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Khulna is the third-largest city in Bangladesh, and with a rapidly-growing population of more than 1.5 million, the amount of urban waste has become a problem for the city's inefficient waste management system. To help cut down on the problem, people without other options have elected to work as "waste pickers", sifting through the rubbish heaps and collecting items such as batteries, bottles, cans, paper, and other items which can be recycled for a very small profit (waste pickers typically make about US$ 40 - 60 per month). They often work with just their bare hands and bare feet in these unsanitary conditions, which leads to health problems including infections, cuts, rashes, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, and other chronic health issues. The low pay from this work keeps the workers from being able to afford treatment, so when they become ill they face the difficult choice of either working through what could be a serious condition and risk making it worse, or abstaining from work and forfeiting much-needed earnings for a family that is already struggling to survive.
BEDS, along with the Japan Environmental Education Forum (JEEF), recognize that these waste pickers are performing a vital service for the city of Khulna's waste problem. This program will protect 40 waste picker families from their unsanitary work environment by providing the durable safety equipment they cannot afford to procure for themselves. This will include heavy-duty gloves, long boots, rain coats, aprons, masks, and hats, as well as tools to aid them in their work, such as spades, hoes, and first-aid kits. In addition to providing these materials, BEDS has also created an educational curriculum on health and sanitation that will be conducted 8 times for the waste picker families. The problems created by these working conditions are entirely preventable with the proper equipment, and after completing the program, BEDS will monitor the waste pickers to assess the impact of both the safety equipment and educational programs.