I went to Nepal for the first time in 2012 and ended up spending all year. When I wasn’t trekking the Himalaya or chilling at Phat Kath (see ThankBack Thursday), I could be found hunkered down learning the ropes of ‘international development.’ Before Martin and I pursued our passion for poo, I worked alongside an incredible group of Nepali women running a local organization named Chhimeki (translation: community). Their purpose was to improve the nutritional behaviour of pre-natal mothers and their families living in the Kathmandu valley. It was this experience that helped me truly understand the power of education. For the most part, families did not have adequate education on the importance of a nutritional diet, many of them didn't even have enough food to put on the table. Chhimeki empowers mothers by investing in agriculture and teaching families about food and nutrition. Chronic malnutrition and diarrhea are serious problems across Nepal – it plays a role in 60% of all child deaths. (UNICEF, 2011). Further, it is estimated that 50% of the 2.5 million that live in the Kathmandu Valley are forced to defecate in the open every day. Anyone who has seen this majestic city understands that human shit (and massive cow dumps) are a huge issue.
Whats the point?
The 21st Canadian Conference on Global Health was held in Ottawa this past week. The hot topic was sanitation, with emphasis on collaborative health measures like maternal health and malnutrition. Toilets play a huge role in decreasing maternal mortality because expecting mothers will be less exposed to diseases anemia and diarrhea. Moreover, educating mothers and their families about both nutrition and hygiene, can reduce infant mortality by more than 1/3. WASH workshops involving collaborative health measures are crucial for anyone working in our industry.
At Manavta, we are always seeking partners who support our collaborative health programs. If you are interested in joining our growing team of researchers or if you want to learn more about sanitation, we would love for you to contact us, become a partner or join our team.