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Bangladesh: UN experts focus on extreme poverty and water and sanitation

2 December 2009
DHAKA / GENEVA -- The UN independent experts on human rights, water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque*, and on human rights and extreme poverty, Magdalena Sepúlveda**, will visit Bangladesh from 3-10 December to collect first hand information about on the relationship between access to safe drinking water, sanitation and poverty.
“In Bangladesh, extreme poverty is interrelated with limited or lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation,” said the experts in a joint statement before starting the country visit at the invitation of the Government. “A better understanding of how they intersect will help us determine how they can be overcome.”
Tackling extreme poverty and improving access to water and sanitation are equally daunting tasks for a country such as Bangladesh, where poor water quality or the consequences of natural disasters are additional obstacles faced by the State authorities.
Various policies can play a crucial role in lifting people out of extreme poverty, for example social protection programmes, including in the areas of water and sanitation. Examining these matters from a human rights perspective, as the experts will do during their week-long visit, should help raise awareness about human rights violations as much as it should highlight good practices.
“Our assessment will be guided by human rights principles such as equality and non discrimination,” explained the experts. “We will pay particular attention to vulnerable groups and explore the root causes of their vulnerabilities”.
“The end of our mission on 10 December coincides with Human Rights Day; we hope this can serve as a symbol that human rights must guide efforts to tackle extreme poverty and to improve access to water and sanitation for all,” stressed the UN experts.
Ms de Albuquerque and Ms Sepúlveda will meet with Government officials, UN agencies and civil society representatives. They will also visit communities in Dhaka and its region, Comilla and Cox's Bazaar. Their findings and recommendations will be presented in their reports to the Human Rights Council in 2010.
A press conference will be held in Dhaka at Hotel Sonargaon, at 2pm on Thursday 10 December 2010.