WaterAid Bangladesh head of policy and advocacy Abdullah Al-Muyeed said that for lack of safe water and sanitation facilities Dhaka is now faced a sever hygiene crisis.
He said that the Dhaka WASA for water supply and sewerage treatment and the city corporation for installing sanitation facilities responsible but the agencies grossly failed to serve the people.
He also blamed the lack of awareness among the residents and unavailability of facilities for hygiene practice in the densely populated city.
Hygiene, a serious issue, is largely ignored in Dhaka, the fastest-growing megacity in the world having 17 million people in 306.3 square kilometre area.
Physicians said that due to unhygienic environment city people becoming exposed to many diseases, including cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery, typhoid, and other waterborne diseases.
Muyeed observed that there was an acute crisis of public toilets in Dhaka and the few that were there could not be used, since these facilities were poorly maintained and managed.
He demanded that the leasing method be cancelled to ensure better management of the public toilets.
‘The city corporation may follow the model introduced by WaterAid to operate public toilet,’ he said.
WaterAid Bangladesh set 31 public toilets in the city and in cooperation with the city corporation and the local community, the organisation is operating them for years.
He said that everywhere in Dhaka, including at hospitals, markets and schools, people faced this acute crisis of available water and handwashing facilities too.
Muyeed said that though facilities in Dhaka are only few and far between, the people of the city suffer from an acute lack of knowledge and there is a pervasive silence about hygiene. It seemed as if there was a taboo regarding such matter, he added.
‘Hygiene education should be made mandatory at all educational institutes,’ he said.
He further added that in school curriculum menstrual hygiene education was included but it was hardly taught in the classrooms for there was social taboo and shyness about it.
Quoting a government study he said that only 36 per cent school students knew about hygiene and in only 23 per cent schools had facility for menstrual hygiene.
Muyeed said that water was the first and prime precondition of hygiene but the city people cry for safe water across the city while residents of some areas regularly suffered an acute water crisis.
He said that the service-oriented government agencies should be more dutiful and propeople.
He pointed out that assurance of service and products alone would not guarantee safe living, the government should develop safe disposing method of wastes for a hygienic city.
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