submitted by Neeraj Jain
08/14/2015 at 10:44

As part of the India Sanitation Coalition, WaterAid has been collaborating with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) to enable and support an ecosystem for sustainable sanitation in line with the Clean India Campaign. The coalition’s role is that of a catalyst to make technical and capacity strengthening processes easily available for key corporate constituencies.

The coalition was launched on June 25, 2015, by the Union Minister for Drinking Water and Sanitation, Chaudhary Birender Singh. Since then, the coalition has been focused on bringing diverse organisations and individuals together on a common platform to find sustainable end-to-end solutions for sanitation that can be built, used, maintained and treated in both rural and urban areas.  

The coalition is also working closely with the Government of India on its flagship programme, “Member of Parliament Model Village Scheme – Sansad Adarash Gram Yojana (SAGY),” which covers around 680 villages in India. Under the scheme, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has requested all Members of Parliament (MPs) develop one model village in their constituency by 2016 and two more by 2019. By keeping the onus on the MPs to become directly involved with sanitation progress in their districts, the SAGY program has served as a catalyst for the MPs to leverage convergence funds and amend schemes to make them more meaningful at the grassroots level.

From the PM’s call to the nation on last year’s Independence Day (August 15, 2014) for a Clean India, things have been meticulously planned and near impossible deadlines are being met. While the main focus is on an empowering process to gain community involvement for individual household toilets and to keep a robust monitoring and evaluation plan in place, there is also a focus on the “soft” behavior change components that have often been ignored. 

The government is placing greater emphasis on training the district administration and the frontline workers who are at the forefront of implementation of the scheme and on changing people’s attitude towards using a toilet. As of today, 517 village development plans have been made. The SAGY has appointed charge officers: senior administrators who use information and communication technology (ICT) to make transparent, real-time status of progress in their areas available. 

Although the coalition was initiated in 2013 by a group of people from different organisations engaged in the sanitation space, the pace towards realising possible goals has only just begun. The coalition today includes 51 organisations and several individual experts.

Going forward, the coalition, through its members, will focus on supporting the Prime Minister’s vision of a Clean India and help in ensuring not only construction but usage and maintenance of sanitation facilities in both rural and urban areas. This will build the momentum towards the goal of India being open defection-free by 2019.

The coalition provides the platform to learn, share and support through a multitude of organisations who see sanitation as a priority for India!


-- Neeraj Jain is the Chief Executive of WaterAid in India and is heading the task force on ‘Engagement with Central and State Governments’ at the India Sanitation Coalition.


Photo credit: WaterAid/Poulomi Basu.

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submitted by Deborah Kidd
08/12/2015 at 14:44

Suited up and ready to run.

Shortly after the Mile 2 marker, doubt started to creep in. Mile 2 might sound easy enough, but let’s clarify one important detail straight off: I am not a runner. Given the choice, I will gladly walk, thank you very much. But a recent move to a new home and a tricky commute have made me a reluctant jogging commuter. Shortly after I moved, I learned of the first ever 5K sponsored by my favorite hometown team (Seattle Sounders FC, of course!), and well… I blame post-workout endorphins for making me sign up.

At the starting line: Off we go!


So around Mile 2 (of 3.1 miles total), when the adrenaline rush I anticipated wasn’t quite kicking in, I remembered who I was running for. Running might not be my favorite pastime, but it is my choice. I found motivation for that last mile thinking of the women and girls who don’t have a choice, who trek just as far—and often quite farther—every day, to bring home safe water for their families. If they don’t make that journey, their families simply don’t survive. So their strength (boosted by a healthy dose of girl-power courtesy of Beyonce), saw me through. And once I committed to these women? Yep, sure enough. There was that adrenaline kick.

Adrenaline-infused on the home stretch.

Clean water was at the top of my thoughts thanks to the partnership benefitting from Sunday’s #RaveGreenRun. The Water, Wealth, and Health partnership is a one-of-a-kind, exciting new initiative that will bring far-reaching expertise to bear on water issues in rural Tanzanian communities. Water is health in these communities, but it also livelihood. Daily lives center on agropastoralism – it’s a new term to me (and has a beautiful sound, doesn’t it?). And I was excited to learn that within agropastoralism, integration is inherent. Fields and fauna. Leaves and livestock. Farmers who support their families through crops and herds depend on strategic irrigation and sustainable water management. And with a stronger season comes greater wealth, resources to invest in a family’s wellbeing with clean drinking, safe sanitation, and nutrition on the table.

With Seattle Sounders FC Director of Community Outreach (and former midfielder) Roger Levesque. The only reason we make it look easy is that these water cans were empty... and our balance lasted for about 1.5 seconds.

The Water, Wealth, and Health effort will harness each partners’ strengths and experiences, building a comprehensive model to help families take steps toward their own stronger, healthier futures. World Vision’s relationships with community farmers matched with Washington State University’s insight into agropastoralist livelihoods and woven together with PATH’s proven market-based model for WASH promise to empower families and allow them the resources and awareness to invest in health. Top it off with coordination from the Washington Global Health Alliance and support from Seattle Sounders FC (who happen to have the best fans in the country, by the way), and it’s absolutely a winning combination!

I crossed the finish line just under 30 minutes. Not too shabby for my inaugural performance (though that’s not to say I’ll be signing up for an encore anytime soon). I met my goal of jogging the entire 5K, which made me feel strong and healthy. And even more, proud to take part in ensuring the health of many more.

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Mother breastfeeding infant
submitted by Erin Sosne
08/07/2015 at 15:53

Knowing all of the health benefits of breastfeeding, there was no question that I wanted to breastfeed my son. I was lucky. He was born healthy and full term; and while we had our challenges initiating breastfeeding, we had all of the advantages of being in a supportive environment which enabled me to exclusively breastfeed (including lots of pumping!) for his first six months of life. 

Ask any breastfeeding working mom about the logistics of pumping and she will regale you with stories. I know other working mothers who have pumped in fast food restrooms, in post-offices and even in a Congressional hearing room. In addition to childcare, the logistics of pumping at work is a major topic of conversation (and source of anxiety) for new moms in the office. 

While most traditional workplaces in the US are required to provide time and a clean place to express milk, those of us who spend part of the work day out of the office must plan ahead to find a clean (ideally private) place to pump, be flexible when plans change, and be prepared with all the necessary supplies – including a cooler with an ice pack to store and transport milk until a refrigerator is available.

Since becoming a breastfeeding mom, I’ve lived first-hand all that is necessary to create the enabling environment to make breastfeeding work – even in (theoretically) high-resource settings. I can only imagine what this would be like for working mothers in the developing world – especially considering that 75% of jobs are in the informal sector, where there is no employer to provide time and a clean space to express and safely store milk, let alone affordable access to pumping supplies, electricity, clean water and soap to sterilize supplies, and refrigeration. We must do a better job to make it easier for breastfeeding working moms if we want the world’s children to reap the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life.

I can’t help but think if our situation were different. What if my son had been born premature or with a health complication where he could not nurse? What if I wasn’t able to breastfeed? What if we lived in a low resource setting? 

When mothers want to give their children the benefit of breastfeeding, but are unable to provide their own milk, donor milk is the preferred option. And increasingly, this option is becoming available to mothers and babies facing breastfeeding challenges, no matter where they live.

Human milk banking is particularly important for babies born prematurely with low birth weight or other conditions that leave them unable to breastfeed, as they are more vulnerable to sickness and death. Providing donor breast milk to these babies can save newborn lives, improve newborn health and development, and improve overall breastfeeding rates—not to mention put anxious mothers somewhat more at ease. Human milk banks enable mothers to donate their extra breastmilk to special facilities where it is tested, treated and distributed to vulnerable newborns who don’t otherwise have access to their own mother’s milk.  

With the imminent launch of the new Sustainable Development Goal to end preventable newborn and child deaths by 2030, PATH has joined other organizations around the world to call upon governments, the United Nations and its agencies, civil society and business leaders, and all institutions with a stake in healthier generations of children to commit to ensuring that all newborns have access to human milk by increasing investments in human milk banks as part of integrated breastfeeding, newborn care, and infant nutrition programs, with a special focus on the countries where newborn deaths are concentrated. 

I am grateful for all of the factors that enable me to breastfeed my baby. All mothers and babies around the world deserve the same.


Photo: PATH/Tony Karumba

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submitted by Martijn Pakker
08/04/2015 at 18:09

Counseling mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding will help transfer the knowledge to communities.

Located in the heart of Bangladesh’s capital city, icddr,b’s Dhaka Hospital specializes in the treatment of one condition—diarrhea. Known locally as “The Cholera Hospital”, the facility admits between 250 and 1,000 patients a day. Many patients are from families earning less than US$5 a day. Over half are children under five years of age.

As one of the leading public health research institutions located in the Global South, icddr,b has long advocated for the benefits of breastfeeding—which is why mothers with sick children under 6 months of age admitted to its hospital can expect a daily visit from a breastfeeding counselor.

On her rounds, Parvin listens and advises mothers on the benefits of breastfeeding.

Once of those counselors is Parvin Kathun, who has worked at icddr,b for over 15 years. “Many women discontinue breastfeeding when their child has diarrhea,” she says. “There’s a common myth that breastfeeding causes diarrhea, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.” It is Parvin’s task to convey to mothers the results of icddr,b’s research: that breast milk is an important component of oral rehydration therapy for infants, which is more effective than other treatment in tackling the severe dehydration that diarrhea can cause.

“We try to encourage mothers to exclusively breastfeed their infants until at least six months of age,” says Ms. Kathun. “Sometimes it is difficult – in particular for first-time mothers – to recognize the importance of breastfeeding, and to do it properly. Our breastfeeding clinic provides counseling for these mothers and, in extreme cases, we try to re-initiate lactation in mothers who have abstained from breastfeeding for too long.

The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding exclusively up to the age of six months minimum, preferably until 24 months. In fact, little more is needed by an infant in these first six months of life, and the nutritional benefits of being breastfed will continue until the child is two years old. Breast milk, even when a mother is malnourished, provides the baby with the nutritional and immune protection needed to ensure benefits later in life, including the essential nutrients that help prevent diarrheal disease and malnutrition.

“We provide mothers with extra support, such as counseling, technique training and family counseling, to continue breastfeeding once they leave the hospital,” says Parvin Kathun. “We train doctors, nurses and staff from NGOs around Dhaka in breastfeeding counseling. We hope they will also act as ambassadors to encourage breastfeeding back in their own communities.”

“icddr,b has conducted extensive research on the impact of breastfeeding infants until six months,” adds Dr. Tahmeed Ahmed, director of icddr,b’s Centre for Nutrition and Food Security. “A key study of ours published in the Lancet showed that extra support – both lay and professional – to promote breastfeeding, increased the length of breastfeeding, which contributed to reduced child morbidity and mortality. The benefit breastfeeding brings to the well-being of children in terms of immunity against diarrheal disease, pneumonia, and improved nutritional gains has been well documented.”

“Optimal feeding practices, including breastfeeding, in the first 24 months of life can promote healthy growth in late childhood and development in adulthood.” Dr Ahmed continues. “In fact, the Lancet study to which we contributed revealed that promotion of breastfeeding contributed to averting 21.9 million disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) in 36 high-burden countries– a reduction of 8.6%; making it the most effective nutrition-related intervention in that study to reduce mortality and growth-stunting. Previous studies have also proven that optimized breastfeeding practices achieved a reduction of 13% in child mortality.”

 “icddr,b is committed to finding new ways to encourage exclusive breastfeeding “ Dr Ahmed concludes. “Breastfeeding is more than just nutrition, it is ultimately about empowering women and saving children’s lives.”

Research generated by institutions such as icddr,b, have created a strong  evidence base that has informed national policies to support mothers breastfeeding. In Bangladesh, the Lancet series was a catalyst for the government to extend the length of maternity leave from four to six months, which  Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced as a nationwide initiative during World Breastfeeding Week 2009.


Back in the Dhaka Hospital, Ms. Parvin continues her hospital rounds—ensuring that all mothers of infants who have been admitted are aware of the benefits of breastfeeding. “Infants actually need little more than breast milk to provide them with essential immunity, including against certain diarrheal infections, as well as core nutrients,” she says. “We want to give mothers every opportunity to ensure their children grow up healthy.”


Photo credits: icddr,b / Sadia Mariam, DRIK.

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submitted by DefeatDD
07/28/2015 at 15:31

Since 1990, nearly 100 million children around the world have been saved due to global efforts to reduce child mortality, and maternal deaths have been cut nearly in half. The US government has played a large role in this great success story.

Yet still, each day, more than 17,000 children’s lives and nearly 800 mothers’ lives are lost due mostly to preventable causes. If you’re like us, you think this is unacceptable. The good news is, history has shown us what we can do when we work together – and research has backed it up. We can end preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths within a generation. But we must all play our role to make it happen!


The opportunity: a more coordinated US strategy

The Reach Every Mother and Child Act will be introduced in Congress calls for the scaling up of simple solutions and requiring a coordinated, streamlined strategy to end preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths by 2035. Learn more about the bill here. A group of over 20 diverse nonprofits are advocating for the United States Congress to fulfill its promise to save the lives of moms, kids, and babies around the world– and you can add your voice to the call. 


How you can help #SaveMomsandKids

We are advocating for this bill because we believe that moms, children, and babies are best served when resources and expertise are brought together to achieve maximum impact. The same is true for our voices, and that’s why we need your help.

We are starting a virtual “chain” around the world comprised of people who believe we must do all we can to #SaveMomsandKids. Join our global chain to show policymakers that US citizens, along with others around the world, support coordinated efforts for maternal, newborn, and child health. It’s easy:

Colleagues in PATH's Kenya office have joined the global chain to #SaveMomsAndKids.


1.      Take a photo linking arms with your friends, family, colleagues – anyone you want.


2.      Share the photo on Twitter using the hashtag #SaveMomsAndKids with a message sharing why you are joining the initiative. Or, use one of these sample messages:


·         All moms and kids deserve a chance to be healthy and happy. Join our chain to #SaveMomsAndKids [PHOTO]  


·         Join the virtual chain of people who believe we must do all we can to #SaveMomsAndKids [PHOTO]  


·         Let’s start a chain reaction to #SaveMomsAndKidsaround the world. [PHOTO]  


·         Don’t break the chain! Join us to #SaveMomsAndKidseverywhere. [PHOTO]  


·         Today we are coming together to #SaveMomsAndKids around the world. Will you join us? [PHOTO]


3.      Optional: Tag your representative asking for support of the bill. Find a list of congressional Twitter handles here. (Find who your senator or representative is here.)


·         Example: .@RepAdamSmith You’re a vital link in the chain to #SaveMomsAndKids. Will you join us? [PHOTO]  


4.      Follow #SaveMomsAndKids for other opportunities to share information, graphics, and other content. Be part of the conversation!


Why we need you:

In the coming weeks, advocates will go to Capitol Hill to educate policymakers about the bill and will point them to the #SaveMomsAndKids  Twitter campaign, where they will see your photos as evidence of your support for the issue.

Help us show members of Congress that there’s a growing chain of people around the world urging them to #SaveMomsAndKids

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