Around 50 million people in Bangladesh currently live in urban areas, and this number is rising fast.

Climate change events like land erosion, flooding and droughts are driving more people to towns and cities every year, putting extra strain on already stretched water and sanitation resources.

16 million people live in the capital city, Dhaka, and a quarter of these live in informal and often illegal settlements. These densely-packed communities have no proper toilets or running water and raw sewage drains directly into rivers.

Nearly half the population in urban areas have no access to improved sanitation facilities, impacting their health, safety, dignity and economic opportunities.

What are we doing to help?

We have worked with service providers in Bangladesh since 2008. In this time we’ve focused on economically and environmentally sustainable measures to increase access to safe and affordable water and sanitation in the poorest urban communities.

588,000 people with improved water services
304,000 people with improved sanitation services
1,120,000 people with improved hygiene practices

SWEEP: a public-private partnership in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Where we work in Bangladesh

Dhaka

Since 2007, we’ve established a good relationship with Dhaka’s city utility and city authority, providing support to local service providers to improve water and sanitation services in low-income communities. We’ve created innovative technologies including a low-cost sewer system combined with collection and treatment of faecal waste, so in the hard-to-reach areas of the city waste can be safely collected and removed for treatment. We’ve also worked with communities to enable them to better maintain water and sanitation facilities and practice good hygiene.

Read more about our work in Dhaka.

Chittagong

We expanded our work into Chittagong in 2014. Since then we’ve provided support to the city utility so that it can establish a low-income customer unit for improved water services, and have demonstrated different ways in which water and shared sanitation services can be delivered to the lowest income areas of the city. We’ve also supported the City Corporation to engage private entrepreneurs to provide a faecal sludge management service.

Read more about our work in Chittagong.

Sanitation block in a low-income community in Chittagong

Rangpur

We launched our programme in Rangpur in 2017. Our work includes engaging key city institutions to improve water and sanitation services in low-income communities. We’ve also been supporting Rangpur City Corporation to safely manage sanitation facilities, in particular faecal sludge management.

Read more about our work in Rangpur.

Barisal

We launched our programme in Barisal in 2017. Our work includes supporting the Barisal City Corporation to create sustainable changes to water and sanitation delivery that will benefit low-income communities.

Read more about our work in Barisal.

School attendance has significantly improved since we started the initiative.

Nelufar_Yasmin
Nelufar Yasmin, Assistant Teacher and Hygiene Coordinator, whose primary school has benefited from our work improving hygiene practices in Bangladesh.

Key activities in Bangladesh

Incentivising private sector investment in waste collection

The faecal sludge management market in Bangladesh is under-developed, resulting in environmental and health issues such as the dumping of untreated waste. To tackle this challenge, and to overcome the issue of high upfront capital costs, we’ve established a public-private partnership called SWEEP. This is a faecal waste collection partnership that has so far benefitted over 200,000 people in cities across Bangladesh.

Read more about how public-private partnerships can improve faecal waste collection. 

Improving hygiene practices in schools and communities

We’ve helped hundreds of thousands of primary school children across Bangladesh to understand the importance of handwashing with soap. We’ve also implemented behaviour change activities in low-income communities in four cities, working with around 300,000 people to improve issues such as menstrual hygiene management and cleanliness of communal sanitation facilities. Our work with schools has led to the creation of a manual about hygiene promotion which has been shared with every primary school in the country.

Read more about our work working with children.

Innovative sanitation solutions for low-income communities

We’ve supported and developed a low-cost sewer system that links latrines to a common septic tank, to serve low-income communities where vacuum tanker access is difficult. This is an innovative sanitation model designed for the local context, taking into account the needs of women, children and people with disabilities. Our work has been replicated by other organisations in Bangladesh, which has led to improvements in the construction of sanitation facilities.

Read more about our approach to citywide sanitation.

Helping utilities improve service delivery for low-income customers

We’ve worked closely with the city utility in Dhaka, helping it create and expand a team focused on increasing water connections in low-income communities. We’ve also provided technical support to city utilities in Dhaka and Chittagong, helping them utilise large-scale investment from international financial institutions to improve services for low-income customers.

Read more about our work to build the capacity of service providers.

Research

WSUP’s Urban Sanitation Research Initiative is being implemented in Bangladesh in partnership with the Centre for Water Supply and Waste Management, and the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh. Supported by UK government aid, the programme aims to generate research that delivers sanitation policy change in Bangladesh, Ghana, and Kenya.

Read more about our research work in Bangladesh.

Urban Sanitation Research Initiative Bangladesh logo

To find out how you can support our work in Bangladesh, please contact us at partnerships@wsup.com or call us on +44 (0)20 7822 1867.