Initially this project was to fund the construction of an inclusive public toilet facility, renovation of other community toilets, and community consultation and training on safe sanitation practices in Mymensingh however, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic the scope of work shifted to focus on reducing COVID-19 infection for vulnerable members of the Mymensingh community.
Bangladesh's urban population of 42 million is one of the largest in the world. Cities such as Dhaka and Mymensingh are experiencing exceptional urban growth rates, coupled with rising inequality and poverty. Both cities struggle with inadequate infrastructure, limited social services, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), waste management and rapid environmental degradation. Many poor urban households in Bangladesh do not have access to safe toilet facilities, particularly women and people with disabilities. This often leads to poor health outcomes.
Funding from The Footprints Network was initially earmarked to fund the construction of an inclusive public toilet facility, renovation of other community toilets, and community consultation and training on safe sanitation practices in Mymensingh.
However, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the scope of work shifted. Bangladesh experienced countrywide lockdowns and government-enacted social distancing measures to limit the transmission of COVID-19, which prevented the implementation of planned activities. Given the significant health risk to people in crowded urban areas, Oxfam redirected its activities to focus on reducing COVID-19 infection for vulnerable members of the Mymensingh community.
On 8 March 2020, Bangladesh reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19. Since then, infections have spread across the entire country. Mymensingh has been one of worst affected districts of Bangladesh. Oxfam’s response focussed on public health promotion and delivering clean water, hygiene and protective equipment to reduce infection and contain the spread of the virus. Thanks to the funding provided by The Footprints Network, Oxfam was able to deliver the following response in Mymensingh:
Mounting evidence from around the world confirms the effectiveness of social distancing, hygiene, and protective equipment in reducing COVID-19 infection. Funding from The Footprints Network has helped protect vulnerable people in Mymensingh, Bangladesh from the deadly virus.
Duke Ivn Amin from Oxfam’s partner organisation JAGO NARI describes the situation during lockdown in Bangladesh.
This is the biggest crisis our country has faced since the war of liberation. People are in a panic. They have few food reserves, and since they are no longer allowed to go out and work, their supplies are quickly running out. The situation is very bad.
The work in Mymansingh is part of Oxfam in Bangladesh’s broader strategy to reduce the impacts of COVID-19 on vulnerable people across 16 districts of Bangladesh, including the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox's Bazaar. The initial response has focused on reaching communities with food, public health awareness-raising, and hygiene and protective equipment kits. Future work will include developing water, hygiene, and sanitation infrastructure as well as advocating for equitable access to vaccines and treatments when they become available.
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