Tag Archives: Plan Bangladesh

Bangladesh: children smash handwashing world record

Washing hands may not seem worthy of a certificate, but for thousands of children in Bangladesh the simple practice has got them into the Guinness Book of World Records.

On Global Handwashing Day last October [2009], Plan Bangladesh and its partners organised an event where 52,970 school children gathered at multiple locations across the country to wash their hands with soap and water. The campaign was set up to motivate people to change their attitude towards current hygiene practices and save lives.

Global Handwashing Day, Bangladesh

Global Handwashing Day: handwashing demonstration in Sylhet, Bangladesh. Photo: MaMoni

Approximately 110,000 Bangladeshi children aged under 5 die due to diarrhoea every year. Hand washing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent the disease.

New world record

The gathering smashed the 2008 record which was set by Bangladesh and stood at 1,213 . Now Plan Bangladesh has received a certificate from the Guinness World Records which seals their place in history. [The official Guinness site still lists the record set on 19 October 2009 by the Edenglen primary school in Johannesburg, South Africa with 1,802 handwashing students, while India also claimed it had broken the record when about 15,000 students from 23 schools converged in a sports stadium n Chennai].

Zillur Rahman, Plan Bangladesh’s water and environmental sanitation specialist who coordinated the event, said: “We are very happy we broke the world record in this. Plan got involved in this campaign to highlight the bad hygiene practices in the country and we believe the campaign has raised this issue amongst people especially in the life of children.”

Spreading the word

On the day, 25,000 children gathered in a school playground in Dhaka to take part. After the event, one of the children said: “Now we know the importance of washing hands with soap and water and we will definitely tell our family and community about its benefit.” Thousands more school children washed their hands with soap and water simultaneously all over the country.

In Bangladesh, hygiene practices are generally poor. The national figure of washing hands with soap and water after defecation is 58.8% while this figure drops to 50.4% in rural areas.

Related web sites:

Source: Plan Bangladesh, 01 Jul 2010

Bangladesh: Community-Led Total Sanitation – breaking a dirty old habit in Bangladesh

Dinajpur district residents have stopped defecating in the open because of the children’s total sanitation campaign that follows a radical community-led approach.

A procession of children march through a village in Dinajpur demanding an end to open defecation. Photo: Pal Bangladesh

A procession of children march through a village in Dinajpur demanding an end to open defecation. Photo: Pal Bangladesh

Whistle blowing is a favorite pastime among children in the villages of Dinajpur district in northern Bangladesh. They would blow their whistles when they spot fellow villagers, often adults, defecating in the open, chasing the surprised offenders who would then pull their pants up and attempt to escape the noise and humiliation. [...] Within 6 months, they shamed some 250 people from different villages. Besides the whistling and flag-marking, the children also march around villages, chanting slogans against open defecation (OD), sending a direct message to all villagers about the dirty old habit.

The children’s involvement in this direct action against OD is part of the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), “an integrated approach to achieving and sustaining open defecation free status.” The children know that their efforts help protect their own and their communities’ health, and adults include them in community decision-making.

[...] Designed by social development specialist Dr. Kamal Kar, CLTS was introduced by Plan, an international development agency, to some 200 villages in Dinajpur in 2004.

[...] In CLTS, hands-off facilitation is important. The rule of thumb for social development facilitators is to trigger self-realization, and not to lecture. Instant provision of hardware-latrines or toilets-are also discouraged. Villagers have to realize first that the problem is staring at them right in the face. The CLTS approach helps communities recognize that they need such sanitation facilities, that they should mobilize themselves to build their own toilets, and that everyone in the village should contribute to achieve “total sanitation.”

[...] Today, most Dinajpur villages have achieved “open defecation free” (ODF) status and, thanks to Plan’s efforts, a number of villages in several districts have also adopted the CLTS approach.

The children’s campaign is the just the beginning. CLTS allows villagers to generate their own ideas for improvement, take control of development processes and decision-making, and manage and sustain the activities. Often, CLTS has led to improving latrine designs, adopting hygienic practices, managing solid waste and wastewater, protecting drinking water sources, and other environmental activities.

Some villagers, however, can prove to be more difficult than others. Ferdousi said, “Two years to convert everyone is not enough, but we will keep on raising awareness.”

Plan now promotes CLTS in other countries in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. A CLTS Handbook, published in 2008, is also available for social development facilitators.

Related web site: Community-led Total Sanitation – Bangladesh

See also: Whistle blowers put a stop to open defecation, Plan Bangladesh, 28 Mar 2008

Source: Cezar Tigno, ADB, Jan 2009