BRAC's Water and Sanitation Hygiene (WASH) program
BRAC WASH Program
Reflection Paper regarding this visit
In accordance with the UN created Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), BRAC has
created a program called Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) to achieve goal number 7.
Goal number seven is about ensuring environmental sustainability. It is one of the 9 major
programs BRAC has initiated to fulfil the MDGs.
On the 10th of March 2012 we, a group of 18 students, two teachers and two drivers,
went to Manikgonj district to check out the WASH program being run there by BRAC. We
initially went to WASH headquarters where we meet with Ms. Nurun Nahar, who is the
district manager and Ms. Nasima, who is WASH program’s director. Both of them told us how
in May 2006 the first survey of BRAC’s WASH initiative was done. It was then found that only
37% of the total population there have any access to proper sanitation or drinking water. Thus
in 2007 WASH program was implemented. This program consists of two major parts, (i)
raising awareness through education and (ii) initiating the establishment and proper running
of sanitation system.
BRAC trains women in the villages to make them capable of teaching others, in target
groups a.k.a. clusters, how to be clean, how to keep your neighbourhood clean, how
prevention is better than cure. There are five such clusters, one for the males, one for the
females, one for the children, adolescent girls and one for the old people. Awareness sessions
are given monthly on water, sanitation and hygiene, and to check upon their progress. People
in these sessions are made aware that small acts of cleanliness will ensure the reduction of
infections and minor diseases that cause a lot of hindrance for the village people. Money and
time spent on treating these illnesses before can now be used for more fruitful things such as
business, food, child care, education, saving etc. This will not only make people healthy and
happy but also prosperous.
Water supply is being tested for safe and clean drinking water. Special importance is
given to finding arsenic and saline prone water areas and making people aware not to drink it.
Manikgonj has a major case of unsafe water. This dilemma is being fought by setting up deep
tube hand pumps, that tap into Bangladesh’s supply of fresh ground water. WASH committee,
consisting of 6 women and 5 men plus a secretary and president, sits together and decides
exactly where latrines are necessary and sets about raising funds, usually 5000tk from 9
families, to set up a latrine. WASH has also set up latrines in schools for adolescent girls
making it easier for them to attend school. This has increased the percentage of girls coming
to school and passing out. And filled up latrines are covered up and allowed to decompose and
form fertilizers which eventually help the villagers as most of them are farmers.
Thanks to this visit, I actually got to know that such trivial problems, such as common
fever, diarrhoea exist due to the lack of information; in this modern era are still major
problems for a huge population. And because of BRAC’s initiative WASH we will soon be able
to eradicate such water and sanitation related problems. As in 5 years already the percentage
of rural people with access to proper sanitation facilities has increased from 37% to 86%!
BRAC has practically applied Amartya Sen’s theory that the only way to ensure justice is by
trying to minimize injustice and Rawl’s difference principle, when we are helping the ultra
poor gain power and basic rights. I got to learn, know and see so much about Bangladesh first
hand, that I am amazed.