Figure 1: Open burning of the household waste in Panjikent, Tajikistan
This article highlights a recent experience of WEI Associate, Mr. Nimesh Dhakal.
Nimesh recently completed a 7-month assignment on solid waste management in rural Tajikistan. Nimesh was recruited by CESVI with the objective of improving existing practices of solid waste management in rural Tajikistan. Nimesh worked in the towns of Ayni and Panjikent in close cooperation with local authorities (Hukumat to head of village). Some of the major issues affecting solid waste management in Tajikistan were the rural settings, poor infrastructures, bad access roads and, above all, the lack of awareness among the communities.
Nimesh addressed these issues by conducting orientation to the government authorities and related stakeholders on the different possible option for proper management, provided trainings to the communities on household composting and campaigns to stop open-burning practices, conducting mass cleanup campaign to clean existing dumping sites and advocacy and training in school for formation of eco-clubs and their effective mobilization. By the end of his assignment, significant improvements could be found including, for example, improved practices and number of communities practicing household composting, developed plan for the authorities for the construction of waste deposit sites in the rural areas of Ayni and Panjikent, clean rivers and gullies.
Nimesh greatly enjoyed working side-by-side with the Tajik colleagues and hopes to return one day. Despite improvements in solid waste management that were realized during Nimesh’s assignment, many challenges remain to be addressed.
Air pollution, which is transboundary in nature, also contributes to regional level issues such as acid deposition and global level issues such as climate change.
To strengthen national capacities to address air pollution in Asia-Pacific countries, the Government of Japan is supporting a four-year project through UN Environment entitled Institutional Measures and Technical Assistance to Address Air Pollution in Asia Pacific.
The project effectively supports both the Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership (APCAP) and the Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia (EANET) over the period January 2015 through July 2019.
The project aims to support coordination and knowledge sharing among the region’s various ongoing clean air initiatives, inform existing air pollution networks on policy makers on the science-policy linkages on air pollution, and train national air quality managers and promote bi-lateral cooperation.
WE International’s Managing Director, Terrence Thompson, supported UN Environment in conducting the mid-term review of the project. The review had two primary purposes: (i) to provide evidence to meet accountability requirements; and (ii) to promote operational improvement, learning and knowledge sharing through results and lessons learned among UN Environment, EANET and APCAP.
The review found that the project was generally well designed and implemented but there was a need to improve risk management strategies and to develop strategies to sustain coordination, knowledge sharing, and capacity building beyond the life of the four-year project.
Recommendations were made to link the project to high-level global and regional policy frameworks and to establish sustainable financing mechanisms that could convert the fixed term project into a sustainable program.
For more information, contact Mr. Terrence Thompson: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thailand has a long history of rigorous control and surveillance of drinking-water quality especially in its major towns and cities.
Despite access to improved sources of drinking-water being estimated at 98 percent nationwide, the Ministry of Public Health acknowledges that acute diarrhea still remains a crucial public health problem in the country.
To address this problem, WE International supported the MoPH and WHO in a joint review of drinking-water safety programs and practices.
The Metropolitan Waterworks Authority and Provincial Waterworks Authority participated actively. The exercise was conducted over an extended period and consisted of a desk-top review of safe-water policies and programs among the principal water sector stakeholders, stakeholder interviews focusing on their capacity for safe-water management and the status of water safety plans (WSP’s) in Thailand’s principal water supply systems, and site visits to selected systems to review the actual implementation of WSP policies and programs.
The findings of a separate WHO-supported external audit of MWA’s water safety program were also incorporated into the review. The joint review gave high marks to MWA and PWA for their safe drinking-water management practices while making important recommendations for improvements to reduce risk of waterborne disease.
The joint review found that the majority of Thai consumers are served by small systems operated by local government bodies or community managed systems and that surveillance and control of drinking-water quality is most in need of strengthening in such systems.
It recommended that MoPH focus its efforts on small water systems. The Ministry has already taken a number of initiatives to improve drinking-water quality, including the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) on Water Quality Management for Local Water Supplies, an Environmental Health Accreditation (EHA) Program, and others.
The SOP already contains some elements of WSP concepts. The joint review recommended that DOH revise the SOP with a view towards bringing it more in line with WSP practices and enforcing its application through the EHA program.
WE International was called upon to assist Malaysia’s Ministry of Health in strengthening its mercury control program. The legally binding Minamata Convention on Mercury entered into force in 2017.
Countries that are party to the Convention are bound to implement a range of measures to significantly reduce human exposure to mercury which is highly toxic to humans and harmful to the environment even at very low concentrations.
WE International supported Malaysia’s MOH in taking stock of its current mercury control measures across many programs: medical devices, hospital services, dentistry, pharmaceutical services, food safety, and environmental health including waste management, medical research and health education.
WE International’s analysis showed how many of the MOH’s existing measures already provide strong protection of human health and the environment.
Actions needed to strengthen MOH compliance with the Minamata Convention were identified and recommended.
The Ministry is now in the process of implementing the recommendations in order to achieve a higher level of health and environment protection. (For more information, contact WE International’s Managing Director, Terrence Thompson: email@example.com.)
General waste generated in hospitals, health centers and other health care settings can become hazardous when poor in-house management practices result in the mixing of general waste with infectious materials, sharps, or toxic chemical waste.
Poor management practices put patients, health care workers and the general public at risk for exposure to hazardous waste.
WE International supported the Ministry of Health in Lao PDR to improve waste management in central and provincial hospitals through on-site assessments and training of hospital staff.
Emphasis was placed on separation of wastes into hazardous and non-hazardous categories at the point of waste generation, and safe handling and disposal.
WE International’s analysis showed that waste management costs can be significantly reduced through safe management practices.
WE International drafted national health care waste regulations on behalf of the Ministry of Health which, among other things, will require safe waste management practices in all health care settings nationwide and will ban waste incineration in central and provincial hospitals.
The regulations have been enacted by Ministerial Decision and are currently being rolled out by the Ministry of Health.
Many countries of the Asia Pacific region are highly vulnerable to natural as well as man-made disasters.
In post-disaster emergencies, affected countries look to the international community not only for material support but also for sound technical guidance and advice on the management of risks to public health arising from the disruption of infrastructure and services in sectors such as drinking-water supply, sanitation, shelter, vector control, food safety, communicable diseases, and mortuary services.
The World Health Organization (WHO) called upon WE International to support its country offices in Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam in strengthening their capacity to prepare for and respond to environmental health emergencies.
WE International conducted an analysis of Mekong countries’ vulnerabilities to natural and man-made disasters and identified relevant sources of technical guidance as well as gaps in the literature.
WE International assembled an electronic library of “go to” guidance documents for easy access by WHO country offices and developed new guidance material to complement existing guidance where gaps had been identified. WE International’s resulting manual is now being prepared for publication by the WHO Western Pacific Regional Office.