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Rohingya Crisis: One Toilet for 100 People

Laila is one of thousands of girls who do not have access sanitation services.

Eighteen-year-old Laila arrived in Bangladesh with her uncle’s family, who she has lived with since she was 2 years old.

“We go to the bushes to change our clothes at night,” she said. “In the morning, all the children openly defecate by the tent. The men go to the toilet but we wait until night to go to the loo. I take my cousin, Munaza, with me.”

Fourteen-year-old Rahana left Myanmar with her family in September after their house was set ablaze.

Fourteen-year-old Rahana fled Myanmar with her family in mid-September after their house was set ablaze and they came under fire.

“Here, there is only one latrine and that is down the hill,” she said. “Mostly, it is men who go there, and we can see a long line in the morning. It is the only public toilet and all are unknown faces, so we try to wait until nighttime to relieve ourselves in the jungle.

“If I do need to use that downhill toilet, I have to wear a veil and be accompanied by one of my brothers. It is really hard using the toilet with a veil on, but we have no choice because it is part of our culture. If people see us using the toilet, we feel shy and outsiders laugh at us, so I prefer to wait until it is dark.”

Fatema must travel a long distance in order to reach the nearest toilet.

Eighteen-year-old Fatema has been married for a year and is now three months pregnant.

"There are places available to build toilets, but no one has done so,” she said. “I have to walk a long way to use the toilet at night. During the day, it is really hard because I am all alone and there is no one here to help us. My parents are old and live with my brother in a different camp."

Nurjahan, seven months pregnant, is unable to access a toilet.

Nurjahan, 18, is seven months pregnant. Her husband was killed earlier this year in Myanmar. Fearing for her own life and that of her unborn baby, she fled the country with her father-in-law and other family members, arriving in Bangladesh in September.

“I need to go to the toilet frequently, especially at night,” she said. “As there is no toilet here, I have to find my way up the hill at night to relieve myself.”

Senowara never dreamed that she would be forced to live amid unsanitary conditions.

Senowara’s father died in a road accident in Myanmar. When the violence broke out, she and her mother Jaheda, 35, and sister Zohara, 10, were forced to flee. Senowara never imagined she would find herself living in such difficult circumstances.

“There is no toilet here, so you have to go to the loo in front of people,” she said. “The tube-well doesn’t work; the water is stinky and there is nowhere to get washed.”

Plan International is implementing water, sanitation, and hygiene projects in Bangladesh.

Plan International’s emergency response teams are working together with local partners to implement water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects, targeting the specific needs of girls and young women.

“In Balukhali settlement, we are working to provide toilet and washing facilities to 10,000 households,” said Josna, a WASH facilitator from VERC, a partner organization.

Plan International is working with local communities to ensure that their sanitation needs are being met.

“With the support of the community, we are locating where toilets are most needed, distributing hygiene kits, and conducting hygiene and menstrual hygiene management training sessions,” said Jahanara, another WASH facilitator. “We also show women and girls how to use the hygiene kits and teach them how to keep the toilets clean through interactive participation.”

Plan has built more than 400 toilets and 40 female-friendly bathing spaces to ensure that sanitation needs are being met.

So far, Plan has built more than 400 toilets and 40 female-friendly bathing spaces, as well as 30 community waste bins. Three hundred more toilets are due to be completed in the coming weeks, all of which is welcome news for the Rohingya girls and women living in the camps.

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