2021 News

The Safe Water Situation in Bangladesh

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

In Bangladesh, many people do not have a toilet. Barely half of the population has proper access to sanitation. Most of these people live in rural communities like the Bandarban Hills region.[1]. This means they must go to the toilet out in the open.

That’s why this year Safe Water September is working with the Community Advancement Forum (CAF) and the Bandarban Hills Churches of Christ (BHCOC). These two local partners work together to help rural communities in Bangladesh install latrines, learn good hygiene practices and have safe access to water.

As we’ve mentioned before, lack of proper toilets leads to exposed excrement. Human excrement contains dangerous pathogens like e.coli and norovirus. People can’t travel far to use the toilet, so this means they are living, working and eating close to human excrement. This means they are much more likely to get sick.

This waste and these pathogens can also contaminate drinking water, leading to diseases like diarrhoea and cholera. Children are especially at risk of health issues; open defecation has been linked to increases in malnutrition and stunted growth[2]. Without adequate medical care, which can be hard to get in marginalised communities, these diseases can be fatal.

These critical issues, however, can be helped by latrines. Our partners work closely with communities to install latrines that are safe, hygienic, affordable and easy to install. With proper training, latrines will help people contain waste and reduce disease and contaminated water.

Private and covered toilets also give people dignity. Imagine having to live next to an unflushed toilet. Imagine rushing outside to find any cover you can, while hoping your neighbours can’t see you. The fear and shame of exposure often pushes women to wait until after dark to go to the toilet. This also puts them at risk of gendered violence.

When latrines are installed by our partners, a shelter is built around the in-ground toilet. This provides dignity and safety for the people who use the toilet – particularly women and girls.

Our partners work with a community, and the local people help with the construction. By being involved they learn skills they need to maintain these facilities, and even how to build more latrines in the future. Our past projects show that for every 10 latrines built by the project, the community members built another 20 latrines!

Safe water is always a ‘big picture’ concept. As well as installing latrines, our partners are working with the communities to support other ways of ensuring they have good access to water, hygiene and sanitation. They hold community workshops on hygiene practices (like handwashing) to help stop sickness. They are working to find better water storage solutions, to ensure accessible water all year round. They will also work with them on important issues like child protection and safety, so vulnerable people are protected when using these community facilities.

WASH is critical in Bangladesh. Your support of Safe Water September gives improved water, sanitation and hygiene to those in need! Whether you’re a challenge taker or a challenge supporter, you are helping the Bandarban Hills community members create a cleaner and safer place to live.

Head to http://safewaterseptember.org.au to sign up, find more information, and donate today!


[2] https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/pdf/10.1289/ehp.122-A298: “One study found that Bangladeshi children who had access to clean drinking water, improved toilets. and facilities for handwashing with soap, for instance, had a roughly 50% improvement in [height-for-age z] scores compared with control children who didn’t.”

Lin A, et al. Household environmental conditions are associated with enteropathy and impaired growth in rural Bangladesh. Am J Trop Med Hyg 89(1):130–137 (2013); doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.12-0629. (https://europepmc.org/article/PMC/PMC3748469)


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