As the Rohingya crisis response approaching its 4th year in Bangladesh, Oxfam has launched a new inclusive WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) project to strengthen the water supply network and sanitation systems in the hilly terrain of Cox's Bazar.
The project titled "Providing WASH Services in Rohingya Response – 2021" was launched on Wednesday in Cox's Bazar in presence of government high officials, representatives from the UNHCR, national and international NGOs and media.
It aims to sustain improved water supply, fecal sludge management (FSM), meaningful engagement and capacity building of communities in close collaboration with Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) in line with WASH sector 2021 priorities.
Funded by the UNHCR, the project will work with government, UN systems and other actors, said a press release.
At the launching ceremony, Refugee Relief and Repatriation Additional Commissioner Khalilur Rahman Khan said, "Due to setting up the Rohingya camps, huge deforestation has taken place which is causing environmental degradation in Cox's Bazar. The development agencies working in the Rohingya camps should design all their interventions by respecting the environmental guidelines and principles."
He also urged all the humanitarian actors providing WASH support in Rohingya camps to minimise water-loss by ensuring efficient waste management.
Oxfam has been working for the humanitarian assistance programme for the Forcefully Displaced Myanmar Nationalities (FDMN) since September 2017 in collaboration with Bangladesh Government other humanitarian agencies.
"When Covid-19 spreads in the camps of Cox's Bazar, Oxfam, UNHCR and DPHE invented and installed the first contact-less hand washing station to prevent spread of Covid-19. While hygiene practices have improved due to increased promotion of hand washing during the Covid-19 pandemic, our WASH project is now more relevant to ensure lasting behavioral change with regards to hygiene", said Dr Dipankar Datta, country director of Oxfam in Bangladesh.
With support from UNHCR, the Bangladesh government and Oxfam has been operating two water networks in one of the Rohingya Camps (camp-3) supplying 375,000 litre of chlorinated water to 15,000 people daily.
They have designed and built the largest Fecal Sludge Treatment Plant (FSTP) ever built in any humanitarian setting in the world. It covers 120,000 population treating 100,000 litre sludge (human waste) every day.
Oxfam and UNHCR are building the second FSTP with larger capacity to cover 150,000 people and designing three large fecal sludge transfer pipe-network by 2021 and constructing organic composting plant in camp-4 with an aim to protect the environment in and around the camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf.
Besides, UNHCR and Oxfam recently initiated the environmental sanitary effluents monitoring in 14 Rohingya camps to protect environment and public health from adverse impact of waste-water pollution through systematic surveillance and follow up actions in those camps and adjacent host community.
The newly launched project will consolidate and handover repair and maintenance of hand pumps, latrine and bathing cubicles in camp 3 and 4 and support local partners to take over water systems with ground water monitoring, water quality surveillance and sustainable operating systems in the Rohingya camps.