Samiran Bibi is on the frontline of a Caritas Bangladesh-inspired effort to keep illness at bay in [Tarash], a flood-prone area in northwestern Bangladesh. Each morning the mother of two goes with other members of her Magura Mukundu Dal (village group) to inspect the new toilets in her village in Tarash sub-district, about 150 kilometers northwest of Dhaka.
“Every day we check our village toilets, and see whether the people that use them use soap or ash to clean their hands afterward,” she told UCA News on Dec. 22. They also make sure clean water is on hand.
After two major floods hit the area between July and September in 2007, Caritas Bangladesh launched a special US$2.5-million emergency response program, funded by the U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Caritas [...] built 940 new houses, repaired 432 others and installed 2,656 home-based and community latrines. It also drilled 331 new tube wells and examined 2,700 old tube wells for the presence of arsenic or other contaminants in the water, repairing more than 540 of these wells in the process. [T]he houses, toilets and tube wells were constructed on land raised half-a-meter higher than the floodwater level of 2007.
In addition to building these structures, Caritas also [trained] local people like Bibi to [become hygiene promoters]. [...] She said her [village] group learned from Caritas about how their former toilet practices [open defecation, overhung latrines] spread germs and disease, [as well as about food hygiene and water treatment].
Caritas officially ended its involvement in the project on 14 Dec 2008.
Source: UCAN, 30 Dec 2008