The biogas plants consist of a biogas reactor, a hydraulic chamber and a slurry pit.
Photo: Patrick Rohr


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Biogas sanitation and cooking facilities proved largely appropriate to respond to the needs of the Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. Operationalising a full-chain sanitation service would contribute to transition towards longer-term solutions. Our authors determine the challenges arising in a crisis lasting longer than expected.

In late August 2017, 730,000 Rohingya refugees fled from the mass atrocity crimes including arson, mass killings and gang rapes in Rakhine state, Myanmar, which the UN and human rights organisations classified as an ethnic cleansing campaign. The rapid influx to the neighbouring Cox’s Bazar district in Bangladesh put an overwhelming pressure on natural resources and basic services. The government of Bangladesh appointed largely hilly sites, prone to flooding and erosion, for temporary settlements with only a two to three-month action plan in mind, hoping that the population would return.

With clear instructions to install only temporary constructions, humanitarian actors were requested to answer the needs of the population in the most effective way, prioritising life-saving needs. The official WASH sector strategy for Rohingya influx urgently requested actors “to provide kitchen, handwashing and sanitation facilities for clusters of families living in makeshift houses to establish normalcy and create safe communal spaces” (see Box).

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