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Two-thirds of people still excluded from safe sanitation services PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 31 January 2008

Staff correspondent

Local and international experts on Tuesday emphasised the need to take appropriate measures to ensure the mass people's access to hygienic sanitation services, regardless of cost, in Bangladesh and its South Asian neighbours.

'We urgently need to take appropriate measures to face the challenges of improving the culture of hygiene practice…as two-third of the people of the country are still excluded from hygienic sanitary services,' said the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee's executive director, Mahabub Hossain, while inaugurating a three-day workshop on 'South Asian sanitation and hygiene practitioners'.

Fifty-three persons from four countries — Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan — were participating in the workshop at the BRAC CDM in Gazipur. Mahabub Hossain said that only 39 per cent of the people are using sanitary latrines although the country started a national sanitation campaign 'Sanitation for All by 2010', whose deadline is only two years from now.

He said supply of sanitary latrines alone would not help much to attain the global goal to ensure access to safe sanitation for all by 2015.

'The present emphasis is on the supply side…Rather all should work on how we can generate demand among all, including the poor, for hygienic latrines through better education.'

'The challenge is to change the culture of using the toilets as well as to ensure a fruitful engagement of policymakers, practitioners and users,' he said. 'Ensuring safe hygiene practice is a must to contain spread of communicable diseases, including diarrhoea'.

Joep Verhagen of the International Water and Sanitation Centre emphasised the necessity of ensuring the sustainability of safe sanitation services. 'Ensuring sustainability of safe sanitation services, especially in urban areas, is very challenging,' he said, adding that they would also discuss the issues of providing subsidy and ensuring transparency in the workshop.

In a background paper for the workshop, Caroline Van Der Voorden of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council quoted a list of 12 reasons why the campaign for safe sanitation has not moved forward at the desired rate.

The reasons include lack of political will, poor policy at all levels, poor institutional framework, inadequate and poorly used resources, inappropriate approaches, failure to admit advantages of conventional sewerage, neglect of consumer preferences, ineffective promotion, little effective demand and cultural taboos and belief.

She added that women's and children's needs are not given the importance they deserve. She emphasised the need for convincing the policymakers to ensure everyone's access to safe sanitation by 2015.

Tom Palakudiyil of Water Aid emphasised the necessity of finding the correct and appropriate technology to make safe sanitation available to both the urban and rural poor.

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