At Kalyanpur slum, British envoy gauges impact of community toilets



British High Commissioner to Bangladesh Robert Chatterton Dickson paid a visit to Kalyanpur slum in the city on Saturday, where British-Dutch multinational FMCG company Unilever has set up a community toilet — WASH Centre — for the 8,000-odd residents in collaboration with an NGO.

Residents of Kalyanpur slum, also known as Pora bosti, not only live below the poverty line, with the median household income being Tk 3,725 per mensem, but also face severe health issues due to limited access to sanitation and clean drinking water.

Before the Covid pandemic hit Bangladesh hard in March, Unilever Bangladesh Ltd (UBL) and BHUMIJO, the NGO known for running WASH Centres, jointly built the community toilet in Kalyanpur slum. The facility has a total of six separate toilets for men and women, along with standard hand-washing space, and safe drinking water (Pureit) and laundry facilities.

The aim of the WASH Centre is to improve the overall health and hygiene of the Kalyanpur slum community.

Apart from High Commissioner Dickson, UBL Chairman Asif Saleh and BRAC Executive Director also visited the facility and also listened to the experiences shared by the beneficiaries of the WASH gauge the effects of the WASH Centre and BRAC’s COVID-19 initiatives over the slum dwelling community.

Farhana Rashid, the co-founder and CEO of BHUMIJO, explained the business model to the visiting delegation.

During the visit, the High Commissioner also learned about another critical initiative – HBCC by BRAC in Bangladesh. The Hygiene & Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC) has been jointly set up by Unilever and UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) to mount a rapid response to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The HBCC is taking a three-pronged approach, building on Unilever’s tried and tested hygiene interventions — mass communication, behaviour change programmes and digital solutions, focused on hand hygiene and environmental hygiene.

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