assainissement est un investissement économique important»

Pour la première fois au monde, un forum a été exclusivement consacré aux questions d’hygiène et d’assainissement. Rencontré à ce forum qui s’est tenu du 9 au 14 octobre 2011 à Mumbai, en Inde, le Directeur exécutif du Conseil de concertation pour l’approvisionnement en eau et l’assainissement (WSSCC), cheville ouvrière de la tenue de ce forum, revient sur les enjeux de ce rendez-vous historique, la stratégie pour faire de l’hygiène et de l’assainissement une priorité dans nos Etats et enfin, il insiste sur la nécessité de promouvoir le partage d’expériences et de savoir-faire entre les acteurs de ce secteur.

 Est-ce qu’il était vraiment nécessaire de consacrer un forum exclusivement à l’hygiène et l’assainissement?

Il y a eu beaucoup de réunions et conférences sur l’eau et l’assainissement mais le problème c’est que pendant ces réunions tout le monde parle de l’eau mais pas de l’assainissement. Donc, nous avions pensé qu’il était très important de consacrer cette réunion spécialement à l’assainissement et à l’hygiène, de sorte qu’on puisse se concentrer essentiellement sur ces deux sujets.

Aujourd’hui, que répondez-vous à ceux qui pensent qu’un forum, c’est une longue suite de discours  et qu’à la fin on n’a rien de concret ? Est-ce que vous pensez qu’on va sortir avec des propositions  concrètes ?

Souvent, on dit des réunions globales qu’il ne ressort pas des actions concrètes. Mais le WSSCC a organisé ce forum spécialement pour des buts pratiques au profit des professionnels qui travaillent vraiment dans des programmes d’assainissement afin de leur permettrede se rencontrer, de communiquer entre eux et d’apprendre des expériences pratiques des uns et des autres. Vous n’allez pas entendre au cours de cette conférenceun discours politique, des déclarations ou opinions officielles qui ne tiennent pas compte de cette réalité. Nous avons axé ce Forum sur la rencontre entre les équipes des projets afin qu’elles apprennent de leur travail respectif.

Nous avons suivi des gens magnifiques qui sont passionnés quand ils parlent de l’assainissement et qui ont fait beaucoup de choses merveilleuses. Comment votre organisation compte faire pour créer une dynamique de partage d’expériences et d’énergie surtout ?

Le WSSCC est une organisation d’adhésion. Donc, nous encourageons tous ceux qui viennent aux réunions à devenir membre, l’une des composantes de la grande famille du WSSCC. Aussi, nous avons un grand nombre de mécanismes pour maintenir le contact entre les rencontres. Par exemple, notre site web a une page consacrée à nos membres, où ils peuvent avoir des discussions, poster des commentaires, des documents et d’autres entre eux. Nous encourageons aussi les gens à former des groupes, pas seulement dans leur pays, mais aussi entre différents pays. Par exemple, des professionnels du Bénin peuvent s’associer avec ceux d’autres pays pour développer un sujet spécifique. Ainsi, nous pourrons les aider à maintenir le dialogue par mail ou par téléphone au niveau du site web. Cela leur permettra de continuer à dialoguer et à discuter entre eux sur ce sujet. Ils n’ont pas besoin de se rencontrer en personne. Mais, grâce à ces mécanismes de communication, ils pourront continuer leur dialogue.

Le plus grand défi aujourd’hui pour les acteurs qui travaillent dans le secteur de l’hygiène

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October 28, 2011

L’assainissement doit occuper une place de choix dans les politiques de développement

By Propos recueillis par Alain TOSSOUNON


Membre du Conseil de concertation pour l’approvisionnement en eau potable, l’hygiène et l’assainissement (WSSCC), Cheik Tandja qui a été élu pour représenter la partie francophone au sein du comité directeur  de cette organisation  depuis 2009, a pris une part active aux travaux du forum. Au terme de ce rendez-vous de partage de savoirs et de savoir-faire, il revient sur les grandes résolutions du forum et se prononce sur les grands défis et les petits pas enregistrés dans certains de nos Etats en Afrique de l’ouest.


C’est la première fois qu’un forum est exclusivement consacré à l’hygiène et l’assainissement. Comment en est-on arrivé là?

Nous sommes arrivés là à la suite d’un travail intense qui a été fait parce que l’assainissement n’occupait pas tellement de place dans l’agenda du développement économique de nos pays. Je dirais qu’il ne l’est pas  encore.

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October 11, 2011

Shahrukh Khan is India’s WASH Ambassador

Edmund Smith-Asante, Mumbai, India

Leading Indian actor, Shah Rukh Kha n, has been named Indian Goodwill Ambassador for Sanitation and Hygiene.

Shah Rukh Khan is joining a campaign to ensure greater access to sanitation by the world communities that currently lack access, half of which are resident in Indian.

Khan was named a global Ambassador for Sanitation and Hygiene as part of a United Nations-backed campaign to tackle diseases such as diarrhoea, which is the second-biggest killer of children worldwide, said a WSSCC official yesterday during the opening ceremony of the Global forum on Sanitation holding in Mumbai, India.

Accepting the offer, the Bollywood actor  regarded as the King of Bollywood, (Indian’s film Industry) said, “Toilets for all will make India and the world a healthier and cleaner place, particularly for poor women, girls and others at the margins of our societies,”

Quoting Mahatma Ghandhi, he urged practitioners to “Be the change that you want to see”, and expressed confidence that he would use the new position to ensure greater access for the Indians poor and fight inequalities in the provision of sanitation and hygiene services.

October 11, 2011

WSSCC motivates sanitation practitioners

                                                        Edmund Smith-Asante in Mumbai, India

A call has gone to practitioners in the Sanitation sector should continue to working towards better service availability.

Speaking at the Global Forum on Sanitation taking place in Mumbai, India Chairperson of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), WSSCC’s Chair, Anna Tibaijuka expressed a “the firm belief, that if we can ensure access to good sanitation and hygiene to all people, including the poorest, the marginalised, the disabled, the elderly, girls, women and even men, then we will truly be making a difference in people’s lives.”

October 11, 2011

Experts proffer solutions to World’s sanitation crises

By Wale Ajibade with addtional reports from Babatope Babalobi

Speakers at the Opening plenary- (L-R) Malini Shankar Principal Secretary, Water Supply and Sanitation Department, Government of Maharashtra, India; Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, Founder, Sulabh International services organisation; and Jon Lane, Executive Director, WSSCC

The Global Forum on Sanitation kicked off in Mumbai, India, yesterday with several participants proffering solutions to global sanitation challenges, while urging more action by stakeholders.

WSSCC’s Chair, Anna Tibaijuka in an opening message urged stakeholders to jaw jaw and find solution to one of the greatest development challenges facing the world, sating water is life but contended that sanitation is human dignity.

Jon Lane, the Executive Director of the WSSCC described Sanitation and Hygiene as Human Rights and people should work for its realisation in various communities.

Ifeoma Charles-Monwuba, Deputy Country Director of Action-Aid Nigeria spoke on ‘Bridges for Girls education’ suggested multiple methods for bringing behavioural change and social transformation such as is needed in the sanitation sector for the successful implementation of safe hygiene practices.

Illustrating from a project implemented in Katsina change in Northern Nigeria, aimed at increasing access of the girl child to school and safe sanitation service, Ifeoma Charles-Monwuba advised drivers of behavioural change to work with religious and traditional rulers, set up unisex clubs to allow boys or girls discuss their common problems, use community media to disseminate messages and encourage the beneficiaries to develop a charter of demands.

You need to dismantle religious and cultural barriers that hinder girls access to western education use religious and traditional leaders as advocates of change while encouraging Government to put basic infrastructure in place, said Ifeoma Charles-Monwuba

Ada Oko-Williams, Coordinator West African Regional Learning Centre of Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) briefed participants on the huge successes recorded by WaterAid Nigeria in implementing the CLTS in various communities in Benue state, Nigeria and other areas in West Africa, and pointed out that WaterAid Nigeria is developing a Training system for CLTS in Nigeria.

October 10, 2011

CSOs develop key messages for Global forum on Sanitation

                                                                                                 Baatope Babalobi

Members of the African Civil Society Network on Water and Sanitation (ANEW)and the Freshwater Action Network South Asia (FANSA) have jointly developed messages to be presented to participants at the ongoing Global Forum on Sanitation, Mumbai, India.

Arpita De, FANSA Coordinator...yesterday

Ahead of the side event of the two organizations holding this Wednesday at the Global meeting, about twenty members of the two bodies met this Monday to brainstorm on the relevance of the Civil Society in developing the sanitation sector and how civil society organizations can add value to the forum’s  debates on strategies of resolving sanitation challenges.

Key messages the ANEW and FANSA  resolved to present to the conference delegates include the following:

1.         Civil society organizations play a role in influencing policy processes at the national levels and therefore should be given greater space for participation in global sectoral meetings.

2.         Civil Society bodies are good in monitoring projects to ensure successful implementation and ensuring service providers are accountable.

3.         Sectoral projects implemented by civil society groups are more cost efficient as they usually do not spend more that 10% of the total project cost on overheads.

4.         Civil society groups assist government in reaching the grassroots, and they are not necessarily antagonists of government programmes; but can complement government efforts, target service delivery and supplement what other service providers are doing.

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October 10, 2011

Experts converge in Mumbai to discuss global sanitation challenges

                                                                                               By Edmund Smith-Asante           

Global and National bodies working in the Sanitation sector as well as leading sector practitioners have converged in Mumbai India to discuss sanitation challenges facing about 2.6 billion people worldwide.

In India, for every 1,000 children, 87 die before they reach age five (5), while national water coverage is 87% but sanitation trails at 30% nationally in the country, according to reports from UNICEF.

For Nigeria in Africa, the United Nations agency says out of a 1,000 children, 198 die before they celebrate their 5th birthday, the national coverage for water is 60%, while for sanitation it is 38%.

In Ethiopia, children who die before they are five are 169 for every 1,000, while the coverage figures for water and sanitation are 22% and 6% respectively, according to the same UNICEF source.

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