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Sanitation Matters

The Sanitation Matters podcast uncovers the latest research and expert opinions on how to tackle the global sanitation and hygiene crisis. The monthly interview is produced by SHARE Research – an international consortium dedicated to improving sanitation coverage and hygiene behaviour. The presenter is Guy Collender, the SHARE Policy and Communications Officer based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The subject of menstruation remains a taboo, especially in many low-income countries. Advice and products on menstrual hygiene are essential for the promotion of health, dignity and education. In this episode, Dr Belen Torondel and Aurelie Jeandron, both of LSHTM, discuss how SHARE is raising awareness about this neglected topic. They also reflect on their participation at a session co-hosted by SHARE and WSSCC on menstrual hygiene at the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille in March.

WaterAid is well known for its eye-catching and hard-hitting advocacy campaigns. In this episode of Sanitation Matters, Yael Velleman describes the work of the international charity and her role there as a senior policy analyst specialising in health and sanitation. She discusses advocacy at the World Health Assembly and WaterAid's involvement in the SHARE consortium, which conducts research on sanitation and hygiene. The links between poor sanitation and violence against women and the challenges ahead are also raised.

Pit latrines and their contents are being studied as part of an innovative project in Tanzania to understand decomposition rates. In this episode, Dr Jeroen Ensink, of LSHTM and SHARE, discusses how this research, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to improve the longevity of pit latrines.

A new SHARE study based on research from 10 countries shows how the poorest suffer disproportionately from their lack of access to sanitation. In this episode, Dr Rick Rheingans – the lead author of the report and the Impact Director of SHARE – explains the increased risk of illness and death faced by children from poor families. He suggests policy-makers should focus their efforts on community-level exposure to contaminated waste and should targeting the poorest and most vulnerable, especially the urban poor.

Nepal is one of the world’s poorest countries and sanitation coverage in the mountainous republic remains low. In this episode, Om Prasad Gautam – a SHARE-funded PhD student at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine –analyses the situation in his homeland, including opportunities to address water, sanitation and hygiene challenges.

Professor Sandy Cairncross, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has been a pioneer in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector for more than 30 years. In this episode, he explains the work behind some of his major achievements and his thoughts on the future of the sector. He describes how he helped to design and market hundreds of thousands of hygienic pit latrine slabs when based in Mozambique in the 1980s.

Experts discussed past achievements and future challenges for sanitation worldwide at a birthday celebration for Waterlines – a journal focusing on water, sanitation and waste. Problems associated with subsidies, the merits and limitations of sewers, and the benefits and drawbacks of a human rights approach were all debated at the packed event.

Nearly 800 million people living in urban areas worldwide lack sanitation, and this challenge was centre stage at World Water Week in Stockholm this August. Sheela Patel, chair of Shack/Slum Dwellers International – one of SHARE’s partners – urged delegates at the prestigious event to recognise slums as neighbourhoods producing their own solutions, rather than a sea of dilapidated shacks.

The odourless and hygienic Ventilated Improved Pit latrine has improved the lives of tens of millions of Africans. In this episode, Dr Peter Morgan – a pioneer in the water, sanitation and hygiene sector for the last four decades – describes how he designed this toilet and how it was rolled out in his adopted country Zimbabwe.

Cholera and other diarrhoeal diseases remain major challenges in low-lying Bangladesh, one of the most densely populated countries on Earth. In this first episode of Sanitation Matters recorded overseas, Dr Sirajul Islam, of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) discusses his leading cholera research and his involvement in tackling outbreaks, including in Haiti. He also describes SHARE-funded research in Bangladesh on weaning food hygiene.

Around 10 per cent of the world’s population is disabled, yet few researchers and interventions address improving access to toilets for this marginalised group. SHARE, WaterAid and the Leonard Cheshire Disability and Inclusive Development Centre organised a two-day workshop in March to discuss these issues and how to generate a cost-benefit analysis to persuade policy-makers to take action.

The lack of sanitation in slums worldwide is a major health concern and is likely to get worse as rapid urbanisation continues in Africa and Asia. In this first episode of Sanitation Matters, Dr Martin Mulenga, a senior researcher at the International Institute for Environment and Development, discusses the problems and successful projects he has seen in informal settlements across the globe. He also talks about his involvement in the SHARE consortium and the diversity and strength of its partners.