Category Archives: Sanitation

Boston experiences water issues that 1 Billion people live with daily

Saturday morning, as families in Boston planned for a gorgeous spring day, a ten foot water pipe, that brought water to over 2 million Boston residents, ruptured.  Over 200 million gallons of water gushed out at a rate of 8 million gallons per hour. Authorities declared a state of emergency and imposed a blanket order for homeowners and businesses to boil the untreated water now flowing from their taps. Chaos and panic spread through the populace.  A run on bottled water at stores resulted in scuffles and rumors of price gouging for clean water were rampant. Continue reading

Why you need to go beyond the numbers to view rural poverty

In the past decade, much progress has been made in India and people have been justifiably proud of the improving economic situation. While most observers point to the top line numbers that show the number of people living below the “poverty line” has been consistently decreasing, by focusing on just these aseptic numbers, they fail to understand and capture the continuing anguish in the rural countryside. Continue reading

Jacqueline Novogratz – Legatum Lecture at MIT

We are a connected world said Jacqueline as she described the story of her blue sweater, also the title of her recently published book. Once discarded by her at Goodwill, it turned up 25 years later in Rwanda where she found it on a boy in the countryside.

Speaking at the Legatum Center’s Lecture series at MIT, she described the innovative work of Acumen fund and how it helps build social solutions through its venture philanthropy.

She prefaced her talk by some of her observations from her work helping to build enterprises around the world that she undertook since her time in Rwanda.

  • Dignity is more important than wealth for the human spirit.
  • Traditional models of charity won’t solve problems of poverty.
  • Markets can’t solve poverty. 100 Million people went back into poverty last year and that is what happens when you only rely on market forces to solve these problems.
  • What is needed is patient capital that will address these problems

Continue reading

Ashoka’s “Tapping Youth Innovation Challenge”

Ashoka has launched a youth movement called Ashoka’s Youth Venture (http://genv.net/) to help young people to design and launch their own lasting social ventures. (More on this in a later post). As part of their efforts to spur innovation, they have teamed up with a number of organizations to hold youth oriented social innovation competitions.

The latest one is “Tapping Youth Innovation, a Water Campaign” where they are looking for young innovators’ ideas on how to solve some of the challenges to clean water and sanitation for people living in poverty.  The challenge is accepting entries until March 22, 2009 which coincidentally (or maybe not so coincidentally) happens to be World Water Day!

Here is a blurb about their competition for people who might be interested. Continue reading

Water and Sanitation – the next global challenge

This week’s column in Lokvani focused on the issues of water and sanitation. Together with food security, this is one of the most pressing issues globally. The root cause to most of the basic issues – health, nutrition, and even education can be traced in some way to water and sanitary, hygienic conditions.

By addressing this basic issue, millions of deaths per year can be prevented. Diarrhea alone kills nearly 2 million people a year, most of them children.

The good news is there is a renewed focus on water and sanitation. International agencies and major governments are putting resources to address this.  Corporations are making it the centerpiece of their efforts more for economic reasons or to assuage local communities when their actions seem to threaten local water resources. A number of NGOs and non-profits are helping create grass roots movements to address sanitation and water problems in the developing world, particularly in the underserved communities.

Here is the text of the article I wrote for Lokvani:

Water and Sanitation – the next global challenge. Raj Melville, Lokvani.com, 06/28/2008

Even as we go about our daily lives in the west knowing that we can duck into a McDonalds to use the loo or grab a bottle of soda to quench our thirst, nearly half the world’s population has to make do without the simplest access to basic sanitation and clean water. The UN estimates over a billion people (or nearly a sixth of the world’s population) manages without clean water. According to the World Health Organization, over 4 billion cases of diarrhea occur each year around the world, 88% of which is attributable to unsafe water or inadequate hygiene or sanitation. Nearly 1.8 million people die of diarrhea each year, the majority of whom are children.

Continue reading