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The Economist Intelligence Unit ranked Dhaka as one of the most unlivable cities in 2015, and with its congested, littered and dirt ridden streets, this is of no surprise. Many of us frown at the debris on Dhaka’s roads as they meet our fleeting glances during our daily commutes, but our grimace fades as we soon revert to burying ourselves in our cell phones. The more persistent ones among us would spend some more minutes blaming the government, City Corporation and those who litter, for the unclean roads. But few of us actually do anything to make it right.
The Dhaka Hub of Global Shapers believes the status quo needs to change, and for that what’s needed is behavioral change, as many educated people also don’t think twice before throwing trash on the streets. With the aim of creating a culture of cleanliness and instilling a non-littering mindset, the Hub launched an initiative on February 6th to clean up a small stretch of Banani. The shapers procured basic cleaning equipments including masks, brooms and trash bags, assembled a team of volunteers and got down to business. In two hours they cleaned the entire road.
The Shapers also talked to numerous passers by and people at tea stalls about discarding waste such as cigarette butts and food wrappers on the streets. It was found that while some people do not want to litter, ones waste bins fill up they don’t have an alternative. Moreover, the complimentary nature of certain products (such as throwing a cigarette butt and popping a gum) makes street littering more likely.
No matter how much cleaning the city corporation does, unless people stop littering, the streets will not stay clean. And this initiative of the Dhaka Shapers is a small step towards a long journey of attaining behavioral change. To ensure sustainability, the effort would be replicated in different parts of the city at different times, ensuring active participation of community members, especially youth. By doing so the Dhaka Hub aims to foster a mindset of keeping the city clean among Dhaka’s residents.