Issue 7 An Assessment of the Impacts of Floods on Sanitation in Rural Bangladesh

Bangladesh faces multiple challenges in the sanitation, hygiene and water sector. According to the MDG data for Bangladesh, latrine coverage stood at 33% by 2003. But, sanitation coverage is increasing, moving from 33% in 2003 to 39% in 2004 to about 48% in 2005. But in attaining this goal a major constrain is the recurring annual floods of Bangladesh. This study aimed to review the damage to sanitation facilities during floods. It also explored the possibilities of overcoming the negative impacts of floods on sanitation.

The study was conducted among 880 households from selected eight flood affected areas of BRAC WASH programme. Two unions having high sanitation coverage from each of these districts were selected. One village from each of these unions was selected that was affected by flood and had at least fifty five households. Households with latrines having at least 3 rings and 1 slab were selected for the study. Findings of the study results suggest that almost 73% latrines were damaged during the flood. Out of those damaged latrines 62% became unusable within the first week of the flood. On average, 26% flood affected people defecated at other’s house during flood whereas almost 55% defecated from floating places like boats, rafts, hanging latrines etc. Around 19% people defecated in the bush or field during flood. Ninety nine percent of the respondents thought that the reason behind this damage was flood. Though almost all the respondents mentioned flood to be the reason behind damaged latrines, we identified some other factors which might have significant role in the damage of the latrines during floods. There are several contributory factors in this category. Latrines were more likely to be damaged during flood if they were installed by non experts (95% CI 0.15-0.29: OR 1.58: p<0.001), had exposed rings (95 % CI 1.12-1.99; OR 1.50; p <0.005), installed below homestead level (95 % CI 4.05-7.67; OR 5.58; p <0.001) and were flooded under water (95 % CI 9.78 – 21.27; OR 14.42; p <0.001). Damage to the latrines could be prevented or reduced if they were installed by experts at a level at least higher than homestead. The rings should be installed under ground level properly and should not be exposed. It should also be ensured that the seals are not broken by water while submerged. Moreover, measures should be taken to increase the awareness about market price of different sanitary materials.

Related information

  • Writer Name: Shamim Ahmed
  • Published Date: Tuesday, 06 January 2009
  • Country: Bangladesh