Recent International Consultation on Indoor Air Pollution


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Over one million child deaths per year are attributed to indoor air pollution. Pulmonary diseases, both chronic and acute, seriously affect the well-being of millions of women and children worldwide, but particularly the poor in developing countries. To clarify the major issues and try to focus future efforts in this area, the World Health Organization and USAID, with collaboration from the World Bank, jointly sponsored the Global Consultation on the Health Impact of Indoor Air Pollution and Household Energy in Developing Countries. The consultation took place in Washington, D.C. May 3 and 4. EHP served as the Conference Secretariat for USAID. Approximately 50 attendees came from around the world, including representatives from donor agencies, government, and development organizations. Technical resource people from academia and research organizations, as well as case-study presenters, also attended.

The conference had four major objectives:

  1. To promote a dialogue on
  • The health impacts of indoor air pollution and household energy use;
  • Interventions to reduce exposure and improve the health of the poor; and
  • Policies and strategies that contribute to sustainable economic and social development.
  1. To identify the priority research, development, and policy initiatives required to define effective interventions
  1. To recommend an agenda for action that articulates the roles that donors, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, and research institutions could play in addressing priority needs.
  2. To identify next steps needed to introduce and coordinate the proposed action agenda.

To provide a base for discussion of the action agenda, research needs, and policy issues, papers were delivered by five specialists in the field of indoor air pollution: Nigel Bruce, University of Liverpool and WHO Consultant; Kirk R. Smith, University of California at Berkeley; Yasmin von Schirnding of the World Health Organization; Grant Ballard-Tremeer of Eco Ltd.; and Bruce Larson, University of Connecticut. These papers are being revised and will be published in peer-reviewed journals. When they are published, they will be announced on the EHP web site. For information on indoor air pollution, see EHP Capsule Report 3, Lowering Exposure of Children to Indoor Air Pollution to Prevent ARI: The Need for Information and Action.EHP has also prepared two bibliographies relating to acute respiratory illness. Click here to link to those resources.

Work Starts Up for the Water and Sanitation Rehabilitation Program in Nicaragua

Five PVOs operating in Nicaragua have begun the implementation phase of the Emergency Rural Water Supply, Sanitation, and Environmental Health Program.  EHP is coordinating and facilitating the overall program.  The program, funded by the USAID Mission to Nicaragua, will be carried out in close coordination with both ENACAL (the water and sanitation agency of the government) and MINSA (the health agency of the government).  The purpose of the program (which is described in January 2000February 2000, and April 2000 at EHP) is to increase water supply services for up to 100,000 people in the departments and municipalities of Nicaragua most adversely affected by Hurricane Mitch in October 1998.

This month’s update report provides brief descriptions of two of the five PVOs that were awarded grants: ADRA Nicaragua and Action Against Hunger. Together, the five organizations, working with full participation of the communities involved, will bring physical improvements in water and sanitation and will undertake environmental education and hygiene behavior programs for beneficiaries in six departments of Nicaragua. (In the July update of the web site, we will present profiles of the other three grantees: Save the Children Nicaragua, Alistar, and Plan International.)

Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA Nicaragua)

Summary of Activities: ADRA signed a country agreement with the Nicaraguan government in 1990, following the lengthy civil war. ADRA’s work in Nicaragua began with a food-for-work project as well as child survival interventions in the former war zone. Throughout the 1990s, ADRA continued to implement child survival programs and food distribution programs. 

After Hurricane Mitch, ADRA’s work expanded to include water, sanitation, housing, child survival, and food-for-work projects in 15 municipalities. It is currently involved in such diverse activities as health education in the poorest communities in the former war zone; housing construction for those left homeless following the hurricane; and food-for-work programs which reach 7,600 families via agricultural/infrastructure, water and sanitation, and child survival programs. ADRA is also in a partnership with eight other NGOs to strengthen health services for the population. In the area of water and sanitation, ADRA is currently implementing a project under the aegis of DANIDA.  In that activity, new wells and latrines are being built for more than 60 public schools in northern Nicaragua.

Plans under the EHP Grant Program: Under EHP’s grant program, ADRA was awarded a grant of $1.5 million. The 17-month program began in April 2000. ADRA will concentrate its efforts on reconstruction of wells, latrines, and gravity water systems in the Las Segovias region of Northern Nicaragua. This former war zone and Hurricane Mitch-affected area is considered one of the poorest regions in the country; over 57% of the population have no proper latrine facility, and only 24% have access to potable water using methodologies that encourage community participation. ADRA will construct 1,340 latrines, 45 wells, and 11 gravity-flow water systems.

Contact information: Mr. Anthony Stahl, Executive Director: Email: [email protected]

 Action Against Hunger

Mission: Action Against Hunger works worldwide in 40 countries.  Over 350 overseas and 4,000 local workers carry out AAH programs.  It is currently running 

about 80 relief and rehabilitation programs with a five-pronged approach to eradicating hunger: food security, nutrition, water, health, and disaster preparedness. Action Against Hunger has treated 3.5 million victims of hunger and malnutrition. Its aim is to save lives, then begin rebuilding and developing long-term sustainable systems through training and monitoring. AAH’s program help restore self-sufficiency and dignity to the lives of its beneficiaries.

Summary of Activities: AAH programs in Nicaragua facilitate the provision of and access to safe drinking water through digging wells, protecting springs, and improving gravity-flow systems. AAH also implements sanitation programs such as building latrines, showers, and wastewater evacuation systems.  The populations served are involved in all aspects of the project including project design and training programs for maintenance to protect the long-term viability of construction and rehabilitation programs.  Health education is a key element of AAH’s project interventions and is designed to address the health aspects of potable water, latrines and personal hygiene.

Plans under the EHP Grant Program: AAH received a grant to implement water and sanitation programs for the dispersed rural populations of seven municipalities in the Department of Madriz, one in the Department of Nueva Segovia, and one in the Department of Esteli. The goal is to improve the health and sanitary conditions of rural communities affected heavily by Hurricane Mitch. Specifically, AAH will construct 3 new water points and 4 new gravity-flow systems, and it will rehabilitate 14 water points and 4 gravity-flow systems. AAH is also to build 600 latrines. The grant also includes a hygiene education component, i.e., promotion of behaviors to protect clean water, to care for and maintain the new water points, and to maintain hygiene and sanitation practices which will prevent cholera. Training will be provided for beneficiaries and local technicians. The project is anticipated to benefit 9,000 people.

Contact information: Nicolás Berlanga, National Coordinator: Email: [email protected]

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