Schools now safe havens in Bangladesh
Cyclones hit Bangladesh several times every year, and with the cyclone comes flood. Concern Universal is helping people to prepare for such disasters, to minimise the loss of life and livelihood. If people are warned early enough, they can make it to a cyclone shelter. Yet when we assessed the basic facilities in cyclone shelters in one region, we found that 80% had neither toilets nor clean drinking water. People need to shelter whilst waiting for the waters to subside and a lack of basic facilities means they have no safe haven.
Working with our local partner, we have been building water and sanitation facilities at the shelters. Taps, water pumps and toilets are raised above likely flood levels, making them 'disaster resilient'. We are also working with thousands of people in communities including teachers and students, helping them plan flood drills; providing them with megaphones and radio kits to make sure that people can make it to the shelters in time. During the recent 'Aila' cyclone, Concern Universal's disaster resilient shelters ensured that people had safe drinking water and toilets. This reduced the incidence of disease; the shelters were well managed and so everyone remained healthy.
Many cyclone shelters are housed within schools, giving school children access to better facilities throughout their day.
One school to have benefited from the disaster-friendly facilities is Hindu Polli Primary School. Typically a student needs 5-6 glasses of water during lesson time, yet most would go without anything to drink for the whole school day.
“At school our throats used to dry up and we didn’t feel comfortable speaking in class,” explains Nafisa, one of the students. “Our eyes would burn and we couldn’t concentrate, often falling asleep during lessons.”
Now dehydration is a thing of the past. Children at Hindu Polli School can drink as much water as they like thanks to the new cyclone-proof water pump.