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Special Issue "Assessment Methods Applied to Environmental Projects in Low- and Middle-Income Countries"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2013)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Sabrina Sorlini (Website)

CeTAmb—Research centre on Appropriate Technologies for Environmental Management in Developing Countries, Department of Civil Engineering, Architecture, Land and Environment, University of Brescia, via Branze 43, 25123 Brescia, Italy
Phone: +39 030 3711299
Fax: +39 030 3711213
Interests: appropriate technologies; drinking water treatment; industrial waste reuse; wastewater treatment
Guest Editor
Dr. Mentore Vaccari (Website)

CeTAmb—Research centre on Appropriate Technologies for Environmental Management in Developing Countries, Department of Civil Engineering, Architecture, Land and Environment, University of Brescia, via Branze 43, 25123 Brescia, Italy
Phone: +39 030 3711300
Fax: +39 030 3711213
Interests: appropriate technologies; contaminated sites remediation; energy form waste and biomass; industrial waste disposal; industrial wastewater treatment and reuse; MSW and HCW management

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Evaluating the sustainability of the environmental projects is very complex as many components are involved and some of them are difficult to predict (climate change, catastrophic events, etc.). This evaluation is more complex in low- and middle-income countries where decision-makers are mainly confronted with rapid urbanisation and problems of dysfunctional environment management facilities and services (lack of sanitation facilities, appropriate access to drinking water, appropriate solutions for waste management and energy generation, etc.). Moreover, in those contexts several factors (e.g., socio-economical, technical, environmental, institutional factors) can be critical for the application of sustainable solutions for environment management. The assessment methods can play a key role  in  the implementation of a sustainable project in different phases of the project itself: initial assessment, definition of priorities, decision making, planning, implementation and verification/validation.

Many assessment methods are available for the evaluation of environmental/technical (Environmental Impact Analysis, Life Cycle Analysis, Material Flow Analysis, etc.), social (Social Capital Assessment, Perception Motivation Assessment, etc.), institutional (Social/Organizational Network Analysis, Stakeholders Analysis, etc.) and financial/economic (Life Cycle Cost Accounting, Benefit Cost Analysis, etc.) aspects but their application is generally difficult in developing countries and specific integrated approaches (e.g. by Multicriteria Analysis) should be developed.

Many problems characterize the environment in developing countries such as climate change, water availability, energy, deforestation, urbanization, etc.

This special issue wants to focus on the following topics, applied in both urban and rural contexts:

- drinking water supply and treatment;
- wastewater and excreta treatment and reuse;
- solid waste collection, treatment, disposal and recovery;
- energy from waste and biomass.

The aim of this issue is to present research and practical experiences concerning the effectiveness of the assessment methods for choosing and implementing appropriate solutions for environment improvement in developing countries.

The research community is therefore invited to contribute to this special issue by submitting critical reviews, original research articles and case study papers. Authors interested in participating are kindly asked to send a one-page abstract to the Editorial Office of Sustainability (sustainability@mdpi.com) before submitting the manuscript.

Dr. Sabrina Sorlini
Dr. Mentore Vaccari
Guest Editors

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs).

Keywords

  • evaluation methodologies
  • environmental projects
  • developing countries
  • sustainability
  • appropriate technology
  • decision making support tools
  • drinking water supply and treatment
  • wastewater and excreta treatment and reuse
  • solid waste collection, treatment, disposal and recovery
  • energy from waste and biomass.

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Socio-Economic Survey as a Support Tool during the Scaling Up of Improved Stoves in the Logone Valley (Chad/Cameroon)
Sustainability 2014, 6(3), 1427-1447; doi:10.3390/su6031427
Received: 2 October 2013 / Revised: 6 March 2014 / Accepted: 12 March 2014 / Published: 19 March 2014
PDF Full-text (1157 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Field assessment plays a key role in the evaluation of the energy access modalities and of the socio-economic features that may influence the beneficiaries’ choices and preferences in the adoption and use of an energy technology. This work presents the findings of [...] Read more.
Field assessment plays a key role in the evaluation of the energy access modalities and of the socio-economic features that may influence the beneficiaries’ choices and preferences in the adoption and use of an energy technology. This work presents the findings of a survey conducted during the implementation of a cooperation project in the Logone Valley (Chad/Cameroon). After an initial period of promotion of an improved cookstove (ICS), a survey was conducted that was aimed at identifying different beneficiary groups, matching their preferences and cooking habits to the technology proposed, in order to best tailor the scaling-up strategy. In-depth analysis of the data gathered identified two household-user behaviors and the relative influencing features: in the urban area, the increased adoption rates confirmed the appropriateness of the technology proposed and its sustainability, whereas in the rural area, ICS use was not perceived by the final users as advantageous and lower adoption rates were observed. Thus, due to the outcome of the survey, the project action was re-oriented in order to achieve a higher impact on the territory and on the population. Full article
Open AccessArticle Effects of Two Environmental Best Management Practices on Pond Water and Effluent Quality and Growth of Nile Tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus
Sustainability 2014, 6(2), 652-675; doi:10.3390/su6020652
Received: 2 December 2013 / Revised: 21 January 2014 / Accepted: 24 January 2014 / Published: 4 February 2014
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1199 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The trajectory of aquaculture growth in sub-Saharan Africa has necessitated closer attention to the use of environmental best management practices (BMPs). Two BMPs in particular, water reuse and floating feeds, are being promoted for adoption by pond fish farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. [...] Read more.
The trajectory of aquaculture growth in sub-Saharan Africa has necessitated closer attention to the use of environmental best management practices (BMPs). Two BMPs in particular, water reuse and floating feeds, are being promoted for adoption by pond fish farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. In this study, we investigated: (1) the effect of water source and feed type on water quality; (2) the effect of water source and feed type on tilapia growth; and (3) the quality of potential effluents from ponds using different water source and feed types. The study was conducted in Ghana using on-farm experiments involving monitoring of water quality and growth of Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus for 160 days. Although considered low-intensity production systems, nutrients and solids in the study ponds exceeded levels expected in intensive culture ponds by wide margins, whereas BOD5 was within the range for semi-intensive ponds. Floating feed was associated with higher water quality, especially dissolved oxygen, and higher growth, but water source did not significantly affect growth. Water reuse appears to be a viable BMP for sustainable aquaculture in the region, but the use of floating feed as BMP will depend on the economic profitability of floating feed use. Full article
Open AccessArticle Collecting Critical Data to Assess the Sustainability of Rural Infrastructure in Low-Income Countries
Sustainability 2013, 5(11), 4870-4888; doi:10.3390/su5114870
Received: 24 September 2013 / Revised: 25 October 2013 / Accepted: 4 November 2013 / Published: 12 November 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (552 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Rural water systems in low-income countries often fail to deliver potable water sustainably. Reasons include socio-economic, financial, and technical challenges that are specific to the community. Improved assessment methods are critical if decision makers want to provide sustainable solutions; however, to be [...] Read more.
Rural water systems in low-income countries often fail to deliver potable water sustainably. Reasons include socio-economic, financial, and technical challenges that are specific to the community. Improved assessment methods are critical if decision makers want to provide sustainable solutions; however, to be useful, such methods require substantial data about the complex interaction between people, water, and infrastructure. Such interaction is affected by, and in turn, affects the behavior of community members regarding water usage, resources for infrastructure maintenance, and choice of assets. Unfortunately, much of these data are not readily available, in a large part because of the site-specific context associated with each rural community. Because of the difficulty and expense in obtaining site-specific data, it is important to identify the most critical needs for field studies versus the data that can be obtained from sources such as non-governmental organizations and the general literature. We examine this issue by first using an extensive data set from Malawi to identify the critical data needs. We then present several examples of field studies in Honduras and Uganda where we collected some of that critical data. Throughout, we discuss best practices for conducting and using focused field studies versus the general literature. Full article
Open AccessArticle Integrated Assessment of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Situation in Haitian Schools in the Time of Emergency
Sustainability 2013, 5(9), 3702-3721; doi:10.3390/su5093702
Received: 25 June 2013 / Revised: 30 July 2013 / Accepted: 22 August 2013 / Published: 29 August 2013
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (980 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This study examines the water, sanitation and hygiene situation in 42 schools in Haiti after the earthquake of January 12, 2010, by using a comprehensive approach, which includes participatory assessment tools and formal surveys. By conducting a detailed assessment of school water [...] Read more.
This study examines the water, sanitation and hygiene situation in 42 schools in Haiti after the earthquake of January 12, 2010, by using a comprehensive approach, which includes participatory assessment tools and formal surveys. By conducting a detailed assessment of school water and sanitation infrastructure conditions and of the perceptions of students and professors, a series of recommendations are provided to support further project implementation towards more sustainable results. Direct observations showed that schools lack safe drinking water, appropriate sanitation and hand washing facilities. The main constraints to improve the water, sanitation and hygiene services were found to be related to lack of funding and infrastructure losses after the earthquake. Moreover, hygiene education is commonly not part of the school curriculum. Providing schools with adequate access to water and sanitation facilities and supporting the implementation of hygiene promotion programs, including a disaster risk preparedness plan, can play significant roles for a sustainable recovery phase. Full article
Open AccessArticle Performance Analysis of the Capability Assessment Tool for Sustainable Manufacturing
Sustainability 2013, 5(8), 3543-3561; doi:10.3390/su5083543
Received: 4 July 2013 / Revised: 8 August 2013 / Accepted: 9 August 2013 / Published: 19 August 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1092 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper explores the performance of a novel capability assessment tool, developed to identify capability gaps and associated training and development requirements across the supply chain for environmentally-sustainable manufacturing. The tool was developed to assess 170 capabilities that have been clustered with [...] Read more.
This paper explores the performance of a novel capability assessment tool, developed to identify capability gaps and associated training and development requirements across the supply chain for environmentally-sustainable manufacturing. The tool was developed to assess 170 capabilities that have been clustered with respect to key areas of concern such as managing energy, water, material resources, carbon emissions and waste as well as environmental management practices for sustainability. Two independent expert teams used the tool to assess a sample group of five first and second tier sports apparel and footwear suppliers within the supply chain of a global sporting goods manufacturer in Asia. The paper addresses the reliability and robustness of the developed assessment method by formulating the expected links between the assessment results. The management practices of the participating suppliers were shown to be closely connected to their performance in managing their resources and emissions. The companies’ initiatives in implementing energy efficiency measures were found to be generally related to their performance in carbon emissions management. The suppliers were also asked to undertake a self-assessment by using a short questionnaire. The large gap between the comprehensive assessment and these in-house self-assessments revealed the suppliers’ misconceptions about their capabilities. Full article
Open AccessArticle Remotely Accessible Instrumented Monitoring of Global Development Programs: Technology Development and Validation
Sustainability 2013, 5(8), 3288-3301; doi:10.3390/su5083288
Received: 17 February 2013 / Revised: 3 July 2013 / Accepted: 23 July 2013 / Published: 2 August 2013
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (814 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many global development agencies self-report their project outcomes, often relying on subjective data that is collected sporadically and communicated months later. These reports often highlight successes and downplay challenges. Instrumented monitoring via distributed data collection platforms may provide crucial evidence to help [...] Read more.
Many global development agencies self-report their project outcomes, often relying on subjective data that is collected sporadically and communicated months later. These reports often highlight successes and downplay challenges. Instrumented monitoring via distributed data collection platforms may provide crucial evidence to help inform the sector and public on the effectiveness of aid, and the on-going challenges. This paper presents the process of designing and validating an integrated sensor platform with cellular-to-internet reporting purposely targeted at global development programs. The integrated hardware platform has been applied to water, sanitation, energy and infrastructure interventions and validated through laboratory calibration and field observations. Presented here are two examples: a water pump and a household water filter, wherein field observations agreed with the data algorithm with a linear fit slope of between 0.91 and 1, and an r-squared of between 0.36 and 0.39, indicating a wide confidence interval but with low overall error (i.e., less than 0.5% in the case of structured field observations of water volume added to a household water filter) and few false negatives or false positives. Full article
Open AccessArticle Assessment of Physical-Chemical Drinking Water Quality in the Logone Valley (Chad-Cameroon)
Sustainability 2013, 5(7), 3060-3076; doi:10.3390/su5073060
Received: 10 May 2013 / Revised: 28 June 2013 / Accepted: 4 July 2013 / Published: 15 July 2013
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (1324 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Unsafe drinking water is one of the main concerns in developing countries. In order to deal with this problem, a cooperation project was set up by the ACRA Foundation in the Logone valley (Chad-Cameroon). Water supplies were sampled throughout the villages of [...] Read more.
Unsafe drinking water is one of the main concerns in developing countries. In order to deal with this problem, a cooperation project was set up by the ACRA Foundation in the Logone valley (Chad-Cameroon). Water supplies were sampled throughout the villages of this area mostly from boreholes, open wells, rivers and lakes as well as some piped waters. The samples were analysed for their physical-chemical and microbiological quality in order to identify the contamination problems and suggest appropriate solutions. Results of the assessment confirmed that in the studied area there are several parameters of health and aesthetic concern. Elevated lead levels were detected both in aquifers and in surface waters, confirming that further investigations of the occurrence of lead contamination in the Logone valley are warranted. In addition, many groundwater sources are negatively impacted by parameters of aesthetic concern, such as turbidity, iron and manganese. Even though they do not affect human health, elevated levels of these parameters cause consumers to abandon improved water supplies, often in favour of surface water sources that are microbiologically contaminated. The use of alternative sources, improvement of water supply structures and water treatment are possible solutions to improve the quality of drinking water in the Logone valley. Full article

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview How Assessment Methods Can Support Solid Waste Management in Developing Countries—A Critical Review
Sustainability 2014, 6(2), 545-570; doi:10.3390/su6020545
Received: 10 November 2013 / Revised: 9 January 2014 / Accepted: 15 January 2014 / Published: 27 January 2014
Cited by 6 | PDF Full-text (764 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Selecting actions for improvement of solid waste management in low and middle income countries and understanding how a specific decision choice will fit and impact on a local context is key to identifying sustainable solutions. Assessment of the choice (be it technical [...] Read more.
Selecting actions for improvement of solid waste management in low and middle income countries and understanding how a specific decision choice will fit and impact on a local context is key to identifying sustainable solutions. Assessment of the choice (be it technical or managerial) and assessment of the local enabling or disabling conditions are both important steps in the decision making process. Various assessment tools and methods are currently available to support decision-making in solid waste management. Assessment can be used to identify weaknesses or strengths of existing systems in a structured way and hereby highlight factors of success and failure. Assessment methods can also evaluate and compare different possible choices as in project scenarios. This overview describes established and innovative assessment methods serving both these purposes. A range of assessment tools are often designed to assess a specific sustainability domain (technical, environmental and health, economic and financial, social and institutional, organizational aspects), others attempt to provide a more holistic picture by integrating different sustainability domains into the same tool. This paper reviews a number of methods describing and discussing each of them, and referring to their use in low and middle-income countries if published in scientific literature. The overview concludes that in low- and middle-income countries the use of comprehensive assessment methods is yet very limited. We hypothesize that most formal methods of assessment are still too complex and generally overburden the weak local capacities intended for their usage. The few applications identified, were conducted by academia for scientific purposes. Lack of resources to collect the vast data required for some assessment methods is a further restriction to their practical application. Future development is suggested to improve user friendliness of existing tools or to simplify certain approaches and develop more appropriate methods. A user-oriented focus in the development of assessment tools would enhance their application, provide sound data for informed decision making and foster a dialogue between technicians and policy makers in low- and middle-income countries. Full article

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