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Refugee waste management facilities damaged in devastating fire

By Practical Action On 24.03.2021 DisasterPovertyWater & wasteNews

Practical Action staff are offering support to humanitarian agencies following a fatal fire in a Rohingya camp in Bangladesh.

The blaze is reported to have started in the Mondaat Balukhali Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazaar and spread to another two on Monday (22/3/21), killing people and causing tens of thousands more to flee, separating many children from families.

Practical Action had worked at the camp for more than two years, providing vital waste management services to hundreds of thousands of refugees.

Many had arrived with nothing and were extremely vulnerable to life-threatening diseases such as cholera, typhoid, sickness and diarrhoea.

UNICEF had funded Practical Action to support relief efforts by adapting longstanding provision of toilet waste management in urban settings elsewhere in the country.

Early indications are that much of the work has been destroyed in the fire this week.

Shawkat Begum, Practical Action country director in Bangladesh, said: “Many of the people in these camps lost family members and all their possessions when their homes were burnt down and they were forced out of Myanmar.

“To face the same thing just three years later is devastating. I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives and to thousands of other people who have been left without shelter once again.

“Although we had withdrawn from the camps, in light of the disastrous fire and its impact on people’s lives, we will now work with our partners to establish if we can provide our expertise once again as rebuilding takes place.”

Having minimised the risk of serious illness in the camps and increased the capacity of other agencies, Practical Action left in 2020.

Prior to that, our staff had delivered:

  • waste worker networks
  • a processing plant,
  • solid waste management compartments and composting barrels
  • hygiene behaviour change and waste management messages
  • safety equipment for teams of waste collectors
  • capacity building for other partner agencies within the camps.

To find out about our waste management capabilities in Bangladesh and how you can work with us, contact one of our team here.