Thursday, 30 September 2010

STEPS CONFERENCE 2010: WATER, SUSTAINABILITY AND INTELLECTUAL JUDO

by Katharina Welle, DPhil student

Water is a vital piece in the sustainability jigsaw. It’s also a resource that requires careful management. In the final plenary session at the STEPS Centre’s Annual Conference last week, Andy Stirling encouraged us to exercise “intellectual judo” in pursuing pathways to sustainability: finding "levers" where we can change or redirect the momentum of mainstream ideas to open up more options and directions of change (pathways).

Well, one question that I ask myself sometimes is what role water plays in the pathways concept (for more about pathways, see the STEPS working paper or briefing). More broadly, how do we engage with water as a resource for sustainability in general?

The conference highlighted at least two ways to conceptualise water as part of pathways for sustainability: 1) to concentrate on water itself, and explore sustainable ways to manage it; and 2) to view water as one of many inputs into sustainability and sustainability debates (where other inputs might be land, food, people etc). In Friday's panel on Water Dynamics, the four presentations offered a mixture of these two ways of looking at water.

Christian Stein (Stockholm Resilience Centre) is using social network analysis to look at the interaction of organisations involved in the management of “blue water” (resources in aquifers, lakes and dams) and those working with “green” water (ie water embedded in moisture and soils). In the session, he suggested that water could be managed more sustainably if we better understand the links between these two types of actors. Alan Nicol (Institute of Development Studies) also talked about more sustainable ways of managing water. He proposes using social network analysis to better understand the linkages in water resources management - his particular focus is on river basin management in various parts of Africa. He suggested that river basin management is dominated by the agendas of powerful actors, with possibly negative results for sustainability – nicely expressed in the metaphor of his title “When hippos hug – what happens to the pond life?”

The other two contributions highlighted the role of water in wider sustainability debates. Maria Teresa Armijos (DPhil, Institute of Development Studies) and Synne Movik (independent consultant) used water to illustrate how a resource can be used to increase sustainability or how it can be subject to trade-offs between different social, economic or environmental forces.

Maria Teresa Armijos presented findings from her DPhil field work on the communal dynamics of water resources management. In the Andes, water is used as a political tool to exercise power; but in the community Maria studied in Ecuador, local people also use water to express their sense of identity. This resonated nicely with Synne’s presentation. She asked the interesting question of what role sustainability plays in distributive justice, based on her reading of Armatya Sen’s book The Idea Of Justice. Drawing on a case from South Africa, Synne argued that the subjective framing of sustainability can easily ignore the question of justice. In South Africa, arguments for sustainability tend to focus on economic and environmental sustainability; in the case of water resources management, these arguments portray social justice as a barrier to sustainability.

Both ways of engaging with the domain of water in pathways to sustainability are useful in their own right. But are there more ways of looking at water in relation to sustainability pathways? Let’s continue the intellectual judo!

>> STEPS Centre: Water & Sanitation research
>> STEPS Centre Conference 2010: Pathways to Sustainability

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Friday, 24 September 2010

SUSTAINABILITY JUDO: STEPS CENTRE CONFERENCE 2010



This year's conference - Pathways to Sustainability: Agendas for a new politics of environment, development and social justice - was chock full of provocations and insights on the STEPS Centre's "Pathways" concept and what it could mean for sustainability science and action.

Among the topics: what sustainability really means; how social and natural scientists talk to each other; why social scientists should stop using people as abstract "instruments" to support their theories... and how we can do "sustainability judo" to influence the rich and powerful.

We've tweeted some thoughts as we went along. Many delegates had differing things to say about the concept of pathways, what's missing, and what could be done in the run up to Rio+20. We'll be digesting these thoughts over the weekend and will blog about it in more detail next week.

Pathways to Sustainability working paper (pdf, 690kb)
Pathways short briefing (pdf, 210kb)

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Monday, 20 September 2010

SHIT HAPPENS: SANITATION AND DEVELOPMENT

The British Medical Journal's podcast this week features Lyla Mehta, STEPS Centre Water and Sanitation convenor, talking about sanitation and the UN MDGs.

This week, to steal a line from the latest BMJ editor’s choice, we’ll be talking shit. The millennium development goal on sanitation is way off track; Lyla Mehta, a sociologist from the Institute of Development Studies, tells us why, and Kamal Kar, a development consultant from India, explains how his grass roots initiative changes the way people view sanitation.

BMJ podcast: "Shit happens"

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INVESTING IN LAND: THE WORLD BANK REPORT ON RISING GLOBAL INTEREST IN FARMLAND

by Ian Scoones, STEPS Centre co-director

There is something for everyone in the long-awaited World Bank report, Rising Global Interest in Farmland: Can it yield sustainable and equitable benefits? Some sections contain a damning critique of the situation; others a positive spin, with a narrative offering a bright future. Not surprisingly, then, the press have picked up different angles in the few days since its release. The Financial Times, for example, headlines with “World Bank backs farmland investment”, while Bloomberg reports the World Bank as saying that “Large Land Deals Threaten Farmers”. Both are equally valid interpretations of an often ambiguous report.

The bottom-line, take-home message seems to be that external investment in land is a good thing in some places, especially those where there are “large tracts of suitable land, but also a large proportion of smallholders with very low productivity”, but that governance measures, based on a set of high-sounding principles, are required to make this happen equitably and sustainably. But what does this mean? How should we interpret this report?

Overall, the report certainly offers a useful compilation of existing data and provides a selective review of other studies. Like other research, the report shows how the global ‘land grab’ is complex, often involving multiple actors, including national governments. It is not simply a rapacious grab by outsiders. Despite the concerns raised at the peak of the food crisis, many deals have yet to be put into practice and it is unclear what the longer-term consequences will be. But what new dimensions does it offer? The report has been long trailed, and there has been much excited expectation around its publication. Overall though it is a disappointment: long on detail, but short on analysis and flawed in key aspects of its methodology.

The highlights are some short case studies from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Mexico, Mozambique, Tanzania, Ukraine and Zambia. These show how land investments have very often failed – not only for the investors but also for local people. For Mozambique, job creation was “significantly lower than expected” and the investors “damage non-renewable natural resources (water) without compensation, disadvantaging women”. Issues of poor governance abound. In Tanzanian for example “investors often circumvent land acquisition procedures”, while in Liberia the “investor encouraged illegally on fertile wetlands and displaced 30 percent of the population”. These cases however are given only limited coverage in a long and rather dense study, and a systematic analysis of livelihood impacts and wider consequences for agrarian change in different locales is absent.

Elsewhere a bizarre ‘yield gap’ analysis takes up many pages and pinpoints the potential of vast tracts of land apparently suitable and available for agricultural exploitation in some countries. This of course conveniently forgets that such areas may be used for other purposes, and that existing land use may well be the most productive, equitable and sustainable. The heroic assumptions of the model are not very transparent, and there is little attention to past experiences when grand schemes for the transformation of the unproductive African bush ended in large-scale and embarrassing failures. The seductive imagery of satellite maps and projections of vast riches to be gained from exploitation are not rooted in a ground-truthed understanding of local livelihood conditions.

A set of principles – the famed ‘code of conduct’ - are hailed as the administrative-managerial solution to the troublesome governance problems of large-scale land investment, but there is no political analysis of how they might actually work in such settings. Pleas for an “evidence-based multi-stakeholder approach” are all well and good, but actual practice is a world away from such ideals. Other sections of the report, focusing on institutions and governance, show clearly why such principles are likely to be doomed to failure, given the lack of capacity, failures of institutional authority, corrupt practices and so on. There are clearly strong political economy reasons for a simplistic code not to work, yet this dilemma is not grappled with. Nor are the “open and impartial”, “accountable and representative” mechanisms by which local land rights get recognised, and more importantly, realised in such challenging settings discussed at any length. Good ideas about low-cost, participatory approaches to land registration, alongside broad-based processes of consultation, are forwarded, but will these really work in the forests of the Congo or the savannahs of Sudan?

In sum, the overall message is deeply confusing. The confusion arises from several fronts: methodological, presentational and conceptual. Methodologically, the report draws on data sources of highly varying quality. As the report admits, data on land acquisitions is shaky at best, and the Bank relied on government surveys, which in most settings are less than reliable. The mapping of agricultural potential and suitability is done at a large scale with assumptions which can be challenged on many counts. Yet the case studies, where particular examples of land acquisition are examined, are by comparison much more rich and detailed, offering some starkly contrasting conclusions to the cornucopian vision projected from space. The presentation of these highly contrasting perspectives is very unbalanced in the final report. The case studies occupy just a few pages in the main report, summarised in a one-page table and accompanied by only very tentative, shallow analysis. By contrast the land suitability study is given much more coverage, with its authority projected through a false sense of quantitative precision.

This mismatch between data sources, analytical depth and a failure to add them up into a coherent picture is the consequence of another major weakness: a narrow economistic conceptualisation. A political economy analysis of agrarian change and the role of large scale investments in historical perspective is essentially absent from the report. No surprise for something coming from the World Bank, but this lack of historically-located political analysis is a gaping hole. Without an understanding of what drives investments, what politics surrounds the deals, and the socio-political dynamics shaping livelihood outcomes, it is very difficult to make sense of recent events. The argument that investment in farming – and small-scale farmers in particular – rather than farmland makes much sense, but this is easy to state, but less easy to realise. Why is it that governments prefer large-scale deals over investment in smallholder farming? What factors are pushing the investment in land as an asset? What global connections between state elites, financiers and private businesses are significant? And how is it that the terms of incorporation within leases, contracts and partnership deals seem always to fail the smallholder?

These are very basic, first-stop questions in the fields of agrarian and global political economy. And this is the analytical terrain, unfortunately missed by this report, which reveals the dynamics of land deals, and which allows us to see beyond the economics to the wider politics of land.
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Wednesday, 15 September 2010

HUNGRY FOR RESULTS?

By John Thompson, STEPS Centre Food and Agriculture Convenor

In advance of the UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Summit in New York on 20-22 September, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released new figures on the number of people worldwide who suffer chronic hunger in 2010. The latest estimates, which will soon be published in its annual State of Food and Agriculture report, show that there are 925 million hungry people on our planet – that’s roughly one in our six of us.

While this is a shockingly high number, the good news is that it is lower than the 1.023 billion people who were estimated to be hungry in 2009 and represents a decline in real terms of over nine percent.

Nevertheless, this figure is still significantly higher than the previous estimates before the global food crisis of 2007-8 and the global financial crisis which followed it.

There are two principal reasons for the decline in the total number of hungry people and both have to do with the reversal of two recent crises: (1) the reduction of food prices from their peak levels of 2007-8 and (2) the projected positive economic growth in developing countries in 2010. These trends contributed to increasing access to food for nearly 100 million people in the last year.

If, however, we look back over the past two decades, we can observe that (except for the current downturn) hunger has been on the increase. Between the early 1990s and 2007, we had periods in which food prices were low and economic growth was strong, but hunger kept rising.

What does this mean? It means that the improvement in the current hunger picture is only the result of the reversal of recent crisis effects. Furthermore, it means that there's a fundamental structural problem with our food system that goes beyond temporary increases and decreases in food prices. That food problem is rooted in poverty and radically unequal distributions of income and assets, within and across countries, which influence both food production systems and food consumption patterns.

If we take the base period from which we track progress towards the MDG target on hunger – to reduce by half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger – we observe that the percentage of hungry people in the world has declined from 20 percent in 1990-92 to 16 percent today. However, if we are to hit the actual MDG target, which is to reduce the prevalence of hunger to 10 percent by 2015, we have less than five years in which to do it. According to the FAO, the region with the most undernourished people is Asia and the Pacific with 578 million, while Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the highest proportion of undernourished at 30 percent of the total population (239 million). Both regions have significant structural problems that lock people into poverty, limit their access to key assets, keep agricultural productivity low and make it difficult to reduce hunger on any significant scale.

These structural factors must be addressed before we are likely to see any dramatic decreases in either regional or global hunger figures, but this will require a much more concerted effort by the international community. And it is particularly urgent that we start now, because in the years ahead we will probably be seeing more of the turbulence we have experienced over the past few decades, as food and agricultural markets are expected to become more volatile in the medium term because of increases in extreme weather events (e.g., drought in Russia, floods in Pakistan) linked to climate change and the growing influence of non-commercial actors in food commodities markets.

When launching its new hunger data, the FAO called on governments to increase investment in agriculture, expand social protection programmes and enhance income-generating activities for the rural and urban poor. But individual governments alone cannot tackle the root causes of hunger and some greater coordination is needed at both regional and international levels. To be fair, some progress has been made on this since the recent food crisis, in the form of the G8 L’Aquila Food Security Initiative, the United Nations Secretary-General’s High Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis and the G20 Pittsburgh Summit Partnership on Food Security, which led to the launch of the World Bank’s Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, a multilateral financing mechanism which will allow the immediate targeting and delivery of additional funding to public and private donors to support national and regional strategic plans for agriculture and food security in poor countries.

Much of this appears to be a step in the right direction. But, as my colleague Erik Millstone and I observed in a recent paper we prepared for the UK Foresight Global Food and Farming Project (under review), if we are thinking long-term, we should also be envisioning a new structure for governing the food system through the creation of some kind of Global Food Security Authority (GFSA), which could be housed in the United Nations and implemented by an International Commission, working with different stakeholders, including governments, businesses, civil society and representatives of small-scale producers.

The GFSA would provide an institutional and legal framework to guide the governance of national, regional and international food systems and include binding commitments that seek to meet the four key dimensions of food security at all levels – sufficiency, safety, equitability and sustainability. Governments would, of course, have sovereignty to define their own food and agricultural policies, but they would also be held accountable for international human rights, including the right to food. Moreover, the GFSA would prioritise stabilising international supply and mandate strategic grain reserves for food security. Clear mechanisms would also need to be put into place to moderate commodity speculation and set floors and ceilings to guarantee fair prices for farmers. Further, the GFSA would mandate that trade and investment rules would provide national policy space to allow countries the flexibility to protect their own domestic food systems (within reasonable limits) and to invest in pro-poor agricultural research and development. It would also establish multi-stakeholder participation to develop multilateral and national investment programmes that promote rather than undermine local food sovereignty and small-scale agriculture that is productive, financially competitive and labour absorbing. Lastly, a Global Food Security Authority would link international economic policies to international human rights and environmental norms.

Realising this kind of vision is no small task, but if we are serious about reforming the global food governance system and meeting MDG 1 to as great a degree as possible, there is every reason to try. The burning question now is whether there is the political will to do so.

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Tuesday, 14 September 2010

SOCIO-ECOLOGICAL DYNAMICS OF DISEASE


We've added three new research projects we're involved in to the website, under the heading "Socio-ecological dynamics of disease". The projects are all looking at the social, ecological, biological and institutional dynamics of disease. The work focuses particularly on diseases originating in animals, using cases in Africa and Asia. Photo: Fruitbat / Brian Gratwicke / Flickr

Diseases that are transmitted through livestock or wildlife take a major toll on people's lives. The research will identify the tipping points and thresholds involved, and how to lessen some of the negative impacts of these diseases on people's lives and livelihoods.


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Monday, 13 September 2010

WHOSE KNOWLEDGE COUNTS AT WORLD WATER WEEK 2010?

by Timothy Karpouzoglou, research student, SPRU

World Water Week (WWW) 2010 is over, leaving me with some questions. Is WWW really about "opening up" or about "closing down" the debate on water resource management?

The overall theme for this year WWW has been water quality. WWW aims "to highlight positive action and new thinking towards water related challenges and their impact on the world’s environment" and also to "deepen the understanding of, stimulate ideas, and engage the water and development community around the challenges related to water quality". These are all valid and urgent concerns in moving the debate forward.

So what is this new thinking? Some of it can be seen as more of the old thinking restated with today’s policy buzzwords. "Water quality" is still decided by scientists, talking to scientists about the science behind the solutions. The framing of the problem was often about the right technology. Common effluent treatment plants and wastewater treatment plants are commonly-suggested solutions, even if the costs associated are too high and unaffordable in many parts of the developing world.

However, it was good to see the importance of stakeholder participation being included even in some more technically-centred debates, even if it was not always clear what type of participation is desired. Maybe participation is about "letting the people find the solutions themselves", as one engineer from the Pakistan Water Authority wholeheartedly supported.

Encouragingly, juxtaposed with the general air of technological optimism, ideas about "non-linearity", "complexity" and "resilience" have also entered the debate. Friday’s session on resilience, uncertainty and tipping points, convened by the Stockholm International Water Institute, provided a new perspective and sparked a lot of debate. The session was also interesting because it encouraged people to think across each other’s own research and professional experiences. But it seemed to me that social concerns - and particularly the importance of poorer communities that are dependent on vulnerable ecological contexts - were not touched upon enough. How can "systems" thinking become more relevant to the concerns of poorer and ecologically marginalized people?

More generally, my experiences at World Water Week 2010 have also made me wonder: for whom is this event most important? What kind of dialogue can WWW achieve? The clearly divided opinions highlighted by the session on the World Commission on Dams+10 present the challenge of how dialogue can move forward, when the norm is for people to agree to disagree. For those working on water and sanitation, this challenge is not easily solved.

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Thursday, 9 September 2010

WORLD WATER WEEK: CONTROVERSY AND CONTRASTS

By Lyla Mehta, STEPS Centre Water and Sanitation convenor

It’s my fourth day at World Water Week, the annual mecca for policy-makers and players from the World Water Council, the Water and Sanitation Programmes (WSP), Stockholm Water Institute, WaterAid, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), as well as several UN and bilateral agencies such as DFID and others who can afford to pay the entry fee. Most people seem to come for networking, meetings, dinners and drinks, to launch new initiatives and reports... and occasionally even to attend the odd session.

I've been doing the same, though I had hoped to be more excited by some of the sessions and workshops. Most of them have been highly technical, with many of the same global perspectives and declarations that we have been hearing for a long time. But this is probably a reflection of how mainstream most talk about water is, be it in the media, policy or research realms.

This year’s focus is on water quality: a very timely issue, since worsening water quality and pollution are increasingly affecting human health and wellbeing, as well as the integrity of ecosystems. Still, as a sociologist, I found that the sessions have lacked critical social-science analyses about diverse perceptions of risk and water quality; how water quality affects different social groups differently; and the politics of standards, monitoring and risk assessments. In fact, an American anthropologist told me that her proposal to host a seminar on the cultural dimensions of water quality had been rejected by the organizers. Is the water and sanitation domain as represented in global foras still a bastion of engineers, economists and natural scientists?

At the opening plenary, Dr Rita Colwell, 2010 Stockholm Water Prize laureate, drew on over 35 years of research to demonstrate the reach and spread of cholera pathogens. She described how the use of a simple old sari cloth can keep cholera at bay, if used as a water filter. It would be interesting to hear more about how local practitioners and policy makers could draw on this research to create the right institutions to fight this deadly disease.

It's also heartening to see that the conference includes many sessions on sanitation, with many practitioners, policy makers and academics not shying away from using the word "shit" to talk about different strategies and approaches to end open defecation. This more direct language is, at least in part, thanks to the Community-Led Total Sanitation movement. Every day two million tonnes of shit are released in water bodies.

For me, the highlight of the conference was the session on “Revisiting the Large Dam Controversy” hosted by the very exciting online journal Water Alternatives. It’s been 10 years since the World Commision on Dams published its landmark report, which provided guidelines for dam-building, covering social, environmental, economic and institutional aspects. This was the only session I attended where there was passion and debate, not surprising due to the topic even though a few were hoping for more blood-letting! Ten years on, there has been much progress. WCD guidelines are now mainstreamed in many new and ongoing projects all around the world. The WCD principle on the "right to consent" is also gaining acceptance in many global organisations and institutions.

Still, there are many ideological rifts and no clear consensus on ways forward, with early opponents still openly rejecting the WCD process and conclusions. This was exemplified by the words of ex-World Bank official John Briscoe, who proudly stated that the WCD and similar commissions should pack up since they are often rejected by dam-building nations who reject their guidelines. But Briscoe didn’t seem to do himself or his former institution any favours by continuing to ignore the fact that water resources development remains a highly contested process, often shaped by forces in the wider political economy. Moreover, southern governments who claim to be ‘democratic’ may not necessarily be representing the interests of the poor and marginalised through dam-based development.

On Tuesday afternoon in a session on water and the city, I was struck by the massive differences between water and urban planning in the North and South. In many affluent cities of the global North, water is an aesthetic element in urban planning and can be an objet d’art.

By contrast, in our session on Liquid Dynamics on Wednesday, we presented STEPS research in peri-urban areas to show that water provision for many is non-existent or of highly dubious quality, leaving poor residents to fend for themselves: either by acquiring water through illegal means, or by paying exorbitant prices. Still, even here, poor residents give different meanings to polluted water bodies, and find different ways to cope with worsening water quality and inadequate access. Our session also had presentations on the politics of risk assessment and regulation, and how regulation has largely been framed as a technical discourse, thus leaving out the perspectives and interests of the peri-urban poor.

Unfortunately, I missed some interesting events on Wednesday that coincided with our event. In the afternoon I struggled to find something to keep me awake. A PhD student wondered if there was an Alternative Forum run by critical NGOs that take place every three years. But there was none and she left to check out Stockholm. I went to my favourite spot in the conference, the café where I meet up with old friends. I ran into several people there who proudly told me that they had only attended one or two sessions so far, spending most of the time networking and in meetings. As I wrote this blog, I looked around for other blogs on WWW. But apart from this blog, I couldn’t find any: were most of the sessions so dull that nobody feels compelled to write about them?

Stockholm WWW is an extremely well-organised and well-publicized annual event that attracts most of the well-heeled in the water sector, especially from the global North. It’s become a big jamboree that everyone in the water sector feels compelled to attend. In reality, most of the action takes place over drinks, coffee and dinner and through networking. There are some interesting insights in smaller seminars and side events, where the seating capacity is quickly exceeded. There was some passion and energy in smaller events. Most of the official programme, though, is business as usual - with very little passion, true concern for water justice, or critical debate. It feels like a lot of old water in old bottles.
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Tuesday, 7 September 2010

WORLD WATER WEEK: THE SAME OLD STUFF?

by Jeremy Allouche, STEPS Centre Research Fellow

Here’s our first blog from World Water Week - some call it ‘the pilgrimage of water’. Well... the price of the pilgrimage (about £650) makes it difficult to attend and it remains very much an elitist club. In this regard, one always wonders how useful these high-level international events are and whether we are not repeating the same stuff again and again.

The disconnect between the conference and the world outside is sometimes too evident: while the international media reports on the floods in Pakistan and the droughts and floods in Niger, here the focus of the conference is on partnerships between water professionals and projects around new sexy ideas on water. Although water quality is the focus of the conference, climate change is another hot topic here: mainstreaming water and climate change, governance and capacity building for water and climate change, etc...

Still, the big highlight of this morning was the session on “Revisiting the Large Dam Controversy”. Although the World Commission on Dams (WCD) report has been criticised (especially around implementation guidelines), there has been some consensus around the principles and values it articulated. But now, with the development of climate change adaptation strategies and the arrival of new financiers, some fear that the new context (WCD+10) may end this fragile consensus.

Two quotes stood out from the session:

Kader Asmal: "The water situation is now worse than it was ten years ago in Africa despite the promising 'numerical' numbers, and water quality is deteriorating." A useful reminder from Prof. Asmal on the limits and hidden realities of water statistics.

John Briscoe: I didn’t note his exact words, but to paraphrase, he suggests that governments are the legitimate actors; multi-stakeholder forums cannot impose any norms and guidelines on dam building. (To do him justice, read his article on the politics of the WCD in Water Alternatives.)

As somebody who had worked in the World Bank for many years, this view seems quite surprising. What autonomy do countries with structural adjustment programs have? Leaving it all to governments doesn’t help us in dealing with 1) dam building and the issue of transboundary water resources and 2) political economy problems – as raised by many participants at today’s session.

The session was certainly interesting, but there was a lot of confusion between principles and guidelines. Some may feel that reaching a global agreement on common principles is an illusory goal. But principles are undoubtedly an issue to reflect on and push for, given the formidable legacy of the WCD process and report. Moreover, establishing principles also opens up a space for national and local dialogues and the elaboration of guidelines at a range of levels.

Finally, a couple of interesting questions to think about:
> can we learn something from the WCD process for the land grabbing issue?
> how can we include social and environmental issues in the risk assessment process in order to allow more space for deliberation before the design phase?

That's it for now - more from World Water Week soon. Our lunchtime session is tomorrow at 12.45 - follow the link for more details.

>> Liquid Dynamics II: Linking Quality and Access for Pro-Poor Sustainability
>> Our work on Water

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SOCIAL TECHNOLOGIES

There's an interview with Adrian Smith, STEPS Centre Research Fellow, about "social technologies and niches for sustainable transformation" in the September edition of Saber Cómo (the monthly newsletter of the Argentinean National Institute for Industrial Technology). There are also contributions from Renato Dagnino from Unicamp and Hernan Thomas from Quilmes University.

Social technologies are processes of technology development that seek to be inclusive towards the poor and marginalised, as well as environmentally sustainable.

For the full article (in Spanish), click on the link below.

>> Saber Cómo: Un debate en ambos lados del Atlántico Latinoamérica: de corazones rojos y mentes grises
>> Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New Manifesto

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Monday, 6 September 2010

STEPS AT WORLD WATER WEEK

We're at World Water Week in Stockholm this week. Our session, Liquid Dynamics II: Linking Quality and Access for Pro-poor Sustainability is at 12.45pm on Wednesday.

In the session, we'll discuss the complex interactions between the social, technological and ecological/hydrological dimensions of water and sanitation. These interactions are often sidelined in water and sanitation management.

If you can't make it, we'll be posting blogs and other things from World Water Week here.

>> Liquid Dynamics II
>> World Water Week 2010
>> STEPS Work on Water and Sanitation
>> Community-Led Total Sanitation Working Paper (pdf) / briefing (pdf)

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Thursday, 2 September 2010

TALKING TOILETS



Community-Led Total Sanitation is a rapidly-spreading way of getting local people involved in planning toilets and other facilities. CLTS taps into people's feelings of disgust to encourage action. Photo: Kalangaba Village Open Defecation Free Sign, from the CLTS Flickr photostream

Our new working paper (with a short briefing on the side) looks at how this might work in different cultures, and the difficulties of creating sustainable sanitation. It also looks at how CLTS can interact with governments as other institutions as it becomes more popular.

>> CLTS Working Paper (pdf, 570kb)
>> Briefing: CLTS: Challenges and opportunities (pdf, 240kb)
>> Our work on water and sanitation
>> Community-Led Total Sanitation website

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