The deadly threat to Dhaka's children
In the overcrowded slums of Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, the lack of safe drinking water is a deadly threat to young children.
Momena, a young mother profiled in the film below, produced as part of the the ABC News' Be the Change - Save a Life initiative, is a powerful testament to this.
Momena has lost three of her children, two boys and a girl, to waterborne illness caused by unsafe water. Her one remaining
child, two year old Akash, is far from safe. He survived a recent
bout of diarrhea only after being given oral rehydration solution (ORS) -
a simple but lifesaving mix of water, salt, sugar - by the
International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh.
While advances in ORS therapy can be credited with saving literally thousands of young lives, the best way of keeping the city's children safe in the first place is to improve access to clean drinking water and sanitation and to promote good hygiene practices.
WaterAid works in partnership with local organizations throughout the city of Dhaka to do just that.
Due to the sheer density of population in this huge city, the water and sanitation solutions that WaterAid commonly uses elsewhere - digging wells and pit latrines - would not be appropriate due to the risk of groundwater contamination and the lack of space to build household latrines.
Instead, WaterAid and local partner organizations negotiate with the city water authority to establish communal water points fed by the municipal water supply, and build communal latrine pits that empty into septic tanks. Good hygiene practices, such as regular handwashing and the safe storage of food, are promoted at community meetings and in schools.
The film ends with Momena expressing her hope that one day Akash can attend school. That simple wish is contingent on him not succumbing to diarrhea, as his siblings did. Thanks to the medical help Momena's family is now receiving, Akash's chances are greatly improved. Where there is also access to safe water and sanitation, the future for Dhaka's youngest residents is yet brighter.