Hard-to-reach indigenous groups and WASH (and SDG and climate change negotiations)

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  • joeturner
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Hard-to-reach indigenous groups and WASH (and SDG and climate change negotiations)

I have realised that the focussed discussion on the SDGs touches on something I am writing about (I am a journalist).

Does anyone have experience running a WASH project particularly targeting a marginalised indigenous group? Are there specific technical issues relating to delivering to those groups and do you think that the SDG focus on leaving nobody behind will make a difference to project delivery on the ground for these groups? Maybe there will be more money available to delivering to these groups than there has been before?
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  • canaday
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Re: hard-to-reach indigenous groups and WASH

Hi Joe,

I have been building UDDTs with indigenous people here in Ecuador for over 15 years. In fact, I got started with UDDTs because we needed one at a house my wife and I had bought... and my wife is an indigenous Shuar woman.

I have built with a variety of ethnic groups, but mostly with the Achuar people, with whom we have built over 50 UDDTs in recent years, in partnership with various projects that are working with theses communities.

I think it is key to teach indigenous people about EcoSan. They are getting all sorts of stuff from Western Society, but let's try to not get them on the bandwagon with the most ridiculous parts of Western Society, like defecating via pipes into other people's drinking water (with or without treatment).

Getting people to change their sanitary habits is an imminently cultural endeavor, so we need to be culturally sensitive and do lots of consciousness-raising and follow-up. Like everyone else, indigenous people need to see that these alternatives work and gradually start to apply them in their communities. This process need to include people who know each culture, together with members of each culture.

I also think it is key to work in places, like Bhutan, that are just opening up to Western culture before the wasteful flush toilets get installed on a big scale. In many cases, they were living fairly idyllic lives before Western germs got in, so it is logical that we should them fight these germs.

Hopefully the upper-strategies you mention will help the indigenous people everywhere.

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com
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  • joeturner
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Re: hard-to-reach indigenous groups and WASH

Thanks Chris, that's an interesting thought I need to incorporate into my article - care is needed to find culturally acceptable technologies which relate to the issues they are facing (and explained in ways that they understand), rather than importing an idea from elsewhere and expecting it to work and be accepted.

I wonder if any has a thought about whether the increased focus on WASH in the SDGs will help with any of that? Will it make any difference to these marginalised communities?
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  • canaday
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Re: hard-to-reach indigenous groups and WASH

Hi Joe,

One more comment. We should remember that indigenous people are not primitive, they just have different cultures and have had the strength of cultural identity to not succumb to the pressures of the dominant society. In many cases, they have more realistic perspectives on sanitation and hygiene compared to the tribe of Queen Victoria with their flush toilets contaminating other people's drinking water and sending millions of microscopic water droplets bearing feces into the air.

It is key to involve the indigenous people in the design of their sanitary objectives and solutions, and not just apply pre-established models.

Best wishes,
Chris Canaday
Conservation Biologist and EcoSan Promoter
Omaere Ethnobotanical Park
Puyo, Pastaza, Ecuador, South America
inodoroseco.blogspot.com
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  • Elisabeth
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Re: hard-to-reach indigenous groups and WASH

I saw on twitter that Joe has in the meantime published his article that he mentioned at the beginning of this thread.
I think it's nice to "close the loop" by providing a link to his article here:
www.scidev.net/global/climate-change/fea...hange.html?stay=full

Title: Getting local voices to global talks on climate change

I hope it's OK to copy the "speed read" messages:
  • Summits like COP fail to take account of tribal people and their needs
  • Indigenous experiences lose out to science when competing for political attention
  • Promises made on climate change and development have made little difference on the ground

COP stands for ... actually, I didn't know, had to look it up in Wikipedia! "Conference of the parties".
See also here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_United_Nation...te_Change_Conference

Mughal also raised questions about COP21 and sanitation here in this post:
forum.susana.org/forum/categories/195-cl...on-on-climate-change

Nice article, Joe! You raised a topic for me that I had never really thought of before (i.e. the indigenous peoples aspect).

Kind regards,
Elisabeth
Head moderator of this Discussion Forum
(with financial support by GIZ from July to November 2021)

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
Independent consultant located in Brisbane, Australia
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Founder of WikiProject Sanitation: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:WikiProject_Sanitation
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