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Last modified on Monday, 30 November -0001 00:00

BRAC enters sanitation Hall of Fame

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On 20 January, BRAC received the "Hall of Fame Award" for significant contributions to the sanitation sector in Bangladesh. The award was handed to Dr. Akramul Islam at the 14th World Toilet Summit 2015 in Delhi by Dr. Subramanian Swamy MP, Former Minister of India, and Jack Sim Founder of the World Toilet Organization. Minister Devendra Chaudhry, Special Secretary, Ministry of Power India, was also present at the occasion along with representatives from governments, donors, development partners, business sectors, NGOs and media.

Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in providing basic sanitation services to its people. It is now estimated that throughout Bangladesh, 57% use sanitary latrines. Open defecation has almost ended with only about 3% of the people not using toilets of any kind [1].

BRAC WASH and related programmes have made a substantial contribution to the nation's Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets for water, sanitation and health and will continue to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Over 8 years, the BRAC hygiene and sanitation programme reached more than 66 million people, about half of the rural population of Bangladesh. It has successfully worked to improve household sanitation by creating demand for hygienic latrines [2] while supporting an extensive supply chain and local businesses. Current coverage with hygienic and adequately maintained toilets is 82% in the 152 districts where BRAC has worked. All these successes have been underpinned by a strong provision of service to the poor and ultra-poor and by a unique hygiene promotion programme focusing on universal use and sustainability of services in communities, households and schools.

BRAC WASH success factors
Scale: significantly increasing access to sanitation services
Hygiene promotion is the critical factor in BRAC WASH success – it is the missing link in most other WASH programmes globally. Between 2006 and 2014 about 43 million people have participated in BRAC WASH hygiene promotion meetings at village level. As a result, 35.8 million people have gained access to clean toilets with the support of BRAC WASH, an un-paralleled achievement by an NGO.

Sustainability: focusing on how services are delivered and local partnerships
The most important factor is not so much what to deliver, but how to deliver it, while ensuring sustainability: delivery through the most appropriate channels. To be able to work effectively with village women and men, hygiene and sanitation promotion has been delivered by 7,602 health workers of which more than 50% are female and 5,000 are community members.

BRAC WASH facilitated and supported sanitation entrepreneurs to work in hard-to-reach areas. As the generated demand was huge, BRAC WASH trained 5,603 people on how to create sanitation demand and on materials and construction of low-cost sanitary toilets. Additionally, 213,520 poor families have been able to access BRAC loans to improve sanitation.

Impact on the poor, women and girls
BRAC WASH had a dramatic effect on equity. Before the programme it was rare for ultra-poor families to own a hygienic latrine. More than a million ultra-poor families (5 million people) have received subsidies for long-lasting and hygienic double-pit latrines. Local government provided substantial financial contributions for sanitation for ultra-poor families. Without the grant for latrine construction, twin pit latrines would not be affordable for the ultra-poor since they would need to spend almost 6% of their reported income.

IRC is proud to be a knowledge partner of BRAC WASH since 2005. Short-term, unsustainable projects must become a thing of the past. Everyone deserves water and sanitation services every day, every year, forever. IRC works with far-sighted organisations like BRAC that do not accept the status quo and are impatient for change. BRAC WASH has demonstrated that an integrated approach to hygiene, sanitation and water is the only one that can deliver long-term change – but it requires sustained and intensive engagement with communities, and a long term commitment to maintain and improve on gains already made. A strong commitment from the Government and the donor community has played a crucial role in gaining these achievements.

[1] WHO/UNICEF JMP, 2014. Bangladesh : estimates on the use of water sources and sanitation facilities (1980 - 2012). Available at:

[2] Hygienic latrines separate faeces from the environment and seal the path between the squat hole and the pit to effectively block the pathways of bad smell, flies and other insect vectors thereby breaking the cycle of disease transmission.

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