When I started writing about the impact of corruption of the efficiency of service delivery in the municipal and city council’s solid waste management sector, I had no idea how much I would learn. Like most writers I brought my value system into the writing until I discovered that what I thought I knew was not exactly what it is on the ground. Other writers have argued that corruption can lead to more efficient allocation of resources because bribery and other corrupt actions can help navigate the highly bureaucratic systems mostly found in democracies.
However, majority of the research points to the fact that corruption leads to less than optimal positions as the transactional costs of corruption add to the general cost and especially to the cost the society has to bear when it comes to the public service sector. In solid waste management, no doubt that corruption is one of the major obstacles to achieving efficiency in the provision of waste collection, disposal and treatment services but is there more to corruption than just impacting on efficient waste management?
The future face of climate change does not look pretty especially when the most sang carbon price climate change policies are not doing as much as they had promised. The European Union is silent despite the fact that the carbon price has fallen to 3 euros per tonne as Australia is on their carbon emissions. In the developing countries that are implementing programs like REDD this means that they ail end up doing much than the developed countries– cost wise. Their opportunity cost is higher. If the carbon price remains low, the emissions will continue and the developing countries will soon realise they are paying a higher cost from not deforesting. This means that the face of future climate change is more likely to be uglier than it is now.
The question of whether transparency will lead to a more accountable practice in the management of the natural resource management is a complex one. At the surface, it seems like the obvious answer to achieve accountability and then improved governance but is it really the case? Even when the advocates for transparency insist that the public should get the information in a format they can decipher regardless of their education levels, it means increased costs for agencies and companies whose main goal is not information dissemination.
Education plays a major role in ensuring that the public can decipher what information is released. So if education is not improved then transparency doesn’t make much difference. If we think from the financial perspective do we think that the cost incurred in processing information will be equated with the benefits to be accrued from good governance? If the answer is yes, then we will see more transparency but if not, we are in for a long wait.
Being a woman is a wonderful thing. It is challenging and mostly feels as if someone is telling a bad story from the end to the beginning. Yesterday I was in a debate of what feminism is and whether some women are feminist even if they don’t know it yet. It just downed on me that it will be a long time before we talk about women’s issues without the association they evoke to feminism. Feminism has outlived its purpose and I think it is time to move on.
Today more than ever the inequality between men and women is hidden in so many spheres of life that just talking about jobs, income and glass ceiling is not enough. There is an opportunity for women to include themselves in much more than the outcomes of policies, technologies and debates. Women should be involved in the process, in the trial and error and often discouraging processes of day-to-day lives that has positive results. Women see things differently and if they brought these differences to develop their communities, probably so much would be achieved with less. Women and men need to have opportunities to change their communities and bring policy reforms in their communities but as it is there is still a big gap. Empowering women and including them in policy making is a good start.
I couldn’t believe it when someone posted on Facebook ”Today is World Toilet Day. Who came up with that? Don’t we have enough days off the calendar already?”. Maybe it is because water and sanitation is what you would call my sector of interest. If we do not address inadequate sanitation especially in the developing countries, we will continue to lag behind in meeting all the other development goals. Sanitation affects health, productivity, environment, equity and education among others. The measure of a country’s development can be measured by the health of its population and sanitation plays a major role in determining the health of a population.
According to the World Health Organisation, about 1.1 billion people in the world do not have access to improved water supply sources and 2.4 billion people do not have access to any type of improved sanitation facility. A total of 3.5 billion people- half of the world’s population. The most affected people are in the developing countries particularly South Asia, East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. The United Nations notes that lack of access to water and adequate sanitation falls heavily on girls and women and marginalized populations such as slum dwellers, women, children and the disabled. If you are a woman and you are poor, this is a double tragedy and triple tragedy if you live in the informal settlements.
Lack of access to clean water and adequate sanitation effects on health are hefty. Studies have shown that lack of sanitation contribute to up to 10% of the global disease burden. Water and sanitation related diseases can be categorised as follows: waterborne caused by the ingestion of water contaminated by human or animal excreta; water-based caused by parasites; water related caused by microorganisms with life cycles dependent on water sources; water collection and storage caused by contamination that occurs during or after collection; and toxin-related caused by toxic bacteria linked to eutrophication of surface-water bodies. Disease causing pathogens (disease-causing organisms) associated with lack of clean water and adequate sanitation includes: viruses, bacteria, protozoa and parasitic worms. These pathogens are responsible for the transmission of diseases such as dysentery, diarrhea, typhoid, cholera and hepatitis A.
There are over 4 billion cases of diarrhea each year resulting into 2.2 million deaths and representing 15% of all under the age of five child deaths in developing world as a result of lack of clean water and responsible. Diarrheal diseases can solely be prevented by providing clean water, adequate sewage disposal services, hygiene and health education (WHO 2011). In addition lack of clean water and inadequate sewage disposal has been associated with increased lower respiratory tract infections (LRI) among young children. Increasing provision of clean water and adequate sanitation can reduce LRI burden on the society. In addition to the diseases that are transmitted through faecal oral transmission, polluted water can also contain heavy metals such as lead and cadmium. These heavy metals can be toxic to humans depending on their concentration and duration of exposure. Therefore, clean water and adequate sanitation provision in a country can reduce child mortality, improve women’s health especially maternal health and reduce the disease burden of infectious diseases. Globally, the economic benefits accrued from investment in water and sanitation have been estimated by the WHO as US$7 billion savings a year by health agencies and US$340 million savings by individuals. Time savings and value of deaths averted from providing convenient drinking water and sanitation services could be used to fund other development infrastructure.
I hope next year more people will celebrate the World Toilet Day more hopeful that sanitation is not lagging so behind after the Millennium Development Goals goal on water has been reached as the current state indicates.