SAJIDA Foundation’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Program piloted their first project with Penny Appeal UK to provide WASH facilities to 1,100 people living in Dotter Char in Battajore from 1st February. With frequent floods affecting the village, it has significantly impacted their water and sanitation, leaving the community vulnerable to WASH related diseases. With this new initiative taken by SAJIDA’s WASH program, it is set to ensure safe drinking water for 800 people in the community, promote improved WASH facility at the community health clinic, and establish WASH blocks for females including Menstrual Hygiene Management Systems (MHMs) at the educational facility for 225 girls and their female teachers.

Through the initiatives already on the way, WASH will not only cater to the community bringing improved WASH facilities for use, but also promote maintenance through numerous awareness sessions and monitoring systems set in place. The project intervention has achieved a remarkable milestone by establishing innovative, sustainable and technologically efficient WASH facilities ushering in huge benefits to the 800 people of the target community in ensuring access to safe water and access to improved communal sanitation.

This project also aimed to provide a multifaceted approach to the acute needs experienced by the extreme poor during the COVID-19 outbreak in Bangladesh. Three key activities have been undertaken: comprehensive awareness raising regarding prevention and reducing impact measures by SAJIDA staff and community volunteers, installing 23 portable handwashing stations within three districts, and providing 3,000 hygiene kits and food relief for 1,165 households whose daily wages had been impacted by the outbreak. The project targeted communities that are within the existing implementation sites of SAJIDA Foundation, and who were known to experience high degrees of vulnerability and risk to the economic and health impacts of such an outbreak. All project staff have been trained by government health services to maintain high hygiene and safety standards and were equipped with PPE during any engagement with the community.

Freedom from Social Stigma

Bithi Begum lives in Fakirabad village of Kushtia district, one of the few areas severe arsenic contamination in groundwater. Due to complex mobility of Arsenic, it is difficult to get safe water at permissible level in such areas – paired with the fact that Arsenic removal units are expensive and maintenance requires special attention, households with Arsenic free water is hard to come by.
Soon after her marriage, Bithi realized that her in-law’s household groundwater supply is tainted with arsenic and her husband and his family have been unknowingly drinking this contaminated water. Consequently, all the family members were affected with Arsenicosis, which left scar marks on their body. Bithi Begum became alarmed, especially of the social stigma the future generation might go through for Arsenicosis. She persuaded her husband to re-install a tube well in hope of getting arsenic free water, but unfortunately this did not solve their problem as the water was still contaminated.
Bithi Begum’s neighbor, a member of SAJIDA Foundation, told her of the WaterCredit loan facility, which he informed, she could also avail to install a deep well for her family. She took a loan of BDT 35,000 from SAJIDA’s WaterCredit program, which helped her install a tube well that will provide her with arsenic free water. Now, Ms. Bithi Begum and her family can have access to safe drinking water, resulting in an improved standard of living and freedom from social stigmas.“I was very worried when I realized my husband and in-laws have been drinking contaminated water for so long. I tried installing a new tube well but that did not help either. Now that we have access to safe water supply, I am no longer worried about our possibility of facing social ostracization. We can now dream of a happier future.”