CHT sanitation coverage remarkable despite challenges

By Sahidul Islam Rana

DHAKA, Jan 16, 2017 (BSS) - Despite challenges posed mostly by the rugged topography bigger population in the three Hill districts of Rangmati, Khagrachhari and Bandarbans was brought under hygienic sanitation system through sustainable sanitation coverage programme.

According to the Public Health Engineering Department ninety percent people in Rangamati, 74.59 percent people in Khagrachhari district while 60 percent in Bandarban are brought under hygienic sanitation system.

Talking to BSS, executive engineer of Bandarban District Public Health Engineering Department Sohrab Hossain, who is also in charge of Khagrachhari district, said the present government has taken different pragmatic steps to ensure a sustainable development of the sanitation coverage in the hill region.

According to public health experts, a sustainable sanitation system is a must to ensure a desired development of people's lifestyle as a whole

specially in three districts of the CHT where the inhabitants are still facing hurdles to get benefits of improved hygienic facilities.

There are also challenges regarding sustainability, hygiene issues and total sanitation coverage as recurrent extreme climatic events like floods and cyclones damage sanitation facilities, lowering the coverage in climate vulnerable, remote, char, haor, coastal belt and hilly areas.

He said the sanitation sector has in the meantime experienced many

successes in the hill districts but because of geographical ruggedness the progress is slower than the plain land.

"Inadequate improved sanitation facilities are the key barrier to a

sustainable health development in hilly areas, Sugat Chakma, a teacher of Dhighinala School, told BSS.

He, however, said the present scenario of sanitation is very positive and it would be more fruitful if the authorities concerned could positively involve local elected representatives in the process.

The government should increase allocation of sanitary latrines and other latrine materials at affordable prices to ensure a sustainable health development in the areas, Sugat added.

Improved sanitation is one of the priorities of the government.

Besides, the United Nations General Assembly regarded sanitation as one of the human rights.

The sanitation sector faces several hurdles such as water scarcity in some areas, quality of service and covering hard to reach areas like hilly regions, chars and tea gardens.

The present government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina enhanced

investment in safe water supply and sanitation sector. Taka 4,113 crore was allocated for water and sanitation activities in 2014-15 fiscal year while it was Taka 4,619 crore in 2015-2016 financial year.

UNICEF says children are the worst victims of waterborne diseases

specially diarrhea. In Bangladesh about one lakh children under-five die of diarrhea each year affecting country's overall development.

But of the affected children as well as the people of remote hill areas are more than that of the plain land and even today many of hilly people don't well-aware of sanitation, the school teacher mentioned.

Meanwhile, a government report said Bangladesh has tremendously developed the overall sanitation scenario as about 90.06 percent citizens are getting sanitation facilities at present.

A study says adequate sanitation and use of potable water help reducing 99 pecent diarrhea, 90 percent dysentery and 51 percent other belly diseases.

Experts say polluted water is the sources of 80 percent diseases. They underscored the need for building mass awareness about rules of health, washing hands and ensuring proper sanitation to keep a sound health.

Improved sanitation is a fundamental right of citizens. The present

government has given priority to ensure sanitation for all families and a sustainable development in this regard by 2030.

To this effect a Sector Development Plan 2011-2025 has been adopted. Under the first phase of the plan sanitation will be for all citizens by 2020.

In a remarkable achievement, official data reveals that open defecation has reduced to only 1 percent, a "milestone change" from the 42 percent in 2003, making it a role model for other countries in the region.

Approximately 595 million people in India, about half the population, do not use toilets. In Pakistan the number is 41 million, or about 21 percent, while for Nepal the number is 15.5 million, or 54 percent of the population. Only Sri Lanka, of all other South Asian states, has managed, like Bangladesh, to virtually wipe out open air defecation.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)