Sixteen-year-old Didar has been living in Kacharikandi Moshajan village in Bangladesh since childhood. His father was sentenced to jail when Didar was only three years old and is still serving his sentence. His mother is a day labourer and the whole family depends on her income. With so little money, Didar never attended school, there were few work opportunities and he was frustrated at not being able to support himself.
Since 2006 the national NGO Unnayan Shahojogy Team (UST), has been carrying out water and sanitation activities in the Gopalpur union of Zanjira Upazila with the collaboration of Union Parishad (UP) members. The aim is to ensure safe drinking water, hygienic sanitation facilities and hygiene education for all villagers. When Didar discovered these activities, he asked the UP Chairman to employ him.
The UP Chairman informed Didar about the consequences of unhygienic latrines and lack of hygiene. He told him that the Kachari Kandi village is way behind the target of total sanitation coverage. In fact 30 families had no latrine and 56 existing latrines had no water seal. The poor facilities had been affecting the environment and the villagers’ health on a daily basis. Water seals needed to be installed in these latrines in order to create a safer and healthier village environment.
After this conversation, the Chairman offered to employ Didar to install water seals in the latrines at a rate of 20 taka per water seal installation for each household. Didar was taught by the UST staff how to do this and started setting up latrines with water seals. His daily income is now 100-120 taka. He installed 30 water seals in unhygienic latrines and 35 new hygienic latrines with water seals in the village. The village now has a 100% sanitation coverage. Importantly, Didar now suppots himself since everybody comes to him should they face any problem with hygienic latrine installation or water seal set up. He is currently moving from one village to another with his activities and contributing to total sanitation coverage in the area.
Didar shared his impressions: “Now I am released from the curse of poverty as well as unemployed life. I am happy that my activities contribute to the target of total sanitation coverage. In the beginning I felt very shy to do this work but now I feel proud after having observed that the society honours me during the consultation and the latrine installation. I am very grateful to UST and its Chairman for their cooperation. Now I am saving money for my family and building a better future.”
By Kausik Das, UNDP Bangladesh, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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