imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

World Bank handwashing initiative: Selling soap or saving lives?

by M.P. Basheer/Infochange Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2002 at 8:08 AM
infochange@eth.net C-2/201, Natasha Enclave, NIBM Road, Kondhwa, Pune – 411 048

The World Bank's Handwashing Initiative is based on the conviction that the simple practice of washing hands with soap could reduce deaths from diarrhoea by half. But its intentions are being questioned in Kerala, where people say they need safe drinking water, not multinational soap

Kerala is learning many lessons from global development agencies these days. And it will soon get a few in hygiene. The people of the most literate state in India are to be taught the art of washing their hands with 'good' soap in the coming months. Courtesy the World Bank, scientists from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) have designed a handwashing initiative "to reduce the incidence of sanitation-related death amongst children". But the choice of a state that has the lowest incidence of childhood diarrhoea and water-related epidemics could indicate that the project is more about paving the way for the MNCs into the informal personal care market than bringing down the diarrhoeal death rates in the country.

The World Bank-Netherlands Water Partnership, the funding arm of the initiative, inaugurated the ambitious project to promote handwashing at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg recently. Called the Handwashing Initiative, the public-private partnership project aims at promoting the use of soap manufactured by multinational companies to reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal diseases in poor communities. For reasons best known to the project managers, the initiative is being implemented simultaneously in Kerala and Ghana.

It appears that UN agencies will perform their pro-poor obligation of making the communities aware of the virtues of handwashing, but private soap companies will harvest the gains. The project document, prepared by LSHTM and discussed at various fora in Washington DC, New Delhi and Thiruvananthapuram, with no public participation, makes its intentions clear. It offers a win-win approach: whilst governments and development agencies want to combat disease and poverty, industry is interested in expanding its market. But the big question is: should development money be invested in generating profits for the corporate sector?

The Global Initiative for Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) in Handwashing was launched with the aim of meeting "a huge unmet need for handwashing with soap in poor communities in developing countries". The World Bank and the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) which collaborate with the LSHTM and other partners, have identified multinational soapmakers like Unilever and Colgate Palmolive as partners in this initiative. According to official sources, a meeting in Washington DC on May 7, 2001, attended by representatives from the LSHTM, the governments of Kerala and Ghana and the WSP, decided the specifications of the initiative. Among the 20 participants, Kerala was represented by Elias George of the Kerala Water Authority and James Varghese of the Kerala Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (KRWSA). Vidur Behal of Hindustan Lever India and Diana K Grina of Colgate-Palmolive were also present.

The WSP is an international partnership of the world's leading development agencies "concerned with water and sanitation services for the poor". It receives support from multilateral and bilateral organisations for national, regional, and global activities, including the Asian Development Bank, Australian Agency for International Development, Belgium Agency for Development Cooperation, Canadian International Development Agency, Danish Agency for International Development and the Directorate General for International Cooperation, Netherlands. Its goal is to alleviate poverty by helping the poor gain sustained access to improved water and sanitation services.

The mission statement of the Handwashing Initiative will tell you it aims to bring down diarrhoeal deaths in the world from the present 6,000 deaths every day, to less than 40 per cent. It says lack of sanitation alone is the cause of more than three-quarters of diseases worldwide, and cholera and dysentery, to name a few, account for the death of seven million children every year. The project partners are convinced that handwashing with soap is the most feasible and sustainable option to improve health in the developing countries. A draft report titled Sanitation and Hygiene: Unleashing the Power of the Market prepared by the World Bank and other partners says: "Diarrhoeal diseases kill 2 to 4 million children in developing countries every year. Handwashing with soap alone could cut deaths in half and handwashing with soap combined with adequate sanitation could almost eradicate diarrhoeal diseases." The report also discovers that in developing nations hands are washed with soap on less than 10 per cent of the occasions when they should be!

But some questions remain unanswered: Has there been a serious problem of diarrhoeal deaths in Kerala to merit its being handpicked as one of the two hotspots in the world? Does lack of handwashing really cause outbreaks of water-related epidemics in waterlogged areas such as Kuttanad? Have the people of the state ever been consulted on the washing of their hands with 'good' soap five times a day? Niether Parameswaran Iyer at the Water and Sanitation Program, who co-authored the programme or the Kerala Health Minister P Sankaran provide any answers. "Why should we give up such a chance for a health campaign when the entire amount is met by them?" argues P Sankaran, a lawyer-turned-politician. Officials at the KRWSA in Thiruvananthapuram, the nodal agency for the campaign, are also tight-lipped about the programme.

Nobody in Thiruvananthapuram knows on what basis Kerala was selected for the programme along with Ghana. Some time ago, a survey had been carried out in Thrikkunnappuzha, Alappad and Panmana panchayats along the backwaters in South Kerala on the sustainability of changes in hygiene behaviour. Compiled by Eveline Bolt, IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre, the study concluded that whereas Kerala shows a low mortality rate, it has a high morbidity rate, and the frequently occurring water and sanitation-related diseases point to neglect of hygiene. This report is the only document that the government has to justify Kerala's selection for the campaign.

The villagers in the backwater islets of Kuttanad, however, believe that shortage of safe drinking water and not lack of handwashing is the cause of diarrhoeal outbreaks in Kuttanad. According to Kerala State Pollution Control Board statistics, the coliform bacteria count in 100 millilitres (ml) of water in parts of Kuttanad, is above 48,700 against a permissible 200 in water for human use. No wonder then that outbreaks of epidemics like rat fever and diarrhoea have seen an increase. According to statistics available with the district medical officer, Alappuzha, 18 persons died of wheel's disease in 2002 till October. The count for 2001 was 23. The total number of those suffering from diarrhoea in 2001 was 19,570. Statistics at the Alappuzha Medical College show an increase in filariasis, schistosomiasis, typhoid, jaundice, intestinal cancer, gastroenteritis and cholera. "Give us drinking water first, instead of Palmolive soap," says R Visakhan, the president of the Kainakari Panchayat.

Many in Kerala doubt the intentions of the initiative. "Why preach handwashing when people in Kerala are traditionally conscious about cleanliness and hygiene?'' questions development activist K R Balan. A wide variety of local products are used for personal hygiene in Kerala and an informal market for these products exists in rural areas. There are more than 200 soap manufacturing units in rural Kerala. The award-winning poverty alleviation programme, Kudumbasree, also employs more than 2,500 women in small-scale soap manufacturing units. "This handwashing initiative is a ploy to eat into the existing informal market for these swadeshi soaps,'' says Manoj Arukandathil, General Secretary of the Kerala Small Scale Soap Manufacturers Association.

For Unilever, Colgate Palmolive and Procter & Gamble, it is free promotion. Under the patronage of the UN agencies and governments, these multinational personal care companies stand to make inroads into a hitherto unexplored market segment. The Handwashing Initiative, it is claimed, will open the unexplored global soap market segment of an estimated US $ 20 billion annually.

Multinational giants are upbeat about the new window of opportunity. "It is about increasing the market," remarked Uri Jain, General Manager of Hindustan Lever, one of the prime beneficiaries. Though pushing products amongst the socially disadvantaged isn't new, social investments by the government and UN agencies in the process provides a much-desired legitimacy and a tag of social responsibility to the corporations.

(The Quest Features & Footage)

InfoChange News & Features, November 2002

Report this post as:

Local News

More Pix: "Families Belong Together," Pasadena J02 12:16PM

"Families Belong Together" March, Pasadena J02 12:08PM

Short Report on the Families Belong Together Protest in Los Angeles J30 4:26PM

Summer 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! J10 11:58PM

Watch the Debate: Excluded Candidates for Governor of California M30 10:20PM

Change Links June 2018 posted M28 12:41AM

The Montrose Peace Vigil at 12 Years M22 1:01PM

Unity Archive Project M21 2:42AM

Dianne Feinstein's Promotion of War, Secret Animal Abuse, Military Profiteering, Censorshi M17 3:22PM

CA Senate Bill 1303 would require an independent coroner rather than being part of police M10 2:08PM

Three years after OC snitch scandal, no charges filed against sheriffs deputies M10 1:57PM

California police agencies violate Brown Act (open meetings) M02 1:31PM

Insane Company Wants To Send Nuke Plant Waste To New Mexico A29 4:47PM

Change Links May 2018 A27 1:40AM

Worker-Owned Car Wash on Vermont Closed A26 10:37PM

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Paraphysique de martyrologie J17 8:00AM

[NEW HOT] World Soccer King Hack Coins and Gems J17 4:32AM

Asian Countries:Cambodia, Vietnam, N. Korea do not permit unlawful immigration J16 8:06PM

Children Incorporated Earns 4-Star Rating on Charity Navigator J16 11:24AM

Democratic Socialists of America J14 4:57PM

Leonard Peltier Non Violent Native American Political Prisoner since 1970's J14 4:18PM

Paraphysique miscellanées de l'aggiornamento J14 12:54AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Cleanup J13 4:14PM

FBI Investigated LA County Sheriff Baca,Why Not Hank Skinner's Persecution? J13 3:52PM

Updated Partial List Of Famous Vegetarians, Vegans, & Fruitarians J13 2:59PM

The Shortwave Report 07136/18 Listen Globally! J12 4:36PM

Social Policy as Social Infrastructure J12 3:38AM

Vol I: 84 Varieties Of GOP Election Fraud J12 1:50AM

Texas Can Call it An Execution,But It is A State Sponsored Murder of Hank Skinner.. J11 6:48PM

June 2018 Honduras coup update J11 3:35PM

Maria Estrada doubles down on racist support J11 1:40PM

New York Women in Film & Television Announces 2018 NYWIFT Ha Phuong Scholarship Recipients J11 10:14AM

Trapps de la domination, trapps de l'aliénation J11 1:31AM

Please Work For The Defeat Of Brett Kavanaugh And Why J09 8:54PM

Change Links 2018 July posted J09 1:27PM

Transinhumanisme ( transe inhumanisme ) J09 12:44PM

Google, World's Biggest Censor, Was Founded By The CIA J09 10:25AM

For a World Free of Nuclear Risks J09 8:29AM

Corrupt CDC Ignores Meat Fish Recalls J09 4:55AM

The (Temporary) End of Globalization J09 3:03AM

Aternatives to Abortions such as Plan B the pill, condoms and IUD J08 4:03PM

U.S Congressional Legal Minds Know Better Than Allowing Texas To Murder Hank Skinner J08 3:37PM

ACLU in many US states defends in court KKK and American Nazis Sometimes for Money J07 11:28PM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy