Dhaka, Jan 28 (UNB) – The largest human waste treatment plant will be opened at a Rohingya camp in Cox’s Bazar on Tuesday.
Oxfam and UNHCR have jointly installed the industrial-scale plant, funded by the UN Refugee Agency, which can process the waste of 150,000 people– equivalent to the population of Nawabganj.
State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr M Enamur Rahman will inaugurate the site officially on Tuesday, said an Oxfam press release on Monday.
Being able to treat large volumes of faecal waste on site, rather than having to transport it elsewhere, is a big step forward in how to safely and sustainably dispose of such waste in emergencies, the release said.
Last year, over 2 lakh cases of acute diarrhoea were reported in the Rohingya camps as well as respiratory infections and skin diseases like scabies –all related to poor sanitation and hygiene.
Over the last seven months, Oxfam and UNHCR engineers alongside Rohingya have built the massive system which has been specially designed for the steep, hilly terrain and to have the cheapest possible operation and maintenance costs.
A suitable site was provided by the Bangladesh government and the project was delivered in collaboration with the Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner's Office in Cox’s Bazar.
Oxfam water and sanitation engineer Salahuddin Ahmmed said: “Safe sanitation is vital to prevent outbreaks of disease but disposing safely of human waste in the world’s biggest refugee camp is a major challenge. This ecological plant will help keep refugees healthy by treating 40 cubic meters of waste a day – a huge amount. The initial investment is well worth it because the plant is cheap and easy to run and could last for 20 years – benefitting local communities when this emergency is over. We expect to replicate this model in future crises.”
The new, ecological plant, made up of treatment ponds and wetlands, is safe for people and the environment. It has multiple treatment stages to prevent contamination of local water sources and a high-density polyethylene liner and covered anaerobic unit to stop unpleasant odours escaping.
UNHCR’s Representative in Bangladesh, Steve Corliss, said, “The broad objective of dealing with waste management in the camps and in the host communities is to sustain and protect public health by minimizing faecal disease transmission”
Close to a million Rohingya living in Bangladesh still need food, water, shelter and other essential aid to survive. Oxfam and UNHCR are calling for more aid and resources to improve conditions beyond the basics and keep people safe.