Forum user of the month (2) for November 2013 is Doreen Mbalo from Kenya !!

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Forum user of the month (2) for November 2013 is Doreen Mbalo from Kenya !!


Dear all,

It is our great pleasure to make this announcement about the second forum member to be rewarded for his or her outstanding contributions to the forum (in September we had highlighted Kris Makowka, see here: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/10-by-...rischan-makowka#5751 )

Today we would like to give special recognition to a Kenyan forum member who has enriched the forum with her excellent posts:

Her name is Doreen Mbalo

Here is a link to her forum profile (visible only for logged-in users): forum.susana.org/forum/profile/userid-794

Here she is with some of her colleagues:


from l-r: Patrick Onyango, Doreen Mbalo, James Kiptanui Ronoh and Edward Kungu by Sustainable sanitation , on Flickr

Here she is (second from left) visiting Sanergy in Nairobi:


Group photo at the Sanergy site in Mukuru kwa Reuben by Sustainable sanitation , on Flickr

Doreen has made many detailed, thoughtful and informative posts on the forum, often adding the local perspective from Kenya and often adding posts to her posts that she has taken and shared via flickr. Her posts are always a great pleasure to read, enriching the debates with additional arguments and well researched facts.

To give one example of one of her outstanding contributions are the posts she made in the category faecal sludge management on the topic “Health guidelines and standards for pit emptiers and exhauster operators” which attracted 22 replies and resulted in a very good discussion:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/53-fae...-exhauster-operators

Doreen also has a keen interest in the topic of menstrual hygiene management where she started a topic on “Free sanitary towels for girls in Kenya” which attracted 25 replies:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/24-men...s-for-girls-in-kenya

She also enriched the forum with her posts on sanitation for people with disabilities, another topic that she feels strongly about and which she has helped to bring to the forefront: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/93-inc...the-wash-sector#1274

As far as statistics go, Doreen has made 101 posts and is the only female from the Global South that is posting so frequently and regularly (come one, ladies, do take up the challenge and do post as frequently as your male colleagues…! ;-)). She has received 32 “Likes” for her posts (the Like button is visible below a post after you have logged in) which puts her in 6th place.

Doreen has taken excellent photos of sanitation projects or lack of sanitation in Kenya and has made them available in the SuSanA Flickr collection.

For example check out this set where she accompanied manual pit emptiers in Korogocho slums (her boss, colleagues and mother were shocked when they heard afterwards that she went there to document this practice because it could have been quite dangerous):
www.flickr.com/photos/gtzecosan/sets/72157629202806662/

More of her photos are available in these two collections (from 2011 to 2013):
www.flickr.com/photos/gtzecosan/collections/72157616752316076/
www.flickr.com/photos/gtzecosan/collections/72157625627934025/
And here is the collection of photo sets from the UBSUP project that she works for:
www.flickr.com/photos/ubsup/collections/

Here you can see her during discussion with caretakers at a public toilet in Mathare:


Discussions with the caretakers about the facility by Sustainable sanitation , on Flickr

Thank you so much, Doreen, for your contributions on the forum! We hope that your busy schedule will allow you to continue to post on the forum in the future.

In the following post we will make an interview available that Doreen gave for us.

[Posted by Elisabeth and Hector]

Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sustainable sanitation sector program
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
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Re: Forum user of the month for November 2013 is Doreen Mbalo from Kenya !!

The following are a series of interview questions that Doreen kindly took the time to answer for us:
Part 1: About Doreen as a person


You registered already on 15 July 2011 which is one week after the forum was launched. How come?

During the month of July 2011, I started my internship at the Sustainable Sanitation Secretariat at the GIZ Headquarters in Eschborn, Germany. The program leader at that time, Dr. Elisabeth von Muench launched the online discussion forum during the 13th SuSanA meeting held in Kigali Rwanda. Once the forum was officially launched in Rwanda, I joined the online discussion forum and have been “addicted” to it ever since.

Where were you born, where did you study and where do you work currently?

I was born in Kenya, studied in Germany and the UK. In the UK, I did my Masters in Development with a focus on Water and Sanitation.

Where do you work now and what does your organization do? How is it funded?

I work for GIZ (formely known as GTZ). The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is Germany's leading provider of international cooperation services. As a federal enterprise, we support the German Government in achieving its objectives in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development. We are also engaged in international education work around the globe.

GIZ is fully owned by the Federal Republic of Germany, represented as the shareholder by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Federal Ministry of Finance (BMF).
For further information about GIZ, please visit the website: www.giz.de/en/

I have been working for GIZ for almost 2 and a half years both at the headquarters in Eschborn, Germany and the GIZ Water Sector Reform Programme in Kenya and I really enjoy my job.

More about my work place is available here:
WSTF website: wstf.go.ke/
UBSUP website: ubsup.go.ke/
Here on the forum: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/97-ena...p-wstf-and-giz-kenya

More about Doreen’s work will come in Part 2 of the interview, which will be posted tomorrow or the day after.

Doreen at work (third adult from left):



Group photo in South Nyanza by Sustainable sanitation , on Flickr

What are your plans for your future career in the longer term?

I plan to continue working in sanitation for a long long time. Sanitation is my passion.

What would you recommend to youngsters from countries in the global North who want to get involved in development work – how should they go about it? And does it even make sense?

Youngsters from the global North that want to get involved in development work should be aware that development work covers quite a variety of topics such as water and sanitation, health, education etc. Therefore as a young person, you need to study topics that are related to what you are interested in. Ensure that you also develop yourself through internships too as work experience is very important for many organisations. Find time to learn another language.
It does take time however if you are determined and passionate about it, you will make it. It took time for me too but I persevered because I knew that my main area of interest and passion is sanitation.
Young people coming from developed countries should also be open. Read about the country you are travelling to, try to understand the people. Once you are in a developing country, respect the opinions of the local staff. Normally people are really friendly so use that opportunity to get to talk to them and know them. Try to learn a little bit of the local language and blend in. Humility and willingness to learn are also key characteristics required. One also needs to have good understanding of the development issues facing the country.

What do you see as the biggest threats and the biggest opportunities for Kenya’s future?

I see so many opportunities in Kenya. We have quite a well-educated labor force, a government that is committed to implementing reforms and moving forward and we are the largest East African Economy. Our economy has demonstrated its strengths in many sectors and our priority is sustainable development. We have a huge youth population that is eager to contribute to the development of the country. There are also many developments particularly in infrastructure, health, agriculture and water.

The biggest threat is that Kenya’s youth lack job opportunities. Therefore our government needs to implement social and economic policies that promote investments and create jobs so as to benefit from a demographic dividend.

What three things would you take to a remote island? Or what are the three “things” that are really important for you in practical terms?
LOL that’s a funny question! I would take a smart funny and willing companion, a very thick notebook with a pen and a solar powered laptop (Hopefully I shall have unlimited access in the island :-) )

What books or magazines can be found on your bedside table?

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (in my kindle)
Half of a yellow sun by Chimamanda Ngozi
Der kleine Prinz by Antoine de Saint-Expury
Der Spiegel (German weekly news magazine)

Who do you look up to?

I look up to quite a number of people in the field. The GIZ Water Sector Reform, Program leader Roland Werchota has taught me a lot regarding the water and sanitation sector and has given me the opportunity to develop my interests and career. I am very grateful to him for investing in me and taking the time to guide and teach me. Dr. Elisabeth von Muench was my first boss at GIZ in Eschborn and has also taught be a lot about sanitation. I also look up to Dr. Doulaye Kone and the work he does at BMGF. I am also extremely privileged to be surrounded by great colleagues such as Eng. Patrick Onyango who has quite a lot of experience in the sector.


We will post Part 2 of the interview (Part 2: About Doreen's opinions about the forum) in about two days from now.


[Posted by Elisabeth and Hector]

Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sustainable sanitation sector program
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
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Re: Forum user of the month for November 2013 is Doreen Mbalo from Kenya !!

Welcome to this exclusive user group ;)

How about a short description on what you are working on right now? Maybe it is something we can promote to our members here in Uganda too.

P.S.: I used to be quite a lot in Bonn (I studied in Cologne). I hope you enjoyed your time in this boring German city ;) How is it now in Nairobi?

Krischan Makowka
Microbiologist & emergency WASH specialist
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Re: Forum user of the month for November 2013 is Doreen Mbalo from Kenya !!

And here comes Part 2 of the interview with Doreen so that you can all get to know her better:

Part 2: About Doreen's opinions about the forum

What is making you write on the forum - what do you expect by making posts? How have you benefited yourself from using the forum?

I write because I have questions. I write to share my ideas and experiences. I visit the forum regularly to keep up-to-date on the current issues and trends in sanitation. I have learnt so much from the forum and have been able to interact with people who have truly influenced me in a positive way.

Do your colleagues also use the forum?

Yes my colleagues not only from GIZ but from our partners at the Ministry and Water Services Trust Fund also use the forum. They do not use it as regularly as I do but when I do read something that I find interesting, I forward it to them.

What don’t you like about the forum or about other forum users?

I wish some users would not just write 1-2 sentences but give us a bit more background information of their questions or experiences. That way, we are able to appropriately answer them or give them more feedback.

If you could change something about the forum, what would it be?

When it comes to the icons at the top, I would probably add an icon solely for policies and institutional frameworks and up scaling sanitation. There is very little focus on up-scaling sanitation in the forum.

For example in Kenya, sanitation is lagging behind water supply. There have been efforts to improve the sanitation situation in many low income areas however many of these interventions were project- and informal service provision-based and not anchored in the sector and the national water sector reforms. The need for up-scaling sanitation has rarely been part of the concept underpinning these interventions which have primarily been driven by NGOs. There is therefore a need for a paradigm shift in promoting and implementing on a large scale, low-cost solutions for households and in the collection and treatment of sludge from on-site sanitation systems.

That is why I find the UBSUP programme so important! The UBSUP (SafiSan) programme aims to achieve its objectives by developing, testing and implementing innovative practical technologies and concepts for on-site sanitation systems and service delivery. The programme aims at improving the living and health conditions of the urban poor in Kenya through enhanced access to basic sanitation and safe water.

The objectives of the USBSUP programme are as follows:
  1. To provide sustainable sanitation for over 800,000 people and safe water for 200,000 in the urban low income-areas in Kenya
  2. To have sector institutions, civil society organizations and small-scale private entrepreneurs actively participate in the provision of basic sanitation to the urban low income areas and cooperation with research institutes results in improved sanitation options.
  3. A sanitation up-scaling concept in line with the sector reforms and anchored within the institutional framework
More information about the UBSUP programme can be found here in the SuSanA forum: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/97-ena...p-wstf-and-giz-kenya

WSTF website: wstf.go.ke/
UBSUP website: ubsup.go.ke/

Another aspect I feel we are not talking about is the realization of the human rights to water and sanitation. I wish this would be covered more strongly in the forum. In addition, we need to strongly look at how informal service provision discriminates the underserved. Up-scaling cannot take place through informal small scale service provision.

Let me elaborate with a Kenyan example from water: Many urban low income areas unfortunately still rely on informal service providers such as illegal cartels and vendors and the consequences in water supply are that the underserved pay a much higher price for water with doubtful quality than consumers with household water connections.

The urban underserved are therefore at the mercy of either unqualified community management or cartels that are not obligated to account for their work (infrastructure or services) to a central agency for standards, service levels and price. The sheer numbers of informal providers makes it impossible to control their work and the services that they are providing. The same stands for sanitation when it comes to services such as manual pit emptying and exhauster services. These services often lead to public health risks and are not regulated or standardized. Informality cements discrimination of the underserved because it prevents sustainable development and fulfilment of rights to water and sanitation as enshrined in Article 43 b of the Constitution of Kenya.

Let us highlight some of these topics a little bit more strongly and get practices out of different countries.

What is your advice to the forum moderators?

I think you are doing a brilliant job! :-)

Which topics or categories on the forum do you feel most passionate about?

Urban Sanitation, Faecal Sludge Management, Menstrual Hygiene Management, DEWATS

Greetings from Nairobi,
Doreen

Doreen Mbalo
Programme Advisor
GIZ Water Sector Reform Programme
Nairobi, Kenya



[posted by Elisabeth von Muench on behalf of SuSanA secretariat / core group]

Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sustainable sanitation sector program
Located at Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Eschborn, Germany
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Re: Forum user of the month for November 2013 is Doreen Mbalo from Kenya !!

Thanks for the great introduction to Doreen. It was so great to work with her when we were putting together the Compendium of working group fact sheets. ( susana.org/lang-en/library?view=ccbktypeitem&type=2&id=1229 )

If you come to the west coast of the US, Doreen, please be our guest.

Carol McCreary
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Toilet availability is a human right and well-designed sanitation systems restore health to our cities, our waters and our soils.
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Re: Forum user of the month for November 2013 is Doreen Mbalo from Kenya !!

Congratulations, Doreen.

Great profile and great work! You fully deserve that.

F H Mughal

Sect.: Is the Secretariat planning to institute awards, to be given to these winners?

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Re: Forum user of the month for November 2013 is Doreen Mbalo from Kenya !!

Dear Mughal,

At the moment, the award is one which involves openly and publicly recognising the person's contributions and making the person's name more well known in the sector. Do you have particular ideas for "instituting awards to be given to the winners" - do you mean some price money? Or free attendance at the next SuSanA meeting, i.e. travel expenses paid for - that would be nice. ;-) But first, funding would have to be secured for that. Maybe some sponsorship deals. What are your ideas?

Regards,
Elisabeth

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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(see: www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )
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Re: Forum user of the month for November 2013 is Doreen Mbalo from Kenya !!

Dear Elisabeth,

While I had awards, like Hollywood's Oscar awards; or the WWE wrestling's Slamy awards, in my mind, I think, your idea is great - that of free attendance at SuSanA meetings.

Regards,

F H Mughal

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Re: Forum user of the month for November 2013 is Doreen Mbalo from Kenya !!

Congratulations Doreen. It takes passion to make a contribution to sanitation. Doreen is up there among the most passionate about the interesting field that sanitation is.

ft

Fredrick Tumusiime, MSc
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Water and Sanitation

Skype: tufre80
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