Building WASH resilience to climate change in rural communities- Thank you!

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  • ElaineMercer
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  • Communications and Networking Officer for the Sanitation Learning Hub, Institute of Development Studies, in the UK.
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Re: DISCUSSION PHASE 2: Building WASH resilience to climate change in rural communities

In case you missed the webinar mentioned above you can watch the recording here - Building Climate Resilience towards Sanitation and Hygiene 
Elaine Mercer
Communications and Networking Officer
The Sanitation Learning Hub
The Institute of Development Studies
sanitationlearninghub.org/

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  • Mnyororo
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  • I am working with Local NGOs called Sustainable Environment Management Action based in Tanzania as Program Officer for WASH project,
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Re: The same, more and better or something radically different?

Policies and Act should be addressing the integration of WASH and Climate, also the respective government structure should have the capacity of integrating it.

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  • Fesvit
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Re: The same, more and better or something radically different?

I will address one of your questions above "..........Or do we need new strategies, ideas, modalities to more specifically meet the needs of climate-related impacts on sanitation?"

We need increased policies and implementation on the designs and construction of Sustainable WASH facilities. This is achievable through government setting standards for construction of sustainable Sanitary systems in areas where the municipal sewage systems are not in use; rural areas in Nigeria (48.08% even more extending to Suburban area); due to poverty or low income level build septic tank that can contaminate ground water and are open to flooding, which in turn affect ground and surface water. The government needs to partner with civil society organisations to educate the citizens on the importance of sustainable Sanitary systems. Government needs to implement professionalism through Professional Institutions and bodies, they will in turn be in check; as engineers and technicians need to apply best practices in WASH sector.

As the Climate change knocks hard the design and construction of safe and sustainable WASH systems in the hands of the field engineers and technicians needs proper and continues education, and monitoring to curb climate-related impacts on Water and sanitation.

Civil Societies and WASH Advocates needs to speak up on the above and see them implemented.

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  • Petra
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Re: Building WASH resilience to climate change in rural communities- Thank you!

Thank you to those who followed the discussion and those who contributed.  It was on the quiet side, but we hope that the questions at least prompted some useful reflections and that some of you took advantage of the webinar and the SuSanA session.

There are more events coming up including a session at the UNC conference on the 5th October (info here ).

To find out more about other events, publications and relevant material, please follow the Sanitation Learning Hub's website and/or  on your preferred social media channel
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We are continuing this work around climate change and rural sanitation and would like to make it as relevant to your work and your needs as possible.
If you are interested in building your knowledge and capacity by learning other rural sanitation experts engaging with climate change impacts and want to be involved in developing the thinking around these issues, we would love to hear from you.

You can get in touch with Ruhil This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your thoughts, questions, ideas and experiences.

We hope that together we can build momentum around community-centred responses to climate change in the rural sanitation sector.


Many good wishes,
Petra
Petra Bongartz
independent consultant

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  • JeremyK
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  • Researcher at Institute for Sustainable Futures - University of Technology Sydney. Interested in climate change and WASH (rural and urban san; rural water) and equitable WASH service delivery
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Re: Question 3: What do we need for WASH to take timely and effective action on Climate Change?

Thanks for this question, Petra.

I wonder if two things are needed for the rural sanitation sector: One, further awareness of the relevance climate change for rural sanitation. And two, a clearer picture of what timely and effective action looks like.

On the first front, it's intuitive that an increase in heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding will adversely affect sanitation, but maybe it's not yet clear what the extent of this problem will be. Recent studies in Mozambique and Ethiopia found that 45% and 43% of study participants respectively did not repair/rebuild their latrines after they were damaged by floods. Meanwhile, research in Botswana found that droughts (which may be getting worse due to climate change) cause increased use of pit latrines that contaminate key groundwater sources used for drinking. I think as we get more quantifiable measures showing the link between changes in climate extremes and WASH outcomes, more impetus to act will emerge.

It's also worth noting that climate change doesn't just affect sanitation through the direct impacts of incremental changes in temperature and precipitation. Everything happens in the context of climate change now. Any conventional sanitation challenge that you can think of - behaviour change, ongoing financing, governance - is influenced by climate change such that all these challenges are accompanied by increased volatility and uncertainty.  All aspects of sanitation service delivery (and all aspects of life, really) will need to increasingly work in a  context of regional- and world-disturbing events. I think there is increasing acceptance of this, especially with COVID-19.

On the second front, we need to start trialing and sharing ideas on climate resilience with one another so we can build a knowledge base of what could and should be done. I'm part of an effort to synthesise and share work and research being done within the DFAT Water for Women Fund on inclusive climate resilience for WASH. Sharing initiatives like this are especially important when the sector is exploring unfamiliar territory.

As Paresh mentioned, engagement with other sectors is important for tacking the challenge of living in an increasingly extreme and unpredictable world. Impacts of climate change on economies and environments at large-scales are too big for any one sector to tackle alone.

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  • paresh
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Re: Question 3: What do we need for WASH to take timely and effective action on Climate Change?

I'd like to point out a related recent SuSanA publication titled  Shaping the water sector to be more climate resilient - A plea for greater and wider collaboration  introduced on the forum earlier.

The following text from the introduction states the premise:

These appear to be overwhelming challenges. However, many of the concepts, technologies and resources needed to overcome them already exist, but are scattered across different organizations in multiple countries. It is widely acknowledged that the chances of achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) and 13 (Climate Action) by 2030 would be significantly improved by increased collaboration, with fewer trade-offs and greater synergy.

The publication discusses 6 case-studies of how sectoral and cross-sectoral cooperation at governmental, institutional and personal levels was achieved and their impacts. 

Important to note as member of the network is a section in chapter 3 that discusses the background paper titled “ Opportunities for Sustainable Sanitation in Climate Action ” prepared by WG 3.

Regards
paresh 
Paresh Chhajed-Picha
Researcher at Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay, India
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter: @Sparsh85
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  • Petra
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Re: Question 3: What do we need for WASH to take timely and effective action on Climate Change?

Last question for the discussion forum:

What do we need in order for the WASH sector to take timely, relevant and effective action on climate change?

Your views, opinions and ideas, please!
Petra Bongartz
independent consultant

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  • Petra
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  • Co-founder and former staff member of the CLTS Knowledge Hub (now Sanitation Learning Hub) at IDS, now consultant with 14 years' experience of knowledge management, participatory workshop facilitation, communications and networking. Interested in behaviour change, climate justice and embodied leadership
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Re: The same, more and better or something radically different?

When it comes to addressing climate change, what do need in our sanitation programming? Do we continue with the same approaches to creating safe, adequate and sustainable sanitation for all? Are they enough and will they manage to address the challenges posed by climate-related impacts? Or do we need new strategies, ideas, modalities to more specifically meet the needs of climate-related impacts on sanitation?

What do you think?
Petra Bongartz
independent consultant

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  • ElaineMercer
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Re: DISCUSSION PHASE 2: Building WASH resilience to climate change in rural communities

Hi Petra and all,

I just wanted to take this opportunity to promote the forthcoming Sanitation Learning Hub webinar/side-session related to this discussion:

Building climate resilience towards sanitation and hygiene


Thursday 19th August: 13.00 – 12.30 UK time 


This session (part of 31st SuSanA Meeting ) will present a framework to understand how climate impacts affect rural sanitation and hygiene practices. It will explore the direct and  indirect impacts of climate hazards and the various factors that govern people’s responses. The social context (norms and psychological factors) and local activities shape how these hazards impact physical access to sanitation infrastructure, access to local resources and markets, and livelihoods needed to support safe sanitation.

Register for meeting

Objectives:
  • Present a framework to understand the impact of climate hazards on sanitation access and behaviour based on gender, age, location and more.
  • Present case studies to unpack rural sanitation prioritisation during and after disasters
  • Discuss ways to build community resilience to climate shocks and stresses.
Presenters:
  • Dr Jeremy Kohlitz and Ruhil Iyer. Climate change and rural sanitation: how do we start?
  • Prof. Deepthi Wickramsinghe. Is emergency sanitation management gender sensitive?
  • Dr. Devanmini Halwathura. Droughts and doubts: Has sanitation gained enough attention in drought situations?
  • Dr. Indrajith Pal. Water related disasters and sanitation management
The session will be 90 minutes in total – this will include 25 minutes of breakout discussions where all participants can share their thoughts,
experiences, learning and questions on the issue. For any queries, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Many thanks
Elaine
Elaine Mercer
Communications and Networking Officer
The Sanitation Learning Hub
The Institute of Development Studies
sanitationlearninghub.org/

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  • Petra
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Re: DISCUSSION PHASE 2: Building WASH resilience to climate change in rural communities

Hello everyone, kicking off Phase 2 of our online discussion with a new question and looking forward to your views and opinions:

When it comes to climate change and rural sanitation,...

How do we best address climate change impacts in our programmes: by strengthening existing approaches or through radically new ways of working?

In other words, do we need to do the same things that we have always done in rural sanitation, just better, or  is something entirely different needed to respond to climate change impacts on rural sanitation?
Petra Bongartz
independent consultant

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  • RuhilI
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Re: Building WASH resilience to climate change in rural communities

Hi Petra, 

I agree with both your points and just to add -

While climate hazards are definitely the new norm, our research and conversations have also identified that a lot of what practitioners are currently doing like - advocating for regular operation and maintenance of latrines and present ways of addressing gender and social inclusion issues within sanitation are already very good practice to draw on and continue to practice. Practitioners regularly also encounter the idea of 'risk' and 'vulnerability' in their existing programming - so these ideas are not new thinking about climate change within sanitation doesn't need to start from scratch. We already have a wealth of good practice to build on from within our existing work in the sector, and like you and Jeremy have indicated, extend this to collaborating with others to address the complexity of impacts. 

I think may be in terms of what information is most needed, many practitioners we interviewed expressed the need for there to be more evidence connecting these links between climate hazards and sanitation - both in terms of the experiences of people within villages and also how programming is being impacted at the community level. For instance, what is the impact on behavior change programming with storms repeatedly damaging latrines? What evidence exists of programs modifying current ways of engagement, what interventions have been successful, unsuccessful and why within contexts experiencing frequent climate disruptions? 

Would be great to hear any experiences that people may have to share around these, and also what others think might be important information we need. 

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  • Petra
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Re: Building WASH resilience to climate change in rural communities

And following on from Elisabeth's post where she says

"Furthermore, I think it can be difficult to delineate the "normal" things from the "abnormal/climate change induced" things."

Is this a helpful distinction? In my mind, there are two ways of looking at this:

1) We need to get used to the fact that climate change is the new normal (and actually has been for many communities in many places for a long time- we just didn't make it explicit).

2) What is 'normal'? I think we can probably agree that many of the problems we are facing, whether we call them climate related or not, are human-made ie are the results of human activities that have altered the environment in ways that have short term and longer term consequences. For example deforestation, a particular way of farming, water use etc.  Looking at it this way, it is clear that we also need to look beyond the sanitation sector and link up with other areas of knowledge and work if we want to address these issues. A more comprehensive collaborative approach is needed. We discuss this in the Frontiers both as one of the issues stopping us from acting (Section 2) and as one of the suggested approaches in secton 6 (Establishing collaboration and learning to mainstream climate change into sanitation) where we suggest a consortium approach as one way to tackle the complexity of impacts at local level. There was a lot of interest in trialling consortium approaches at the webinar on the 14th.

I wonder whether anyone would like to share their thoughts and questions around what kind of collaborations and cross-sectoral ways of working may be possible where they are.
Petra Bongartz
independent consultant

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