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

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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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  • 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: 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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  • paresh
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  • Budding WASH researcher, especially interested in governance, public policy, finance, politics and social justice. Architect, Urban & Regional planner by training, Ex. C-WAS, India. I am a patient person :)
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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
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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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  • Petra
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    Topic Author
  • 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
  • Posts: 110
  • Karma: 8
  • Likes received: 26

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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Get in touch
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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  • 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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