London: Some 37,500 people, including elderly, children and disabled persons, have been brought under safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene coverage in some char (riverbed) areas in the district in an effort for freeing the areas from various water and airborne diseases.
Around 7,500 other community people, including 4,500 under five children and 3,000 pregnant and lactating women, have been brought under nutritional support aiming at bringing them out of the vicious cycle of malnutrition in the hard-to-reach areas.
Various promotional activities are being carried out in four flood and river erosion-prone unions under Belkuchi and Chohali upazilas under an UN joint programme titled “Support for Northwest Bangladesh Floods (WASH, Food Security and Nutrition)”.
NGO Forum for Public Health implemented the project with the main thrust of making the community people capable to cope with the natural catastrophes relating to the aspects of water, sanitation, hygiene and nutrition with financial support of UNICEF.
“We have constructed 500 improved latrines for flood resilience households,110 batching cubicles for women and adolescents and 200 other latrines for people with different needs such as elderly, child and disabled persons,”said Sabit Jahan, district project coordinator of NGO Forum for Public Health.
The project intends to support flood affected population having access to flood resilient WASH services and ensure improved access to nutritional services among children under five and pregnant and lactating women.
Around 450 emergency hygiene promotion sessions were conducted for the community people to help them know and maintain hygiene practices properly and disseminate their ideas among neighbours. 150 hygiene kits were distributed among the beneficiaries under the project.
The activities were carried out in terms of promotion of community latrines and safe water use promotion with hygiene education for awareness raising.
Jamanur Rahman, executive engineer of Department of Public Health Engineering, told BSS that the promotional activities will contribute a lot to elevating living and livelihood condition of the beneficiaries.
He said the promotion of better hygiene alone or in combination with safe drinking water and sanitation can have a major impact on reducing disease prevalence and public and private health costs.
He added that capacity building for hygiene promotion shall not be a discrete function. It must be an integral part of the strategy for improving sector capacity to address problems related to water, sanitation and hygiene promotion. Capacity building initiatives must involve relevant target-groups as well.
Civil Surgeon Dr Manzur Rahman says the nutritional works will contribute a lot to substantial reduction of uterine physical and mental disabilities besides supplementing the national efforts to prevent maternal and infant mortality.
Poor sanitation contributes to high levels of acute respiratory infections and diarrhea, which kill children every year.
Besides, poor sanitation practices in the hard-to-reach areas are exacerbated by seasonal flooding and erosion which ruin many water sources and latrines and hamper efforts to build new ones.
Deputy Commissioner Kamrun Nahar Siddika viewed hygiene awareness and knowledge of the links between poor hygiene and disease are lowest among the typically poorly-educated dwellers.
The nutrition activities will sure help improving the nutritional status of children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and adolescent girls of the project targeted households as the highest rate of malnutrition has been found among children living in the remotest areas, she added.