The 2011 Lancet series says that about 2.6 billion people lack access to proper toilet facilities and about 980 million young people under 18 live in homes without basic sanitation. Moreover, research has shown that unimproved hygiene, inadequate sanitation, and insufficient and unsafe drinking water account for about seven per cent of the total disease burden and 19 per cent of child mortality worldwide.
I would like to share the peculiar sanitation situation in Boroitoli, a hilly village in an extremely hard-to-reach area of Fatikchari sub-district of Chittagong, Bangladesh. We visited this village earlier this year to observe the existing conditions of water, sanitation and hygiene.
One of the core strategies of the BRAC Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programme in Bangladesh is to put special emphasis on involving rural women in decision-making processes, alongside efforts to improve menstrual hygiene and access to water and sanitation.
This article was posted on irc.nl by Ingeborg Krukkert, programme officer sanitation and hygiene for the Asia Regional Programme at IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre and working with BRAC WASH on hygiene promotion.
During my 12 years of work experience in the water and sanitation sector, it has been evident that gender inequality and poverty exclude large numbers of people from enjoying the benefits of water supply and sanitation facilities and processes aimed at their improvement. There is a traditional concept that mainstreaming gender in water is a matter of women, and only women speak about the issue, whereas the policy makers are mostly men.
Since 1972, BRAC has been working with the objectives of poverty alleviation and empowering the poor with a holistic approach. As a top world organization, it has made notable contributions into multi-dimensional sectors on human development activities. In order to achieve the MDGs of reducing child mortality and halving the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015 (goals 4 and 7), BRAC has been implementing the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programme since 2006 in 150 Upazilas (sub-districts) of Bangladesh.
This is the very first blog in my life. Since many younger colleagues are blogging away, I have been inspired to give it a try. The subject I'd like to bring up is gender mainstreaming in the setup of the Qualitative Information System used for monitoring.
It can seem so easy. Give a slum-dweller a three-wheeled vehicle. She creates a mobile tea business. Income increases from 100 Bangladeshi taka to 400 taka per day. She leaves her backbreaking job as a brick-maker, quadruples her income, preserves her health, restores her dignity. Rinse, repeat.
“On average a woman is menstruating about 3,000 days of her life. "This opening sentence of the presentation by Maria Fernandez (WaterAid India) during the bi-annual practitioners learning and sharing workshop in Dhaka (2006) was a harsh confrontation with a hidden taboo for the 50 practitioners that were present. Ever since this rude wake up call, the BRAC WASH programme has fought the taboos around menstrual hygiene management as part of its WASH in schools activities, during meetings with adolescents girls in the communities, and through the production of low-cost sanitary napkins.
Across the world, millions of pit latrines are filling up. In many instances, these pits are emptied and the fecal sludge is dumped indiscriminately. This second generation sanitation challenge of postponed open defecation has been largely neglected in the sector. Bangladesh is not an exception and it is an issue that we have to face and deal with.
“What is good about the monitoring system that we are using is that it is participatory so that respondents also get knowledge”, says Senior Sector Specialist Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Mahjabeen Ahmed of the BRAC WASH II Programme. Ms Ahmed is one of the 5,000 programme workers who are supporting BRAC WASH II in Bangladesh.