Functioning toilet system a must for female safety

Women forced to walk long distances more vulnerable. Functioning toilet system a must for female safety.
The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the toilet as “a fixture that consists usually of a water flushed bowl and seat and is used for defecation and urination”. While this definition captures the mechanics associated with a toilet, it neglects what one may consider the rather “tacit” functions of the toilet. To give an idea, in addition to its tangible purpose, the toilet is also a space where we pause to reflect on self and on environment, We also make big or small decisions, laugh or cry in secret, and more. Those transient minutes of privacy afford us intimacy and vulnerability, regardless of the location. In essence, toilets are not mere facilities of relief, they are, literally and metaphorical ly, spaces of dignity. In like manner, when we take a brief trip down South African and global history, we witness toilets also symbolising strong political standpoints. From colonial archives we learn that toilets, among other facilities, were used to enforce racial and social discrimination by segregationist regimes, wherein citizens were allocated separate toilets in line with white supremacist values. Alas, sanitation challenges across race and class did not suddenly dematerialise at the dawn of democracy, as was the case with other setbacks afflicting our community. As I pen this, toilets remain one of the emblems of inequality, delicately dividing the haves from the have nots. It is thus no surprise that a recent study by the South African Human Rights Commission SAHRC revealed that ap proximately 11% of South African households lacked proper toilet systems, the bulk of these being in the rural regions of KwaZulu Natal, North West and the Eastern Cape. Evidently, the toilet denotes the extent of social and eco nomic inclusion in a society. While race and class remain a determinant of access, research reveals that women and girls bear the biggest brunt when dignified sanitation is denied a people. In 2017, WaterAid reported in the “State of The World’s Toilets” publication that one in three females in the world were without access to adequate sanitation. In areas where such a reality is immediate, women are forced to walk long distances to remote areas to relieve themselves, a circumstance which subjects them to harassment and or probable sexual abuse, especially after dark. The report also says this threat to women’s bodies caused by lack of safe sanitation is mainly prevalent in slums, rural regions, refugee camps and peri urban settings, confirming that the depriva ‘ Toilets remain one of the emblems of inequality, delicately dividing the haves from the have notion of basic resources amplifies the vulnerabilities of wo men. To address the scourge of violence against women and girls, governments and stake holders involved in sanitation design and implementation have a responsibility to prioritise toilet facilities which enhance the safety of women and girls. In the South African con text, efforts toward designing women friendly sanitation ought to be within the Nation al Water Resource Strategy NWRS2 framework, which promotes planning which elevates conservation of the water resource. Needless to say, the chronic increase in drought levels in the country indicates that the traditional toilet as we know it, which uses an excessive amount of water per flush, is no longer a viable solution. To rub salt in the wound, the World-Wide Fund projects for SA a 17% water deficit by 2030, which clearly suggests that sanitation infrastructure must also be water friendly, us ing water sparingly, if at all. This of course calls for radical designing wherein innovation takes centre stage, aka “reinventing the toilet”, as sanitation experts would argue. In this respect, the Water Research Commission WRC and partners have invested in accelerating the development of innovative next generation sanitation solutions which use very little or no water at all. These include the Arumloo toilet, a collaborative effort between Isidima Design and Development, the Water Technologies Demonstration Programme WADER , the Global Cleantech Innovation Programme GCIP and the WRC. The patented toilet system, whose shape is derived from nature’s Arum Lily to enable efficient vortex flow through the toilet bowl, uses less than two litres of water per flush and can be retrofitted in existing buildings and installed in new buildings and community settings. An additional innovative solution is the EcoSan Waterless Toilet System which requires zero water to function. The design is built with a conveyor which rotates each time the lid is lifted, allowing human excrement to fall into a reusable collection bag where it is dried into a compost like material for use as either fertiliser or biofuel. Moreover, the Lusec Sanitation Solution is an alternative waterless sanitation solution with a built-in mechanism to inactivate all pathogens in hu man effluent and recycle this into fertiliser. Various other designs of a similar and varied nature exist in the WRC’s diverse innovations database. For the South African government to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals SDGs set by the United Nations in which countries have vowed, among other objectives, to pursue gender equality and ensure equitable access to adequate basic services for all by 2030, the implementation of an innovative women friendly toilet infrastructure in unserved areas is indispensable. In so doing, the inherent threat of gender-based violence coupled with lack of safe sanitation will be curbed, and, by extension gender equality will be advanced. Thembela Ntiemeza is the technology transfer officer at the Water Research Commission and writes in her personal capacity.

Growing women in agriculture, science and technology

ADVERTISING FEATURE SPECIAL PROJECTS SALES REPRESENTATIVE: MARCELLE OLIPHANT & GREG STOCK WRITER: ALF JAMES Published in The Star, Pretoria News, The Mercury & Cape Times National Women’s Month A LNR Growing women in agriculture, science and technology The Agricultural Research Council ARC is a premier science institution that conducts research with partners, develops human capital and fosters innovation in support of the agricultural sector. The ARC provides diagnostic, laboratory, analytical, agricultural engineering services, post harvest technology development, agrochemical evaluation, consultation and advisory services, food processing technology services as well as various surveys and training interventions. As part of celebrating Women’s Month, the ARC honours women in agricultural science who continue to make efforts to mitigate against food insecurity and feeding the world’s ever growing population through scientific solutions including climate smart agriculture. As the nation celebrates the centenary of the struggle stalwart and humanitarian Albertina Sisulu, who was also a nurse by profession, it is an opportune time to reflect on what the ARC is doing to develop women in agriculture, science and technology It is therefore befitting that the ARC has pro grammes and policies that for developing women scientists to address the economic challenges. The ARC creates and provides opportunities to suitable candidates from various disadvantaged backgrounds to de velop and promote skills, potential and talent to the ultimate as well as the ARC, agricultural sector, science and technology for economic growth of South Africa. This way the ARC also mitigates against the scarcity of scientists through mentorship by ARC senior researchers and continuous evaluation during the programme. The following individuals are examples of the fruit of ARC growing women in agriculture, science and technology: Dr Joyce Chitja of the African Centre for Food Security ACES in the School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences SAEES at University of KwaZulu Natal UKZN , has been appointed deputy chairperson of the board of the Agricultural Re search Council ARC for a three year term. Chitja has been an ARC board member for two terms. This is her third term where she will serve in this new role. She said she is honoured to be appointed to this new role. She sees her position as a serious responsibility as the ARC is a state owned entity responsible for agricultural research and for upholding food security in the country in every sphere of agriculture. Chitja’s responsibilities will involve supporting the strategic goals of the ARC, while also filling a second role as chair of the ARC’s Research, Development and Evaluation Committee. UKZN Vice Chancellor, Dr Albert van Jaarsveld, issued a statement to the university community congratulating Chitja on her appointment. He said: “The Agricultural Research Council plays a vital role in supporting the agricultural sector and con ducts research with partners, develops human capital and fosters innovation in support of the sector. Dr Chitja’s experience as an agricultural scientist and food security expert with a rich under stating of agriculture in South Africa especially the challenges facing the small scale farming sector, will no doubt be of great value to the ARC Board.” Ms Joyce Mashiteng is a highly motivated, responsible, hardworking and conscientious environmental and project manager and environmental subject matter specialist with over nine years’ experience in middle management level. Throughout her career she has gained the ability to work under pressure ad be able to pro duce the desired outcome. Being a team leader requires her to be able to communicate at all levels and thus work well with a team or an individual. Mashiteng is known for displaying her analytical, reporting, planning, strategic, project management policy making, leader ship and mentoring skills. Her eagerness to use her knowledge is only surpassed by her will and drive to succeed over the past 20 years. Her experience in project management has afforded her the opportunity to gain an excellent track record of negotiation and contract management skills that led to capital build projects being constructed on time and enable the company to gain shareholder savings. This task required her to develop the ability to make decisions and accept responsibility In the last five years she has also learned and gained an in tense understanding of corporate governance, having served on the Ministerial National Water Advisory Council as well as her current role with the ARC Board. Dr Ivy Tshilwane is a senior researcher in the Vaccines and Diagnostics Development Pro gramme at Agricultural Research Council Onderstepoort Veterinary Research ARC OVR . She holds a PhD in veterinary tropical dis eases from the University of Pre toria. Her PhD studies focused on developing new generation vac cines for the control of heartwater, which is a tick borne disease of livestock. During her time at the ARC OVR, she continued research on development of new generation vaccines for livestock diseases, which are required to replace expensive impractical vaccines that are not easily accessible to poor farming communities because of their need for cold chain storage and high cost of production. Tshilwane is an aspiring veterinary immunologist who ap plies innovative technologies like nanotechnology, biotechnology, transcriptome sequencing to solve socio economic problems encountered by poor farming communities. Through this, she contributed significantly to research towards the development of an improved vaccine for heartwater, which resulted in an effect ive prototype DNA vaccine provisional patent pending that can protect sheep against heartwater infection. The prototype DNA vaccine developed for heartwater was designed in such a way that it will be cheap to produce and will not require cold chain storage, making it suitable for use by poor small scale farmers as well. Tshilwane has recently been awarded research funds from the National Research Foundation and the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to further her research. She is also passionate about teaching and continues to invest in knowledge through mentorship of postdoctoral fellows and co supervision of postgraduate students. She aspires to continue conducting multidisciplinary research that will not only create new knowledge and technologies but also contribute to improve ment of the livelihoods of communities and food security Lerato Matsaunyane D.Phil is a plant molecular biologist turned molecular breeder in the Plant Breeding Division of the ARC at the Vegetable and Ornamental Plants ARC VOP campus. She holds a D.Phil in Biochemistry from the University of Johannesburg and an MSc in Plant Science from the University of Pretoria. Her doctoral study investigated transformation in duced unintended effects following genetic modification of a potato crop with an antifungal gene for enhanced resistance against Verticillium wilt. Considering the challenges related with the production and registration of a genetically modified GM crop, Dr Matsaunyane sought to investigate alternative crop protection methods with the aim of assisting household, resource poor and smallholder farmers mitigate crop loss. She collaborated with Gauteng De partment of Agriculture and Rural Development GDARD and investigated the benefit of botanical extracts as alternative crop protection agents. In addition, she is currently investigating the incorporation of molecular techniques into the current ARC VOP potato breeding programme. The aim of which is to use marker assisted selection to breed for climate resilient potato crops with special focus on drought tolerance and late blight resistance in collaboration with partners from the Sweden University of Agri cultural Sciences SLU . Since her entrance into the agricultural sector was through the ARC professional development programme ARC PDP , she is paying it forward by mentoring students, which ranges from experiential, internship as well postgraduates. Dr Ashira Roopnarain is pres ently a researcher in the Micro biology and Environmental Biotechnology Research Group MEBRG , at the ARC Soil, Cli mate and Water. She obtained her PhD in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of the Witwatersrand Wits in 2014, focusing on Microbiology and Bio technology For her PhD research, she contributed to knowledge on using microalgal derived lipids as a feedstock for biodiesel production, as an environmentally friendly, sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. This work has sparked her interest in environmental preservation by means of biofuel generation. Roopnarain continued working in the field of bioenergy gen eration during her postdoc at the ARC1 under the mentorship of Prof Rasheed Adeleke. She has gained expertise in various research areas including soil beneficial microbes, waste to energy research and biofertilizer research. She has contributed significantly to the establishment of the first biogas research laboratory at ARC Soil, Climate and Water. Roopnarain is currently involved in the management and upkeep of the laboratory She is the project leader for a Water Research Commission funded project K5 2543: ‘The utilization of water hyacinth Eicchornia crassipes from Hartbeespoort dam in biogas and bio fertilizer production, as a solution to water weed challenges’. Roopnarain aspires to excel in her career as a researcher and to conduct research that will result in environmental remediation, upliftment of communities as well as food and energy security Dr Linky Makgahlela is currently employed as a research team manager for animal breeding and genetics at ARC Animal Production Campus. She graduated her BSc Agric and MSc Agric from the University of Limpopo. She holds a PhD in Animal Breeding and Genetics from the A versity of Helsinki in Finland. Prof Makgahlela is rated by the National Research Foundation Y2 sub category Her current research aims to establish a research programme in livestock genomics with the view of implementing genomic selection in the National Livestock Improvement programmes. This includes examining issues associated with running an efficient processing pipeline from on farm sampling, imputation as cost effective genotyping strategies to genomic evaluation in South African livestock. Makgahlela is also investigating harmful and recessive genes impairing fertility in beef cattle, genes associated with adaptation and disease resistance in livestock. She supervises several post graduate students participating in these projects as part of developing genomics research capacity In future, she aims to develop bioinformatics pipelines for inclusion of sequence data in livestock genetic improvement. Makgahlela provides advisory services to the beef and dairy industry, where she is the convener of the Dairy Genomic Programme, Research Committee, panel member in the National Research Foundation applications moderation process, and serves as a reviewer of manuscripts for local and international journals. She is the current convener of the public relations committee of the South African Society of Animal Science. Agricultural Research Council 1134 Park Street, Hatfield PretorialP0 Box 8783, Pretoria, 0001 Tel: +27 0 12 427 97001 Fax: +27 0 12 430 5814 Website: Email: I:I You Tube THANK YOU FOR BEING A PROUDLY SOUTH AFRICAN WOMAN HKLM SI 0510

It will take 217 years before income parity’s achieved

It will take 217 years before income parity’s achieved 21st century society demands higher women participation, but transformation’s at a at snail’s pace COMMENT DHESIGEN NAIDOO R*E*S*P*E*C*T demanded the queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, in what became an anthem for the struggle for gender equality in the 1970s and 1980s. There was a rising optimism, globally, that perhaps we were gaining momentum towards gender equality The UN Convention of the Elimination of All form of Discrimination Against Women, was heralded in 1979 and 16 years later saw the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action at the Fourth World Conference on Women. For a country like South Africa, then a one year old democracy having just thrown off the shackles of racism and sexism that defined the patriarchal apartheid state, this was a historical point of inflection for the establishment of real equality And yet in 2018, Statistics SA’s crime against women report shows a decline compared with historical levels, but still unacceptably high in the major categories. Worldwide, we see the strengthening of conservative right wing movements, even in previous bastions of democracy in Europe and North America. One of the victims of this shift is women’s rights and the position of women in society It is achieved with directed policy like restrict ing women’s reproductive rights; and through more subtle means like making it harder to integrate women and the girl child into streams and professions that were historically the domain of men. The progress to overcome this, is slow The latest World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report measures progress in four categories. The findings are expressed as a percentage with 0% as maximum inequality and 100% being gender parity In the categories of educational attainment as well as health and survival, the world has made great and rapid strides with gap percentages of 95% and 96%, respectively We have seen increased access to education for the girl child in most parts of the world, and the adage “educate a woman, and you educate a village” has proven true. Amartya Sen, economist and Nobel Laureate quoted Bangladesh as a prize case study where the economic fortunes of the country changed radically on the back of women’s education. In fact, health and survival is in many ways a direct result of this. The other two categories in the Gap report fare less favourably The category of economic opportunity and participation scores an unsurprising 58%. We all know of the barriers to entry and even when women get in, there are the multiple glass ceilings. The cost to society is high. The cost to the economy is even more direct. In the World Bank’s Unrealized Potential report, it is calculated women account for 38% of human capital wealth globally The number drops to less than one third in low income and lower middle income countries. Part of the reason is limited opportunity for participation. The other is a complete lack of income parity even when women and men are in the same job performing at the same level. And this area of transformation is proceeding at a snail’s pace. It is estimated that at the current rate of change, it will take 217 years before gender based income parity is achieved. The prevention of full economic participation of women in the economy has a wealth loss of $23 620 for every one of the 7 billion people on Earth, says the report. Globally for the 141 countries that participated in the survey, the loss in human capital wealth notches up to $160.2 trillion. How can it be that we are in a pro longed global economic recession on the one hand, and an undeveloped and there fore unrealised human capital dividend, estimated at $160.2 trillion, in the form of women and the girl child on the other. The reason could lie in the fourth category of the Gap report political empowerment. This relates not only to women representation in political formations at various levels of governance, but also to generally participation in decision making at all levels. The political empowerment gap is at 23%. Loosely interpreted, this means that 77% of all the decisions that matter in the world today are taken by men. The challenges of the 21st century soci ety demand integration, synergy and social skills. The very traits that were previously regarded as the bastion of women, and a weakness. And in particular, success in the 21st century economy demands high emotional intelligence. Does this mean that the Fourth Indus trial Revolution depends for its success a much higher participation of women? Does this mean that the dividend of the Industry 4.0 can only be fully realised on the back of full and equal gender participation in the economy and in society? The arithmetic seems to indicate that this is, in fact, the only pathway to a prosperous and sustainable future. Dhesigen Naidoo is chief of the Water Research Commission SA.

A new revolution of toilet systems using less water

“Faith will play a great role in bringing about a behavioural change among people as far as sanitation is concerned, let sanitation become first in our lives,” said Swami Chidanand Saraswatji at the opening ceremony of the 4th Faecal Sludge Management Conference (FSM4) in Chennai, India, on Monday, 20 February 2017.

Saraswatji is the president and spiritual head of the Parmarth Niketan Ashram; he leads a spiritual institution based in Rishikesh, India.  His statement supports what our very own Mr Jay Bhagwan, Executive Manager at the Water Research Commission (WRC), has always said: that we need to start thinking about the ‘next-generation toilet technology’ – we should move away from the current ‘flush-and-dispose’ and ‘drop-and store’ models to the new generation of technologies which aim to eliminate human waste at source.

In essence sanitation practitioners around the globe are currently facing what we call, ‘the sanitation revolution’.  Even more pressing is the need for new thinking about toilet systems that have to be incorporated into water-sensitive design planning and thinking.

“We cannot continue to flush away valuable and scarce fresh water, creating more downstream challenges in terms of water treatment and water quality. The sanitation revolution is about turning this tide and current practice towards more sustainable and universal access to acceptable sanitation for all. “It’s not all about flushing”, said Minister of Water and Sanitation, Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, while delivering her speech at the Conference.

Minister Mokonyane, WRC CEO Mr Dhesigen Naidoo. WRC Executive Manager Mr Jay Bhagwan, and WRC Research Manager Dr Sudhir Pillay were amongst the dignitaries that attended the Conference.

Amongst the convenors was the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, an organisation that has challenged the world to revolutionise toilet systems through what they term the ‘Sanitation Grand Challenge’.   The Foundation challenges sanitation innovators around the globe to reinvent sanitation systems technologies that can go off-the-grid.  This innovation can only be achieved through the introduction and use of technological advances that bring about benefits at every step of the sanitation value chain.

Speaking at the conference, Naidoo said, “With existing waterborne systems, we can change to more efficient flushing, conveyance and treatment systems. The movement here is from high-energy technologies towards a bio-refinery approach that integrates treatment processes to produce fuels, energy or beneficiated products. There is also an opportunity for water-efficient flushing and conveyance systems”.

Since 2011, sanitation-focussed organisations around the world have been meeting under the banner of faecal sludge management to share and brainstorm potential sanitation solutions, to formulate policy recommendations that promote best practices, and to identify lessons learned in how to make faecal sludge management an integral part of sanitation service delivery. One such conference was held in Durban in 2012. The conference brings together professionals working in the sanitation sector, including utilities, service providers, cities, governments, academics, scientists, consultants, donors and industries, to support the global initiative of disseminating sustainable solutions for FSM.

While speaking at the Conference Minister Mokonyane said, “We have been hugely encouraged by the successes of the Sanitation Research Fund for Africa (SRFA) project generously funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation and led by the WRC. In the SRFA, we have demonstrated very successfully new innovative sanitation solutions and implementation models in 11 Southern African countries. As a community of practice, we stand ready to move into the next steps of scale-up for widespread coverage as we endeavour to meet the ambitious and necessary SDG for universal access to safe and sustainable sanitation”.

African Day on Faecal Sludge Management

Adding to the FSM4 programme, the WRC hosted an African Day on Faecal Sludge Management, also with funding support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation through the Sanitation Research Fund for Africa (SRFA) Programme. The workshop highlighted recent advances in R&D in sanitation on the African continent, as well as good practices and innovation. The workshop included solutions applied at demonstration-scale. It provided an opportunity for the community of practice to learn from one another about the advances in sanitation technology based on evidence-based research and applied at scale.

Although sanitation challenges are still huge in many countries in the African continent, big strides have been made in moving towards a sanitation revolution.  In Kampala, Uganda, for example, Water for People – a NGO – was commissioned by the WRC in 2013 through a partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to lead a project on ‘Sanitation as a business: the Kampala SaniHub Project’. The purpose of that project was to provide services to people by incorporating innovative products across the sanitation value chain that makes sanitation servicing businesses more viable.

Leading the panel discussion, Minister Mokonyane said, “Africa has an opportunity to leap-frog, to jump over the waterborne sewage dominated solutions into the space of innovative low- and no-water solutions. Africa and South Asia can lead the global sanitation revolution. Africa is available as a global laboratory for ‘new sanitation’ with regards to technologies, new regulatory regimes as well as new governance models.”

Mokonyane also stressed that there is a need for international partnerships and investments in carrying out some innovation and uptake on the African continent.

Africa has the advantage of planning from scratch and freedom from the burden of retro-fitting, as is currently being experienced in the developed world. It is a continent open to sanitation innovation.

FSM International leadership awards

For South Africa, the sanitation revolution means deviating from the usual approaches.  Even more challenging is the transformation of the sanitation research agenda such that it matches the global and national expectations leading to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targets.

The WRC works hard to drive sanitation innovation in collaboration with partner institutions such as the Department of Science and Technology, for example, in piloting the pour flush toilet system. It is for this reason that WRC CEO Dhesigen Naidoo was recognised at the FSM4 Conference as one of the 50 most prominent impact leaders in the world. In addition, Jay Bhagwan has done incredible work in shaping the thinking in this innovation space.  The Conference recognised Bhagwan as an International Water Leader for Water Conservation. The awards mean a lot to South Africa as they inspire new thinking and push for even more innovative ideas.

Visit our Knowledge Hub for more information on sanitation innovations.