No legal water connection to sweeper colony
Children face malnutrition for poor sanitation at GanaktuliSajia Afrin
There is no legal supply water for the Sweeper Colony at Ganaktuli, home to people who are engaged in cleaning the city, causing poor sanitation and malnutrition especially in children.
The people living in the six four-storey buildings in the colony run by the Dhaka South City Corporation told New Age that they were buying water from a nearby pump house through an illegal outlet by paying Tk 300 a month to linesmen concerned.
The city corporation’s chief engineer Zahangir Alam told New Age on Friday that the city corporation had asked the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority for the water supply to the colony on several occasions, but the authority paid no heed to the requests.
‘Perhaps they think that why these poor would get water supply,’ he said.
The Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority managing director, Tasqem Khan, said, ‘The colonies in the city are run by different authorities such as the Public Works Department and usually those authorities get the water supply connection from us.’
He, however, said that the city corporation did not get any pipeline for the supply of water to the colony.
The colony residents said that they were getting water through the illegal channel only once a day.
There are a few washrooms at one end of each floor of the buildings without any water supply line.
The residents collect water trough the illegal channel once a day and store it in their rooms and they have to bring water to the washroom.
‘It hampers hand washing of our children after defecation,’ said a resident Rima Rani.
Another resident, Jolly Rani Kesh, mother of a two-year boy Kanak, said, ‘It is not possible for me to monitor whether my child is washing his hand after toilet, as water is not available at the defecation place which is also far from my room.’
The residents also said that they did not wash the hands with soap even before having food due to lack of water, as it would need more water which was not available to them.
They said that usually they washed the hands with only a little water without any soap before preparing food for their kids.
Health experts said that such a situation exposed the residents to many waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea and pneumonia that usually caused child malnutrition.
‘Hand washing practice is very important along side with the proper breastfeeding and complimentary feeding,’ said Ferdusi Begum, associate professor at Sir Salimullah Medical College and Mitford Hospital.
She said that poor sanitation and poor feeding were the main causes of stunting, wasting and underweight of the children.
A study (Sowa B health study-midline report, November 2009) in 2009 shows that less than 5 per cent of mothers and caregivers wash hands with soap and water before preparing child foods and child feeding.
Mothers in Ganaktuli Sweeper Colony also said that they usually did not keep their babies on absolute breastfeeding for the first six months.
They cannot do so as they have to remain busy, they said adding that they usually fed the babies with boiled rice after a few months of their birth.
According to health experts, the first two years of a baby is the critical window for the promotion of good health, growth and behavioural and cognitive development.
Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation’s ‘ secretary general Soofia Khatoon said that only breastfeeding could reduce 13 per cent and proper complimentary feeding can reduce 6 per cent child death.
SM Mustafizur Rahman, programme manager of National Nutrition Services of Institute of Public Health and Nutrition, said that sanitation and hygiene was the ignorant part of people in the country.
The natural growth of a child would be affected if the child suffers from diseases, he said.
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