Thursday, 29 April 2010

IRC electronic library

The IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre has just published a library of all its e-publications in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese (up to this month); it’s also available on a CD-ROM. This is a really helpful move, especially as IRC publications are of such high quality. The Thematic Overview Papers are particularly useful. Well done, IRC!

2010 GLAAS report

GLAAS is UN Water’s ‘Global Annual Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water’ and the 2010 GLAAS report has just been published. Read it!

The Press Release for its launch in Washington, DC on 21 April contains a startling statement under the heading “Sanitation and water must no longer play second fiddle to other priorities. Countries with the greatest unmet sanitation and water needs most often receive little or no aid”:

Between 1997 and 2008, aid commitments for sanitation and water fell from 8% of total development aid to 5%, lower than commitments for health, education, transport, energy and agriculture. … This drop occurred despite compelling evidence that achieving the water and sanitation target of the Millennium Development Goals would lower health-care costs, increase school attendance and boost productivity. Despite these clear benefits for human and economic development, many countries and donors are still not allocating sufficient attention and resources to water and sanitation.

“Unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and the lack of hygiene claim the lives of an estimated 2.2 million children under the age of 5 every year. Of these deaths, 1.5 million are due to diarrhoea, the second leading contributor to the global burden of disease,” said Dr. Neira
[WHO’s Director of Public Health and Environment]. “The impact of diarrhoeal disease in children under 15 is greater than the combined impact of HIV and AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis.”

Nothing we didn’t already know, of course, but still very useful to have these things said again and again − and again and again.

We’ve just had the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme’s 2010 report. I just wonder if these JMP and GLAAS reports shouldn’t somehow be combined. There’s also the 2009 Millennium Development Goals Report which has a rather good 2½-page summary on sanitation and water.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Stunting in Brazil

There’s a brilliant paper in this month’s Bulletin of the World Health Organization: Narrowing socioeconomic inequality in child stunting: the Brazilian experience, 1974–2007 [stunting is low height-for-age*]. The findings of the paper, taken from the Abstract, are:

Over a 33-year period, we documented a steady decline in the national prevalence of stunting from 37.1% to 7.1%. Prevalence dropped from 59.0% to 11.2% in the poorest quintile and from 12.1% to 3.3% among the wealthiest quintile. The decline was particularly steep in the last 10 years of the period (1996 to 2007), when the gaps between poor and wealthy families with children under 5 were also reduced in terms of purchasing power; access to education, health care and water and sanitation services; and reproductive health indicators.

This figure shows the results:

Prevalence of stunting (%), by wealth quintile, over the 33 year period 1974−2007

The authors conclude:

In Brazil, socioeconomic development coupled with equity-oriented public policies has been accompanied by marked improvements in living conditions and a substantial decline in child undernutrition, as well as a reduction of the gap in nutritional status between children in the highest and lowest socioeconomic quintiles.

The paper has good data on the percentages, by wealth quintile, of households served by public water supply, by public sewerage systems, and with flush toilets:

Percentage of households with piped water supply connection, by wealth quintile, in 1996 and 2007/07

Percentage of households with flush toilets, by wealth quintile, in 1996 and 2007/07

Percentage of households with sewerage connection, by wealth quintile, in 1996 and 2007/07

So Brazil seems to be doing rather well for its poor!

*Note: two good references on stunting:
(1) Early childhood diarrhoea and helminthiases associated with long-term linear growth faltering (International Journal of Epidemiology 2001: 30, 1457−1464), and
(2) Child undernutrition, tropical enteropathy, toilets, and handwashing (The Lancet 2009: 374, 1032−1035) [see also blogs of 18 September and 23 September 2009].