Bangladesh

171.2m

Population

52%

of urban residents living in slums

3%

Urbanisation rate per year

69%

of people without safely managed sanitation

31%

of people without even basic drinking water

Worked there since 2007 | Project locations: Dhaka, Chattogram, Rangpur

According to the World Bank, over half of the residents of Bangladesh’s cities already live in slums. The current urban population of 62 million is expected to double by 2035, in part due to climate-related migration. The country is developing economically, but poverty is still very high.

Life in Bangladesh’s urban slums is tough and unhealthy with most residents living in overcrowded and substandard housing. Toilet facilities in these communities are generally shared pit latrines, dirty and unpleasant, and often lacking in lighting and locks.

Since water and other utility supplies in slums cannot be accessed legally, local entrepreneurs (called ‘mastaan’) often provide water to residents at an exorbitantly high price by illegally tapping water from the local utility authority’s supply. WSUP works in Bangladesh’s largest cities to tackle the problems of both water supply and sanitation. We do so by working with utilities, with low-income communities and by supporting the creation of small businesses able to serve the sanitation needs of the poor.

Our work in Bangladesh

Professional, affordable pit-emptying services

Strengthening water and sanitation utilities

Installing WASH facilities in slums

5849657

Urban residents served
since 2005

782008

People with improved water supply

3800689

People with improved sanitation

1266960

People who have received hygiene education

CASE STUDY

Sharmin Akhter – ready-made garment worker, Chattogram

“My children don’t get sick frequently now. I can perform well at my workplace without being late or absent.”

Lack of safe sanitation and clean water affects people’s lives in many different ways. In Chattogram, Bangladesh, it affected the quality of life and professional performance of garment workers, something that concerned VF Corporation, an important business in the sector. WSUP was brought in to lead the improvements of toilets in low-income neighbourhoods where the workers and their families live, in a project funded by VF Corporation.

“This area lacked good sanitation facilities,” says Sharmin Akhter. Too many people had to form queues, and I had to wait long to get my turn.” As expected, this negatively impacted many aspects of Ms Akhter’s daily life, including her work. “Not being able to use the toilet on time was very distressing. I used to be frequently late for work, and there were days I couldn’t even go to work. It hampered my performance.”

The project aimed to improve the quality of the community’s sanitation facilities, with a special focus on privacy, comfort, and personal safety for women and girls. “The toilets are significantly better than before,” says Ms Akhter. “Men and women have separate chambers. This is very useful for us, women.

The conditions have improved the overall life of their family too, particularly her young children. In a cleaner and healthier environment, daily life became less stressful and dangerous, with tasks and professional obligations fulfilled more easily. “My children don’t get sick frequently now. I can perform well at my workplace without being late or absent.”

Partnerships