Monday, 29 November 2010

VIDEO: BRAND AID - SHOPPING WELL TO SAVE THE WORLD

Here's the video of last week's seminar on Bono, "aid celebrities" and the RED campaign, by Lisa Ann Richey, Professor of International Development Studies at Roskilde University.



If embedding doesn't work, here's the link: Brand Aid seminar

For more about our seminars and other events, see the event list on the STEPS Centre website. Read more

Thursday, 25 November 2010

AFRICA AND THE MDGs: A MANIFESTO

By Adrian Ely, STEPS Centre member

[Edit (7/12/10): The Africa Manifesto has now been launched: you can download it from the ATPS website.]

Ten years after the African Technology Policy Studies network was incorporated, nearly 200 delegates from 29 African countries are gathering in Egypt to discuss ‘The State of Science, Technology and Innovation in Africa: Implications for Achieving the Millennium Development Goals’.

There was a buzz as delegates gathered for the first morning of the conference, many of them greeting friends who they had not seen since last year’s meeting in Abuja. The introductory session included welcomes from ATPS and other delegates representing key stakeholders and drivers of science, technology and innovation in Africa - youth, women and journalists - as well as international partners. Dr Kevin Urama, Executive Secretary of ATPS, provided an introduction to the workshop (which he reminded us was NOT a "talkshop"), stressing that delegates were expected to go away from the conference with a fuller understanding of their potential contribution to Science, Technology & Innovation (STI) for Africa’s development.

African Manifesto cover
The cover of the "African Manifesto"

Dr Urama highlighted the African Manifesto, which will be presented to the meeting tomorrow (he'd spoken about it at the launch of the STEPS Centre Manifesto in June). The African Manifesto was produced under the European SET-DEV project, alongside its ‘sister manifesto’ in India, Knowledge Swaraj. I'll blog more on the African Manifesto tomorrow, but today we learned that it “makes a case for Africa’s sovereignty in science, technology and innovation”, arguing “for full socialization and democratic governance of STI in Africa, for Africans, by Africans as a pre-requisite for sustainable development in Africa”.

Later presentations in the morning focussed on the challenges of STI governance, R&D investment, youth in STI, the risk of brain drain and making the most of the African diaspora.

The afternoon was dedicated to lessons provided from other regions – the Caribbean, Europe and India. The audience was clearly interested in the experiences of these regions, but the question remained: how transferable were they to the African continent? Whilst recognising the benefits of learning from international colleagues, the African Manifesto and the discussions today made it clear that Africa would have to conduct its own experiments, reap its own rewards, and learn its own lessons. The ATPS conference will clearly provide a forum for this learning and an inspiring gathering for those interested in science, technology and innovation in Africa.

Links

> African Technology Policy Studies network: Annual Conference
> Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New Manifesto
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LESSONS IN "SCALING UP" HEALTH SERVICES FROM NIGERIA, CHINA & BRAZIL

What happens when you "scale up" health services to try to provide widespread coverage in a region or country? The "Beyond Scaling Up" panel at the Health Systems Research symposium last week posed this question. The speakers answered with success stories from Brazil, China and Nigeria; some cautionary tales from attempts to "scale up" that have gone wrong; and a warning that health programmes need to be aware of lots of factors which can put a spanner in the works:

"There has been a shift from absolute scarcity to problems with safety, quality and cost with changing patterns of inequality, the introduction of new technologies and institutional arrangements, the rise of patient and citizen movements and mixed systems."

Kate Hawkins has written a post reporting on the session on the Future Health Systems blog.

Links

> Future Health Systems blog: Exploring the spread and scale up of health interventions and service coverage
> Beyond Scaling Up panel: details
> STEPS Centre: Beyond Scaling Up working paper & briefing

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Monday, 22 November 2010

MONTREUX: ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE AND HEALTH RISKS

By Michael Loevinsohn, STEPS Centre member

On Wednesday I chaired a session on New Directions in Health-Environment Research: Implications for Health Systems.

The topic is a bit off the beam of the Symposium’s thrust: it's one of 13 concurrent sessions, and about 20 people attend. Setting the stage, I describe the methodological challenges researchers are tackling to uncover how environmental change, of different kinds, is creating health risks. Researchers are identifying developmental processes that are loosening structures of risk, and clarifying how the health sector and other sectors can collaborate to realize these opportunities (View or download my slides).

The first case I talk about is an (un)natural experiment: the 2001-03 famine and its impact on the evolution of HIV in Malawi. Using existing data, I show how hunger profoundly affected the distribution of HIV and of people, by pushing people into "survival sex" (sex in exchange for food, shelter or protection) and distress migration. The data also show that hunger was less severe, maize prices less volatile, and migration and change in HIV prevalence less marked, where people had access to robust crops like cassava alongside the maize staple. Cassava appears to have provided a “prevention dividend”.

Richard Coker from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine explains how the economic and social changes that have shaken Russia have altered the landscape of TB risk (view Richard's slides). Driven by the payment system, hospitals release patients in December, regardless of treatment status. Declining budgets have meant patients receive under 2000 Kcal/day, less than a prisoner of war. These and other effects on medical and hospital practice are likely contributing to the spread of drug resistance and the growing burden of TB in the population.

Ashok Dyalchand, Institute of Health Management, Pachod (view Ashok's slides), describes the emergence of new social norms in Indian villages that have taken up Community-Led Total Sanitation. People are disgusted when they realize that, because of open defecation, they are ingesting each others’ feces. They construct toilets and use them more consistently than where outside schemes construct them. Villages are cleaner and people enjoy greater privacy but diarrheal infections are not yet any less frequent. There may be greater collective commitment now to undertake the additional innovations that will be needed to sustainably reduce these risks.

Working in Java, Paul Forster has been examining the political economy of avian flu risks in poultry systems serving the Jakarta market (view Paul's slides). Other studies have followed the movement of birds, and viruses, between breeding, rearing, slaughtering and commercial operations. Paul has shown that by following the money, the critical role of brokers is revealed. Through extending credit to different actors, they maintain the structure of the industry and influence the exposure of those actors to birds and the virus. Any attempt at change must take them into account.

Finally, Hayley MacGregor describes the STEPS Centre approach to understanding epidemics and the complex dynamics at play at the health-environment interface (view her slides). She highlights how epidemic narratives, embodying the perspectives of different actors, shape responses, illustrating this with recent research on haemorrhagic fevers. A “global outbreak” narrative has dominated control efforts particularly for ebola virus. Local understandings indicate the virus has long been endemic and suggest several culturally acceptable measures. More effective responses are possible when such diverse perspectives are acknowledged.

> STEPS Centre: Socio-ecological dynamics of disease
> STEPS Centre: Epidemics
> STEPS Centre: Avian flu
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MONTREUX: KNOWLEDGE AND TRUST - HEALTH SYSTEMS RESEARCH

By Michael Loevinsohn, STEPS Centre member

You know you’re a discipline or a significant sub-discipline when you can organize and find funding for a global symposium. Twelve hundred participants from umpteen countries also testify to the self-awareness that marks a field. And the Symposium’s theme is fittingly ambitious: Science to Accelerate Universal Health Coverage.

Charlie Chaplin is in town but can’t make it to the Symposium. He’s buried just down the road. But I wonder what his Little Tramp, bowler-hatted and down-at-heels, would make of it. Would he be considered part of the System? Am I? My interest is in the determinants of disease in the turbulent social, economic and natural environment, and what that understanding can contribute, especially to prevention.

A huge variety of material is presented in 110 plenary and concurrent sessions related to the mobilization of knowledge, capacity and financing and the translation of research into policy and action. Access to care and immunization is the focus of most of the discussion. Not much is said about the determinants of disease – which lie outside the health system “proper” – and how they’re understood and responded to. I don’t hear much reference to how other sectors approach complexity and rampant change.

But there are some welcome resonances. A session on neglected tropical diseases – lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis and others, which often occur together – describes how vertical control programs for each visit the same village, sometimes with the same village health worker who distributes drugs, sometimes the same one, to households – but at different times. Integration would make a lot of sense. It becomes clear, however, that the obstacles are not at the local level but mostly at the program level: integration means one program director and four former directors.

Control of one of the neglected diseases, blinding trachoma, includes educating people to wash their face. The message is repeated in Sahelian villages where people have to walk 3 km for a bucket of water – and washing their face is not the first thing they’re going to do with it. There are echoes of condom promotion for HIV – even in places where everyone knows power relations prevent many women from using them.

Irene Agyepong talks as a participant observer on the evolution of health insurance in Ghana. A number of small scale experiments were run by different institutions trying various approaches. A larger scale experiment was also implemented but ran into serious problems. Yet when the political winds build and a broader program can no longer be avoided, it is the failed experiment that most influences its design. Close to hand and ready to go, its proponents say, "we can correct mistakes later". Irene points to rent-seeking behaviour but also says there are no easily-labelled saints or demons. It's the reality of evolution.

René Loewenson from Zimbabwe talks about national health systems as knowledge systems. She points to the vastly under-exploited sources of evidence that exist within countries. Researchers’ attentions shift away from them, swayed by external priorities and funding. The consistency of focus that is essential to build trust with national audiences is lost. It’s not just a problem for health systems.

> First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research
> STEPS Centre work on Health and Disease

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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

MONTREUX: BEYOND SCALING UP

Gerry Bloom, STEPS Centre health convenor, will be holding a session tomorrow (Thursday) at the the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Montreux, entitled "Beyond Scaling Up".

Here's a summary:

"This session will present findings and conclusions of a stream of work jointly organised by the Future Health Systems Consortium and the STEPS Centre. It will explore lessons from implementing large scale changes to health systems aimed at increasing access to important health services, particularly by the poor.

It will begin with brief presentations of literature reviews and conceptual frameworks for analysing rapid health system change. These presentations will be followed by papers that present evidence on the experiences with large scale health system change in Nigeria, Brazil and China. These will include a study of the experience of a large donor-funded project for strengthening primary health care services in Northern Nigeria, the experience of the Ministry of Health of Brazil in extending a decentralised, rights-based health system to meet the special needs of indigenous people and the Chinese experience with the management of health system reform in the context of rapid economic and social change. Each paper will present evidence on what worked and why.

The aim is to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of the challenge of managing rapid increases in the delivery of health services and the strategies that have been shown to work in addressing this challenge."
Presenters include:

Gerry Bloom, STEPS Centre: "Beyond Scaling Up: Pathways to Universal Access to Health Services"

Ligia Paina: "Pathways to Scaling Up Health Services in Complex Adaptive Systems"

Emmanuel Sokpo: "Beyond Technical Solutions: Critical Pathway in the Political Economy of Health Development in Northern Nigeria"

Xiao Yue: "Implementing rapid health system reform in China: the importance of a learning approach"

Vera Schattan Coelho: "Making the Right to Health a Reality to Indigenous People in Brazil"

Links

First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research
Future Health Systems blog
STEPS: Health overview
Read more

MONTREUX: NEW DIRECTIONS IN ENVIRONMENT-HEALTH RESEARCH

Some of us are at the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Montreux and running events discussing our recent work (see the STEPS Centre events page for full details).

Tomorrow (Wednesday), Michael Loevinsohn will be chairing a session at Montreux entitled "New directions in environment-health research: implications for health systems". (Michael's session's at 4pm - see also the full day programme.)

Here's what's going to be discussed:

"Environmental health research has traditionally been concerned with the impact of particular aspects of the environment on particular diseases. Rapid and multi-faceted environmental change is increasing the challenge to health systems, creating new sources of ill-health – in many cases zoonotic in origin – and exacerbating existing ones, often in the same place.

Participants in this session will gain a clearer appreciation of methods and approaches that are being employed:
> to elucidate how change is creating situations of risk for multiple sources of ill-health that are experienced and perceived differently by people differently situated;
> to identify and assess developmental dynamics that may be loosening risk structures, with the potential to yield multiple benefits in terms of health and well-being and
> to forge relationships with other sectors to develop and pursue these opportunities."
The speakers include:

Richard Coker, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine(UK/Thailand): TB and HIV in the Former Soviet Union: social transformations and the challenge of control

Ashok Dyalchand, Institute of Health Management, Pachod (India): Benefits of rural sanitation implemented through a community-led social norms approach: implications for health systems

Paul Forster, IDS (UK/Indonesia): Politics, power and economics: how debt creates avian influenza (H5N1) risk in Jakarta's poultry supply chains

Hayley MacGregor (UK): The social dynamics of disease ecology: case studies from African contexts

First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research
STEPS Centre: Socio-ecological dynamics of disease
STEPS: Health overview
Read more

TRANSITIONS: HOW GOOD IDEAS GO GLOBAL


Traditional forms of energy supply are being challenged. Photo: Gas meter dials by Leo Reynolds on Flickr (Creative Commons)

By Adrian Smith, STEPS Centre member

How does a new way of doing things – say, fair trade, or community energy production – get a foothold? How does it avoid being overwhelmed or crushed by the dominant, existing system? What are the conditions that can help it or prevent it from flourishing?

The study of “sustainability transitions” aims to answer these questions. Sometimes, transitions happen on a massive scale – for example, with the “green revolution” in the 1940s-1970s – and usually with mixed results. Often, however, the dominant system can stifle the emergence of radically novel technologies or practices, so that even good ideas find it hard to gain traction.

For those wanting to promote more sustainable pathways, it’s important to understand how transitions can be nurtured when they’re at a small, vulnerable stage. Transitions thinking talks about supportive spaces (“niches”) where a new practice or technology can develop, sheltered from hostile structures or market forces. Once it has had chance to grow, it can start to move outside the niche and interact and compete more successfully with existing systems.

From fossil fuel to alternative power

An example of a dominant system and a possible transformation is in the area of energy. The dominant model of energy generation and use is currently being challenged by social pressure to reduce climate change, as well as fears over the security of energy supply. The assumption that development can continue to be powered by large fossil-fuel plants, for instance, is increasingly challenged by a variety of alternatives and their advocates. Whether it is nuclear energy, solar power, or managing patterns of demand, there is an increasing amount of political and material support for alternative pathways.

There are parallels to this picture in many development domains. What is needed is more analysis of the interactions and co-existence of plural pathways, and how each is affected differently by the others and the incumbent regimes of provision which they are all trying to displace.

What are niche spaces for?

As researchers, we are interested in the idea of ‘niche spaces’ that allow pathways to materialise and gain momentum through practical experimentation in the real world. Niche spaces are opened-up through networking processes amongst initiatives, which establish and foster alternative pathways.

What can this kind of networking do? Well, it allows people to share lessons – for example, about the development of viable off-grid electricity projects in diverse development settings. But while sharing lessons is a good thing - for example, it's undoubtedly an important area for learning-based development approaches and ideas for strategic niche management - on its own, lesson-sharing is somewhat limited and limiting. So, in addition, we are interested in how the networking that goes on in niche spaces cultivates shared identities, solidarities and mutual interests, which help mobilise demands for changes to wider institutions and social structures – changes that would enable niche practices to diffuse, scale-up and translate into much wider practices. This might happen through new institutions, or transformed markets, or through links with social movements, or through a re-thinking and re-design of large-scale development assistance programmes.

But niche spaces can also find it hard to develop. We need to confront head-on the political economy of incumbent regimes that makes the creation of niche spaces so difficult to establish and grow. Attention to the social movements that challenge these political economies can be helpful here, especially for the opportunities these social movements give to niche space developments.

STEPS Centre work on transitions

There is an emerging agenda for rethinking the roles of bottom-up and alternative social, technological and environmental development initiatives in the construction and realisation of sustainability pathways. The STEPS Centre plans to develop a ‘transitions’ cluster of projects that address this agenda as part of its second phase of work (how we do this depends on some funding decisions happening later this year).

Meanwhile, we continue to engage through a variety of projects and processes that include the following:

  1. UK-based work on Community Innovation in Sustainable Energy. This is part of a broader programme of work on grassroots innovations for sustainable development, again with a UK focus, but which seeks to reach out to research with similar sensibilities in other parts of the world (including an international workshop to be held in Spring 2012). This project will develop insights into how niches are formed and mobilised in civil society settings, through an analysis of the recent ferment of activity on community energy in the UK.

  2. Links with research into "social technologies" led by Hernán Thomas, Mariano Fressoli and colleagues at the Centro de Estudios de Ciencia, Tecnología y Sociedad at the Universidad Nacional de Quilmes in Buenos Aires. Social technology is an approach to grassroots innovation for poorer and more marginalised communities in Latin America that seek to develop social integration and sustainability. As such, they hint at an intriguing set of pathways for sustainability which is also of interest to STEPS. The Quilmes team have an IDRC-funded project that is analysing the social technologies movement in Argentina, Chile, Peru and Brazil. Social technology initiatives benefit from a fairly developed network programme in Brazil which is supported by the Federal Government. There are features here reminiscent to earlier movements and debates about appropriate technology. We have been exploring these links through a Visiting Fellowship to the STEPS Centre that Mariano held in October 2010 through an ESRC-SSRC funding scheme, and which we are developing through a paper written by Mariano and Hernán and me.

  3. I am involved in the Sustainability Transitions Research Network which brings together a variety of researchers and projects. Closest to our own STEPS Centre plans have been activities led by Frans Berkhout and Rob Raven from the network, and that are looking at sustainability experiments in South Asia and East Asia, initially through the IHDP, and now in a new NWO-funded project. Special issues of Technological Forecasting and Social Change in 2009 and Environmental Science and Policy in 2010 collected together papers on this topic. Here at the STEPS Centre, Rob Byrne in his DPhil has been comparing niche development processes for home solar electric systems in Tanzania and Kenya, and finding that there is more to relative success in Kenya that market-based claims being made by other analysts. An international conference on sustainability transitions at Lund University in Sweden on 13-15 June 2011 will provide an opportunity for similarly-inclined studies to meet and debate.

  4. Niche spaces and protection. I am also collaborating with Rob Raven in an ESRC-NWO funded project that will analyse and develop the way "niche spaces" offer protection and help nurture the development of socio-technical alternatives. Whilst their study will compare different energy alternatives in the UK and Netherlands, it is nevertheless inspired by the controversial debates about protection associated with the “infant industries” literature in development economics. Insights arising from this project will provide questions and hopefully fruitful lines of analysis for nurturing alternative pathways in development settings in future work.

  5. Natural resource based industries in Latin America. Another IDRC-funded project, led by Anabel Marin at Conicet / Universidad de San Andrés in Argentina and Antonio Carlos Figueira Galvão at Centro de Gestão e Estudos Estratégicos, is interested in applying the STEPS pathways approach to the question of natural resource based industries in Latin America. Influential economists in the region conventionally see natural resource based sectors as a brake on economic development. Anabel is interested in whether niche initiatives can open up more knowledge intensive, more economically interlinked, and more socially inclusive forms of sustainable natural resource exploitation in the region. I am helping her develop sustainability transitions ideas to the analysis for her project, which will also help rethink and revise the basic model, and develop our own thinking further.

  6. Climate change negotiations. It is sobering to compare the innovative thinking around sustainability pathways with the narrow development of technology transfer agreements within international climate change negotiations. Too many of the international discussions consider technology transfer as an event, rather than a process, and see those transfers as rooted in techno-economic criteria, rather than the development of indigenous capabilities. This is despite 40 years of study that identifies socio-technical capability building processes to be so crucial that the term “technology transfer” becomes an unhelpful way to frame the challenges and roles of technology in addressing international climate change. Rob Byrne, Adrian Smith, David Ockwell and Jim Watson, in a new STEPS Centre Working Paper due in December, are considering what new light transitions thinking can shed on these long-standing debates, and whether transitions research might help unlock some advances in this area.
As we do more work on transitions, we’re looking forward to developing a number of exciting new projects and partnerships as part of the STEPS Centre’s ‘transitions’ research cluster. It would be great to hear from others doing similar work.

> STEPS Centre work on Dynamics (including transitions)
> Adrian Smith's profile

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Monday, 15 November 2010

BEING "HEALTHILY SCEPTICAL" ABOUT BIOFORTIFICATION

Lawrence Haddad, IDS Director, has written about the future of biofortification (and mentioned the STEPS Centre's work) on his blog, Development Horizons:

"To date, biofortification has relied on conventional breeding techniques and behavior change research to answer 3 questions: (a) is there a significant, in terms of human nutrition, variation in the micronutrients zinc, iron, provitamin A in naturally occurring varieties of rice, wheat, maize and tubers? (b) can these varieties be crossed with high yielding varieties so that they are equally profitable for farmers to adopt? and (c) will they be acceptable to consumers?

The evidence is accumulating and is looking increasingly positive on all 3 counts--but not for all crops and not in all contexts."

Full post: Development Horizons: Growing More Nutritious Cereals and Tubers: Will it Work?

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Monday, 8 November 2010

BONO, BRANDS AND AID

Bono-hat-glasses
Lisa Ann Richey, Professor of International Development Studies at Roskilde University, will be talking about aid partnerships, RED and "aid celebrities" in the next STEPS Centre seminar on 25 November.

"For decades, aid has been under attack from right-wing political constituencies in the US, and it is now coming under attack even in European countries that have long been ardent aid supporters. Aid, it is argued, is ineffective and wasteful, and business is better at delivering development than traditional aid mechanisms. The international aid community has responded by developing new public-private partnerships, by attempting to reform its delivery mechanisms, and by arguing that given the right conditions, including sufficient funding, aid can make a difference. The involvement of celebrities in pressuring politicians to deliver more and better aid, especially to Africa, has also been part of this response.

“Has there ever been a better reason to shop?” asks an ad for the Product RED American Express card, informing members who use the card that buying “cappuccinos or cashmere” will be helping to fight AIDS in Africa. Co-founded in 2006 by the rock star Bono, Product RED has been a particularly successful example of a new trend in celebrity-driven international aid and development, one explicitly linked to commerce, not philanthropy. Aid celebrities – Bono, Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Farmer – guarantee the ‘cool quotient,’ the management and the target of what we call ‘Brand Aid.’ At the same time, campaigns like RED sell both the suffering of Africans with AIDS and the power of the average consumer to ameliorate it through familiar and highly effective media representations. Rescuing inter-national aid from its dour predictive graphs and disappointing ‘lessons learnt’, Brand Aid spins international development into something young, chic and possible."

For more information, contact steps-centre@ids.ac.uk

> Event flyer: Brand Aid: Shopping Well to Save the World (pdf)
> STEPS Centre events

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Thursday, 4 November 2010

FINDING PATHWAYS IN AN AGE OF ANXIETY

We're living in an age of anxiety where politicians, policy makers and the public search for solutions to narrowly-defined problems and risks.

At the recent CRASSH conference, "Challenging Models in the Face of Uncertainty", Melissa Leach, STEPS Centre Director, spoke about how this search for solutions can lead to social injustice. She argues for a greater appreciation of the various kinds of incomplete knowledge, understanding different ways of imagining futures and the "pathways" to get there. The video's online at the CRASSH website.

> Video: Imagining and Negotiating Pathways in an Age of Anxiety and Incomplete Knowledge

> Conference details: Challenging Models in the Face of Uncertainty
> Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH)


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Wednesday, 3 November 2010

EVENTS TO LOOK FORWARD TO....

A few things to look forward to this month:

16 November: STEPS Water Seminar: India and Pakistan’s truculent cooperation: Is 50 years enough? Undala Alam, School of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen's University, Belfast (from 1 December 2010). Water seminar flyer (pdf, 58kb)
Venue: IDS. Time: 3.00-5.30pm. All welcome, email h.lebris@ids.ac.uk for enquiries.

17 November: Michael Loevinsohn: "New directions in environment-health research: implications for health systems". Session at the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Montreux, Switzerland.

18 November: Gerald Bloom: "Beyond Scaling Up". Session at the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research.

As always, you can keep up to date with all our events on our events page - which also has materials from past events.
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SHIT AND CITIZENSHIP

In the last 15 years, the way sanitation is treated in Brazil has changed dramatically. The picture of poor investment and danger to public health is being replaced by climbing investment and a vision of sanitation as an issue of rights, dignity and equity. The seminar "Shit and Citizenship: The Political Economy of Sanitation Investment in Brazil", held at IDS on Monday, explored how and why this has happened.

The speakers were Alex Shankland (from the Participation, Power and Social Change team at IDS) and Ken Caplan (Director of Building Partnerships for Development in Water and Sanitation).



Alex and Ken explained how the politics of sanitation has evolved over that time, both nationally and locally at the level of one city, Salvador. (Brazil was one of four cases in a global study coordinated by Oxford Policy Management for Water & Sanitation Program (WSP) and World Bank on the political economy of sanitation investments.)

At the national level, former President Lula broke certain taboos on sanitation. In December 2009, Lula caused a storm by describing a mission of his government as being “to take the people out of the shit”. He has also cleverly defused ideological tensions on sanitation provision, by introducing laws which allow for a wide variety of approaches to be taken.

Things didn't just change at a national level. In Salvador - a big, vibrant city on the North-East coast - Antonio Carlos Magalhães, a right-wing governor elected in 1990, saw the city's poor sanitation as a disgrace and a barrier to tourism. His vision of the city as a clean, modern tourist destination led him to arrange a massive programme of investment in sanitation.

Sanitation has also moved up the ladder of importance, partly because of a sense of embarassment at Brazil's being left behind compared to other countries. As people gain nearly universal access to electricity and water, sanitation has become the next-in-line priority for the urban poor.

Areas can be transformed by sanitation - not just physically, but in terms of their identity. Alex observes that, when a favela (shanty town) gained a sanitation system, it ceased to become a favela and became a "barrio" (neighbourhood) - raising people's pride in the area, as well as house prices.

In their talk, Alex and Ken cover the highlights of the political economy of sanitation in Brazil over the last 15 years. The talk covers the facts (when and where great changes in investment and provision happened) but also the subtext (why things happened, and what was going on politically to make this possible).

This seminar is one of the events in our series of Water Seminars. For forthcoming events, see the STEPS Centre website.

Links

> Shit and Citizenship: The Political Economy of Sanitation Investment in Brazil (Alex and Ken's presentation, Slideshare)
> STEPS Centre: events
> Participation, Power and Social Change team, IDS
> Building Partnerships for Development in Water and Sanitation
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