Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Urine fertilising crops and saving money

July 14, 2011  |   Environment,General news,Sanitation   |

Urine fertilising crops and saving money

"Consider these facts about urine: Adults produce about four to eight cups (one to two liters) per day, it's a reservoir of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus, the same elements that nourish crops; and it's cheap to make. That's the kind of information that Sridevi Govindaraj, an Indian agriculture expert, had in mind when she proposed that dousing fields with urine could improve sanitation and boost farmers' incomes. “Human urine is indeed not an unwanted waste, but it is a useful resource,” Sridevi wrote to E4C. Urine, it turns out, is a huge and mostly untapped reserve of crop fertilizer. If Indians collected and applied 40 percent of their urine, the country could save $26.7 million (1.2 billion rupees) in fertilizer costs, Sridevi calculates. A unique field Those figures are from her doctoral thesis at the University of Agricultural Sciences, Bangalore in 2009, with research funded by the Arghym foundation. Sridevi may be the only person in India with a doctorate in ecological sanitation. The urine proposal She proposes using urine in conjunction with regular fertilizers. People would collect it in specially rigged toilets, like EcoSan latrines. Or, in lieu of a commercial product, DIY attachments to toilets in the men's room ...

Cleaning Delhi through Facebook

April 18, 2011  |   Empowerment,Environment,General news,Sanitation   |

Cleaning Delhi through Facebook

"When 22-year-old Piyush Goyal posted his complaint of garbage spilling over from the dump in his area, on the Facebook page of Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), little had he expected the civic agency to take action within 24 hours. But it did, pleasantly surprising Goyal. MCD launched its Facebook page earlier this month to ensure effective monitoring of garbage lifting at areas under its jurisdiction. The civic agency has started off on the surest of footing, Goyal feels. “When I heard about this initiative, I thought I should also post pictures of unclean dhalao (standalone garbage warehouse) in my area. I was expecting the action but never thought it will be so quick,” he says. On January 8, he clicked pictures of the seven dirty ones in South Delhi’s R K Puram area and posted them on Facebook. And the next day, he says, he saw the pictures of clean dhalaos uploaded by the MCD. “There is lot of transparency through this way. The man who actually cleans it asked me why I uploaded the pictures. So the information is going from top to the bottom,” says Goyal. It’s a not even a month, and the civic agency has already received close to ...

Sustainable farming can feed the world?

March 14, 2011  |   Environment,General news   |

Sustainable farming can feed the world?

"The oldest and most common dig against organic agriculture is that it cannot feed the world’s citizens; this, however, is a supposition, not a fact. And industrial agriculture isn’t working perfectly, either: the global food price index is at a record high, and our agricultural system is wreaking havoc with the health not only of humans but of the earth. There are around a billion undernourished people; we can also thank the current system for the billion who are overweight or obese. Yet there is good news: increasing numbers of scientists, policy panels and experts (not hippies!) are suggesting that agricultural practices pretty close to organic — perhaps best called “sustainable” — can feed more poor people sooner, begin to repair the damage caused by industrial production and, in the long term, become the norm. On Tuesday, Olivier de Schutter, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on the Right to Food, presented a report entitled “Agro-ecology and the Right to Food.” (Agro-ecology, he said in a telephone interview last Friday, has “lots” in common with both “sustainable” and “organic.”) Chief among de Schutter’s recommendations is this: “Agriculture should be fundamentally redirected towards modes of production that are more environmentally sustainable and socially just."..." Read ...

Flip-flotsam

February 11, 2011  |   Environment,General news   |

Flip-flotsam

People from wealthy industrialized nations see flip-flops as cheap and disposable. But in Kenya, much-loved "pata-patas" are repaired, reused, and recycled—but never wasted. The film follows the long life cycle of this colorful footwear, a story full of resourcefulness, enterprise, and creativity.

Turning rubbish into compost in Uganda

January 12, 2011  |   Environment,General news   |

Turning rubbish into compost in Uganda

MBALE, 11 January 2011 (IRIN) - A compost-processing plant in Mbale, along the hilly slopes of the Mt. Elgon region in Uganda, is helping to boost declining crop yields through organic farming and aiding environmental conservation by cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions. "Here we are turning garbage into fertilizer instead of leaving it to rot, emitting methane," Rhoda Nyaribi, an officer at the project, told IRIN. Rubbish, Nyaribi said, is a big contributor of methane gas emissions. Methane traps heat in the atmosphere, warming the Earth's surface. Human activities such as farming and other land-use changes supplement the natural levels of these gases. The Mbale plant, which is funded by the World Bank and managed by the Uganda National Environment Management Authority, under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), is helping to provide cheaper fertilizer - about 15 to 20 tonnes per day - to farmers... Read the full story here: http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=91602

Human excreta may help secure future food security

January 05, 2011  |   Environment,General news,Sanitation   |

Human excreta may help secure future food security

"Human excreta could have a key role in securing future food security, helping prevent a sharp drop in yields of crops such as wheat due to a shortage of phosphorus inputs, a UK organic body said on Monday. "It is estimated that only 10 percent of the three million tonnes of phosphorus excreted by the global human population each year are returned to agricultural soils," Britain's largest organic certification body, the Soil Association, said. An adequate supply of phosphorous is essential for seed formation, root development and maturing of crops. The supply of phosphorus from mined phosphate rock could peak as soon as 2033 after which it will become increasingly scarce and expensive, the report said. "We are completely unprepared to deal with the shortage of phosphorus inputs, the drop in production and the hike in food prices that will follow," the Soil Association said. Historically in Europe, phosphorus was returned to agricultural land through the application of animal manure and human excreta but from the mid nineteenth century it was replaced by phosphate mined in distant places. Heavy Metals The report called for a change in European Union regulations to permit the use of treated sewage sludge, known as biosolids, on organic certified land, subject to ...

India, Bihar: ‘Dirty, horrible job’ of manual scavengers

November 30, 2010  |   Empowerment,Environment,General news,Poverty,Sanitation   |

India, Bihar: ‘Dirty, horrible job’ of manual scavengers

A manual scavenger carries a tin of human waste from a dry latrine. Photo: BBC “The worst thing is that the baskets we carry the waste in, often leak and drips down over your clothes”, manual scavenger Lakshmi Devi from rural Bihar tells BBC correspondent Mike Thomson. All her seven children are boys who clean out sewage tanks for their work. Manual removal of excreta (night soil) from “dry toilets” is the job of ‘dalit’ (low caste) women in India. “If I had a daughter I would rather that we all die of hunger than allow her to do the work we do”, Lakshmi said. Listen to Laksmi Devi’s interview (10 Nov 2010), which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and read a background article (17 Nov 2010) by Mike Thomson on scavengers from the serie on “India’s forgotten people”.

India: “We need a sanitation revolution”

November 28, 2010  |   Environment,General news,Poverty,Sanitation   |

India: “We need a sanitation revolution”

India: ‘We need a sanitation revolution here’, says adviser to Urban Affairs minister Speaking at a workshop on the ‘City Sanitation Plan’ in Bangalore, the Adviser to Karnataka state Chief Minister on Urban Affairs A. Ravindra said: “We need a sanitation revolution in the country. There is a need to create public awareness and use innovative and low-cost technologies for better sanitation”. Adding to this, at the inauguration if the workshop, the Karnataka state Minister for Urban Development S. Suresh Kumar stated: “It is unfortunate that we have not made sanitation our priority. This is evident as according to a recent report, there are more mobile users than toilet users in the country. Sanitation does not only mean using toilets; it also includes efficient solid waste management, underground drainage network, and keeping our cities and towns clean”. Karnataka is looking to rank first in the second round of the National City Rating under the National Urban Sanitation Policy to be announced on 8 December 2010. In the first round in May 2010, Mysore secured the second place, while the eighth, 12th, 15th and 22nd positions went to Bangalore, Mangalore, Mandya and Bidar respectively. “We must strive to secure the first position next year. We must work ...

World Toilet Day, November 19th

World Toilet Day, November 19th

November 19th is World Toilet Day. Join the Big Squat! A day to celebrate the importance of sanitation and raise awareness for the 2.6 billion people (nearly half of the world's population) who don't have access to toilets and proper sanitation. Where there are no toilets: 2.6 billion people worldwide are without access to proper sanitation, which risks their health, strips their dignity, and kills 1.8 million people, mostly children, a year. Diarrhoeal diseases kill five times as many children in the developing world as HIV/AIDS. That's 5,000 children DYING EVERY SINGLE DAY. Not only that, but the disease kills more children than either malaria or AIDS, stunts growth, and forces millions - adults and children alike - to spend weeks at a time off work or school, which hits both a country's economy and its citizens' chances of a better future. The majority of the illness in the world is caused by faecal matter. Lack of sanitation is the world's biggest cause of infection. One gram of faeces can contain 10 million viruses, one million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs. Safe disposal of children's faeces leads to a reduction of nearly 40% in childhood diarrhoea. Wherever the ...

Haiti: hygiene promotion is key

November 17, 2010  |   Environment,General news,Poverty,Sanitation,Water   |

Haiti: hygiene promotion is key

Haiti: hygiene promotion is key to preventing nationwide cholera epidemic, says Save the Children as death toll passes 900 As the death toll from Haiti’s cholera epidemic reached 917 on 12 November 2010, Save the Children says the best way to reduce the disease’s spread is to arm people with information and supplies to improve hygienic practices. Cholera has reached the capital Port-au-Prince, where 27 deaths have been recorded and over 1.3 million earthquake survivors living in tent camps are at risk. Throughout the country 14,600 cholera victims have been hospitalised. The United Nations forecasts up to 200,000 Haitians could contract cholera as the outbreak extends across the country of nearly 10 million, and says $163.9 million in aid is needed over the next year to combat the epidemic. In Gaston Margron, a camp where Save the Children works, the first suspected case of cholera has been identified. With a large number of deaths happening in the community, Save the Children fears that people may not be able to access health facilities when illness strikes. Also of concern is that people may not recognize the importance of seeking heath care immediately when they have any signs of symptoms – namely, acute watery diarrhea. Nick Ireland, ...