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Emergency Sanitation for Refugees : Experiences in the Bangladesh Refugee Relief Camps, India, 1971-1972
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In the spring of 1971 some 8 million refugees crossed from Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, into West Bengal and the other border States of north-east India. In addition to the valiant efforts made by the Indian Government to cater to the basic needs of these unfortunate people, many private voluntary agencies became involved in the relief work. Much valuable experience was obtained as a result of these operations (Cuny, 1971), but if there is one area in which relief organizations failed in catering to need, it was in the provision of adequate emergency sanitation (Taylor 1972). In some camps, especially during the monsoon season, the conditions had to be seen to be believed. Those who saw the camps will have no difficulty in recalling the sight of refugees wading knee high in a putrid slurry of mud and excrement, hardly able to devour their meagre rations before they were consumed by a population of flies. The appalling sanitary conditions in many of the camps had been a source of concern to many observers over many months. But it is probably fair to say that no one and no organization came up with a solution which could be applied in a general way. As a matter of historical record, this paper outlines some of the efforts which were made in an attempt to solve some of those appalling sanitary problems. On the basis of the experiences described, the paper concludes by setting out the requirements which have to be met by any emergency sanitation system for use in refugee camps, wherever they are needed.
DescriptionArticle published in Disasters, Vol. 3, no. 4, pages 435-442, that contains pictures and diagrams that describe building a latrine. Sanitation. (202)
The digital Cuny Archive was made available in part through funding assistance from USAID.
Taylor, Alan J. (1979). Emergency Sanitation for Refugees : Experiences in the Bangladesh Refugee Relief Camps, India, 1971-1972. Pergamon Press Ltd.. Available electronically from