DJ in Bangladesh Observer: 100 percent sanitation

Trip Start Nov 10, 2004
Trip End Apr 29, 2005

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Flag of Bangladesh  ,
Saturday, January 15, 2005

My interview to a journalist during the exposure visit to Mirzabari, a 100% Sanitation Coverage Union under Modhupur thana of Tangail district made it to the front page of the Bangladesh Observer. NGO Forum for Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation organised the visit to show an example of their 100 percent sanitation drive to key government officials, donors, NGO and journalists.

Mirzabari union was celebrating the completion of 100 percent sanitation coverage, the result of joint efforts of the Union Parishad and local NGO and NGO Forum partner SUSS, a local integrated development organisation.

This is how the Bangladesh Observer, 6 January 2005, reported on it, page 1 and 15, accessed on 15 January 2005, in: national news:

To keep the local flavour I did not change anything.

Everyone must abide by health rules
to achieve complete sanitized life

Govinda Shil,
Back from Modhupur, Tangail

With people leisurely changing their habits of open-air defecation, the hard challenge for the public officials is to motivate them quick to reach "sanitation for all" by 2010.
Some 60 per cent of people still do not use sanitary latrines and around 40 per cent do not have access to safe drinking water. That's why as many as 110,000 children under the age of five die each year from water-born diseases, including diarrhoea. Many adults fall sick. However, the government declared they would offer hygienic latrines for all within the next five years. Critics said only good latrines would not ensure good health until use of clean water for washing hands, storing it cleanly and drinking it do not come under a single package.

The government of Bangladesh, in line with the Millenium Development Goal declared by the UN, has taken the challenge to ensure clean toilets for all by 2010.
So far, only 10 Union Parishads out of total 4,500 in Bangladesh have installed sanitary latrine facilities for their 100 per cent inhabitants. Mirzabari union under Modhupur Thana of Tangail district is one of them.

"Hundred per cent latrine coverage does not ensure good health. You have to have sanitary latrine, need to use safe water always, must wash your hands hygienically and litter waste in a healthy manner," said Dick De Jong, a Dutch volunteer working in Bangladesh to raise public awareness.

Jong is working as an adviser to a local non-profit organization, called NGO Forum. He said that sometime government officials create confusion when they claim that 100 per cent sanitary latrines ensure good health.

"Latrine is a part of total sanitation. You have to store water hygienically and use it carefully all the time. And also, when mothers throw their baby's napkins with excreta just out of their home fence, the environment is polluted," Jong said.

He said everyone needs to use sanitary latrines and should abide by the health rules to achieve a complete sanitized life.

NGO Forum has been working for the last 22 years to improve public health by ensuring hygienic latrines for the rural people. They have installed more than 3 million clean latrines so far, which constitute 14.5 per cent of nationally set up latrines.

The Union Parishad Chairman Abdul Malek said he worked very hard to convince people that sanitary latrines are good. "People do not understand why it is required when it is easy for them to go to a field for defecation," Malek said adding the achievement now looks great.

"I will be using this accomplishment in my next election," boasted the chairman.
The government has declared rewards for Chairmen who will achieve 100 per cent coverage of sanitary latrines. The reward will carry a special identity card that will say "This Chairman is among the few who have secured sanitary latrines for all."

This ID would allow him to visit senior ministers to consult rural development issues. The government is also providing some money for each UP to help reach the target but many said the assistance was not sufficient. In some villages 30 per cent inhabitants are very poor and cannot afford to buy rings, slabs, and pans for their toilets.
end of story

Not bad for a sabbatical, what?
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