Some 75 per cent of the population of Bangladesh live in rural areas and many communities in hard-to-reach regions do not have adequate access to sanitation. In such a densely populated country, where a large proportion of the land regularly floods, sanitation is a continuing challenge. Despite improvements, large numbers of people remain at risk from the lack of safe disposal of excreta.
Improving rural sanitation is a complicated challenge, which involves action on several fronts. Individuals need to be aware of how their behaviour may damage the environment and what they need to do to protect their own and public health. This requires education aimed at young people as well as information campaigns targeted at all age groups.
As sanitation is a public matter, communities need to be empowered to decide what they need and to act on those decisions. At the same time, local government needs to have the capacity to plan and implement building and engineering projects that will develop solutions to public health problems such as the control of pollution and the safe disposal of excreta.