Groundwater Wells in Venezuela
Amidst the current problematic economic situation and levels of poverty in Venezuela, urban and rural sectors are going deep to find water due to poor access to safe water. Geographical studies or dowsing are the most common methods of creating local groundwater wells in Venezuela.

Poverty in Venezuela

In terms of the poverty statistics of Venezuela, between the years 2008 and 2013, the country ceased the process of poverty reduction and the government stopped providing poverty statistics. Since then, a group of national universities called ENCOVI has implemented independent studies regarding poverty in Venezuela.

According to ENCOVI, 67% of the Venezuelan population is living in extreme poverty while 94% are in poverty. No other country in the region holds numbers as high as these.

Water Access in Venezuela

A 2019 to 2020 report stated that 77% of people in Venezuela enjoyed aqueduct access. Meanwhile, 12% had access to water via water truck, 3% garnered water from public taps and 9% retrieved water from wells.

Despite having a well-established aqueduct system nationwide, many communities do not have a guaranteed and continuous source of clean water. In fact, only one out of four houses have a continuous supply of water, while the majority (59%) can only obtain water on certain days of the week. Meanwhile, the remaining 15% is only able to garner water once a month. On top of this deficient service, the quality of the water is often poor. Reports have said that the water often has a foul smell, yellow color and sediment.

Solutions

Urban and rural communities have decided to solve this problem themselves. This has led to urban areas hiring private companies to implement geological studies and find underground water reservoirs. Rural communities can do the same if they have the economic resources, but if they do not, they opt for dowsing.

The total cost to explore and drill a water well hovers between $15,000 to $25,000. This sum is an orbital number due to Venezuela’s current economic situation. However, with great sacrifice, urban communities can collect this sum in many different ways.

In addition to this effort, local governments are also attempting to find a solution to this problem. In fact, some have taken on the full cost of building the water wells.

The Process of Building Local Groundwater Wells in Venezuela

A scientific method to detect water underground involves the use of a piece of equipment called an Earth Resistivity Meter. It injects electricity into the subsoil through some stainless-steel electrodes that those doing the testing nail into the soil to determine the receptivity of the layers of the ground and subsoil as well as groundwater covers. Various methods use electricity to explore the soil and subsoil to find a water reservoir.

While this works well for some areas, rural areas frequently have challenges due to a lack of funds. Despite this situation, some rural communities have opted for the dowsing method. With the help of two y-shaped branches of a pigeon pea plant, these communities can detect water underground. Normally, dowsing experts survey the area near ravines, and after several experiments, the branches will tilt down indicating the water reservoir.

Other communities go simpler and go along with their intuition by perforating the ground until they find water. However, the problem with this method is that these wells are not well made and the quality of water is dubious if not dangerous.

Efforts of UNICEF to Provide Safe Water

In 2019, UNICEF began working with the Venezuelan government to supply safe water to Venezuelans. Some methods that UNICEF and the Venezuelan government will take include repairing and improving water systems, providing supply water trucks and chlorinating water in many impoverished communities.

From a panoramic perspective, building local groundwater wells in Venezuela is necessary to supply local communities. No shortcut exists regarding solving this problem. To tackle this issue, Venezuela requires economic investments from both the private and public sectors to bring the vital resource of water to all of its citizens.

– Carlos Eduardo Velarde Vásquez
Photo: Flickr

Water Crisis in Uganda
Water is a necessity for all living beings, and access to safe water is a basic human right. Despite the world experiencing exponential growth in all areas with advances in science and technology, 40% of people experience water scarcity. The country of Uganda is no exception; 8 million Ugandans lack access to safe water. This lack of clean water affects the health of the Ugandan people, their productivity and their economy. Here is what to know about the water crisis in Uganda.

The Current State

One in nine people worldwide has no safe alternative to contaminated water sources. The stress of economic growth over the last two decades in Uganda has put an enormous strain on the land and its resources. Approximately 19% of Ugandans only have access to streams, ponds and unprotected hand-dug wells as sources of drinking water.

Human waste, soil sediments, fertilizers and mud all run into drinking water sources due to the widespread absence of proper toilets and showers. Additionally, the lack of adequate filtration systems and the loss of vegetation, which acts as a natural filtration system, lead to various health problems. According to BioMed Central, 22% of deaths of Ugandan children under the age of 5 are a result of diarrhea.

The water crisis in Uganda also results in 32% of Ugandans having to travel more than 30 minutes to access safe drinking water. The excess time that people spend on water provision hinders their ability to work, maintain the household and take care of children.

Initiatives for a Better Future

Many initiatives are underway to address the water crisis in Uganda and the problems it has created. For example, in 2013, Water.org launched its WaterCredit solution, which has led to increased water and sanitation loans. This initiative has reached more than 276,000 people and the organization and its partners have disbursed approximately $13 million in loans, helping to create long-term solutions to the water crisis in Uganda.

Another program addressing the water crisis is the Uganda Women’s Water Initiative, which transforms contaminated water into clean and drinkable water for school children. More than 300 women in Gomba, Uganda, received training to build rainwater harvesting tanks and Biosand filters. The simple filter consists of layers of rock, sand and gravel that remove 99% of bacteria from water. Funded by Aveda and GreenGrants, this initiative conducts programs about hygiene and sanitation that support these women. Thanks to this program, school children are safer from typhoid and diarrhea which would keep them sick and out of school. Remarkably, Gomba saw a reduction of school absences by approximately two-thirds thanks to filters and harvesting tanks.

An additional project tackling the water crisis in Uganda is the result of a partnership between Generosity.org and the International Lifeline Fund (ILF). The project has three initiatives that include clean water projects, education on sanitation and hygiene practices and strengthening local health services in Northern Uganda. The goal is to improve conditions for approximately 10,000 people.

Looking Forward

Better water and sanitation systems are critical for a healthy society and a stronger economy. In many countries, organizations such as UNICEF have made efforts to combat water issues. This is especially true in the fellow country of Liberia, where the organization strived to developed water, sanitation, and hygiene systems (WASH), with 65% of such machinations functionally today. The Ugandan government now aims to have clean water and improved sanitation for everyone by 2030. Uganda plans to reach this goal by investing in quality water infrastructures, which involves restoring and maintaining clean water sources as well as promoting hygiene and investing in sanitation facilities. Organizations like Water.org and ILF are helping realize this ambitious goal.

Tara Hudson
Photo: Flickr

Water and Food Security in Ethiopia
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognized that having food was a human right in 1948. However, it did not include water until 2010. Thus, governments have three obligations: to respect, protect and fulfill these rights in a non-discriminatory, participatory and accountable way. Particularly, water is important for agricultural production and ecosystems such as forests and lakes. Water and food security are essential in alleviating poverty in Ethiopia.

About 800 million people reside in areas where water and food security is low. In order to address the underlying causes of food insecurity, it is necessary to resolve water insecurity and social injustices.

Water Quality and Access

According to the United Nations Development Program, a crisis in water and sanitation causes more devastation than a terrorist attack. Furthermore, these crises happen quietly. As a result, millions of people enjoy access to clean water without concern for others.

Lyla Mehta argues that water is food in itself. The micronutrients in water aids in human health and sanitation. Additionally, water of poor quality can cause diseases that lead to food insecurity and damage ecosystems. Therefore, having access to clean water is essential in improving living conditions for people.

Water inequity exists within societies in four ways:

  • Availability: The gap between water-abundant nations and water-scarce nations is large.
  • Access: Water Accessibility depends greatly on gender, socio-economic status and power relations. As a result, discrimination of race, class and gender is prevalent.
  • Quality: The effects of pollution diminish water quality, causing poor nutrition and damaged ecosystems.
  • Stability: Changing weather and variability make water accessibility highly unstable. Additionally, by 2080, another 1.8 billion people will suffer from water scarcity due to environmental challenges.

Water and Food Security in Ethiopia

Ethiopia relies heavily on agriculture, which constitutes 40% of its GDP and 75% of the workforce. The agriculture industry consists mainly of small-holder farmers in a mixed system of crop-livestock. Furthermore, farmers have limited knowledge of technology and rely heavily on rainfall. Consequently, the primary cause of food shortages is droughts.

Fortunately, many organizations and agencies are working to promote water and food security in Ethiopia.USAID works with several programs to strengthen the conditions of Ethiopia’s water and food security. First, the Feed The Future Strategy encourages participation in income-generating activities within the agricultural sector. This provides jobs and opportunities for families in rural areas and provides credits and technical assistance to small and medium-sized businesses. Additionally, USAID is the largest bilateral donor to the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) of the Government of Ethiopia. It contributes by directly rehabilitating the natural environment through labor-based public efforts, stimulating markets, creating greater service accessibility and preventing the draining of household assets.

Additionally, the World Food Program supports the MERET program in investing in a number of activities that relate to water and soil conservation and rehabilitation. Moreover, packages of homestead development and household income-generating programs have emerged to increase household income and women’s assistance. As a result, water availability has increased from ponds, wells, springs and soil moisture. Furthermore, there has been a significant increase in production and household income.

How to Address Water and Food Security

Expectations have determined that agricultural productivity will increase in the following decades. Thus, the need for water will increase as well. It is challenging to address water security when competition increases. However, allocating quality water in specific amounts and managing agriculture will help communities achieve sustainable social and economic development.

Furthermore, programs are building comprehensive plans to address challenges related to production and consumption. First, improving less fortunate communities’ access to food and water is imperative. Next, overcoming gender discrimination will help improve food production and nutrition. Then, promoting inclusive water governance to guarantee equitable and sustainable decision-making in water and food security is crucial.

Water is as important as food for human health. Moreover, water contributes to food accessibility, sanitation and provides a means to achieve sustainable income. Therefore, Ethiopia needs to address water and food security.

Helen Souki
Photo: Flickr

Water Solutions in Tanzania
Every country should have access to sanitary water. Clean water provides nourishment, prevents diseases, kills toxins and is essential for agriculture. About 2.5 billion people in the world do not have adequate access to water. Additionally, 80% of illnesses that arise in developing nations are due to a lack of clean water. Having proper water solutions for developing nations is essential in fighting global poverty. This article will examine water solutions in Tanzania specifically.

About the Water Situation in Tanzania

Five million people endure serious water shortages in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, 4 million people do not have access to clean water. As a result, women and children spend a lot of time traveling to find water. Additionally, people traveling to Tanzania receive advisories to bring their own water. Tanzania and others have put substantial efforts into finding clean water solutions in Tanzania. However, there is still much to do.

WaterAid in Tanzania

WaterAid is an NGO that aims to aid countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Central America. Its goal is to provide water, sanitation and education to impoverished areas. WaterAid has been able to provide clean water to 17.5 million people. Furthermore, it has been able to improve sanitary conditions for 12.9 million people.

In Tanzania, this organization has successfully supplied 1.5 million people with water solutions and 97,000 people with better sanitation. Additionally, WaterAid focuses on delivery and advocacy. Furthermore, it emphasizes the importance of rallying support for policies that aid those living without sanitary water or sanitation services. This NGO’s goal is to provide water solutions for vulnerable communities in Tanzania by creating low-cost, sustainable projects.

Nonprofit Organizations that are Making a Difference

LifeWater is a nonprofit organization that strives to create water solutions and better sanitary conditions for struggling communities. The organization builds safe water sources and tests and maintains sanitation to keep impoverished nations safe. Furthermore, Lifewater has many goals for its 2021 water projects.

LifeWater identifies communities with a high need for clean water, sanitary conditions and better health. Then, staff who are familiar with the culture and language help instill sanitation regulations within these communities. These impoverished areas are able to obtain clean water and LifeWater is able to follow up with their progress.

Additionally, Water.org is another nonprofit organization that aims to bring clean water and sanitary conditions to everyone. It operates in countries within Asia and Latin America. This organization’s low-cost, accessible water solutions have positively impacted 31 million lives.

Water.org provides small, affordable loans to impoverished nations through its WaterCredit initiative. This initiative provides access to “affordable financing and resources for household toilet and water solutions.” This nonprofit continues to impact lower-income communities by providing water solutions in Tanzania.

Success Story in Tanzanian School

Water from wells in Bagamoyo became undrinkable due to seawater intrusion. As a result, students were unable to study because they spent most of their time fetching water. Students at Kingani school had to choose between drinking unsanitary water or having none at all.

With the United Nations Environment’s and its partners’ support in the rainwater harvesting project, living conditions improved. The project involves rooftop guttering and collecting large tanks that can store 147,000 liters of water. Thus, these tanks store rainwater for students to use for drinking, cooking and washing. Fortunately, this new project has generated a boost in attendance, health and motivation.

Organizations, projects and loans are beneficial in aiding impoverished communities. Providing water solutions improves nourishment and prevents illnesses. Furthermore, when women and children do not have to travel long distances to retrieve water, they are able to attend school, go to work and take care of their families.

– Celia Brocker
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Venezuela
Poverty in Venezuela has reached a historic high during the current crisis. Researchers from one of Venezuela’s top universities found this year that about 96% of the population lives in poverty, while 70% live in extreme poverty.  This makes Venezuela the poorest country in the region. With a vast majority of the country living below the poverty line, child poverty in Venezuela is a growing concern.

Child Poverty in Venezuela

Children are often the most vulnerable to poverty. The extent of child poverty cannot be measured through family income alone; the entire context of their living conditions must be evaluated. UNICEF has developed a tool to assess more accurately how children are impacted in settings of poverty through a process called Multiple Overlapping Deprivation Analysis (MODA).

MODA has a defined list of indicators that researchers use to evaluate child poverty in each country. Indicators change based on which are the most relevant to that particular country. Indicator categories include water, sanitation, housing, nutrition, education, child labor and more.

The challenge with analyzing the full extent of child poverty in Venezuela is the lack of reliable information available to researchers. The Maduro regime has continuously hidden figures from international databases to hide the full extent of the Venezuelan crisis. Nevertheless, researchers are examining child poverty with the broad indicators of the MODA tool. Besides low income, hyperinflation and national shortages of foods and products, water and power are two of the main factors causing multidimensional child poverty in Venezuela.

Water

Venezuelans have suffered shrinking access to water. According to a study by nonprofit Venezuelan Observatory of Public Services, 86% of Venezuelans do not have reliable access to water. The same study found that 11% do not have access to a water service at all.

In addition to being crucial for adequate hydration, water is also essential for sanitation. Without access to running water, personal hygiene and health suffer. In 2020, water became even more important to protect from COVID-19. Using the MODA tool, not having access to showers/baths, a protected water source, or a place for handwashing are indications of multidimensional child poverty in Venezuela.

Power

Power outages are becoming more common in Venezuela due to the ongoing crisis. Gas-powered backup generators are available for those who can afford them; for those who cannot, wood and charcoal become imperative for cooking and heating.

Without power, there is also no internet. The internet has been particularly important in 2020, as many children are now attending school online. A lack of access to power has thus affected children’s ability to attend school, furthering the education gap between the rich and the poor. According to MODA, a lack of access to electricity and the internet are indicators of multidimensional child poverty in Venezuela.

Save the Children

In response to the situation, there are many groups looking to help Venezuelan children. The nonprofit Save the Children is one of these groups. In its mission, the organization recognizes the need for clean water, personal safety and access to education.

While the nonprofit does not have access to Venezuela, they have set up centers in Colombia and Peru for families that have been forced to migrate. Entrance into Venezuela remains difficult, as its leader, Nicholas Maduro, is against humanitarian aid. In an attempt to help Venezuelans in need, humanitarian organizations were leaving relief trucks on the Venezuelan-Colombian border, but Maduro rejected this help.

Moving Forward

Whether or not international humanitarian organizations will be able to effectively address child hunger within Venezuela in the coming years remains to be seen. Nevertheless, the existence of such programs is paramount to those Venezuelans seeking relief from the oppressive conditions in the crisis. And, until the government situation changes, programs like Save the Children may be the only way to help ease child poverty in Venezuela.

Luis Gonzalez Kompalic
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in Cape Verde
Cape Verde is a country comprising a group of islands near Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. In Cape Verde, almost half of the population does not have access to clean water. As a result, the government founded initiatives to improve its water, sanitation and hygiene processes for everyone. Here are 10 facts about the water and sanitation situation in Cape Verde.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Cape Verde

  1. Cape Verde Compact II was a project that reached completion in 2017. The project cost $41.1 million and aimed to improve the services that delivered water to Cape Verde houses. The project also increased access to piped water and sanitation, creating a new water utility. The project creation started with a theory that increasing access to piped water would increase household productivity, especially for low-income families.
  2. A significant number of people in Cape Verde do not have access to sanitation systems. To expand, 54% of people in the country’s rural areas and 16% in urban areas do not have access to flushing toilets or other sanitation improvements. Moreover, the government does not have enough money to assure everyone has access to clean water. In Cape Verde, 20% of the population does not have access to a shower, meaning they have to use rivers and lakes to take baths.
  3. The shortcomings of the water and sanitation sector affects women. Women typically have the task of bringing home clean water. The United Nations Children’s Fund found that women in underdeveloped countries spend more than 200 million hours daily collecting water to provide for their families. Because women have to focus on bringing water to their families, they are more likely than men to stop receiving an education. If the country created new institutions that could provide water without having to walk miles to get it, women would have the same opportunities as men to get an education.
  4. There have been many improvements in the water and sanitation sector over the last two decades in Cape Verde. But Cape Verde still faces significant challenges in overcoming its water and sanitation crisis. Cape Verde relies on the energy-intensive process of desalinization for clean water. Only 59% of people have access to clean water in their homes or on their property. Just 20% of the population has access to a sewer, and 27% of the population has to resort to open defecation.
  5. In 2012, the government of Cape Verde started making reforms in the sanitation sector. The government created a Social Access Fund to help families access clean water more easily. The Social Access Fund has provided more than 3,000 new connections to the water network and more than 2,000 sanitation facilities. The government believes that more than 600,000 people would benefit from this program. The government also believes that if the country keeps making progress in the next 20 years, more than 80% of the population would have access to clean water.
  6. The government launched a National Agency for Water and Sanitation with the Office of Environment and Gender and Social Integration. The office works with departments to support data to improve access to clean water and affordability. The new department started working in 2013, and since then, the country has made a lot of progress.
  7. Aguas de Santiago, a corporation installed on the island of Santiago in 2017, is alleviating the country’s sanitation issue. Almost half of Cabo Verde’s population lives on the island of Santiago. With this new corporation, the Office of Information, Education and Communication has the data they need to know the number of families that do not have access to clean water. With this new corporation, the government is receiving real data and making changes in the country’s sanitation program.
  8. Sal is the driest inhabited island in Cape Verde. Sal receives less than 9 inches of rain on average each year. The island does not have enough water for the whole population, and it depends heavily on the desalinization process. The process is costing the island a lot of money, and the government is unsure of how long they will be able to afford it.
  9. Carlos Jorge Santos, the director-general of Oasis Atlantic Group’s hotel operations in Cape Verde, hopes that sooner than later, Cape Verde’s beaches will earn the prestigious Blue Flag certification. The Blue Flag is essential because it gives the country reputation so tourists would visit the country more. The Blue Flag means that all the beaches are safe and clean, improving Cape Verde’s tourism sector, local economies and its sanitation programs. Additionally, through this certification, the government would be able to build more water fountains and deposits so the whole country has greater access to clean water.
  10. Water consumption was deficient in the city of Santiago. In 2018, the average family in Santiago consumed 40 liters per person per day. Low-income families, who are less likely to have a connection to the piped water network, consumed less water than non-impoverished households at 24 liters per person per day. In Cape Verde, 30% of the population lives in poverty, meaning the families’ majority consume 24 liters per day.

Cape Verde is making a lot of progress in providing clean water to the population, but there is a lot that the country needs to do. Currently, more than half of the people do not have access to clean water in their homes and have to walk miles to gather clean water. Nevertheless, these 10 facts about sanitation in Cape Verde show improvement.

– Ainhoa Maqueda Castillejo
Photo: Flickr

Boosting Health in the Developing WorldThe health of those living in developing countries links to impacts caused by lack of access to food, clean drinking water, shelter and healthcare. Recent inventions have come about with the aim of boosting health in the developing world.

Flo Menstrual Kit

More often than not, girls in developing countries either cannot afford or do not have access to menstrual products. This makes it extremely difficult for them to go about their day, particularly if they are in school. Flo is a menstrual product that allows the user to wash, dry and carry a reusable menstrual pad with dignity. The concept was developed by Mariko Higaki Iwai. The Flo menstrual kit was designed with the following issues in mind:

  • School: Due to social stigma, girls worry that people will find out that they are menstruating at school. This fear is compounded by a lack of private restrooms in most schools in developing countries. This can cause girls to miss school or drop out entirely.
  • Hygiene: Reusable pads that go unwashed can cause reproductive infections and illnesses.
  • Privacy: It is difficult to find a private place to wash a reusable pad in rural areas and in schools.
  • Stigma: Menstruation is highly stigmatized and it can create a lack of confidence in girls who do not receive enough support surrounding the subject.

Flo addresses these issues, allowing girls to have productive days and stay in school while normalizing menstruation.

Hemafuse Autotransfusion

Hemafuse is a handheld device used for the autotransfusion of blood during an operation. This mechanical device was created by Sisu Global Health, a woman-led small business originating in Baltimore, Maryland. After members of Sisu Global Health witnessed the “soup ladle” method of blood transfusion in a Ghanian hospital, they wanted to create a safe alternative accessible to all. The device was originally invented to treat ruptured ectopic pregnancies, however, the device can also be used to replace or augment donor blood in an emergency situation. This device is imperative for developing countries as standard autotransfusion technology is very costly and these countries often do not have a ready supply of blood.

Kite Patch for Malaria

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2018, approximately 405,000 people died from malaria. The majority of these deaths were young children in Sub-Saharan Africa. Malaria is just one of several deadly diseases spread by mosquitoes. Others include the Zika virus, West Nile virus and dengue. The purpose of the Kite Patch is to eradicate malaria and reduce the amount of mosquito-borne diseases across the globe.

The Kite Patch is unique in that it does not use toxic DEET, poisons, pesticides, insecticides or any other harsh chemicals. The Kite Patch is long-lasting and it can be applied to clothing as opposed to the skin. It works by manipulating and interrupting the smell-neurons and sensor arrays insects use to find humans. The company has started the Kite Malaria-Free-World Campaign to help rid the world of malaria forever.

Child Vision Self-Adjustable Glasses

According to the Centre for Vision in the Developing World (CVDW), in developing countries, over 100 million youth between the ages of 12 and 18 in are nearsighted. The CVDW estimates that 60 million of these youth do not have access to vision correction options. The CVDW attributes five reasons for this lack: awareness, access, affordability, attractiveness and accuracy. First, people may not know that they have poor vision or that it can be corrected. Second, rural areas tend not to have shops where glasses can be purchased. Third, glasses are expensive and in order to be fit for them, one must attend multiple appointments. For many, this means missing work which is often a luxury that they cannot afford. Fourth, adolescents are often concerned about their appearance and risk being mocked for wearing glasses since they are not the norm. Finally, many people with glasses in developing countries are ill-fit for them due to poor testing or untrained opticians, which can harm their already poor vision.

The Child Vision initiative aims to address these five reasons with self-adjustable glasses that can be used by youth aged 12 to 18. The initiative will utilize school-based distribution programs to provide children in the developing world with glasses.

Pocketpure Portable Water Purifier

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), inadequate access to safe drinking water affects one in three people globally. Pocketpure is the invention that just might change that. In response to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, George Page founded the Portapure company with the intent to provide access to clean drinking water for all. Portapure’s first invention was Pocketpure, a reusable, on-the-go device that can filter dirty water and make it clean enough to drink. It is essentially a collapsible collection cup with a water treatment apparatus and filtration unit that removes viruses, bacteria and other unsafe particles. With proper distribution, this device has the potential to provide clean and safe drinking water to millions of people around the world. Pocketpure is one of the inventions boosting health in the developing world.

While providing accessible healthcare for all is no easy task, these inventions show that there is work being done to combat the global health crisis. One invention at a time, innovators, creators and free-thinkers are boosting health in the developing world.

– Mary Qualls
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Eradication in Malawi
Situated in Southern Africa in between the borders of Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania, Malawi is one of the countries with over 50% of the population living below the poverty line. Many reciprocal factors drive such high poverty rates – the country’s low agriculture productivity, insufficient infrastructure development and the lack of new technologies’ adoption, as well as vulnerability to natural disasters. Although Malawi is already undergoing a series of governmentally-induced five-year consecutive plans called The Malawi Growth and Development Strategy, there are other actors coming up with innovative solutions tackling the poverty eradication in Malawi.

5 Innovations in Poverty Eradication in Malawi

  1. E-Madzi Automated Water Kiosks: One in three Malawians – 5.6 million people – do not have access to running water in their households and their only source of clean water is water kiosks. Although this is a common solution across the country, most kiosks are only open for three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening. Moreover, people can only pay for the service in cash and the waiting time is usually quite long. That is why the Lilongwe Water Board and the World Bank financed and installed E-Madzi water kiosks, which are fully automated and usable with an e-card. The project launched in June 2017 with only four kiosks in Lilongwe, the capital of Malawi. However, the area has obtained 35 more during 2020. The automated kiosks give access to water at any time of the day, consequently decreasing attendance and water waste, as well as reducing 65% of the water costs. This fact makes daily water sourcing more convenient and secure.
  2. Hippo Roller: It is very common for Malawians, mostly women and children, to have to carry significant amounts of water from its source, such as a water kiosk, to the household. The Hippo Roller is a 90-liter water transport device enabling transportation of up to five times more water than standard 20-liter bottles. First introduced in Malawi in 2014, the Hippo Roller has allowed families to improve their health and hygiene, irrigate more crops for their own use or to generate more income. Moreover, the Hippo Roller saves women and children time so that they can go to school or obtain paid employment.
  3. Wonderbag: In many rural and remote areas of Malawi, cooking food on an open fire is the most common way of nourishment. This natural cooking process, though, is very time consuming and detrimental to both human health and the environment, as it releases burning charcoal and fuel into the atmosphere. In fact, smoke-related diseases kill over 4 million people every year. Wonderbag is a non-electric slow cooker that allows the food to cook for up to 12 hours, all thanks to a foam-insulated bag securely wrapped around a cooking dish. The Wonderbag does not require a stove, fire or any form of additional heating. This way, Wonderbag has made it possible to minimize health issues from indoor air pollution by reducing the amount of wood, charcoal and burning fuels by 70%, as well as save 1,300 hours per year, during which girls and women can develop productive skills and increase their potential and autonomy. Furthermore, factories and sewing collectives that work together with Wonderbag on its production, provide local women with paid employment opportunities. According to Wonderbag’s founder and CEO, Sarah Collins, Wonderbag has made it possible to minimize health issues from indoor air pollution by reducing the amount of wood, charcoal and burning fuels by 70%. She told The Borgen Project that “Women save up to $18 per month on charcoal as they only need to use $2 worth per month, and not $20. This is a reduction of over two trees per household per annum.” Additionally, records have determined that using Wonderbag saves on average 1,300 hours per year, during which girls and women can develop productive skills and increase their potential and autonomy. Furthermore, factories and sewing collectives that work together with Wonderbag on its production, provide local women with paid employment opportunities.
  4. Socially Progressive Innovation and Entrepreneurship Programme: Researchers from the University of Strathclyde Glasgow have been using satellite images and machine learning to predict the most efficient water points in Malawi. Such satellite observations are proving to be effective as they not only are precise and accessible in a matter of hours but also offer long-term measurements through accessing passed data and implementing the historical evolution of its impact.
  5. Second Agriculture Sector Wide Approach Support Programme: The Government of Malawi and the World Bank Group created the Second Agriculture Sector Wide Approach Support Programme to link farmers with nearby markets through rural road improvement. It benefits 200,000 households by bridging the gap between actual and possible crop yields, as the majority of agricultural workers tend to live in remote areas with few roads and means of transport. With better and more accessible roads, it is easier for local farmers to actually reach markets, sell their produce and regularly increase their earnings. Since its launch in 2018, the Programme has succeeded in improving 1,000 km of rural roads and employing more than 14,500 people, with 56% being women.

Looking Ahead

Poverty in Malawi is an issue that entails much more than the lack of income. It manifests itself in malnutrition, low hygiene, limited access to education, low chances for productive development, discrimination and the lack of social participation. Creative approaches and the implementation of innovative solutions toward poverty eradication in Malawi has allowed the country to improve its current social and economic situation efficiently and for the long-term.

– Natalia Barszcz
Photo: Flickr

SDG 6 in Kenya
Water and sanitation in Kenya have been lacking, but the country is improving them through the introduction of new inventions and initiatives. The UN adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in 2015. It is a blueprint for how to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which aim to reduce poverty and improve sustainability. Sustainable Development Goal 6 is to ensure that everyone has available clean water and sanitation. Here are some initiatives that are helping SDG 6 in Kenya come to fruition through sustainable development.

Water Pans

Water pans are able to provide people with water in arid areas. Building them involves building a dam before covering it with a dam liner. This container collects runoff rainwater in order to hold it until the next rain season.

Without water pans, residents would have to walk long distances to water facilities. These water facilities have a history of corruption. They are also especially dangerous for women who are at risk of undergoing sexual extortion for water or experiencing sexual assault on the walk.

The water pans provide accessible water, which allows farmers to feed their animals and water crops easily. As a result, farmers are able to grow more because they can spend more time farming rather than water collection. Water pans are more than just a solution for water insecurity but also a solution for hunger.

Water pans are a solution to the lack of water in warmer climates. They are becoming more popular on farms across Kenya. The installation of water pans for residents could help reach SDG 6 in Kenya.

Fresh Life Toilets

Sanergy is a startup that builds fresh life toilets, an affordable alternative to sewage systems. A fresh life toilet separates solid waste in order to make fertilizer. This means that there is no need for a sewage system and that people can reuse waste sustainably.

Fresh life toilets are a solution to pit latrines, which do not last as long and can have an unsanitary emptying process. Communities sometimes lack accessible designated areas to dispose of waste and can end up emptying the waste into drainages and waterways. By using the waste for organic fertilizer, communities can also avoid polluting waterways.

These units include handwashing stations, soap, water and feminine hygiene disposal. Sanergy has built over 3,379 fresh life toilets in Nairobi’s urban slums.

Entrepreneurship for Women

Maji Mamas is a nonprofit that trains women in Kenya to become entrepreneurs in the water industry. The organization focuses on women because, in the developing world, women are frequently in charge of the collection and cleaning of water, as well as caring for the sick.

The organization believes that women in these communities have the knowledge and experience to tackle water and sanitation issues. Maji Mamas thinks that just building infrastructure is not a sustainable solution to the clean water crisis and that by training women to come up with solutions and create their own businesses, the women can go on to provide clean water to their communities.

The nonprofit trains women in the production of Stabilized Soil Blocks (ISSBs), building water tanks and the logistics of running their own businesses. It also provides interest-free loans and labor to start Kenyan women on their businesses while continuing to support them as their businesses expand.

Maji Mamas has offered training on water and hygiene to 2,500 community members. The women in the program have made 2.7 times the current annual income of most women in Kenya.

Kenya should eventually be able to meet the UN’s SDG 6 for clean water and sanitation. Water pans, fresh life toilets and efforts from Maji Mamas are all providing community support and resources to further the process of accomplishing SDG 6 in Kenya.

– Stephanie Jackson
Photo: Flickr

Fluorosis in IndiaFluoride is a vital compound for the growth and development of the human body. Not only does it promote the strengthening of tooth enamel, helping to protect teeth from cavities, but it is also thought to aid in the development of the bones. However, when consumed in any more than minute quantities, the same compound can lead to a myriad of health issues ranging from the browning of the teeth to severe developmental issues leading to the deformation of the skeleton. Fluorosis in India is an issue raising concerns for the health of the country’s people.

India’s Water Supply

These health problems are among those faced by people who rely on India’s heavily fluoridated groundwater, or roughly 80% of the nation’s 1.35 billion people. Water is often sourced directly from the ground by wells, hand pumps or water plants with little to no filtration, leaving dangerous levels of naturally occurring fluoride to be consumed. In fact, fluoride levels have been recorded as high as 15 parts per million, far above the World Health Organization’s maximum recommendation of 1.5 parts per million.

Fluorosis and Other Health Problems

Today, skeletal fluorosis, or the build-up of fluoride in the bones, remains the leading side effect of excessive fluoride consumption and can occur in concentrations as small as 1 part per million. Effects of the disease range from joint pain and stiffness, to the calcification of the ligaments and permanent skeletal deformation. Of India’s 32 states, 17 have been identified as areas of endemic fluorosis, leaving 25 million people impacted and 66 million at risk.

Fluorosis in India is most concerning in children, as excess fluoride can have permanent harmful effects on developing bones, leaving some children bedridden and unable to walk. Additionally, local doctors are often unaware of the disease and do not have the means to treat it, leaving families to spend hundreds of dollars on ‘witch doctors’ offering magical cures.

Organizational Efforts

In response to the prevalence of fluorosis in India, rural villages and urban areas have been the subject of a variety of efforts by local governments and humanitarian organizations alike to purify groundwater and treat those affected.

Since the 1990s, UNICEF, alongside the Satya Sai Organization, has been working to implement defluoridation into the regular process of water collection. The organizations donated a total of 24,000 self-sustaining defluoridation units to five provinces across India and implemented rainwater collection systems in 50 schools throughout the country, providing students with safe drinking water. Likewise, defluoridation units were delivered directly to households, giving families easy access to safe water.

SARITA’s Efforts for Defluoridation

Similarly, the Society Affiliated to Research and Improvement of Tribal Areas (SARITA), has been working since 2005 to provide households with effective defluoridation units in some of the most rural and underserved areas of the country. Alongside community activities to raise awareness about the often unheard of condition, SARITA provided defluoridation filters at little to no cost to villages across 12 states.

The organization was unique in its outreach methods as it deliberately sought to serve the most ostracized members of society, such as the ‘untouchables’ or the lowest and most collectively shamed demographic in India’s social caste system. As SARITA puts it, it is “unusual for government programs to start assistance in isolated hamlets”, meaning the wellbeing of this demographic is rarely of concern in government assistance efforts.

Fluoride Mitigation Support Centre

Doctors and health centers across the nation are also making efforts towards the treatment and cure of fluorosis in India. Although a cure has yet to become widely available, the Fluoride Mitigation Support Centre worked with a group of 20 children in 2013 in an attempt to reverse advanced skeletal fluorosis through calcium, Vitamin C and Vitamin D supplements. Over the course of a year, “dramatic changes were observed in the children”, with one previously bedridden child able to walk again.

The positive effects of widely available defluoridation and fluorosis treatment are quite evident. Increased government support for these existing efforts is needed to put an end to fluorosis in India.

– Jane Dangel
Photo: Flickr