Global perspective Human stories

Millions of Bangladeshis to benefit from countrywide UNICEF-backed water programme

Millions of Bangladeshis to benefit from countrywide UNICEF-backed water programme

Thirty million people across impoverished Bangladesh, a country where 100 children die each die from diarrhoea, are set to benefit from a five-year multi-million dollar water and sanitation scheme, funded jointly by the British and Bangladeshi Governments and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) and UNICEF signed the agreement on Tuesday, with DFID funding $62.8 million to support the Government’s Sanitation, Hygiene Education and Water Supply in Bangladesh (SHEWA-B) project, which is run jointly with the Children’s Fund.

UNICEF will put in $9.3 million, while the Government’s Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) will invest $16.9 million, the fund said in a press release, adding that the project will help Bangladesh in its effort to achieve the time-bound Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of reducing poverty and other social ills.

“I greatly appreciate DFID for making this generous contribution. I am confident that SHEWA-B will chart a way towards achieving the Millennium Development Target 10 of halving the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015 through this expansive DPHE/UNICEF partnership,” said UNICEF Bangladesh Representative Louis-George Arsenault.

Although Bangladesh has made significant strides in lowering infant and child mortality in recent times, no less than a hundred children still die each day from diarrhoea, caused by poor hygiene and sanitation. Through SHEWA-B, the UNICEF/DPHE partnership has the largest reach of any programme in the water and sanitation sector of Bangladesh.

In its first phase from 2007 to 2009 SHEWA-B will cover 60 sub-districts in 16 plain-land districts as well as 300 neighbourhoods in the three districts of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). The second phase will be implemented from 2009 to 2011 and add another 44 sub-districts in 12 more districts and 300 neighbourhoods in the CHT. The programme will also cover slum areas in the main municipal areas in the programme districts.

In a separate development, UNICEF and the Council of Europe signed a Joint Declaration on Tuesday strengthening their cooperation in policy development and other areas that aim to protect children from abuse, violence and exploitation.

“We look to organizations such as the Council of Europe to further push the legal standards on prevention of violence and to monitor progress made in Member States,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman, at a Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly debate.

“While legal obligations lie with the state, all sectors of society share the responsibility of condemning and preventing violence against children.”