New Paper – Pit Latrine Fecal Sludge Resistance

4 02 2017

In 2016, I was pleased to welcome Charles Chirwa to Virginia Tech for a period several weeks. During his time at the university, we began to analyze the data he collected on the consistency of sludge in 300 pit latrines in Mzuzu, Malawi. We were joined in this task by my colleagues Leigh-Anne KrometisEric Vance, Adam Edwards, and Ting Guan.

At the end of his stay, I posted a tweet in which I stated that “we plan to publish a WASH paper on his research.” After returning to Mzuzu, Charles continued to work on the paper with his primary advisor, Rochelle Holm, and his extended research team in the US. This week his paper was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

I wanted to congratulate Charles on this accomplishment, which involved hundreds of hours of diligent and carefully executed fieldwork and months of data cleaning and processing to find the best way to present his data. His research provides important data and insights into strategies that could advance pit latrine emptying in resource poor communities in Africa.

2017-02-03_2110





“Experience” WASH in Malawi

20 07 2016

Having reached the halfway point of our time in Malawi, the students are now fully immersed in their WASH-related research projects. When we designed the course, we decided to make research a central part of the student experience. Having spent a day with each of the research groups this week I can now see how important this experiential component of the course is for building a deep understanding of the WASH challenges facing communities in Malawi. The research projects are logistically and technically challenging, which means students need to work well as a team, learn new skills and knowledge, be proactive, and manage the enviable problems that come with real-world research. This week has also been characterized by the Mzuni students rising to the occasion and taking lead roles in the research projects. Their understanding of local communities and organizations and their mastery of local dialects has proven to be critical for each project. It has also been great to see the U.S. and Malawian students unite around a common research goal and work hard to advance the data collection process.

14Over the past few days the three groups have become known as the Sanitation, Mapping, and Fish teams in relation to their research projects. I have briefly described each project below and have provided a few pictures from the work of each group.

A hygiene and sanitation assessment of public sites. The Sanitation team is testing public latrines in schools, public transportation sites, medical facilities, and markets for E. coli contamination and administering short interviews to assess the sanitary conditions and use of the public facilities. The team plans to assess ten public sites this week and process up to 150 samples taken from various pre-determined locations in and around a sanitation facility. As is typical in a low resource setting, these facilities can be unclean and in a dire state of repair. But this was not always the case. The study of these facilities is providing students with a clear sense of the public sanitation needs across the city. It is also requiring them to visit locations they would never have seen if we only spoke about public sanitation in a classroom setting.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mapping the water and sanitation services in a community. The Mapping team is undertaking participatory mapping to understand the water and sanitation services in a community near Mzuzu University. The students are leading these mapping exercises and collecting GPS data that will be analyzed and integrated into one or more maps. These maps can then be used to identify the “gaps” between water needs and existing services to help the community engage in the planning of future water services. During their first day of surveying, it was clear that the data collection instruments were too detailed and needed to be revised/shortened. This experience reinforced the importance of piloting instruments before the full data collection effort begins, a valuable lesson for the students to learn.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Risk of fish contamination from the boat to the market (Nkhata Bay to Mzuzu). The Fish team is undertaking an assessment of the fish supply chain from Nkhata Bay to Mzuzu. This is perhaps the most logistically demanding project, which begins around 3am as the fishermen leave Nkhata Bay and ends at Mzuzu market some 50km away where the fish caught that morning are being sold. The students are testing the fish, the fish handlers’ hands, transport vehicles, and fish containers for E. coli, and are undertaking interviews with fish handlers along the fishing, transportation, and marketing chain. This project is characterized by intense periods of activity and periods of waiting – such as when fishermen are fishing on the lake. Perhaps, the busiest phase of the research is when the fishermen return to shore and the middle men/women rush to purchase the fisherman’s catch. The students wisely developed relationships with the fishermen to ensure that they can sample their fish when they return to shore and before the fish start their trip to Mzuzu market.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While we intended the WASH course to be experiential, I underestimated the importance of this aspect of the course, which is where much of the learning seems to be happening. The course provides a great example of the “hands on, minds on” principle that Virginia Tech is working to integrate across the institution. My hope is that we (VT) can develop a way – through initiatives such as Beyond Boundaries, Destination Areas, and InclusiveVT – to make this type of off campus experience open to all students attending the university. There are clearly financial and resource implications to realizing this vision, but the value to students is certainly worth the effort.





New Paper – WTP for VIP Latrines

15 01 2016

We recently published in the Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development the final paper related to our MUS research in Senegal. I have provided the abstract to the paper below.2016-01-15_1157

Abstract: In 2015, African ministers established the Ngor Declaration to achieve universal access to adequate sanitation and hygiene services and eliminate open defecation by 2030. Realizing this target will require significant public and private investment. Over the last two decades, there has been increasing recognition that sanitation programs should be demand driven, yet limited information exists about how much rural residents in developing countries are willing to pay for sanitation improvements. This paper applies the contingent valuation approach to evaluate how much households in rural Senegal are willing to pay for a ventilated improved pit (VIP) latrine. The analysis uses data from 1,635 household surveys that were conducted in 47 rural communities across four regions in Senegal. The willingness to pay model found that respondents were more willing to pay for a VIP latrine if they had plans to improve their existing latrine, lived in districts located nearer to the capital city of Dakar, were dissatisfied with their existing sanitation service, and were male. The analysis also indicates that the current household contribution of 5% of the costs of constructing a VIP latrine could be increased to 30% with only a modest decline in the number of households willing to pay this amount.





Experience WASH in Malawi – Course Application Open

11 12 2015

If you are a student at Virginia Tech, please consider applying to the Experience WASH in Malawi study abroad course. The course will run from July 11–29, 2016 (Summer II). The application deadline is February 1, 2016.

2015-12-11_0905





Experience WASH in Malawi (Study Abroad)

23 09 2015

If you are a Virginia Tech undergraduate or graduate, please come to the Drillfield today to learn about a new WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) course I will be offering during Summer II, 2016, in partnership with the Mzuzu University Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation.static_qr_code_without_logo

To keep up to date on course news, please join the Google group.

Course Flyer

Flyer

Course Information
Info_poster

Images from MalawiPoster_images





Spring 2015 – Water Supply and Sanitation in Developing Countries

22 11 2014

UAP 5324 / BSE 4394
Instructor: Ralph P. Hall
Meets: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:30am to 10:45am
Location: MCB 219

2014-11-22_1525Course Description

In this course, we will examine the planning process for the provision of water supply and sanitation (W&S) services in developing countries. The course is structured to provide both an engineering and policy perspective on the subject. Thus, the readings, class discussions, and assignments will require students to think as both an engineer and planner/analyst. The course will begin with a review of the state of water and sanitation services in different parts of the world and will raise the question of what constitutes access to water. Following this introduction, we will study the design of important W&S technologies. We will then examine the broader environmental and public health considerations in W&S planning. Armed with an understanding of critical W&S issues and technologies, in the final section of the course we will examine key ideas/topics such as multiple-use water services, demand-oriented planning, service pricing, decentralization vs. centralization of W&S services, community participation in the planning process, and post-construction support.

Learning Objectives

Having successfully completed this course you will be able to:

1. Describe the current level of access to, and the quality of, water supply and sanitation services in one or more developing regions.

2. Outline the planning process for the provision of water supply and sanitation services in the developing region(s) studied.

3. Define the various roles of local, national, and international agencies and donors in the provision of water supply and sanitation services in developing regions.

4. Use planning-based tools to evaluate existing and proposed water supply and sanitation services in the developing region(s) studied.

5. Design policies and/or infrastructure to address identified problems with the provision/adequacy of existing water supply and sanitation services in the developing region(s) studied.

Join the Class Google+ Community





Spring 2014 Courses

22 10 2013

With Spring 2014 preregistration starting today, I wanted to post an update on the two courses I will be offering next semester.

UAP 5324 / BSE 4394: Water Supply and Sanitation in Developing Countries

IMG_0751In this course, we will examine the planning process for the provision of water supply and sanitation (W&S) services in developing countries. The course is structured to provide both an engineering and policy perspective on the subject. Thus, the readings, class discussions, and assignments will require students to think as both an engineer and planner/analyst. The course will begin with a review of the state of water and sanitation services in different parts of the world and will raise the question of what constitutes “access” to water. Following this introduction, we will study the design of important W&S technologies. We will then examine the broader environmental and public health considerations in water W&S planning. Armed with an understanding of critical W&S issues and technologies, in the final section of the course we will examine key ideas/topics such as multiple-use water services (MUS), demand-oriented planning, service pricing, decentralization vs. centralization of W&S services, community participation in the planning process, and post-construction support.

Note: I plan to use a Google Glass and Google+ platform to support this course and transform the way in which the material is delivered.

Prerequisites: None (The CEE3104 prerequisite no longer applies. Students in BSE and Engineering, please “force add” the course on the first day of the class if you are unable to preregister.)

When: Tuesdays, 12:30pm to 3:15pm

Where: Wallace 407

UAP 5764: International Development Planning Studio

Concepts and practices in the field of international development have changed dramatically over the past few decades and even the past few years. This studio course is designed to prepare students with the most current approaches to the practice of international development as implemented by leading actors today. Students will learn the traditional project planning tools used by multi-lateral and financial institutions as well as alternative processes. They will be equipped with a variety of skills necessary for working on development projects in the real world.

Throughout the studio, elements of project development, planning, management, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation will be covered from the perspective of the prevalent development sectors. Emphasis will be placed on synthesizing and practicing skills through the preparation of a proposal for an international development project/program. During the studio, students will work on, present, and critique different elements of their project proposals. To complement the theoretical discussions, several studios will be led by experienced practitioners and academics in the field of international development.

Prerequisites: UAP 5764G International Development Policy and Planning

When: Thursdays, 12:30pm to 3:15pm

Where: Architecture Annex 200

The slideshow below shows the studio cohorts for 2012 and 2013. This studio is an intensive experience, but we do have some fun along the way.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.