Bangladesh Villagers Fight Disease and Death with Simple Sanitation


Villagers attend a hygiene workshop

Sometimes the simplest of ideas can produce the biggest results, and in the village of Shambouganj, Bangladesh, it is a low tech sanitation system that is helping prevent the high rates of childhood morbidity and mortality. Thanks to the generous contributions of donors, 25 units for families have been constructed so far, improving both the environment and the health of villagers.

The design is basic given the limitations of the area but includes an enclosed facility for privacy and a water and waste transport system to a self-absorbing tank located several feet away that includes a unit to discharge built up gas.  The design is approved by UNICEF/WHO.

The project was a community-wide effort with villagers participating in the digging, building, and covering over of the old, non-sanitary latrines. Community leaders monitored the construction process with beneficiaries motivated to volunteer their time and free labor while other local laborers were hired as builders to create employment opportunities.  Families were also required to attend a day long workshop on water, sanitation and hygiene since “none of these families had ever used a clean sanitary system in their lives and they had no concept of proper hygiene,”  says Richard Sarker, Conscience International Program Director for Southeast Asia, who recently visited every household to see if  units were being properly maintained.  “I was pleased to find all of them were keeping them clean.  They told me the workshop made them aware of the importance of cleanliness to maintaining good health.”

A minimum of 15 additional sanitation units are needed for the remaining families who need them and to assure the overall sanitary situation in the village.  “We need two thousand dollars to complete this worthy project and improve the quality of life for men, women, and children in rural Bangladesh,”  Sarker reports.

To read more about Richard’s work in Shambouganj, see other stories on our Happening Now page.  You can help by donating in any amount on our secure Give Now link or by mailing a check to the Conscience International address on this website.  All donations are tax deductible.