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Bangladesh launches the International Year of Sanitation: Speakers call for improved hygiene practices

© Kiron/UNICEF Bangladesh, March 2008
Dhaka, 23 March 2008. On Saturday March 22, the Government of Bangladesh launched the International Year of Sanitation country programme as part of the celebrations for World Water Day 2008. The launch was attended by civil society groups and development partners, including UNICEF and DFID among others. The event, which took place in Dhaka, featured a new country-wide hand-washing campaign supported by UNICEF and funded by DFID. Children performed the theme song of the campaign accompanied by driving and rhythmic Bangla music, which has already been broadcast by most radio and TV channels.
Mohammed Anwarul Iqbal, Adviser for the Local Government Rural Development and Cooperative, called for collective actions of all stakeholders to ensure safe water, hygienic sanitation facilities and proper hand washing: “Water or sanitation alone cannot ensure sound health and environmental conservation. Only drinking or using safe water without practicing hygienic sanitation cannot ensure improved health. Thus safe water and sanitation are complementary to each other for ensuring better health.”
The UNICEF Chief of the Water and Sanitation programme, Paul Edwards, emphasized the importance of hygiene, based on recent findings revealing that only 0.6 per cent of mothers wash their hands before preparing food and no more than 17 per cent of people wash their hands after defecation.
At the end of his speech, he gave three simple messages: “Look after your water supply. Keep your toilet clean and use it. After using the toilet and before handling food, please wash your hands with soap.”
UNICEF is supporting a country-wide campaign to change such behaviours as it has been demonstrated that 50 % of diarrhea cases and 53% of pneumonia could be prevented by washing hands with soap or ash. According to current data, around 100,000 children under five die of diarrhea every year in the country. Although Bangladesh has made some progress towards sanitation, the majority of the population still does not have access to improved sanitation.
Prior to the meeting, a group of dignitaries visited different schools and spoke with children about the importance of hand washing with soap or ash.

To mark the day, UNICEF and its partners also supported a number of media activities. In addition to the broadcast of the theme song of the campaign, TV and radio stations have been airing different awareness spots promoting basic hygiene practices. Public television and radio are also producing different programmes on the issue of sanitation and hygiene, such as quizz shows, talk show, children’s programmes. This media campaign will be sustained until end 2008. Before the launch, journalists had been briefed on the International Year of Sanitation by the Adviser for the Local Government Rural Development and Cooperative during a press conference held on March 20. UNICEF also organized an orientation session for 27 women journalists.
Non government organizations and different partners of UNICEF also organized cultural programmes and awareness sessions in different parts of the country to observe the day.

For more information, contact:
Christine Jaulmes
Chief, Communication and Information
UNICEF Bangladesh


Arifa Sharmin
Communication Officer
UNICEF Bangladesh



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