10 Facts ABout Sanitation in Bosnia and HerzegovinaPublic health outcomes and economic status both rely greatly on a nation’s sanitation infrastructure. Sanitation encompasses the regular, efficient and safe collection and disposal of waste, whatever its source. Improper procedures and insufficient waste management facilities have led to poor sanitation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but recent efforts show promising improvements. Below are 10 facts about sanitation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Bosnia and Herzegovina

  1. The political system in Bosnia and Herzegovina divides waste management responsibilities among different levels of governance. Responsibility for environmental policy, including sanitation policy, lies with both the federal government and the two political entities of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republic Srpska, but not with the cantonal and municipal governments. The two entities and their constituent cantons formulate laws and regulations for waste management, while these two levels of government work share the responsibility of designing management strategies with municipal governments.
  2. At the federal level, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations (MoFTER) oversees and manages international initiatives and accords that involve the political entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Since the enactment of the Law on Ministries and Other Bodies of Administration of BiH in March 2003, MoFTER’s role also includes ensuring that the political entities follow basic environmental standards. As a result, the political entities do not have absolute power when it comes to environmental policy, with MoFTER acting as a harmonizing and coordinating force.
  3. The country’s two political entities, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska, both suffer from a severe lack of operable wastewater treatment plants. Only two of Republika Srpska’s 64 municipalities have treatment facilities. Though the country improved biological treatment processes in 2009, the quality of these methods declined the following year.
  4. In 2016, Bosnia and Herzegovina produced approximately 1,243,889 tons of municipal waste. This quantity measures out to an estimated 354 kg per year and 0.97 kg each day. Landfills received 952,975 tons of waste that year, a 1 percent decline from 2015. Public solid waste transportation disposed of approximately 920,748 tons of waste in 2016, a 0.1 percent reduction from 2015. The vast majority of waste in the country came from markets, street cleaning and other public sources. Packaging waste made up only 1.9 percent of waste in 2016, and household waste only constituted another 3.6 percent. Recreational areas, such as gardens and parks, generated only 2.8 percent of waste. Mixed municipal waste made up all of the remaining 91.7 percent, more than 844,000 metric tons.
  5. Registered local landfills serve as the endpoint for the majority of publicly-collected waste, but rural areas with little access to public collection services discard their waste in the far-more-common illegal landfills which do not follow sanitation standards. There are only 43 registered landfills in Republika Srpska and 44 in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but nearly 590 known illegal landfills. In legal and illegal dumping alike, the separation of hazardous and non-hazardous materials rarely occurs, posing a significant problem for public health in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  6. The unsafe conditions in a residential landfill in the city of Mostar, in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, provoked protests in 2019. Although it has existed since the 1960s as a landfill for household waste, recently it has allowed companies to dump dangerous waste products and sewage treatment sludge. Locals deeply concerned by news that the waste might contain hazardous toxins called PCBs prompted Mostar authorities to initiate an investigation.
  7. Despite some legislative efforts to follow the EU’s environmental standards, garbage pollutes Bosnia and Herzegovina’s rivers. The civil war in the 1990s resulted in the neglect of the country’s waste management infrastructure. A scarcity of recycling facilities has led to trash islands that now clog the country’s rivers. Locals report that organizations remove an estimated 800,000 tons of trash from the Drina river alone every year.
  8. In 2018, public waste utility KJKP Rad announced the planned construction of a recycling facility for electronic and electrical waste in Sarajevo, the country’s capital. The facility will also accept the city’s solid waste, construction waste and even soil. A hall containing presses and conveyor belts will process the waste brought by Sarajevo locals. Though electrical and electronic waste collection companies already exist, KJKP Rad’s new facility will be the first in the country to recycle waste deposited on site.
  9. In October 2019, the Sarajevo Canton Assembly discussed the creation of a waste incinerator as a solution to the canton’s waste management issues. Though the facility’s construction cost approximately 122.8 million euros, the incineration of waste would not only improve sanitation but also efficiently generate energy for the city. This prospective facility would greatly relieve the burden on the Smiljevići regional waste management center and would be one more step toward improving Bosnia and Herzegovina’s waste management and sanitation.
  10. International attention is also being directed at sanitation problems in Bosnia and Herzegovina. An initiative to improve the country’s waste management infrastructure with support from the Swedish development agency SIDA and the World Bank began in 2016 and offers several strategies to improve the system. Proposed policies include the design of a more feasible data-reporting system, expanding the trash collection fleet, designing and implementing better organized and less expensive waste collection systems, ensuring greater stakeholder involvement in waste management initiatives, improved communication with citizens, implementation of environmental taxes and even tariff reform. With additional time and data, authorities hope that these strategies will improve sanitation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Since gaining independence in the 1990s, sanitation in Bosnia and Herzegovina has remained a problem. Public health hazards that also threaten economic stability emerged from the neglect that comes with political upheaval. Nevertheless, efforts made to address current shortcomings, such as the construction of new recycling and incineration facilities, herald a brighter future for sanitation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

– Philip Daniel Glass
Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in the Middle East
Syria, Egypt and Afghanistan are among the bottom 10 countries when talking about access to clean water. Water is a primary necessity for human life. Without food the body can survive for up to three weeks, however, without clean water, the body will perish within three to four days, but not before going into shock and fading in and out of delirium. The water crisis in the Middle East is a serious problem now that ongoing conflicts in the region have only worsened.

Afghanistan

Of the three countries listed above, the water crisis in the Middle East affects Afghanistan the least. Despite that, Afghanistan is in the middle of the worst drought it has seen in the past 10 years. In addition, it cannot effectively distribute resources since 40 years of armed conflict following Soviet intervention in Afghanistan has ruined the country’s infrastructure. As a result, about 260,000 Afghani civilians living in extremely dry areas have had to leave their homes, making them refugees.

The drought has drained natural water sources such as the Kabul River Basin, the primary source of water for the nation’s capital. The established system for distributing water is no longer applicable, so civilians must draw water from unofficial wells. In Afghanistan, a country with over 35 million people, 87 percent of accessible water is polluted. Fortunately, India is providing assistance with the Afghan-India Friendship Dam on the Hari River. With further plans to build another dam on the Kabul River, Afghanistan will have water for irrigation and will not have to live with the threat of flash floods.

Syria

In 2006, a massive drought began that would displace tens of thousands of Syrian farmers. By 2011, there were over a million angry, unemployed former farmers in the country ready to fight in a violent civil war that would go on for years. If one said that the water crisis in the Middle East was the proverbial lit match in the powder keg, it would be inaccurate. One cannot, however, deny that it did fan the flames.

Now that tensions are dying down, Syrian civilians have little infrastructure to help provide them with water. Militant groups that occupy water plants and reservoirs hold monopolies on the water for entire regions. Oftentimes, these groups distribute water selectively to blackmail their enemies. Prior to the civil war that started in 2011, water allocation was already inequitable. President Bashar al-Assad allocated more water to fellow members of his particular sect of Islam. Now that Syria is rebuilding its infrastructure, there exists an opportunity to distribute water equally across the country in order to help prevent humanitarian disasters like this in the future.

Egypt

Even in the time of the pharaohs, Egypt has owed its life to the Nile. The Nile is the primary source of water for a country with rice as its number one agricultural export. Rice requires a great deal of water for cultivation and harvest. One kilo of rice needs about 3,000 liters of water. The water in the Nile now contains dead fish due to heavy metals from industrial pollution. Using heavily polluted water diminishes crop yields leading to a further strain on resources.

Egypt faces more than just a drop in the quality of water. As a result of the Blue Nile dam that Ethiopia built, Egypt is also concerned about the quantity of water. By building a hydroelectric dam on the Nile upstream from Egypt, Ethiopia is developing a power grid to reach 86 million Ethiopians living without electricity. Consequently, this will divert about a quarter of the Nile’s water away from Egypt. The Nile supplies 85 percent of Egypt’s fresh water. Egypt has the most to lose in the event of armed conflict breaking out because of its water scarcity, so it is now pushing for diplomatic and scientific solutions to the problem. Negotiating with Ethiopia to share in the dam’s benefits and investments in desalination technology is helping to alleviate the water crisis.

The water crisis in the Middle East is serious and requires much work to alleviate the problem. Through the building of better infrastructure, however, Egypt, Syria and Afghanistan should be able to improve.

– Nicholas Smith
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Sanitation in Mexico
Although Mexico is still recovering from the Latin American Recession in 2008, the Mexican government is rebuilding infrastructure and has made strides to improve the country’s sanitation. Below are 10 facts about sanitation in Mexico and how the country is successfully mitigating its sanitation issues.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Mexico

  1. Sanitation in Mexico has improved drastically in the last three decades. Piped water supply to urban areas has increased from 88 percent to 93 percent, rural areas from 50 percent to 74 percent and overall access to sanitation from 64 percent to 85 percent. While these statistics are encouraging, Mexico still struggles to provide its citizens with safe drinking water, which causes both water scarcity and decreased access to safe utilities.
  2. The Mexico Water Utilities Efficiency Improvement Project, which implemented in 2015, installed 500 household meters, performed maintenance on existing pumps and trained 670 utility staff members to increase the efficiency of the water systems in Mexico. Over 20,000 individuals living in urban now have access to consistent water supplies and better sanitation.
  3. The Bill Ford Better World Challenge awarded a grant of $60,000 to projects to improve sanitation in Mexico. This grant went towards a community center in Guayacan that provides clean and running water to residents. It also went towards the installation of 750 filtration systems in private homes. This will increase private and public access to filtered water in Guayacan.
  4. Since 2001, Mexico has decreased its mortality rate from 122.7 per 100,000 people per year to 7.3 per 100,000 people per year. Investment in infrastructure since 2013 alone has increased to $471 million. This investment into sewer coverage, wastewater treatment plants and piped water sources are responsible for the significant decline in the mortality rate. Since 2001, malnutrition has decreased from 4.4 percent to 3.6 percent, anemia has decreased from 30.4 percent to 28.20 percent and agricultural practices have improved significantly.
  5. Community participation in sanitation efforts in Mexico is waning. While the Mexican government has been increasingly active in its efforts to combat sanitation issues, citizens have a moderate to low rate of participation and usage of sanitization. This is likely due to a lack of sanitation information distributed to rural populations.
  6. The United States and Mexico Border Water Infrastructure Program has increased collaboration between the United States and Mexico to increase water quality. While this program began in 1983, it has grown exponentially in recent years. In 2011 alone, the program has successfully brought clean water to 55,000 homes and provided wastewater services to 500,000 homes in Mexico. This has helped preserve rivers in border communities and increase access to clean water.
  7. Solid waste facilities in Mexico are working with private partners to help close the sanitation gap that state authorities left. While the facilities safely collect and store only 84 percent of solid waste, states are working with the private market to implement safe and effective waste strategies. The National Infrastructure Project aims to increase wastewater treatment by 15.5 percent in four years.
  8. Innovators and nonprofits are partnering to end the water crisis. By refining NASA’s Water Recovery System and the Oxygen Generation System, Concern for Kids has successfully donated devices to Mexico that provide cities and individuals alike with water purification systems that allow them to reuse water. This innovation, which implemented in 2012, has already provided drinking water to 800 villages in Mexico.
  9. The Morelos State Project is providing wells to increase the quantity of clean water available. In 2015, Rotary partnered with the government of Xochitepec to provide clean water to 6,000 individuals who did not previously have clean water access. Due to the success of the project, WASRAG is expanding its efforts to six other districts in Mexico.
  10. The focus on cleaning the New River in Mexico has decreased the quantity of bacteria, pesticides, trash and industrial run-off present in the river and in groundwater. The New River Improvement Project, which started in 2009, has successfully decreased bacteria tenfold, along with nitrate and phosphorus (dangerous organic compounds) which have dropped below detection rates. These efforts have decreased sanitation-related diseases, as well as increased water and air quality.

Despite the limited quality and quantity of clean water, Mexico is significantly increasing access to safe water supplies and making strides to resolve dangerous sanitation issues. Non-governmental organizations, foreign direct investments and the Mexican government are improving sanitation and decreasing diseases related to a lack of access to clean water. These 10 facts about sanitation in Mexico show both the progress in sanitation and the solutions others are proposing to existing problems.

– Denise Sprimont
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in Fiji
Travelers all around the world know Fiji’s islands as picture-perfect tourist locations. Although translucent aqua waters gleam in the minds of tourists, Fijians do not always picture it as a resource let alone a source of leisure. Here are 10 facts about sanitation in Fiji.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Fiji

  1. Contamination: The University of Otago’s 2018 report on the typhoid problem in the Pacific, and perhaps the first one to investigate modes of transmission of typhoid fever in Fiji, illustrates the severity of the disease in Oceania. Many now think that the area is the global region with the highest incidents of typhoid fever. Typhoid in Fiji most likely spreads through the consumption of contaminated surface water and unwashed produce.
  2. Open Defecation: People still practice open defecation in some areas of Fiji. Human waste that people would usually flush down toilets ends up in metal drums which are just above the surface of the ground. Toilets can often be too expensive and when they are affordable, flushing them could cause an endemic spread of waterborne diseases like typhoid.
  3. Toilets: Flushing toilets are not ideal in the areas that are closest to the tide and to hurricanes. When disaster strikes, many do not advise flushing frequently. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “it can overload already weakened electrical systems that power municipal and regional sewer systems.” Fijians’ options are between pressing and pour-flushing and then disposing of the waste in the metal drums.
  4. Natural Disasters: Among this list of 10 facts about sanitation in Fiji are natural disasters because typhoid outbreaks often follow them due to the practice of open defecation. According to Dani Barrington, a research fellow at the International Water Centre and Monash University, the tidal inflow mixes with industrial waste and waste from the metal drums.
  5. Typhoid: Certain water-borne illnesses look similar to others, but require different treatment options, further exacerbating typhoid’s impact. It is not uncommon to have patients presenting to the clinic with one disease and sent home to return with another, especially when there are no diagnostic laboratory tests with 100% accuracy to detect either disease. As a result, treatment decisions are usually based on how severe the symptoms are. According to the short version of the Fiji national typhoid fever treatment guideline, medical professionals often treat typhoid with Ciprofloxacin or Cipro for short.
  6. Vaccines: The NCBI notes that typhoid vaccines are not readily available in endemic regions citing several reasons. Though, the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reported that the measles vaccine is available free of charge in Fiji’s nearest health facilities, it is unclear whether Fijians have access to typhoid vaccines as well. Fiji seems to echo NCBI’s sentiments that there is a lack of sufficient evidence concerning the vaccine’s effects on certain populations and insufficient data on the disease’s severity. In particular, limited information pertains to the lack of health care access in the poorest communities affected by typhoid.
  7. Main Exports: A positive aspect of this list of 10 facts about sanitation in Fiji is that water is one of Fiji’s main exports. For anyone who has ever wondered, the brand Fiji Water actually does come from Fiji. This means that Fiji exports much of its clean water to developed countries, yet the country’s poorest citizens do not have access to it. On the other hand, Fiji Water provides its citizens with good jobs. “The product itself is a little silly,” said journalist and “The Big Thirst” author, Charles Fishman, “but what’s interesting is that it benefits Fijians in a way that’s not silly at all.”
  8. Improvements: Fiji added clean water as a right in the constitution in 2013. UNICEF reported, “The Government’s commitment is also reflected in the National Development Plan targeting 100% access to safe drinking water by 2030 and 70% access to improved sanitation systems by 2021.” A 2011 Columbia University blog post stated that only 47 percent of Fijians had access to clean drinking water and a 2018 article by Fiji Sun reported that 78 percent of Fijians have access to a proper water supply.
  9. Portable Water Testing Laboratories: In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF assisted Fiji in developing its water quality surveillance system by providing technical guidance. The two organizations donated portable water testing laboratories and kits, Potalab and Potatest respectively. In addition, they trained environmental health officers of the Ministry of Health & Medical Services (MoHMS) in ensuring the equipment met international microbiological and chemical standards of water safety and quality. The equipment will ensure higher levels of accuracy, sensitivity and reliability in routine water quality surveillance. In addition, the equipment cuts down the amount of time needed to test water supplies after disasters.
  10. A Decrease in Poverty: In Spring 2018, the World Bank reported that poverty rates in Fiji were among the lowest in the Pacific. One should note that one can use different poverty lines to measure different poverty rates. The upper-middle-income class poverty line determined that close to half the population lived in poverty. This is the highest poverty rate in Fiji, however, whereas cases of extreme poverty are lower in contrast.

Though it may seem like Fiji has a long way to go, the country has already come so far. The progress Fijians, nonprofits and the Fijian government have made towards stabilizing Fiji’s economy and providing valuable resources is to thank for it.

– Julia Stephens
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Nepal
Straddled by two of Asia’s growing giants, India and China, Nepal features vast, mountainous landscapes and people from diverse ethnic cultures. However, the nation remains one of the poorest countries in the world. Here are 15 facts about poverty in Nepal.

15 Facts About Poverty in Nepal

  1. Poverty Rate: Twenty-five percent of the Nepali population lived below the poverty line in 2011. However, the country has seen a significant improvement compared to a rate of 41.8 percent in 1996 and 30.9 percent in 2004.
  2. Malnourishment: High food prices and limited access to farming in rural areas contribute to hunger in Nepal. Around 5 million people in Nepal do not have sufficient nourishment. Additionally, more than 85 percent of people rely on small scale agriculture as their main form of sustenance.
  3. Civil War: Nepal experienced a civil war between 1996 and 2006, the effects of which the country still feels today. Conflict within a country often coincides with increasing poverty rates, as it limits the transportation of resources, health care access and a healthy job market.
  4. Corruption: Nepal’s government holds a reputation for being corrupt. Abuse of authority leads to an unfair economic system and unequal distribution of resources thereby perpetuating the issue of poverty in Nepal. Countries often feel the effects of corrupt government bureaucracy during natural disasters.
  5. Natural Disasters: Natural disasters have heavily afflicted Nepal, such as the 2015 earthquake which destroyed infrastructure, homes and economic growth. An already struggling economy and little political stability often exacerbate the effects of earthquakes in Nepal. Between the main earthquake in 2015 and the aftershock that came two weeks later, 8,970 lost their lives and 22,303 people became seriously injured. Estimates determine that the total value of the damages from the earthquake and aftershock are equivalent to $7 billion.
  6. Infant Mortality Rates: A lack of health care and access to education in impoverished regions, for which there are many in Nepal, contribute to high infant mortality rates. In 2016, for every 1,000 children born in Nepal, 34 died before their fifth birthday.
  7. Geography: The geography of this country makes it difficult to effectively alleviate poverty. As a landlocked and mountainous region, the development and transportation of resources are cumbersome in Nepal. Furthermore, Nepal experiences political pressures from neighboring countries that can interfere with resource distribution.
  8. Infrastructure: Nepal’s roads are often in rough condition and the seasons heavily affect them. Delays, flat tires and small spaces are common. Because of their rural location, distance and terrain isolate much of Nepal’s population from employment and economic opportunities. Lack of basic infrastructure and access to transportation services makes it difficult for those in poverty to access markets and services.
  9. Agriculture: A lack of advanced farming methods also makes it hard for the country to make progress against poverty. Eighty percent of Nepal’s population lives in rural areas. In 2017, agriculture made up nearly one-third of the Himalayan country’s GDP. Additionally, over 85 percent of its people relied on agriculture as their main form of sustenance. However, outdated methods are slowing the farming pace, and Nepal’s government continually fails to provide proper infrastructure to farmers.
  10. Education: Prior to 1951, only members of the upper class received an education. Since then, the Nepali government began expanding the reach of education. However, when the country introduced private education, the gap between rich and poor children only widened. Poor children still have low rates of access to education and many children leave school to work or help at home. Nepal as a whole has a literacy rate of only 65 percent. Furthermore, the quality of education remains low, as the teachers themselves often have very little schooling.
  11. Forced Labor and Human Trafficking: Nepal is a source, transit and destination country for forced labor and human traffickers. Lack of education for women and children leave them particularly vulnerable. Many women will agree to marriages through matchmaking companies and find themselves in a domestic slavery situation instead. In desperation, parents will allow people to take their children in exchange for education opportunities. However, these children often end up in false orphanages to garner donations from tourists.
  12. Sanitation: Access to basic sanitation is still a major problem in Nepal. Nearly 10.8 million people are without access to basic sanitation and 16 percent of the population practices open defecation. Organizations such as the Global Hope Network have sought to educate inhabitants of villages about the health issues associated with these systems, and have begun building more sanitary infrastructure in places without access to toilets.
  13. Rice Production and Economic Growth: In 2017, Nepal produced 5.2 million tons of rice, the most ever recorded. This helped the country grow economically by 7.5 percent and greatly reduced its poverty levels. During this same time period, Nepali foreign workers sent significant amounts of remittances and inflation rates stabilized for the time being.
  14. SAMBHAV: There are many nonprofits working to alleviate poverty in Nepal from the ground up. Organizations such as SAMBHAV are beginning with the education system. This group has reconstructed schools and moved them to more convenient locations in order to increase attendance. SAMBHAV also renovates and rebuilds schools so that students can study in modern, clean and safe classrooms, often adding sanitation facilities where they did not previously exist.
  15. Habitat for Humanity: Habitat for Humanity is also working on the ground in Nepal to address the housing crisis. Currently, the organization, alongside its partners, is building 2.3 houses per hour.

The issues contributing to these facts about poverty in Nepal are many, but the country is making progress. The country’s poverty rate has seen significant improvement over the past two decades, and recent economic successes should continue that trend, leading to a better quality of life for more and more Nepalis. Efforts of volunteers and nonprofit organizations have the potential to make a big difference. These 15 facts about poverty in Nepal highlight the various issues that contribute to the problem and the impact they have on the country.

– GiGi Hogan
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Comoros
Comoros is a small country comprised of four islands located just off Africa’s eastern coast. Poverty is widespread across the island due to limited access to transportation to the mainland and very few goods that could be exported to encourage economic growth. These 10 facts about life expectancy in Comoros will demonstrate how poverty and other factors contribute.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Comoros

  1. The population of Comoros is rapidly growing with poor health services unable to keep up. As of 2018, the average was 350 people per square mile. Anjouan has the largest population of the Comoros islands. Overcrowding makes resources scarce and health is rapidly declining. The life expectancy of any person on the islands rarely exceeds the age of 65; in 2018, the CIA reported that only 3.98 percent of the population was 65 years or older. Most of the population are children from infancy to the age of 14 at 38.54 percent.
  2. Overcrowding on the island has led some to attempt illegal immigration to the French island of Mayotte. In 1995, the French government declared travel to Mayotte without a visa illegal. Immigration for the people of Comoros is more challenging, but it does not stop them from fleeing to find a better life outside of the overpopulated islands. As of 2017, 40 percent of the population of Mayotte comprised of illegal immigrants from Comoros. The journey is certainly not safe; The New Humanitarian estimates 200 to 500 deaths every year are a result of attempted immigration to Mayotte in the tiny fishing boats that the Comoros people call kwassa-kwassa. The majority of those who cross are children that parents send in search of a better life, contributing to the high mortality rate of children in Comoros.
  3. The overcrowding is due in part to the high birth rate as compared to the death rate. Despite the low age of life expectancy, the death rate overall is only seven deaths per 1,000 people as reported by the CIA. In comparison, the birth rate is 25 births per 1,000.
  4. The infant mortality rate, however, is extraordinarily high. The country ranks number 17 on the CIA’s list with an estimated 58 deaths per 1,000 births. The problem is, in part, due to the limit of financing toward health care and hospitals. Financing has not exceeded 5 percent in total government spending within the last few decades according to the African Health Observatory (AHO).
  5. Illness, as a result of low attendance to health care facilities, runs rampant in Comoros. Malaria was once the deadliest disease until 2011 when it finally began to decline. The Comoros government launched the Residential Spraying campaign to provide insecticide and treatments to the water. Transmittable diseases, according to a table released by the AHO, are the prime suspect for illness and fatality on the islands. Sixty-six percent of all deaths related to diseases are a result of transmittable illnesses, while only 25 percent are non-transmittable and 9 percent are due to injury or natural causes.
  6. Cardiovascular disease (CDV) is on the rise, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO); as of 2016, CDV has fatally affected 17 percent of the population of Comoros. The AHO links CDV to malnutrition and the consumption of less than adequate food to survive. Since 2005, cerebrovascular heart disease and ischemic heart disease have increased by 4.2 percent and 5.4 percent respectively. As of 2015, these diseases were the third and fourth most deadly in Comoros.
  7. Tuberculosis is also rampant on the islands; WHO estimates 28,000 of Comoros became infected with the deadly disease in 2017. Twenty-one thousand of those infected with TB died. Only 10 percent of the population receive a preventative for TB, clearly demonstrating the need for better health care access to increase life expectancy in Comoros.
  8. The leading cause of death as of 2015 is lower respiratory infections. This includes bronchitis, influenza and pneumonia, among others. According to WHO, 47 percent of all deaths in the country as of 2016 are due to communicable diseases such as these infections. The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) reported that between 1990 and 2010, lower respiratory infections remained the deadliest issue in Comoros with an estimated 27,000 years of life lost among the younger generations fatally affected.
  9. Though illnesses are slowly declining, other health issues are beginning to arise in their place. A lack of adequate nutrition is beginning to plague the people of Comoros. The CIA estimates that Comoros exports roughly 70 percent of all food it grows, leaving very little for its people. According to a report in 2011 by the World Bank, 44 percent of children in Comoros are malnourished and one in every four children is born with low birth weight. This contributes to the infant mortality rate mentioned earlier. Vitamin A deficiency and anemia are the leading causes of health issues among those who are malnourished in Comoros.
  10. Sanitation issues are on the rise due to the overcrowded population. Water sanitation is one of the top concerns. The islands have very little freshwater resources; Grande Comoro, the main island, has no surface water at all and the people import water from the mainland. Meanwhile, the other 50 percent of the population in rural communities rely on collecting rainwater. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) wants to change this dangerous way of living and ensure that all the citizens of Comoros have access to safe drinking water. With the government of Comoros, its goal is to increase the freshwater supply to 100 percent for all by the year 2030. With all parties assisting, the project has $60 million at its disposal.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Comoros show that in recent years, aid to Comoros has increased, especially with sanitation. The life expectancy in Comoros is only one part of the problem that the people of the country faces. Comoros must come to an agreement with Mayotte and other countries accept the refugees who are seeking a better life.

– Nikolas Leasure
Photo: Flickr

 

Children in Urban Poverty
Children who drink unclean water or expose themselves to poor sanitation and hygiene face seriously heightened health risks. Young children are the first to get sick and die from waterborne illnesses such as diarrhea and malaria. Out of the 2.2 million diarrheal deaths each year, the majority are children under the age of five. In areas with unsafe water and inadequate sanitation, children are also at risk for parasitic illnesses such as guinea worm and trachoma. Health outcomes range from child weakness to blindness and death. Poor hygiene increases the likelihood of these diseases and this occurs frequently among children in urban poverty.

Splash

Splash emerged in 2007 to bring water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs to children in urban poverty around the world. Splash’s 1,779 program sites in schools, orphanages, hospitals and shelters support over 400,000 kids every day in eight countries. This includes Nepal (101,149 kids), China (84,234), Ethiopia (73,622), Cambodia (71,234), India (49,404), Bangladesh (20,603), Thailand (10,385) and Vietnam (18,365).

Splash focuses on harnessing the technology, infrastructure and supply chains already in use in large cities for solutions that serve the poor. The nonprofit’s founder, Eric Stowe, saw that hotels and restaurants had access to clean water, but the children in poor schools and orphanages across the street did not. Stowe saw this as an easy problem to fix by leveraging the existing economies and infrastructure.

Safe Water

Everything Splash does begins with ensuring access to safe water. Its water purification system removes 99.9999 percent of bacterial pathogens. Splash has the water regularly checked for quality which has reduced costs and maintained reliability. Splash’s point-of-use filtration is much more cost-effective and durable than typical approaches. Well-digging projects are often expensive, time-consuming and do not always work for urban areas. Additionally, Splash’s stainless steel taps last infinitely longer than plastic ones.  This approach to clean water is very sustainable. No new chemicals add to the environment and people reuse contaminated water in a gray water system.

Hygiene Education and Behavioral Change

Splash believes it is not enough for a child to drink safe water. It also encourages long-term behavioral change and improved hygiene through student hygiene clubs, child-to-child training and school events. It provides hygiene training for teachers and conducts soap drives at every school. Five-hundred and forty schools have received hygiene education, hygiene education has impacted 328,666 kids and people have donated 145,241 bars of soap.

In addition to installing high-quality filtration systems, Splash provides colorful, child-friendly drinking and handwashing stations that have been field-tested to make sure kids are excited to use them. Often children in urban poverty must drink and wash their hands from the same spigot; however, Splash separates drinking fountains and hand-washing taps to reduce the risk of water re-contamination. Splash uses fun, kid-centered learning materials to teach kids how to properly wash their hands with soap and develop good personal hygiene.

Improved Sanitation

By leveraging the clean water supply chain, Splash works to improve bathrooms in public schools to meet global standards for safety, privacy, cleanliness and accessibility. It ensures safe and secure toilets, water for flushing, gender-segregated toilets and bins for menstrual hygiene management. So far, Splash has reached 48,802 children in urban poverty in Ethiopia, Nepal and India with improved sanitation through 91 sites. Mirrors, colorful facilities and information are helping to motivate behavioral change and encourage proper toilet use by girls and boys.

Goals for the Future

Splash is a unique nonprofit because it aims to become “irrelevant”, “obsolete” and “unnecessary” by 2030.  Just as everything begins with clean water, Splash aims to complete all projects with a sustainable and strategic exit.

The ultimate goal is ensuring local success on its own time, its own terms, through its own talent and with its own funding. This is why Splash designs each program to have local roots, and be economically stable and enduring. It intends the solutions to live on as the ownership transitions from Splash staff to local owners.

As of 2016, Splash was on track for each of its ambitious goals. This includes WASH program coverage for all 650 public schools in Kathmandu, Nepal by 2020 and all 400 public schools in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia by 2022.

Splash is a great example of a forward-thinking international nonprofit with a clear vision to develop long-lasting WASH solutions for children in urban poverty. The world requires lots of work to ensure affordable and clean water, sanitation and hygiene for the urban poor, but organizations like Splash are making progress.

– Camryn Lemke
Photo: Flickr

V Unbeatable
V Unbeatable appeared on the debut episode of the 14th season of “America’s Got Talent.” The episode kicked off a summer full of heated potential, as acts competed for a $1 million prize.

The premiere episode of the season aired on May 28, 2019. It featured one of the most talented dance groups in the show’s history with an incredible backstory. V Unbeatable is an acrobatic dance group from Mumbai, India. The group consists of 28 dancers between the ages of 12 and 27. Although the group collectively shares unique talent, its members also all fight for their lives every day in the slums in India.

A slum is a squalid and overcrowded urban street or district that very poor people inhabit. The members of V Unbeatable, like many others who live in these conditions, occupy a very crowded space, very dirty and lacks proper electricity. The lead dancer of the group said that seven to 10 people often live in one room. He explained how challenging it is to live in the slums as they lack proper sanitation and clean water.

V Unbeatable Performing on America’s Got Talent

The group stumbled across “America’s Got Talent” via YouTube. Since then, the group members dreamed about making it to America in order to audition in front of the judges in the hopes of changing their lives.

“When we dance, we forget all of the tensions in our mind and we feel free,” the lead dancer informed the crowd. He continued saying, “This opportunity can change our lives, and everyone wants to succeed to give back to their families.”

The acrobatic dance group performed a routine in which the members performed flips, tossed other members into the air and performed acrobatic feats using bamboo sticks. Their performance captivated a roaring audience and ended with a standing ovation from all four of the judges.

Upon completing their dance, Gabrielle Union, an American actress, told the group, “You blew us all away.” Julianne Hough, a dancer herself, told the team she was impressed with the trust the team had in one another — a true characteristic of a family. Simon Cowell, a top tier music producer, claimed the group was one of the best dance groups in the history of the show.

Advancing to the Judge Cuts with four yeses, V Unbeatable advanced in the competition. The group said that if it was fortunate enough to win, it would use the $1 million prize toward improving the conditions in the slums back at home.

Condition of India’s Slums

While V Unbeatable succeeded in “America’s Got Talent,” many back at home would continue to struggle for survival. About 6.5 million people or 55 percent of the population of Mumbai, India live in slums. Half of the slums are non-government notified. This means the people have no security of land tenure and cannot access city services such as clean water and sanitation.

Most slums do not have toilets despite housing seven to 10 people. Residents have to use the little money they have in order to pay to use community toilets. Seventy-eight percent of the toilets lack water supply, and 58 percent do not have electricity. Seven people have died from attempting to use the toilets and contracting a disease from the insanitation or becoming injured from the ground collapsing around the area.

The population of Mumbai, India also has 50,000 people living without any form of permanent shelter and would prefer the conditions of living in slums despite the horrendous conditions.

The Keep India Beautiful (KIB) nonprofit team spent a day exploring the conditions of the slums. The organization found garbage and filth everywhere. Toilets and showers had little if any water supply with zero privacy and schools had no water or electricity. People were using the public park as a dump yard while many people caused cramped conditions in the houses.

The people of Mumbai, India will be praying as V Unbeatable continues on “America’s Got Talent.” Despite living difficult lives, the dance group has provided hope and a potential support system for people struggling for survival.

– Aaron Templin
Photo: Flickr

Life Expectancy in Sweden
As one of the more progressive countries in the world, Sweden boasts multiple government agencies and nonprofit organizations actively working toward improving citizens’ health and longevity.  Sweden also possesses an efficient and well-equipped health care system. Thanks to these efforts, the country’s average life expectancy is improving. Below are 10 facts about life expectancy in Sweden, including current initiatives to continue improving the country’s average life expectancy.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Sweden

  1. The average life expectancy in Sweden is 82.2 years with men living an average of 80.3 years and women living an average of 84.3 years. Sweden has the 16th-highest life expectancy from birth in the world. The average life expectancy in Sweden is about four years more than the United States’ average life expectancy (78.6 years). The average, including every country in the world, is a little over 79 years.
  2. In the past century, the life expectancy of Sweden improved from about 55-58 years to 82-84 years, a significant jump of about 25 years.
  3. Citizens’ longevity is due in part to Sweden’s commitment to environmental cleanliness. The water quality is satisfactory; 96 percent of those included in a poll approved of their country’s drinking water. A lack of pollutants may also contribute to Sweden’s higher-than-average life expectancy.
  4. A sense of community helps many achieve a high quality of life in Sweden. Ninety-one percent of citizens report that they know “someone they could rely on in time of need.” Along with high voter turnout, the country’s civic engagement keeps citizens socially involved, enhancing their health and well-being.
  5. Sweden’s health care system has one of the highest rankings in the world. The country’s universal health care system enables those in poverty to access important services for themselves and their families. Affordability of services is crucial for many citizens and Sweden is only improving in this regard.
  6. Life expectancy is improving thanks to efforts to curb self-harming behaviors and remedy preventable lower respiratory infections. As the country’s health care system improves, the rates of premature death from preventable causes are declining for those in poverty. Premature death from lower respiratory infections has decreased by 49 percent from 1990 to 2010.
  7. The Public Health Agency of Sweden commits to improving the lives of Swedish citizens. A recent study showed the effectiveness of vaccines for children. Since Sweden offers universal health care, children from varying socioeconomic backgrounds receive the medical treatment they need. New studies are being conducted to measure the effectiveness of treating boys for human papilloma virus (HPV), even though the virus normally afflicts girls. These studies help Sweden continue to improve life expectancy for all its citizens.
  8. Seven percent of Swedes live below the EU’s poverty threshold. This is lower than the average of people living below the poverty threshold in other EU countries (10 percent). While the poverty rate has remained relatively unchanged in recent years, efforts to reduce the poverty rate and enhance life expectancy are growing. The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, or Sida, is a Swedish government agency that functions to eliminate global poverty. In the fight to end poverty domestically and abroad, Sida makes enhancing life expectancy a priority in its humanitarian work. The agency is public under the jurisdiction of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
  9. In Sweden, government grants and municipal taxes fund the majority of elderly care. The country’s health care system subsidizes its elderly citizens for medical care. In different municipalities throughout the country, elderly patients can request in-home caregivers or relocation to live-in facilities that provide medical services.
  10. Easy access to sanitation has also helped Swedes live longer than the world average. Just over 99 percent of the urban population has access to sanitation, while 99.6 percent of the rural population have such access. No matter where one lives in the country, Sweden offers sanitation to all citizens, improving the overall life expectancy of Sweden.

The Swedish government involves a large body of agencies dedicated to providing the best health care to its citizens. As a result, life expectancy in Sweden is one of the best in the world. Even those living below the poverty line can still access the services they need, and the life expectancy of all Swedish citizens is improving.

– Aric Hluch
Photo: Flickr

Dry Flush ToiletsDry flush toilets is a term that likely conjures up images of unsanitary, foul-smelling contraptions. But, in reality, they are quite the opposite. Revolutionary and effective, they have even caught the eyes of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a promising solution to the life-threatening sanitation-related diseases, such as cholera and diarrhea. These diseases are faced by the 2.4 billion people around the world who still lack access to clean running water.

How do Dry Flush Toilets Work?

Multiple companies have developed dry flush toilets. Perhaps the most notable development is Cranfield University’s Nano Membrane Toilet.

First developed in 2014, the toilet “flushes” by using a waterless rotating scraping mechanism that separates solid waste from liquid waste. Nanofibers, arranged in bunches inside the chamber, then help to condense the water vapor generated by the urine. They condense it into a tube that eventually flows to a tank externally connected to the toilet. By then the water will have been thoroughly filtered and, as a result, is then suitable for everyday use.

Solid waste, on the other hand, is transported into a combustor. This converts them into energy and ash, via a mechanical screw. The energy then powers the toilet’s future “flushes.” The energy can also charge electronics.

Award-Winning Functionality

Dry flush toilets are designed for daily usage. It can accommodate up to ten individuals daily. The toilets are manufactured at the cost of $2,500 per unit. They can last for up to ten years. The product is still undergoing product and product implementation testing. Researchers have reported promising results from their first phase testing in 2014. They conducted the phase in Ghana. According to their survey, “people seemed very open to most of the concepts around the toilet.”

Since the beginning of its development, the ingenious invention has received an accolade of prestigious awards including the Kiran and Pallavi Patel Grand Innovation Award as well as the Excellence in the Field of Environmental Technology Research from the CleanEquity Monaco.

Challenges

The most prominent challenge facing the implementation of dry flush toilets in developing countries is likely scalability. Communities that choose to implement the contraption would have to have a team of specially-trained technicians to safely maintain the toilets.

Another question is regarding how the toilets would be distributed. Currently, the best path is to rent them to households at either a monthly or weekly rate. This is an approach that companies with similar products employ, such as Loowatt’s waterless toilet. Renting these other products has reflected great success.

In addition, the team is working to make the toilet more affordable, with a goal of a final cost of five cents per person per day.

Another anticipated challenge to dry flush toilets is overcoming cultural barriers. While most Africans prefer Western-style seat toilets, squat toilets are far more common and desirable in Asia.

An Innovation to Aid Impoverished Communities

Conclusively, although still emerging from the prototype phase, dry flush toilets very much so have the potential to change millions of lives within a short period of time from implementation. By ensuring that every individual on this planet has reliable access to a flushing toilet, millions of bases of water-borne diseases can be avoided each year.

– Linda Yan
Photo: Flickr