World Toilet Day at the UN

November 20, 2013

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Yesterday, November 19, 2013, BRAC USA President Susan Davis attended the World Toilet Day events at the United Nations headquarters along with the head of BRAC’s Disaster, Environment, and Climate program, Tanzeba Ambereen Huq. Ms. Huq delivered remarks regarding BRAC’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene program (WASH).

Around 2.5 billion people still lack access to safe sanitation systems. Unsafe practices – such as open defecation – spread bacterial diseases that ultimately cause thousands of preventable deaths every day. Thus, water, sanitation, and hygiene are critical development issues, linked not only to human dignity and rights, but also to school achievement and productivity. According to the UN, some countries lose as much as 7 percent of GDP because of inadequate sanitation.

Yesterday, November 19, 2013, BRAC USA President Susan Davis attended the World Toilet Day events at the United Nations headquarters along with the head of BRAC’s disaster management and climate program, Tanzeba Ambereen Huq. Ms. Huq delivered remarks regarding BRAC’s Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene program (WASH).

Tanzeba at the UN.

The head of BRAC’s Disaster, Environment, and Climate(DECC) program, Tanzeba Ambereen Huqat, the UN for World Toilet Day.

In her remarks, Tanzeba highlighted the coordinated efforts of program staff, local government, and community-led WASH committees in Bangladesh. By combining these efforts, these communities work to expand access to safe sanitation systems, increase knowledge of hygiene issues, and even explore business models for a sustainable fecal sludge management.

So far, these efforts have converted 2.5 million latrines into hygienic latrines, mobilized 1.6 million families to independently construct sanitary latrines, established 2,350 rural sanitation centers, installed sanitary latrines for girls in 4,200 secondary schools, offered grants to 800,000 ultra poor families, and facilitated loans to 180,000 poor families. In addition to these accomplishments, the program has also reached millions with hygiene education.

Recent studies also affirm the economic value of access to better sanitation facilities.

Economic gains are not only measured by the time recouped when one is not kept from school or work by being sick or caring for someone who is sick, but also by the time saved searching for a toilet, which consumes at least a half hour a day for each of the 2.5 billion people without toilets, as reported recently on Quartz. According to the same report, making clean toilets universally available would generate 220 billion dollars in global economic benefits. It seems that money spent on toilets means something contrary to throwing money down the toilet.

To learn more about BRAC’s WASH initiatives, visit wash.brac.net, and in case you missed it, check out our video for World Toilet Day 2013.

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Shampa K Nahar

BRAC should avoid the local bidding in Banagladesh