No more begging for water
Many slums in Bangladesh have little or no access to a safe water supply.
Credit: Brent Stirton
WaterAid in collaboration with its local partner organization DSK has improved the lives of poor slum dwellers such as Amena for whom access to clean water was a daily struggle.
Amena, who has lived in the Baganbari slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh for 20 years, used to face a daily struggle to collect water – often having to pay inflated prices to unscrupulous vendors or even begging for water. But now life has changed as WaterAid and DSK have helped bring safe, clean water to Amena and her neighbors.
Amena no longer spends hours each day collecting dirty water
nor does she have to suffer the humiliation of begging for water.
Life is tough in Baganbari and to support her three youngest children Amena works as a day laborer whenever she can, earning around 30 to 40 taka (approximately 90 cents) per day.
She usually works for eight months of the year, but this only brings in an annual income of Tk 10,800 and Amena needs Tk 12,000 a year to survive. Amena is a widow and as her eldest son was unable to help her, she has had to borrow the shortfall.
A major problem for Amena was finding water at an affordable price. Water vendors in the slum had made illegal connections to the city's main water supply and were selling it to the residents at an inflated cost. The vendors charged an initial non-refundable security deposit of Tk 200 plus a monthly tariff of Tk 100. This price was prohibitive for for poor people like Amena.
Often her only alternative was to beg for water from householders in Ibrahimpur, a kilometer away, but here her task was made more difficult by the insults thrown at her from the locals.
Occasionally, she collected water from the Battalion Police Mosque, despite being vilified regularly. However, most of the time, the mosque gates were locked.
When all else failed Amena collected her family's water from local ditches.
Despite spending two to three hours collecting water every day, the two or three pitchers she collected would only be enough for her drinking and cooking needs, and she was unable to bathe regularly.
Now, life for Amena has changed. She no longer needs to beg for water door to door, nor collect unsafe water to drink.
WaterAid's partner, DSK, has worked with the community to set up a new water point in the slum so that they can easily collect water. It is managed by the community, who together with DSK, have calculated tariffs that will bring in enough to pay for attendants to keep the water point clean and well maintained.
The tariff is only charged to those who can afford it. Because of her low income, the Community Management Committee has waived the Tk 10 per month charge for Amena and told her that she can collect as much water as she needs to from the water point, explaining that the water point belongs to her as much as to anyone else.
Amena's life has been transformed. She no longer spends hours each day collecting dirty water nor does she have to suffer the humiliation of begging for water. She now does all her household chores using safe water and is able to shower regularly.
And, because the water point is so close she saves hours each day collecting water, time which she can use for other more productive activities instead.
Now that Amena has a safe water supply, she no longer has to beg for her water.
Read about WaterAid and DSK’s groundbreaking agreement with the Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority to grant legal water access to slum dwellers.
Read the full story on our WaterAid Bangladesh website
WaterAid's work in Bangladesh, through partner organization DSK, was highlighted in a recent British newspaper article.
The article, titled Slums top water agenda, was published in the Metro newspaper, ahead of World Water Day, March 22, 2008.
Download the article Slums top water agenda (PDF 832.27KB)