US Ambassador to Bangladesh visits WASHplus-WaterAid project

Ambassador Mozena 2

An official visit to water, sanitation and hygiene projects highlighted how USAID funds are transforming the lives of poor communities in Bhola, Bangladesh. This blog post is authored by WaterAid and first published here.
WaterAid was honored to receive a visit from His Excellency Dan Mozena, US Ambassador to Bangladesh, and Ms. Janina Jarulzelski, USAID Bangladesh Mission Director. The delegation came to see some of WaterAid’s water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects in Bhola, Bangladesh that form part of the WASHplus program supported by USAID through FHI 360.
Bangladesh is one of the world’s most densely populated countries. Despite progress in recent years, infant mortality rates remain high, with preventable water-related diseases such as diarrhea claiming the lives of more than 7,000 young children every year. In addition to being contaminated with human waste, many water sources are unsafe to drink due to the presence of naturally-occurring arsenic.
HE Mozena and Ms. Jarulzelski spent time with members of the Community Development Forum (CDF), an organization set up to put local people at the heart of improving access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene within their communities.The CDF members explained how the health benefits of sanitation projects rely on 100% participation amongst villagers.
To stop the spread of disease, everyone has to agree to safely use latrines, so the community has to pull together to motivate each and every household to build a latrine and commit to becoming an Open Defecation Free (ODF) village.As in many other poor communities across Bangladesh, affordability of sanitation facilities is a real concern in Bhola. The delegation heard how the community was presented with a range of environmentally friendly sanitation options, which included very simple structures that could be constructed using low-cost, locally available materials.Local schools are actively involved in the projects. During the visit, students were happy to show off pristine new sanitation blocks and demonstrate how simple, cost-effective measures such as ‘tippy taps’ made from old water bottles can help encourage everyone to wash their hands after visiting the bathroom.CDF members also demonstrated the use of portable arsenic testing kits used to assess whether local drinking water sources are safe to drink.

Dr. Khairul Islam, WaterAid’s Country Representative for Bangladesh, who accompanied the visit commented: “WaterAid is very grateful for the support of USAID. We take great pride in the fact HE Mozena and Ms. Jarulzelski visited these projects and saw for themselves how safe water and sanitation are transforming the lives of local communities.”

Julia Rosenbaum, Deputy Director of WASHplus added: “Through USAID support, local governance is strengthened and communities are supported to find innovative solutions within resource constrained contexts, like fixing leaky latrines or using tippy taps to enable handwashing before cooking and eating. The Ambassador’s visit highlighted one of WASHplus’ key approaches, to make changes one small doable action at a time.”

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