WaterAid Bangladesh pioneers SafeNow in Rajshahi, Bangladesh

30 November 2023
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On 27 November 2023, a significant milestone was reached as WaterAid inaugurated the SafeNow campaign at Rajshahi Women’s College, in collaboration with the Rajshahi City Corporation and Jaago Foundation. 

The primary goal of this initiative is to develop a set of standard quality parameters to audit and enhance the safety, cleanliness, and hygiene of publicly accessible toilets for women and girls in Rajshahi city. By adopting global standards of toilet ratings defined by the Toilet Board Coalition, the SafeNow model seeks to train and engage a proactive youth auditing workforce, dedicated to ensuring that toilets in the city meet the necessary standards for the wellbeing of its female residents – targeting to reach 50% of the total female population of Rajshahi. SafeNow was conceived as part of the Impact Accelerator competition, jointly organised by WaterAid Australia and Who Gives a Crap.

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The event was graced by the presence of key figures, including Md. Azizur Rahman, Chief Community Development Officer of the Rajshahi City Corporation, and the Principal and Vice Principal of the Rajshahi Women’s College. Enthusiastic volunteers from Jaago Foundation played a pivotal role in spreading awareness about the campaign among students.

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Recognition is a key part for scaling any standard certification and therefore the volunteers mobilised for the campaign briefly discussed about the theme, objectives and value of the standards to students of the college during the campaign. This would work to make citizens aware of the certification and build trust on the SafeNow brand. The reason this college was chosen as the launchpad for the campaign was to build awareness in adolescent girls who will soon graduate and join higher education institutes so that they can later advocate for the validity and messaging escalation for SafeNow. Through the distribution of informative leaflets and campaign souvenirs, the audience was asked three questions about their sanitation challenges and what they think on the standard in order to make the campaign more engaging, build momentum, and incubate causal support from the college community.

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SafeNow marks a crucial step toward creating safer and more sanitary public facilities for women and adolescent girls in Rajshahi city and is intended to become a replicable model for other city authorities in Bangladesh to adopt. By leveraging the expertise of youth auditors and adhering to international standards, the campaign strives to make a lasting impact on the accessibility and quality of toilets, promoting a healthier and more dignified environment for the city's female population. It’s not the end as the plan for the campaign is to further spread the awareness in other institutions like Rajshahi University, RUET, Rajshahi College and among others.