Urban Services

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Urban Services blog posts

  • World Water Week 2018: highlights from an urban WASH fanatic
    Practical Action Publishing was in the forefront for us this year at World Water Week in Stockholm. The event is a key point in the WASH calendar with 3,700 delegates over a packed week of discussion and learning. Water a cross-cutting issue for all our programmes Our exhibition stand was a reflection of the depth and breadth of Practical Action’s engagement in water and sanitation issues across the organisation. We featured a range of Practical Action Publishing materials from manuals, […]
  • ‘Woman’s Hour’ in Odisha
    Growing up and becoming a young woman in India can be a confusing, terrifying prospect in some rural and poor urban communities. Young women are given the barest of facts and no proper explanation of what is happening to their bodies. Traditions tell them they are both ‘unclean’ while menstruating; and that they are ‘now a woman’. They face up to the terrifying prospect (still practiced in some rural communities) of physical isolation in separate huts for the entirely of […]
  • Trade-offs and choices: realities in urban sanitation projects
    Development charities don’t often talk about the difficulties; about the delays and frustrations. They will tell you of the awful situation people faced, and then “ta dah” here’s our solution. Why? Because we don’t want to apportion blame or appear somehow incompetent. But shouldn’t we try to look at the underlying difficulties: alert others, adjust our programming and try to make the system work better? Isn’t there value in being a little more transparent about the difficulties? My visit to […]
  • Systematic engagement of stakeholders can improve the sanitation situations in Dhenkanal Municipality
    Written by Ganesh Parida, Senior Project Officer, Project Nirmal Dhenkanal Municipality, is a small town in the state of Odisha, India. Witha a total area of 30.92 Sq. km and it spreads over 23 municipal Wards. As per the 2011 Census, the total population of the town is 67,414, out of which 34,864 males and 32,550 females. About 11,105 Scheduled Caste and 4095 Scheduled Tribe population live in the town. The town is having 14908 households. There are 17 notified […]
  • Imagine bringing up your toddler here?
    I recently visited Kisumu, Kenya, where Practical Action is working with two local partner organisations (KUAP and Umande Trust) in a five-year project to transform the sanitation situation for 64,200 residents of the city’s informal settlements. We visited families to understand the extreme challenges faced by parents and carers looking after children under 5 years. As a Mum of two, the youngest of whom turns 6 next month, I could easily make comparisons. There are so many different stages babies, […]
  • Talking shit at FSM4 Conference – Feedback on our sanitation work in Bangladesh
    Talking about shit for a week in India — a fascinating context to present our sanitation work! India, a country that has undertaken a huge and ambitious national scale clean-up campaign (Swachh Bharat/Clean India Mission), hosted the 4th Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) Conference in Chennai this February. In total, 1,100 practitioners, governments and private sector representatives from all over the world participated in the conference. This was a truly unique sharing and visibility opportunity for our organisation. As a result, we ran out of our […]
  • Role of women waste pickers in Dhaka
    Beneath the glaring afternoon sun, I watch as a woman crouches roadside at the base of a city garbage container, referred to as a “dustbin”. Using her unprotected hands, she dutifully sorts through the waste, separating out non-perishable items of value such as plastic, paper, and glass. These items are placed in a woven basket to be sold to a local scrap shop and then recycled. She is considered a “tokai”- a waste picker. She is one of the estimated […]
  • Waste and recycling: health concerns herald technology change
    Waste recyclers in Lima, the capital of Peru, have overcome tremendous adversities to function as a recognised and legitimate sector. When they had started to pick waste around the city, they were branded ‘nut cases’ or drug addicts and were sometimes chased away by the police when foraging for recyclables. This presented a social challenge since they became a marginalized group. After unionizing and pursuing their labour rights, the Peruvian government passed the ‘Law of the Recycler’ in 2009- the […]
  • Nairobi’s informal water vendors: heroes or villains?
    Nairobi’s informal settlements are places of startling juxtaposition. Holding 60% of the city’s population on only 5% of the total land mass, they house some of the nation’s poorest citizens and immigrants at the edge of Eastern Africa’s most developed city. Change has flooded in in some respects, contrasting with persistent socio-economic divides. While almost all residents have access to a mobile phone network, for example, very few have access to clean drinking water. The statistics available on poverty levels are […]
  • World Toilet Day 2015: good news and bad news
    But Mummy, I CAAAAN’T WAIT – the familiar cry for anyone with children. Fortunately we live in a place where a safe, clean toilet our children can easily use, with soap and water on hand, is never far away. But this basic human right is not available to everyone. #wecantwait is the theme for this year’s World Toilet Day on 19th November. BAD NEWS: The 2015 JMP report finds that 2.4 billion people are still without access to improved sanitation […]
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