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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/18/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (

Influx of refugees in both Africa, Middle East straining resources

Be it from war or famine, the world is seeing a growing refugee population. Individuals and families, with little more than the clothes on their backs, flee violent situations to take up temporary habitation in neighboring nations or unaffected areas. This growing problem has put an enormous strain on resources, and many of the bare essentials needed for healthful living go disregarded in many refugee encampments.

In emergencies, agencies traditionally buy and distribute jerry cans, which can mean transporting 15 or 20 liters of air. Collapsible jerry cans only last a couple of months before they start leaking.

In emergencies, agencies traditionally buy and distribute jerry cans, which can mean transporting 15 or 20 liters of air. Collapsible jerry cans only last a couple of months before they start leaking.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

2/18/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Refugees, encampments, sanitation, water, solid waste

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Now, beneficiaries, field practitioners and donors have named the most pressing gaps in emergency water, sanitation and hygiene promotion services in a 2013 survey.

The Humanitarian Innovation Fund, or HIF, plans to address them through open innovation, where grants of up to $20,000 are given to the best new ideas, and expert brainstorming sessions.

Keep warm in this beautiful hooded sweatshirt --

The Top Ten most pressing needs of current refugee populations, in no particular order, are:

1. Latrine lighting

In many refugee camps, latrines are not lit at night making them dangerous for women to use.

Challenge: To light communal latrines at night in a cheap and sustainable manner.

2. Space saving jerry can

In emergencies, agencies traditionally buy and distribute jerry cans, which can mean transporting 15 or 20 liters of air. Collapsible jerry cans only last a couple of months before they start leaking.

Challenge: To design a 15 liter jerry can, costing less than $5, with limited volume when stored, lasting one year.

3. Excreta disposal in urban emergencies

Earthquakes and floods often cut off urban water supplies and damage toilets. When large numbers of displaced people gather in safe places like schools, sanitation facilities get overwhelmed.

Many agencies build raised latrines. But they need to be emptied frequently, with waste being dumped in purpose-built pits or rivers, creating health risks.

Challenges: To develop new products to provide safe excreta disposal in urban environments after disasters. Solutions should consider not only containment, but also emptying and disposal mechanisms.

4. Hygiene promotion

It is extremely difficult to get most people to wash their hands during or after an emergency. Affected populations often do not use water and sanitation facilities because they consider them inappropriate to their needs or social status or were not involved in their design.

Challenges: To design an approach to enable agencies to better include affected populations and ensure they adopt safe hygiene practices. How can hand-washing products be combined with social marketing to make it desirable for affected communities to wash their hands?

5. Low cost desalination

In coastal Asia, there is a substantial increase in brackish water due to tidal surges, sea level rise and over abstraction. In drought-prone regions, people have to walk further to get potable water because of high evaporation and poor irrigation practices.

Challenge: To develop desalination technologies to provide sufficient drinking water in different emergency scenarios.

6. Drainage solutions

Spillage from taps in camps, waste water from washing areas and rain can create large muddy ponds where mosquitoes and parasitic worms breed.

Challenge: To propose a new, low-cost drainage system that eliminates standing water where soil has low permeability.

7. Rubbish management

Rubbish builds up where there are large groups of displaced people. Some agencies burn waste in pits but it can be difficult to incinerate completely while others have set up recycling projects.

Challenges: To design a low-cost, environment-friendly incinerator for rapid deployment to disaster zones, and secondly, to develop a new approach for solid waste management in camps.

8. Groundwater mapping

There is often conflict with local communities when displaced people rely upon shared ground water supplies.

Challenge: To develop a system to map and share information about aquifers in emergencies and estimate the sustainable abstraction rate throughout the seasons.

9. Public health risk mapping

There is little documented evidence of the public health risks in emergencies. Agencies focus on providing water and sanitation without a detailed analysis of the causes, sources and vectors of disease transmission.

Challenge: To collate evidence on the impact of public health risks and design a tool to assess these risks.

10. Marketing latrines

After disasters, people are often reluctant to invest in their own latrines because they do not see the need or cannot afford to buy construction materials.

Challenge: To promote the construction of latrines after disasters. The focus should be on comfort, convenience, avoidance of filth or promotion of social status as research shows these motivate people more than health issues.

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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
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