The multi-sectoral civic platform Healthy Bangladesh and research activist centre Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) are partnering with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to nearly 3,000 municipal cleaners in 16 municipalities and one city corporation of Bangladesh.
The move is part of The Clean Cities initiative of Healthy Bangladesh, which was launched on 25 June at Moulvibazar pourashava, according to a PPRC press release issued on Sunday.
The PPE distribution also took place in the Noakhali and Patuakhali municipalities today.
Convener of Healthy Bangladesh Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman inaugurated the programme at a virtual session while Sudipto Mukerjee, UNDP resident representative in Bangladesh, attended the event as a special guest.
Mayors, councillors and city level stakeholders of both the municipalities attended the PPE distribution programme from their respective towns. The organisers thanked UNDP for partnering on this important initiative.
Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman urged the mayors and their municipal cleaners to lead the efforts towards achieving a hygienic Bangladesh by ensuring the cleanliness of their respective towns.
"Covid-19 has thrust hygiene at the forefront of the health agenda. Municipal cleaners are an under-recognised frontline workforce in this essential public response. Keeping our cities clean is key to ensuring a hygienic Bangladesh," Dr Rahman said at the event, read the press release.
Sudipto Mukerjee, the UNDP resident representative said, "While the novel coronavirus pandemic has affected life for nearly everyone, frontline workers – including the municipal cleaners – are fearlessly working to protect us and provide us with essential services."
"Historically, despite the immense importance of municipal waste removal and safe disposal, our sanitation workers across South Asia were both professionally and socially looked down upon. Although long overdue, let us seize this momentous opportunity to completely change our values and ways of thinking, so that from this point onwards, we become far more respectful of these social care givers," he continued.
As an extremely modest beginning, UNDP – in close partnership with the Government of Bangladesh, city corporations, municipalities, other development partners, and citizen groups – is providing PPE and other necessary items to ensure the sanitation workers' occupational safety, added Sudipto, according to the press release.
The mayors of the Noakhali and Patuakhali municipalities reiterated their commitment to this goal and praised the support of Healthy Bangladesh, PPRC and UNDP.
They expressed the hope of further developing this partnership.
The PPE-providing initiative is being implemented in: Pabna, Bogura, Chapainawabganj, Dhamrai, Jhenaidah, Khagrachari, Kushtia, Manikganj, Mongla Port, Moulvibazar, Nilphamari, Noakhali, Patuakhali, Panchagarh, Shariatpur, Satkhira, and the Sylhet city corporation.
The mayors – Mohiuddin Ahmed of Patuakhali municipality, Shahid Ullah Khan Sohel of Noakhali municipality; AF Hasan Arif, former attorney general; A M M Nasir Uddin, former health secretary; and Ashekur Rahman, head of Poverty and Urbanisation, UNDP Bangladesh were also present at the virtual meeting.