Publication Regions Global & Other
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Making Waves: The Benefits and Challenges of Responsibly Implementing Wastewater-based Surveillance for Rural Communities

Abstract/Summary: The sampling and analysis of sewage for pathogens and other biomarkers offers a powerful tool for monitoring and understanding community health trends and potentially predicting disease outbreaks. Since the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of wastewater-based testing for public health surveillance has increased markedly. However, these efforts have focused on urban and peri-urban areas. The potential public health benefits of wastewater-based surveillance for rural communities are substantial – though so too are the methodological and ethical challenges. Practitioner observations and research findings indicate that for many rural systems, typical implementation approaches for wastewater-based surveillance will not yield sufficiently reliable or actionable results. In this paper, we discuss key challenges and potential strategies to address them. However, to support and expand the implementation of responsible, reliable, and ethical wastewater-based surveillance for rural communities, best practice guidelines and standards are needed.

The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool: A new framework for measuring rural poverty. 

The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT) measures fundamental dimensions of rural poverty in order to support poverty-alleviation efforts in the less developed world. This article’s primary purpose is to introduce MPAT and describe its theoretical rationale. It begins with an overview of the importance of creating enabling environments for rural poverty alleviation before describing MPAT’s purpose and structure. The article goes on to address some of the advantages and shortcomings of surveys and indicators as means of measuring poverty, and concludes with a few caveats on using MPAT, and a focus on its added value to practitioners and academics.

InnoWat: IFAD & rural water investments

IFAD is currently engaged in over 230 loan operations in 85 countries. About two thirds of that portfolio is related to community-based natural resource management. Poor rural people and their institutions are at the core of this approach. Water is critical to these men and women pastoralists, fishers, farmers, young and old, part- or full-time, urban or rural, indigenous, tribal or otherwise often marginalized people. Itis the key entry point for improving their livelihoods. Water-related interventions are often linked to the building up or restoring of the asset base – and involve many facets and uses. This holistic view is part of the characterization of IFAD’s approach to water interventions in this fact sheet: rather than considering water solely as an input factor in the production chain, we have preferred to follow water throughout rural people’s livelihoods. This approach, combined with a qualitative analysis of the ongoing 2007/08 loan portfolio, yielded a few surprising insights (table 1).Almost half of all projects (45-50 per cent) involve aspects of water resource management at catchment or watershed levels, and hence beyond the immediate household or community level of use.

InnoWat Topic Sheet: [Pro-poor] Payments for watershed services

Payments for environmental services (PES) are a means of creating a market in environmental/ecosystem services. They link those who value a given service with those who can provide it. Most early PES initiatives were in Latin America, which remains the region with the most PES schemes, followed by Asia, and lastly Africa (figure 1). Payments for watershed functions seek to link upstream land use and management with downstream water use and management to realize benefits for upstream and downstream participants in the scheme and others in the area – not to mention for the environment. The ideal is a voluntary agreement between at least one buyer and one seller of ecosystem services (or land-use changes presumed to provide an ecosystem service). PES schemes have become increasingly popular with donors over the last few years. Yet despite their widespread application, by their nature they are not primarily intended as a tool for poverty reduction. They may be tailored to this purpose, however. From IFAD’s perspective, the problem is that poor rural people lack the prerequisites for participation in PES. Often, they do not have secure land tenure, rewards are easily usurped by the elite, and they lack the assets (human capital, natural resources) to provide the level of service needed to yield the desired impacts. Part of the solution to this stubborn dilemma may be to eschew PES schemes that simply seek market creation. Rather than clinging to economic principles, develop a variant of PES that builds on the reality faced in rural areas. This means allowing for market support, subsidies and a means of directing PES benefits to poor people – in short, developing pro-rural-poor PES.

Synthesis of strategic approaches: Enhancing pro-poor investments in water & rural livelihoods.

The reduction of hunger and poverty depends on improved access to water for poor rural people. Progress in community water supplies and agricultural water management (AWM), particularly irrigation, is one of the success stories of the twentieth century. However, it is disappointing to learn that AWM, by far the largest consumer of water in developing countries, has had little impact on world hunger and poverty. The experience of agency- and government-led interventions has not been good. They often impose ‘blueprint’ methods that ignore important local issues. A critical gap exists between planning and successful implementation. Approaches focus on what needs to be done, rather than on how to do it, and they ignore the complex interactions among individuals, the state and service providers –as well as their limited capacity to translate plans into practice. If poor rural people are not to be the losers again in the struggle for declining water resources, a new, pro-poor water management strategy is needed. It must focus more on how to do it, while still addressing what to do, where and with whom.

Quantifying the qualitative: Eliciting expert input to develop the Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool

Abstract/Summary: This article discusses the participatory creation of the Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT), a survey-based thematic indicator developed in China and India. The core of the article focuses on the use of expert elicitation to inform the construction of MPAT’s household and village surveys, the cardinalisation of survey responses, and the weighting scheme design. This is followed by a discussion of the potential pitfalls of expertise in development, the decision not to aggregate MPAT into an index, creating locally relevant poverty lines, and ideas for future research. The article closes with a summary of lessons learned.

Effects of boiling drinking water on diarrhea & pathogen-specific infections in low- & middle-income countries: A systematic review & meta-analysis

Abstract/Summary: Globally, approximately 2 billion people lack microbiologically safe drinking water. Boiling is the most prevalent household water treatment method, yet evidence of its health impact is limited. To conduct this systematic review, we searched four online databases with no limitations on language or publication date. Studies were eligible if health outcomes were measured for participants who reported consuming boiled and untreated water. We used reported and calculated odds ratios (ORs) and random-effects meta-analysis to estimate pathogen-specific and pooled effects by organism group and nonspecific diarrhea. Heterogeneity and publication bias were assessed using I2, meta-regression, and funnel plots; study quality was also assessed. Of the 1,998 records identified, 27 met inclusion criteria and reported extractable data. We found evidence of a significant protective effect of boiling for Vibrio cholerae infections (OR = 0.31, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.13–0.79, N = 4 studies), Blastocystis (OR = 0.35, 95% CI = 0.17–0.69, N = 3), protozoal infections overall (pooled OR = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.43–0.86, N = 11), viral infections overall (pooled OR = 0.83, 95% CI =0.7–0.98, N = 4), and nonspecific diarrheal outcomes (OR = 0.58, 95% CI = 0.45–0.77, N = 7). We found no evidence of a protective effect for helminthic infections. Although our study was limited by the use of self-reported boiling and non-experimental designs, the evidence suggests that boiling provides measurable health benefits for pathogens whose transmission routes are primarily water based. Consequently, we believe a randomized controlled trial of boiling adherence and health outcomes is needed.

InnoWat: Water, innovations, learning & rural livelihoods

Abstract/Summary: The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is a specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to eradicating poverty in the rural areas of developing countries. Seventy-five per cent of the world’s poorest people, 800 million women, men and children, live in rural areas. Most depend on agriculture to survive. The IFAD team working on agricultural water management and rural infrastructure is developing its operational approach to water and rural poverty (WRP), under the aegis of the project for Learning and Knowledge on Innovations in Water and RuralPoverty (InnoWat). In light of the changing rural context within which poor rural people find themselves, the overall goal of InnoWat is essentially twofold:• strengthen IFAD capacity as a knowledge management broker for development partners interested in WRP, in accordance with IFAD’s mandate; and• provide IFAD country programme managers (CPMs) and their design teams with practical tools for project development, implementation and pro-poor, water related interventions. The team has created the present kit – InnoWat: Water, innovations, learning and rurallivelihoods1 – with the expectation that it will be useful to IFAD CPMs and will enhance IFAD’s comparative advantage with respect to rural poverty reduction and water issues.

The Rural Water Livelihoods Index. Working Paper

Abstract/Summary: The Rural Water Livelihood Index (RWLI) is calculated on the basis of components and indicator values representing each of these four dimensions. The resulting composite index reflects the values for these four dimensions, and on this basis, judgements can be made on how water management might be improved. Each of the four dimensions (components) of the RWLI are represented by two subcomponents, which are combined using a weighted average. In this report, this framework is applied at the national scale, but the approach can be used at any scale as long as appropriate data is available. The purpose of the RWLI is to provide policy makers and planners at the national level an overview of where their country stands relative to others (much like the Human Development Index), and relative to themselves over time, to examine and monitor progress being made as a result of actions taken. This in turn will hopefully allow for better targeted water related interventions to improve rural livelihoods. Through the measurement of these key components, it will be possible to assess which of the four dimensions are most likely to benefit from interventions. Appropriate interventions are context-specific and will have to be identified on a country-by-country basis since contexts differ so widely (i.e., responses to address the reported states will be country and site-specific). However, a general Response Matrix is being developed to provide planners and policy makers a conceptual framework to guide this process and at a macro-level the index values help national-level planners identify which sectors might be most in need of assistance.

The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool: Brochure (& Infographics)

Abstract/Summary: The Multidimensional Poverty Assessment Tool (MPAT) provides data that can inform all levels of decision making by providing a clearer understanding of rural poverty at the household and village level. As a result, MPAT can significantly strengthen the planning, design, monitoring and evaluation of a project, and thereby contribute to rural poverty reduction.

This brochure explains:

    • What MPAT is
    • How MPAT works
    • When to use MPAT and why
    • How to use MPAT
    • What resources are available for implementing MPAT

The tool allows project managers, government officials, researchers and others to identify and monitor sectors that require support in order to reduce rural poverty and improve livelihoods. It also provides an objective means of justifying resource allocation or planning priorities. MPAT is based on a bottom-up, participatory approach that reflects communities’ voices, wants and perspectives.