Monday, 8 June 2015

Where there is no toilet (& sewage treatment options when there is one)

Human poo & pee causes more death, malnutrition and economic problems than any other single issue; yet like animal manure, can be a source of nutrients that can build health soils, regenerate landscapes.  This is the first of a few blogs where I'll explore consequences of terrible sanitation, better treatment options some of the radical new approaches to changing habit and practices that work, and some that really don't.

When there's no toilets in a community people "go" in the open, behind bushes, buildings, wherever they can find.  If you visit lots of villages you soon get that whiff of exposed poo, and if you spend a bit of time with that community you get to understand what happens when people are in such close and regular contact with their "wastes", from the high levels of diarrhoea and a host of other water borne diseases they live with (and pay for in money for medicines and visits to distant clinics).

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Nepal earthquake: emergency shelter and earthbags

In this blog I discuss earth-bag construction as an option for shelter recovery in Nepal. I start off with a quick overview of how the humanitarian coordination is going with the relevant links to access this info for those people unfamiliar with the system.  So skip down a bit if you want to get straight to the earthbag issues, links, etc.
An earth bag school under construction in Nepal, before the
earthquake. This one, a school, built by the local community with design and
training help from Edge of Seven, others shown below.
Critical points are: these are extremely earthquake resilient, energy efficient
and require a fraction of the logistics of importing bricks and cement up the damaged roads, etc. 

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Ocean blessings in Bali

Wonderful and remarkable how Balinese women prepare each day little blessings, today an ocean cleansing ceremony,  the beach completely filled with local families playing in the powerful surf. While the wave riding addicts among us ride the planetary blessings:)

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Shelter, jobs and social stability in Lebanon

Last month I went to Northern Lebanon, on a short mission with CARE International, to help them figure out a strategy to deal with the dire housing problems faced by Syrian refugees.  To short cut to this presentation (more pictures than words, go here).  Almost immediately I was blown away by the scale of the crisis in Lebanon: a country of just over 4.2 million people is hosting almost 1.5 million refugees.  That's around a third of the population! Meaning that Lebanon now has the highest per capital concentration of refugees in the world.

Tripoli, looking East over the mountains towards Syria

Imagine Britain or France taking in 20 million people, and the kind of impact that would have on public services that people often complain aren't good enough as it is.  Well, it's not really any different for Lebanon, except that their public services have been in worse shape than those in rich European countries.  Talking of Europe, it appears that the entire EU block has offered asylum to a grand total of 134,000 Syrian refugees, so around 10% that Lebanon has taken.  Yet the population difference  is so great it means that Europe is offering refuge to 1,000 times fewer refugees compared to Lebanon.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Shelter after floods in Pakistan. Part 1. Sabina's story

This is Sabina, who I met during one of about 30 field trips I made in Sindh, Pakistan during my time working there, chatting with Mustafa from the local NGO, HANDS

Mustafa and Sabina.  I think they were talking abotu that solar light she's been using every night for over a year.  And the price of vegetables on the market if I remember rightly.  She said she can afford to buy veg only twice a month and grows none around her house.  She could absolutely grow food in raised beds outside her window.  That has to be (already is) the next addition to the way we work...

HANDS had found Sabina's family and community, displaced and in desperate need of help, after major flooding in September 2012. They brought it to the attention of DFID - the British agency for international development - for whom I was working as a humanitarian advisor.