Sustainable health for the poor is Dr. Dibalok Singha’s mission. As director of Dushtha Shasthya Kendra Bangladesh (DSK Bangladesh), he focuses on providing piped drinking water to people living in slums, such as those in Dhaka. The organization focuses on health solutions, but it is also very aware that the first step to preventing disease is to make access to clean water simple and affordable. “Access of poor households to safe water and sanitation services immensely influences the quality of their lives and decreases their cost of living,” Singha says.
Singha is now leading a project dealing with wastewater treatment that addresses this key issue. In 1992, DSK formulated an alternate model of legally providing water to urban slum communities. The model revolutionized water and sanitation issues, because it encourages local input for planning, designing, and writing usage rules for water and latrine services. “Participation, accountability, and transparency are fundamental in achieving success in this sector,” he says.
These programs have a lasting impact on urban areas, and Singha says he wants to help what he sees as the most vulnerable populations: women and children. But those he wants to help have been the biggest inspiration to his work. “The strength and willingness, especially of women living in disadvantaged communities, to transform our societies” makes all the difference he says.
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