United Nations Development Programme has taken a holistic approach to humanitarian work throughout its projects in Bangladesh. Since the arrival of Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, UNDP has provided multifaceted support to host communities and to those living in camps, with an emphasis on reaching persons with disabilities, children, and other vulnerable groups within the communities.
With financial support from the Government of Japan, UNDP’s Disaster Risk Management project in Cox’s Bazar has installed disability-inclusive handwashing stations at 45 schools, which are also used as cyclone shelters. The plan was implemented upon discussion with local administration, and UNDP supplied soap bars to school management committees for three months.
UNDP’s DRM project in Cox’s Bazar has been working for Rohingya and host communities since 2018, with a focus on tackling weather events and natural hazards. With the unprecedented crisis of the pandemic, the project adapted to the needs of its beneficiaries and brought necessary changes to project activities, and with the imminent reopening of educational institutions, the project has shifted its attention to minimising the risk of Covid-19 spreading through schools.
This disability-inclusive handwashing station was designed by UNDP in collaboration with the Age and Disability Working Group (ADWG). In each handwashing station, one out of five sinks or units is set at a lower height to ensure accessibility to children and people with disabilities. Students with physical disabilities especially wheelchair users often face difficulty in accessing clean water for personal hygiene, which increases their risk of Covid-19 infection.
UNDP handed over the handwashing stations to the school management committee and provided them instructions for proper maintenance. Education amid a pandemic presents unique challenges, and UNDP is adapting to the times through solutions big and small -- from policy consultations to establishing handwashing facilities for those that are often left behind.