Any suggestions for improving the Wikipedia article on WASH further?

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Any helpers to improve the Wikipedia article on WASH further?

Hi,
As you all know we have a Wikipedia article on WASH, see here:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WASH

I have recently merged a chunk of text into it that used to be in a separate Wikipedia article called "Water supply and women in developing countries". This content now requires to be merged properly, headings changed, redundancies removed, references checked etc.

Does anyone feel passionate about educating the public on WASH and can help me with this?

The article gets about 200 views per day on Wikipedia so it's not insignificant and not bad for such a specialised topic (see here: tools.wmflabs.org/pageviews/?project=en....=all-time&pages=WASH )

If you don't have time to help but you have time to list the flaws and shortcomings and missing references of this Wikipedia article, please don't hold back and list them here in this thread. Previous discussions about this article amongst Wikipedians are available here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:WASH
Thanks.

And if you spot any typos in the Wikipedia article, just go ahead and correct them please (you do't even need a Wikipedia login for that).

Thanks,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Ulm, Germany
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Any suggestions for improving the Wikipedia article on WASH further?

Hi,

I've done some work on the Wikipedia article on WASH recently and I'd like to invite SuSanA members to provide feedback. Content that I have added is for example about climate-resilient WASH, climate change and WASH, links with water security and links to the sanitation workers article.

Some questions:
  1. Is the article the right length now? Is it too detailed in some areas or not detailed enough in others?
  2. Are any main topics still missing?
  3. Is there any outdated content that could be deleted (e.g. I felt the content on "gender mainstreaming" was perhaps a bit outdated and jargony, so I have shorted that).
  4. Does anyone have ideas on making the language more understandable for lay persons? I fear some of it is still a bit "development speech".
  5. What do you think of the images used, in particular the four that make up the image collage for the lead (see screenshots below or here )? I am not sure if I like the one of the woman in India doing the pumping (even though I chose it). I guess WASH is inherently about developing countries with a strong linkage to poverty. From that perspective, the two images showing people in those circumstances are justified, or not? Keep in mind that a big proportion of Wikipedia readers are people from the Global North who know little about the Global South.
Our target audience for Wikipedia articles are lay persons, non-experts from all over the world. The Wikipedia article on WASH should be understandable for people without university degrees. It gets about 200 page views per day.



 

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Ulm, Germany
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
My Wikipedia user profile: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:EMsmile
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Any suggestions for improving the Wikipedia article on WASH further?

Elisabeth wrote: I guess WASH is inherently about developing countries with a strong linkage to poverty. From that perspective, the two images showing people in those circumstances are justified, or not?


It could indeed include some more examples of WASH in other settings such as transitional refugee camps such as those found on the balkans or in the Ukrainian border region.

Also WASH in prisons could be a topic to add (ICRC has some resources on that, but they like to call WASH "WatHab").
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Re: Any suggestions for improving the Wikipedia article on WASH further?

Hi Kris,
Thanks for your reply, much appreciated! I'll add some content about refugee camps and prisons. Are there any recent publications that you think are particularly good for these topics and should be cited and given some limelight here?

If you don't have a preference I could perhaps use these as a starting point although I see now that this thread of key documents hasn't been updated since 2015:  forum.susana.org/230-other-non-household...n-household-settings
The IRC website has this compilation:  www.ircwash.org/resources/case-studies-institutional-wash

Second question: I wonder if the term WASH is in practice only used in the development cooperation / developing countries / low-income countries context? If so, perhaps we should clarify this in the Wikipedia article. I've never seen it used in the wealthier countries context. E.g. yes there are issues with school toilets also in Germany but we would refer to that as "school toilets", not "WASH in schools". Or refugee/migrant camps in Greece: we would probably say that "water supply and sanitation services are lacking" but would we really say that there is a "lack of access to WASH"?

And if that is so, is the term WASH perhaps a bit "colonial"? 

The Wikipedia article explains the history of the term WASH here:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WASH#History . I had researched that back in 2015 (with the help of people who replied to me in this thread ) and pieced it together like that.

The abbreviation "WASH" was used from the year 1988 onwards as an acronym for the "Water and Sanitation for Health" Project of the  United States Agency for International Development . [128]  At that time, the letter "H" stood for "health", not "hygiene". Similarly, in Zambia the term WASHE was used in a report in 1987 and stood for "Water Sanitation Health Education". [129]  An even older USAID "WASH project report" dates back to as early as 1981. [130]

From about 2001 onwards, international organizations active in the area of water supply and sanitation advocacy, such as the  Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council  and the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) in the Netherlands began to use "WASH" as an umbrella term for water, sanitation and hygiene. [131]  "WASH" has since then been broadly adopted as a handy acronym for water, sanitation and hygiene in the  international development  context. [132]  The term "WatSan" was also used for a while, especially in the emergency response sector such as with  IFRC  and  UNHCR , [133]  but has not proven as popular as WASH. 

I've never felt very comfortable with the term because of the connotation with "washing", as if there was an overall hygiene problem and people weren't washing themselves or their clothes enough. You, Kris, also mentioned something similar here :

But for most people the term WASH, especially when spoken, will be associated with "washing", so maybe hand washing, or general hygiene, but certainly not with sanitation infrastructure for example.
Thus the people who managed to introduce the "hygiene" into the sector were maybe a bit too successful, to the point where it now often seems to dominate the discussions, especially at the cross-sections with people from outside the sector.

Interesting about ICRC and WatHab (for water and habitat). I hadn't heard that term before. Can you tell us more? I found this page:  www.icrc.org/en/what-we-do/water-habitat

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Ulm, Germany
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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Any suggestions for improving the Wikipedia article on WASH further?

I don't think WASH is "colonial", but rather typical NGO jargon. iNGO workers will also use it in non-developing country settings, but indeed the comprehension of the term by non-NGO counterparts will be even lower there.

As for water and sanitation in prisons publications:
www.icrc.org/en/publication/0823-water-s...-and-habitat-prisons  
There is also a nice Youtube video: 


ICRC likes to use their "WatHab" term, because for traditional reasons their sectors are divided a bit different, with more hardware focused water and sanitation interventions falling under the same umbrella as what other NGOs refer to as "shelter" i.e. structural habitat improvements, while hygiene and especially the distribution of hygiene NFIs fall under their "EcoSec" department. But even within the Red Cross movement this term is not very commonly used and rather specific to ICRC.
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Re: Any suggestions for improving the Wikipedia article on WASH further?

Hi Kris,
I've now added content about WASH in prisons to the Wikipedia article on WASH, using the publication by ICRC that you had recommended (thanks for that). It looks like this:  en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WASH#In_prisons

In prisons
In developing countries,  prison  buildings are very often overcrowded and dilapidated. [93] : 12  A report by  ICRC  states that "Measures depriving persons of their freedom must in no way, whatever the circumstances, be made more severe by treatment or material conditions of detention which undermine the dignity and the rights of the individual.". [93] : 12 The water supply systems and sanitary facilities in prisons are often insufficient to meet the needs of the prison population in cases where the number of detainees exceeds a prison’s capacity. [93]  Overuse of the facilities results in rapid deterioration.

The budget allocated by the State for prisons is often insufficient to cover the detainees’ needs in terms of food and medical care, let alone upkeep of water and sanitation facilities. [93] : 12  Nevertheless, even with limited funds, it is possible to maintain or renovate decaying infrastructure with the right planning approaches and suitable low-cost water supply and sanitation options.

Is this what you had in mind? I tried to bring out what was specific about prisons. I don't think we need information on types of WASH technologies that can be used as that would be pretty much the same as for other settings. More interesting might be some data, e.g. what percentage of prisons around the world (or in developing countries) have inadequate WASH infrastructure (probably nearly 100% in developing countries)? Are there any publications on that? - Lack of funding and political will would be the main two culprits, coupled with overcrowding of prisons. Right?

With regards to refugee camps, what kind of content would you like me to add and with which reference? What would be specific about WASH in refugee camps compared to WASH in other settings?

Oh, and I've also added a new sentence to the lead of the article to put things into context (the second sentence is new):

WASH (or WatsanWaSH) is an  acronym  that stands for " water sanitation  and  hygiene ". It is used widely by  non-governmental organizations  and  aid agencies  in  developing countries .

If you, or anyone else, has further suggestions for improvement for this Wikipedia article, I would be all ears. Or you could also make the changes yourself, which is easy to do when it's only quite small changes.

Regards,
Elisabeth
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Re: Any suggestions for improving the Wikipedia article on WASH further?

Thanks for reminding me of this topic. In general I think it is ok like this, but maybe it could be made more obvious that these categories are often not so clear cut.

In some contexts, sadly what is officially called an IDP site is in reality more of an detention camp, with people almost kept as if they were prisoners. And very few refugees are allowed to travel freely in their host country.

And the large barbed wire fences around transitional refugee sites in south-eastern Europe are also quite reminiscent of prisons...
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: Any suggestions for improving the Wikipedia article on WASH further?

That's an interesting aspect but how exactly should I weave that into the Wikipedia article about WASH, and by using which publication as a source? Does it make any difference - with regards to the WASH services - whether it's a camp where people can come and go freely or whether it's more like a prison / detention centre?
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Re: Any suggestions for improving the Wikipedia article on WASH further?

Yes difficult to put it in such a Wikipedia article, but speaking from practical experience the WASH conditions are usually much worse when people can't leave and purchase at least basic stuff themselves. In addition it is often seen as a form of punishment by the guards if people have to live in really unhygienic conditions. This is also semi-intentionally used by governments that want to get rid of refugee populations in many parts of the world.
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Re: Any suggestions for improving the Wikipedia article on WASH further?

Those are very good points. I guess the ICRC handbook that I've cited in the Wikipedia article indirectly makes that point when it says "Measures depriving persons of their freedom must in no way, whatever the circumstances, be made more severe by treatment or material conditions of detention which undermine the dignity and the rights of the individual."

There are probably publications out there that deal more explicitly with what you said ("In addition it is often seen as a form of punishment by the guards if people have to live in really unhygienic conditions."). If you or someone else comes across such a publication, let me know. Then I can include this content in the Wikipedia article. 
(I'd love to cite simply your forum post but this is not deemed a reliable source within the Wikipedia referencing system)
Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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Twitter: @EvMuench
Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
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