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Accessible latrines supporting independence in Cox's Bazar camps

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For people with a disability living in camps for displaced Rohingya at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, accessing basic water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities can take a huge amount of effort and time each day.

In Camp 15, one of the most populated camps out of the 34 in Bangladesh housing Rohingya displaced from Myanmar, there are around 11,000 households and 55,000 residents, with around 9% living with a disability. Only 0.5% of these people with disability have access to accessible public latrines, and a further 2% have accessible private latrines. Most others make do with inaccessible public latrines, with 34% of people with disability reporting they need assistance from others to use the toilets.

Through the Australian Humanitarian Partnership’s Bangladesh response, CARE Bangladesh has been working to improve WASH facilities in Camp 15 since early 2020. Activities have included platform and piping upgrades, gender-segregated latrines, bathing cubicle construction and repair, solid waste management, awareness sessions, supporting local WASH committees, and distribution of hygiene and menstrual hygiene kits.

Five inclusive latrines have now been constructed in Camp 15 with AHP support and technical advice from consortium partners the Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) and disability advocacy NGO CBM.

For Fatema, a 13-year-old girl with mobility and speech disabilities, the new latrine has increased her independence. Before the new latrine was constructed, Fatema relied on her mother to assist her in all toileting-related tasks.

Fatema’s mother Morium said she used to need to help Fatema to sit on the toilet pan, as Fatema could not sit independently. She would also help her with cleaning after toileting. This increased Morium’s workload around the home and reduced Fatema’s independence.

“After getting this type of latrine I only need to get her to the latrine. Now she can do the other toilet activities independently. Even if I go out of the house, I don’t have to worry about Fatema,” Morium said.

“Life has really changed for the better for both of us,” she said.

Morium said that she hoped more accessible latrines were constructed in the neighbourhood, as they would also benefit many older people in the community.

The AHP response in Bangladesh is now in its third phase, involving all six Australian NGO partners and numerous local partners on the ground in-country. The response focuses on WASH, the protection and inclusion of women, children, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups; education; adolescent reproductive health and support for host communities.