New knowledge resources : Hesperian Foundation

India Water Portal
Saturday, November 22, 2014 - 10:30

The Hesperian Foundation is a non-profit publisher of books and newsletters for community-based health care. Their first book, Where There Is No Doctor, is considered to be one of the most accessible and widely used community health books in the world. Simply written and heavily illustrated, Hesperian books are designed so that people with little formal education can understand, apply and share health information. Developed collaboratively with health workers and community members from around the world, our books and newsletters address the underlying social, political, and economic causes of poor health and suggest ways groups can organize to improve health conditions in their communities. In addition, Hesperian relies on a multi-faceted distribution strategy to ensure our materials reach those who need them most.

Hesperian's publications section ( contains several documents related to health, water and sanitation, that can be freely downloaded, for non-profit use. Some of these are:

A community guide to environmental health:

Two of the manuals present in the guide are:

  • Health problems from unsafe water: It is a short manual, taken from chapter 5 of the book and examines the importance of having access to enough water to drink, the various factors that make water unsafe to drink and the various measures that can be taken to prevent the spread of germs and worms. The manual also cautions against the move to privatise water and states that this will lead to increased health problems. It asserts that the right to enough safe water is a fundamental human right and access to water must be ensured by governments and communities for all and especially for the most needy. Read more
  • Protecting community water: It is a manual that has been taken from chapter 6 of the guide and emphasises community ownership over water sources and participation of women in planning and decision making, in order that community health and water availability and access is ensured for all. The manual has practical suggestions on protecting and maintaining community water sources including wells and springs, as well methods of collecting rainwater, safe water transport and storage, measures that local communities can follow to filter and disinfect water collected from community sources and ways to convert waste-water into a resource. Read more

Cholera prevention fact sheet:

This fact-sheet by Hesperian Foundation deals with the prevention of cholera, a potentially life-threatening food and drinking water-borne disease, that even today affects a significant section of the world's population. This is a short note on how to prevent, identify and treat cholera and some basic measures that can be followed to make water safe for drinking and cooking especially in an emergency or disaster situation. Read more

Sanitation and cleanliness for a healthy environment:

Water for life: community water security:

This booklet by the Hesperian Foundation in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme titled “Water for life: Community water security” provides practical guidance on the most important “how to” questions dealing with access to water. It highlights, among other issues, what can be done to make water safe for drinking and cooking, and how to protect groundwater resources, collect rainwater, and store water safely.  

The booklet is one of the key knowledge products of UNDP’s Community Water Initiative, launched with support from the Swedish Government (through the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, SIDA), enabling communities to live healthier lives through improvements in their access to water supply and sanitation.   

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) represent the world’s agreed targets for addressing poverty in its many dimensions. Lack of access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation is one such dimension affecting billions of people around the world. The MDGs will only be achieved by actions on the ground. Knowledge dissemination among poor communities is the way forward. Water and sanitation targets can be achieved through empowering individuals, households and communities to take charge of their development needs.

 This new publication clearly points the way toward achievement of the MDGs. It complements a previous publication, "Sanitation and Cleanliness for a Healthy Environment" by directly addressing the actions needed at the community level to ensure access to safe drinking water. Read the booklet

For more info, please see here