At Kalyanpur slum, British envoy gauges impact of community toilets

British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson paid a visit to Kalyanpur slum in the city on Saturday, where British-Dutch multinational FMCG company Unilever has set up a community toilet — WASH Centre — for the 8,000-odd residents in collaboration with an NGO.

Residents of Kalyanpur slum, also known as Pora bosti, not only live below the poverty line, with the median household income being Tk 3,725 per mensem, but also face severe health issues due to limited access to sanitation and clean drinking water.

Before the Covid pandemic hit Bangladesh hard in March, Unilever Bangladesh Ltd (UBL) and BHUMIJO, the NGO known for running WASH Centres, jointly built the community toilet in Kalyanpur slum. The facility has a total of six separate toilets for men and women, along with standard hand-washing space, and safe drinking water (Pureit) and laundry facilities.

The aim of the WASH Centre is to improve the overall health and hygiene of the Kalyanpur slum community.

Apart from High Commissioner Dickson, UBL Chairman Asif Saleh and BRAC Executive Director also visited the facility and also listened to the experiences shared by the beneficiaries of the WASH gauge the effects of the WASH Centre and BRAC’s COVID-19 initiatives over the slum dwelling community.

Farhana Rashid, the co-founder and CEO of BHUMIJO, explained the business model to the visiting delegation.

During the visit, the High Commissioner also learned about another critical initiative – HBCC by BRAC in Bangladesh. The Hygiene & Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC) has been jointly set up by Unilever and UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) to mount a rapid response to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The HBCC is taking a three-pronged approach, building on Unilever’s tried and tested hygiene interventions — mass communication, behaviour change programmes and digital solutions, focused on hand hygiene and environmental hygiene.

Four organizations – BRAC, Save the Children, International Rescue Committee (IRC) and United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Bangladesh — have joined hands under the coalition. In total, over Tk 62,00,00,000 and Unilever Health and Hygiene products are getting used under HBCC in Bangladesh.

They are driving COVID awareness and hygiene behaviour change agendas within their forte as part of the coalition in the country and targeting to impact 13,444,512 people in Bangladesh.

As part of HBCC, BRAC aims to establish communication on best practices for behavioural changes during a pandemic and increase the frequency of handwashing and increase accessibility of hygiene products and facilities in communities for over 10 million people.

By May 2021 and in 20 sub-districts, BRAC aims to establish 1,000 handwashing stations and reach 1,58,000 people through in-person demonstrations. Both the WASH Centre and BRAC’s initiatives aim to improve the lives of the people living in the slums.

To support Bangladesh’s fight against COVID-19, Unilever Bangladesh has spent more than Tk 350 million and has reached out to more than 60 million people in the past eight months through various programmes such as product donation, awareness building as well as improving the health infrastructure.

Source: United News of Bangladesh