Reporting back from Bangladesh…

It’s been more than a week since I finished my two week Parliamentary Placement with VSO Bangladesh working with Youth Club members and the Assistance for the Livelihood of the Origins (ALO).  So maybe now I’ve got a bit of distance to reflect on my visit.

I felt an emotional wrench as I boarded the plane in Dhaka that I didn’t expect.  I’d only been in the country for two weeks – only as long as a decent holiday – but the relationships I built in that short time will not just live long in my memory, I hope they will be capable of being built on and developed further.

Through the power of the internet I hope keep in touch with ALO, the Khagrachari based NGO dedicated to improving the lives of local people though their support for local youth club members to develop themselves as future community advocates.  Alongside supporting disadvantaged local communities to speak up for themselves on health, food production and income generation ALO works with other local partners to support investment in village communities.

The brief for my visit to Bangladesh was to produce a report on the provision of water and sanitation in the villages in the Khagrachari Region of the Chittagong Hill Tracts.  The plan is that the report can be used to help promote global education on the problems caused by poor quality water and sanitation and the impact of climate change.  

Before I arrived in Bangladesh ALO had selected four villages for my placement.  I was mentally prepared for none of the villages to have electricity, but I can’t stress how shocking it was to see communities with no safe water supply and poor sanitation facilities.  Health problems were a major issue in all the villages we visited with typhoid, dysentery, cholera, diarrhoea and malaria being commonplace.

The youth club members did a brilliant job in documenting the day to day lives of villagers and working with long term VSO volunteers and staff from ALO to enable me to pull together a report which identifies recommendations for every level of Government in Bangladesh, with NGOs and with actions that youth club members and local communities can take.

The report is currently being finalised and I will blog again to talk more about my experience in Bangladesh in the next few days.