Changing WASH Practices in Southwest Bangladesh– One Small Doable Action at a Time

WASHplus’s Julia Rosenbaum co-presented a paper on “Changing WASH Practices in Southwest Bangladesh– One Small Doable Action at a Time” at SACOSAN 6 in Dhaka in January 2016. An abstract for the paper is provide below. Read the paper here.

Abstract: The global USAID WASHplus Project successfully increased access to water, sanitation and hygiene by applying a comprehensive and innovative approach in hard-to-reach areas of southwest Bangladesh. Rather than promoting ideal water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure and behavioral improvements, households were encouraged to take ‘small doable actions’ – feasible yet effective improvements – that moved toward the ideal practice. Through taking this approach, the project met and surpassed all project targets before the end of the project period. Project implementers worked with community members to develop age-specific behaviors for safely disposing infant and child feces and also for patching leaky latrines that dump feces back into the environment.

Citation: Rosenbaum, Hussain, Ferdous, and Islam, January 2016, Changing WASH Practices in Southwest Bangladesh– One Small Doable Action at a Time, FHI 360/Bangladesh, WASHplus Project, WaterAid/Bangladesh,  SACOSAN 6, Dhaka, Bangladesh.


When ODF is Not Enough: Presentatgion on at SACOSAN 6

When ODF is Not Enough: Using a Small Doable Actions Approach to Complement CLTS
and Get Faeces out of the Environment in Southwest Bangladesh,” Presentation by Julia Rosenbaum, Khairul Islam, Muhammad Faruqe Hussain, and Selina Ferdous, SACOSAN 6, January 2016, Dhaka, Bangladesh. See the presentation slides here.

Rosenbaum_Sacosan 6_PPT.png

See the presentation slides here.

9 AM EST, Feb 16 Webinar: WASHing Away Diseases, Two Hands at a Time

WASH NTDs webinar

On February 18 at 9:00 AM EST, please join the Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing and the USAID/WASHplus project for a webinar discussing why water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) matter to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), and addressing the need for new approaches for multi-sector initiatives to promote equity, poverty alleviation, health, and well-being.

Register here today!

Featuring experts from WaterAid, Sightsavers, the FHI 360-led USAID/WASHplus project, and USAID, this webinar is an excellent opportunity for those working in both WASH and NTDs to learn about the global landscape of WASH/NTD strategy and glean practical insights from projects that are operating in this context.

This webinar will include brief presentations on:

  • The link between WASH and NTDs
  • How we can work together to achieve common goals through the World Health Organization’s Joint WASH-NTD strategy; and
  • Integration in practice.

About the panelists:

  • Renuka Bery, MPH, Senior Program Manager for the USAID/WASHplus project, has an extensive background in WASH integration.
  • Sophie Boisson, PhD, Technical Officer for Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Health at the World Health Organization (invited).
  • Edouard Tianhoun, RN, MSc, WASH-NTD Coordinator for the USAID/WASHplus Burkina Faso pilot project, has been in involved in WASH programs in his native Burkina Faso since 2011.
  • Yael Velleman, MSc, Senior Policy Analyst on Health and Sanitation, leads WaterAid’s strategy, advocacy, and research agenda on health.
  • Merri Weinger, MPH, Senior Environmental Health Advisor at USAID’s Bureau for Global Health, has over 30 years of experience in health programs at USAID, WHO, and PAHO.
  • Geordie Woods, MPH, Technical Adviser-NTDs at Sightsavers, specializes in health behavior and strategic communication with a technical focus that includes NTDs and WASH.

Following the presentations there will be a Question & Answer session.

Register now!

Behavior Change Strategy: Hygiene Promotion Guidelines for Bangladesh

bc strategy_bangladesh

To see improvements in health, social, and economic well‐being of families in the project districts in Southwest Bangladesh, the WASHplus activity works towards three objectives:

Objective 1: Improved access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation, and hygiene practices of poor and marginalized people in the targeted upazilas (subdistricts)

Objective 2: Build community and local government capacity to operate and
maintain facilities, and demand increased allocation of funds to ensure sustainability and impact

Objective 3: Strengthen the evidence base and programming guidance for
coordinated WASH‐nutrition programming in Bangladesh

While the need for improved water and sanitation access is clear, there is consensus that no
health or other development objectives can be achieved without the consistent and correct
practice of a suite of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) behaviors including:

  • Safe and hygienic disposal of feces, including infant feces
  • Consistent and correct handwashing at critical junctures, particularly after
    defecation and before food preparation and feeding/eating
  • Safe handling and storage of household water
  • Menstrual hygiene management (MHM)

WASHplus is managed by FHI 360 and implemented in southwest Bangladesh through an agreement with WaterAid, who in turn have engaged local partner organizations (PNGOs) to implement in their respective upazilas or subdistricts. To guide the systematic and theory‐based activities of the PGNOs, WASHplus has developed these hygiene promotion guidelines for its partner NGOs to coordinate its approach in the field. In addition, capacity‐building and on‐going support to NGOs is offered to support improved WASH practice and ultimate achievement of target goals

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.”

Self Supply at Scale: Lessons from Bangladesh

Reblogged from the The Rural Water Supply Network (RWSN) 

By Jonathan Annis

I recently traveled to southeastern Bangladesh to support WASHplus’s local implementing partner WaterAid as it begins a multi-year project in the coastal belt. The coastal belt is a marshy delta formed by Himalayan sediments transported thousands of miles by an extensive river network that settle as they reach the Bay of Bengal. Surface water is ubiquitous, and flooding—from tidal flows, excessive rainfall, or cyclones—is an annual event. I had never been in an environment so waterlogged.  

An estimated 70 percent of Bangladesh’s 150 million rural inhabitants use groundwater for drinking. Rural Bangladesh has an estimated 10 million shallow and deep tubewells. WaterAid estimates more than 80 percent of these have been installed by households without government subsidy.

The maturity and extensiveness of the self-supply service delivery model is astounding. Privately owned spare parts suppliers and pump vendors are commonplace in nearly every subdistrict or union throughout the coastal belt. Deep and shallow tubewells are most often fitted with a robust suction pump, known locally as the # 6, that easily lifts water from a static level of between 2–5 meters. Replacement parts are affordable; a local technician reported the average cost of a typical repair was less than 150 BDT or US $2.


 Locally based drilling teams reach depths of 300  meters using entirely manual techniques (J. Annis,  2013)

Local drilling companies are equally as widespread. Deep tubewells are commonly drilled to between 250-320 meters (that is not a typo!) using manual methods for a cost of less than US $1,000 (including drilling, well components, and pump installation). The drilling method is really something to behold. Workers balance like acrobats on 8-10 meter high bamboo scaffolding to hoist a hose that injects water from a manually driven circulation pump into the hollow stem connected to a drill bit that is rotated continuously by two men. A team of 10 men can reach 300 meters in two to three days.

Yet despite having what seems like the ideal setting for sustainability, complications persist. Community water points, often funded by donors and aimed at the extremely poor (or hardcore poor as they are known in Bangladesh), frequently go unrepaired for long periods. Most families use private ponds for bathing and washing dishes, even though they often have access to a potable water point in their courtyard or a short walk away. Potable water apparently has little intrinsic value in the coastal belt, and when community water points break households typically either walk to the next pump or return to the pond.

Government regulation is another point of concern. The emergence of self-supply resulted from a combination of ideal hydrogeological conditions and perennial underfunding of the rural water sector. Annual budget expenditures for water supply are split 70/30 for urban and rural, though more that 70 percent of the population lives in rural areas. The explosion of self-supply since the mid-1970s has gone largely unregulated, and the high concentration of water points may have been an underlying factor of the arsenic and salinity problems detected in thousands of shallow wells beginning in the mid-1990s. As deep tubewells become more prevalent in areas like the coastal belt (an estimated 1 million have been installed throughout the country to date) history risks repeating itself. One community deep tubewell I visited, for example, was recently abandoned after a saline aquifer leeched into the deep water table. In such a case the well must be decommissioned to prevent localized salinity from spreading to other areas. This example supports the findings of USAID-funded research in eastern Madagascar indicating that regulation is critical for self-supply to be environmentally sustainable at scale.

To this point WASHplus is working with WaterAid to increase regulation of local government institutions, beginning with an asset inventory to register all the water points in a subdistrict followed by a permit system to document all new wells installed in each union. Eventually these measures will set the framework for periodic water quality and groundwater table monitoring to determine if the quality and capacity of the deep aquifer is being compromised. This WASHplus activity will also serve as a model for other unions and the Department of Public Health Engineering to ensure the self-supply approach is reaching its full potential without compromising the long-term health of the resource that is the key to its success.

About the Author: Jonathan Annis is a sanitation and innovation specialist with the USAID-funded WASHplus project ( His views do not represent those of USAID or the U.S. Government.