20 May 2010

Latrines are more than just a hole in the ground

On Monday 17 May this year’s intensive course on Water Supply and Sanitation in Emergencies (WatSan) took off. About 30 students including six from The Danish Design School met their first challenge:  to build a latrine which takes into account both cultural and technical aspects 

Early identification of technically sound and sustainable water and sanitary interventions is crucial when it comes to saving lives and preventing diseases in almost any disaster situation.

Experience gathered during recent disaster operations demonstrates the urgent need for highly skilled professionals with specialized expertise in water supply and sanitation, as the lack of interdisciplinary personnel has proved to be a barrier to efficient and effective response.

Therefore the University of Copenhagen offers an intensive course on water supply and sanitation in emergencies for professionals working with - or aiming to work with - disasters and relief operations.

The course is designed in such a way that each participant attains the knowledge and skills necessary for prompt action in recovery situations, especially in developing countries.

On completion of the course, participants will be able to access and prioritise water supply and sanitation in emergencies with foresight, and make appropriate decisions to prevent disease outbreak.

The practical reality of an emergency situation

The latrine building exercise combines technical design with the practical realities faced in an emergency situation.  Among other things the exercise forces students to consider not just the technical design issues which can help reduce the transmission of vector born diseases, but also the social/cultural aspects of sanitation practices among a given population and how those aspects may affect the use, or non-use, of the latrine. 

There will be several other practical exercises on the course including water quality testing, water pumping, constructing water tanks and taps stands and others.  The students will also study disease in emergencies, water and sanitation in camps, hygiene promotion, as well as water sources, treatment, transport, storage and distribution. 

More than 30 students from various backgrounds take part in the course including six students from The Danish Design School participating in the first couple days of the course for the latrine building exercise and corresponding lectures.

Come and see the latrines!

The six latrines will be in the garden outside building 9 at CSS until the end of the week (22 May), so please come by and see how among others doctors, engineers and journalists solved the task. 

About WatSan

Water Supply and Sanitation in Emergencies is a single course that is part of both the Master of International Health and the Master of Disaster Management as well as it is open to outside students.

This year it runs from 17 may – 11 June 2010 and the next course will be in spring 2011.

Read more http://www.mdma.ku.dk/