Wednesday, 21 March 2007


The STEPS Centre is marking World Water Day 2007 with its first podcast, in which STEPS member and IDS Fellow, Lyla Mehta, and IDS Research Associate, Robert Chambers, talk about what they believe are the most pressing issues for water and sanitation.

Click here to listen to the STEPS Centre podcast (5.21 mins, 3MB)

Subscribe to STEPS Centre podcasts

To listen you will need an audio programme like QuickTime, RealPlayer or Windows Media Player on your computer. To download QuickTime 7 for free click here.To download RealPlayer for free click here
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By STEPS Centre and Institute of Development Studies researchers

To mark World Water Day 2007, IDS researchers set out what they believe are the five top priorities that need to be addressed if we are to cope with water scarcity.

Investing in rainfed agriculture: Upgrading rainfed areas has high potential both for food production and for poverty alleviation, for this reason we believe the international community should make it a priority.
Recognition of complex factors: Water scarcity is the result of a combination of institutional, ecological and socio-political factors and solutions cannot be simplistic.
Women and sanitation: Donor investment, programming and infrastructure design in the area of sanitation needs to recognise women's specific sanitary and hygiene requirements.
Improving water management with SRI: The System of Rice Intensification (SRI) can reduce the demand for irrigation water by around 50 per cent.
Donor rethink on sanitation: Donor and policymakers need to gain field experience of Community-Led Total Sanitation to understand the need for spending restraint.
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By ROBERT CHAMBERS, research associate, Institute of Development Studies

Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) is a radical participatory approach in which mainly rural communities are facilitated to analyse their practice of open defaecation and its effects and through disgust and self-respect decide to take action to stop it. Typically this takes a matter of weeks or months.

CLTS started in Bangladesh and has been spread to other countries including India, Indonesia, Nepal and Cambodia, and has recently been seeded in Latin America and Africa. The target is not total latrinisation but to become open defaecation free. Conditions are favourable for CLTS where open defaecation is widespread and there is no hardware subsidy programme. Its huge potential will not be realised in rural areas where donors provide large budgets for hardware.
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Sunday, 18 March 2007


Local communities across the developing world facing technological or institutional problems deal with them in different ways. Often, they simply learn to live with them. But sometimes they develop successful solutions, which work well but are not incorporated into institutional research programmes.

Anil Gupta, professor at the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad and founder of the Honey Bee Network, is visiting us at the STEPS Centre on March 29 to talk about the role of traditional knowledge and local innovations in transforming the agenda of globalisation in sustainable directions.

Gupta will talk about the gap between the world's formal and informal knowledge production systems, and arrangements of formal scientific institutions and how local knowledge can help advance scientific studies.

The Honey Bee Network promotes people-to-people networking and represents the voice of creative grassroots innovators. Gupta’s research interests include the expansion of global as well as local space for grassroots innovators to ensure recognition, respect and reward; blending excellence in formal and informal science; protection of intellectual property rights; ethical issues in prospecting for and conservation of biodiversity; and creating a knowledge network at different levels for augmenting grassroots green innovations, ecological economics and the development of a multimedia – multi language database on innovations to overcome the barriers of language, literacy and localism.

Set up in 1989 by Anil Gupta of the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, Honey Bee has documented more than 10,000 rural innovations. To turn some of these ideas into commercial ventures, Gupta founded the Gujarat Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN) in 1997.

BBC Radio 4 recently broadcast a programme about the Honey Bee Network. Presenter Peter Day accompanied Gupta on a 120 mile trek through Uttar Pradesh on a Shodh Yatra (Journey of Discovery). Walking through difficult to get to parts of India with a group of inventors, herbalists, traditionalists and activists Gupta promotes sustainability and grass roots innovation.

Day has also written an article about the Honey Bee Network and among many others is this piece on SciDev.Net.
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Politicians and the public look to scientists to explain the causes of climate change and whether it , can be tackled - and they are queuing up to deliver. But, in an article for Society Guardian, Mike Hulme asks if we are being given the whole picture.

Hulme, a professor in the school of environmental sciences at the University of East Anglia and the founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, writes about "post-normal science", social value disputes and the meaning of scientific evidence. And he refers to Dennis Avery's new confusion-seeding clmiate change denial book.
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Friday, 16 March 2007


By IAN SCOONES, STEPS Centre co-director

Scientists in Egypt are examining the possibility that the H5N1 Avian flu virus could be changing into a deadlier strain. There is a fear the virus will cross the species barrier causing a pandemic which will disrupt world economies and claim lives on an unprecedented scale.

Dr Zuhair Hallaj, director of the World Health Organization's communicable disease programme says there is particular concern that previous victims in Egypt have suffered from respiratory problems.

BBC Radio 4's File on 4 broadcast a very interesting programme on avian flu and the situation in Egypt. It covers most of the STEPS issues we will be exploring as part of our work on epidemics. The programme has some good commentary on science, politics, and how local conditions may not match up to global plans. Well worth a listen via this link.
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