Families in Doria Nagar, Bangladesh, have struggled for years to access safe and affordable water for drinking and washing. Over the last year, a newly-installed water network supported by Community Partners International (CPI) is providing them with safe water at one sixth of the cost of their previous supply.
This small rural community of 1,800 people, perched in the hills south of Cox’s Bazar, lacks an easily accessible source of safe water. For many years, Doria Nagar’s families, many of whom work as day laborers earning just a few dollars per day, depended on a nearby landowner who drilled deep tube wells and extracted water to sell to local community members. But getting to the water source was difficult - a half mile hike down a steep hill and a hard climb back up carrying heavy water containers. In the monsoon season, the hillside turned to mud and climbing back up the hill could be treacherous and exhausting.
Morsheda, a mother of three with a new baby, found this a daily challenge. Her husband, a day laborer, is often away and so Morsheda is responsible for making sure that the family has enough safe water. “Carrying the water home up the hill was a real struggle for me,” she confirms. “I could only collect it only once per day, and I could only afford a limited amount because of the cost.”
Khaleda, who cares for her disabled husband and four children, agrees about the cost.
“Before, we had to pay at least 200-300 taka (US$ 2.5 - 3.5) each month to get the daily water we needed,” she explains. “This was quite a lot for us.”
Following community consultations, Community Partners International and local partner Green Hill agreed to build a water network for the village to provide easy access to safe water at much lower cost. Project engineers drilled a borehole into the water table and set up an electric pump to extract the water. They installed a 3,000 liter reservoir tank to store the water and constructed a pipe network to connect the reservoir to tap stands located around the village close to the users’ homes. The water began flowing in June 2021 and now the network is serving around 35 households each day with safe drinking and washing water. The water is free. Villagers who use the network just have to cover the electricity costs to run the pump.
“Now, we pay around 50 taka per month to cover the electricity for the pump,” confirms Khaleda. “It has made our lives much easier.”
“The cost is definitely lower than before,” agrees Morsheda. “But I think the most useful part is we can get running water all the time. It’s extremely helpful for me as a new mother.”
The reservoir tank is filled twice a day and households collect water in two shifts. Three community members receive a small stipend to oversee cleaning, repairs and maintenance of the network. These volunteers meet with other community members every three months to review progress and identify and resolve network issues.
Based on the success of this project, Community Partners International and Green Hill are planning to build a solar-powered water network in the nearby Kutupalong Refugee Camp to provide safe water to Rohingya refugees.
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