Clean water is something we take for granted but it is a basic human right that many are often denied. There are 2.5 billion people in the world that lack access to improved sanitation and 748 million people that don’t have clean drinking water. Nearly 1,400 children die each day from diseases caused by lack of sanitation and unsafe water.
In 2015, the United Nations introduced their new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty. Goal 6 is to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
It’s Sanitation Month in Bangladesh and we have been celebrating our commitment to reaching the water and sanitation SDG through projects like ‘Delivering Decentralisation’ in Bangladesh, which you can find out more about here.
The Delivering Decentralisation project supports people living in slums in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka to influence local authorities and service providers in the delivery of improved urban services.
We established slum community-based organisations, which brought residents together to identify their needs and priorities and build links with and influence local authorities. Through our training on good governance and strengthening of town-wide forums, our local teams changed the mind-set of government officials towards slums. They now integrate community action plans prepared by slum residents into city development plans and allocate budget for them to be delivered.
The project also helped build roads, toilets, water supply points and introduce waste collection services, including turning faecal waste into compost and biogas.
But we believe that lasting change is achieved not just by the direct delivery of projects on the ground but also by making knowledge available to the poorest people and in encouraging institutions and governments to adopt approaches that favour the poor.
In Bangladesh we are working with the Prime Minister’s office to ensure the safe management of faecal sludge is included as a priority in the Government’s action plan for SDG 6. We have also been working with the Bangladesh government to develop a national framework for faecal sludge management, ensuring that human waste from pit latrines is disposed of safely, rather than being dumped in drains and water sources and causing diseases. This will create job security for informal waste workers and improve the health and wellbeing of at least 30 million people living in urban areas.
As part of our work with the Bangladesh government we were given the responsibility of organising celebrations in three districts (Bagerhat, Faridpur and Satkhira) for Global Handwashing Day under the national sanitation month campaign. The day was celebrated with a rally and discussion session among different NGOs, government officials and civil society.
Our Sudan team, for example joined students and communities at Twait School in Kassala to teach them the importance of washing their hands with soap and water at critical times.
Mohammed Tahir Adam Samra, a student at Twait school, said: “Now I can prevent my self from abdominal diseases that cause me to absences from school, so I could get better grades on the exam.”
We couldn’t help children like Mohammed Tahir without your support. Please help us to work with communities around the world to prevent diseases and save lives and spread the word that more needs to be done to give people access to clean water and sanitation.