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UP chairman: ‘Sanitation is our work, not BRAC’s’

Published on: 15/03/2013

A sub-district chairman and a schoolteacher/imam in Chittagong, Bangladesh talk to Dick de Jong about their roles in WASH delivery.

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Dick de Jong met Mr Mohammad Mohiuddin, chairman of the Patiya Upazila (sub-district) in Chittagong, during a monthly coordination meeting with teachers, imams and Village WASH Committee members.

Q: What impact have you seen in your union from the BRAC WASH interventions?

A: People are building latrines now; sanitation coverage has increased from 22% to 81%. In addition, school teachers are aware about personal hygiene and WASH, and students are now bringing WASH messages home to their families.

Q: Did your union invest money in WASH as well, for instance through your Annual Development Plan (ADP) fund?

A: Yes, we have used the ADP fund for sanitation. The allocation of funds is different for different years. Last year we provided 80 latrines in this union.

Q: Are you planning to do more on WASH in your union?

A: Yes, we will move on the sanitation programme as it is part of the Annual Development Plan.

Q: What is your union receiving from the BRAC WASH II programme 2012-2015?

A: From BRAC WASH II we get support through grants, loans and repairs, and maintenance of the latrines. BRAC staff regularly follow up the activities to ensure their sustainability, which helps us to sustain sanitation coverage. In fact, it is our responsibility, which we appreciate and recognise. But sometimes we are a bit frustrated while they are knocking on our doors and are pushing us.

Q: What do you hope to have achieved in 2015?

A: We hope we will be able to achieve 100% sanitation coverage in the union, which means covering the 19% that we still need to reach. 

Q: What do you think will happen in your union after the BRAC WASH programme and money will finish?

A: After the WASH programme we will continue the programme through ADP grants. In addition we will get the assistance of Village WASH committees of this union who are trained and working on WASH; they will help us to do monitoring, checking and mobilising the fund for the right person.

Another Union Parishad member added: “The WASH initiatives will continue as people are now aware about water and hygiene. They will not go back to the bad practices from earlier days.”

Imams use WASH messages in sermons and madrassas

Imams are highly influential in much of Bangladesh, and the Al-Hadith and the Quran both mention messages on cleanliness that chime with the messages BRAC WASH wants to get across. Since 2008, BRAC has therefore trained over 18,000 imams in getting WASH messages out in their Friday sermons. They produced a guidebook, with assistance from an external organisation, which has since been adopted by Water Aid Bangladesh and used more widely.

Mr Faizur Rahman, a Madrassa schoolteacher and imam of the Jame Masjid mosque in Duarpara village, in Haitgaon union of Patiya sub-district, is one of the 18,000 imams who received training.

Q: How often do you use WASH messages in your Friday sermon?

A: As we have many other issues to make people aware about, I use WASH messages every two months.

Q: Which topics do you use most, and why?

A: I usually provide the message on the importance of a safe source of drinking water and water conservation, as well as to use a clean latrine that can also be used for the safe disposal of children’s faeces.

Q: Do you use the Khutba guidebook for imams provided by BRAC WASH? Which verses do you like most?

A: Yes I use the booklet and I have it at home. I also use it in my Madrassa where I am teaching. I like all the verses as they are from Al-Hadith and the Quran.

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Q: When and where did you receive the imam training from BRAC WASH?

A: I received training at the BRAC Learning Centre in Chittagong; it was two years ago.

Q: What will happen after the BRAC WASH programme is finished in 2015?

A: As people are aware about hygiene and latrine use, it will be continued after the withdrawal of the programme’s support. Cleanliness is a part of Muslim belief; it is mentioned in the Al-Hadith and instructed by our prophet. So I have to continue this as part of my responsibility as a messenger of religious information that is closely related to WASH.

Dick de Jong, H2O Communications, Andrew Wright and Joep Verhagen, IRC

February 2013

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