'There is urgency for all of us to act to provide this essential public service for the greater good'
Local government, fuel stations, markets, restaurants, and businesses need to play their role in providing safe, secure and inclusive public toilet facilities for everyone, including women, children, and people with disabilities, experts have said.
The comment was made at a national dialogue titled “Public Toilets in Bangladesh: Scale up and Sustainability,” organized by WaterAid Bangladesh and The Bhorer Kagoj to make public toilets a priority for the country.
According to a WaterAid press release, public sanitation was not seen as a priority in urban life across Bangladesh, but WaterAid together with the Dhaka, Sylhet, and Chattogram City Corporations and support from the H&M Foundation have built over 30 public toilets with modern facilities over the past five years, to serve as a positive example. These toilets have been used over 9 million times by commuters.
Dhaka South City Corporation (DSCC) Mayor Md Sayeed Khokon, Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) Mayor Md Atiqul Islam, Sylhet City Corporation (SCC) Mayor Ariful Haque Chowdhury, Khulna Development Authority Chairman Brig Gen ASM Mahmood Hasan, Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) Managing Director Taqsem A Khan, and WaterAid Bangladesh Country Director Md Khairul Islam were present at the National Dialogue.
WaterAid Bangladesh Country Director Md Khairul Islam said: “There is urgency for all of us to act to provide this essential public service for the greater good. The relevant authorities need to motivate businesses, markets, hospitals and fuel stations to make their toilets accessible for all, which in turn will help these places flourish.”
Shyamal Dutta, editor of The Bhorer Kagoj, moderated the dialogue, while WaterAid Sweden CEO Cecilia Chatterjee-Martinsen, Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) First Secretary (Development Cooperation Section) Lisa Andersson, and Access to Information (a2i) Project Director Md Mustafizur Rahman were also present, among others.
After the dialogue, an award ceremony was organized to recognize the of Best Public Toilet, Best Male Attendant, Best Female Attendant, Best Toilet in a Fuel Station, and Best Toilet in a Highway Restaurant.