Sanitation in Bangladesh: Revolution, Evolution, and New Challenges, 2016. CLTS Knowledge Hub Learning Paper.
Author: Dr Suzanne Hanchett.
Our 2015 discussions with people at all levels of Bangladesh society reveal both pride in sanitation achievements and concern about meeting future challenges. A combination of approaches – subsidies, non-subsidies, micro-credit, sanitation market improvements, programming at various scales, motivating of individuals and groups – has resulted in a majority of households’ using latrines rather than defecating openly.
Policy documents have created frameworks to guide activities in diverse areas. Issues such as quality, faecal sludge removal, and appropriate subsidies for very poor households remain, however. Hard-to-reach geographical areas lag behind the rest of the country. As Professor Mujibur Rahman’s 2009 overview pointed out, failing to address these challenges will threaten the sustainability of achievements.
Unique characteristics of the Bangladesh sanitation situation include the focus on its local government institution (the union), its long history of NGO-sponsored community mobilisation, and its high population density. Donor involvement has been a regular feature of the sanitation scene for more than three decades. It is a relatively small country, the size of only one of India’s states. All of these special conditions and characteristics have supported its achievements to date.