Around 60 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.

19 million people live in the capital city, Dhaka, and 40% 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.

643k people with improved water services
2.34m people with improved sanitation services
1.26m people who have received hygiene training
35m additional funds unlocked from other sources

Where we work in Bangladesh

Key activities in Bangladesh

Incentivising private sector investment in waste collection: SWEEP

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 500,000 people in cities across Bangladesh.

Blog: Oct 2017 – Transforming the market for emptying toilets in Bangladesh


School attendance has significantly improved since we started the initiative.

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

Improving hygiene practices in schools and communities: South Asia WASH Results Programme

Between 2014 and early 2018, we helped up to an estimated 4.1 million 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 led to the creation of a manual about hygiene promotion which has been shared with every primary school in the country.

The South Asia WASH Results (SAWR) was a payment-by-results consortium which aimed to improve the lives of millions of people in Bangladesh and Pakistan through water and sanitation. The programme was funded by the Department for International Development.

Blog: October 2018 – Keep your hands clean! Preventing diseases, saving lives

Blog: Oct 2017 – Staying healthy in Bangladesh through improved hygiene practices

Read the School Hygiene Manual in Bangla and English

Innovative sanitation solutions for low-income communities

We’ve developed a low-cost sewer system that links latrines to a common septic tank, to serve low-income communities where there are no city sewers and 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.

Through 15 of these low-cost sewer systems, we have provided nearly 20,000 people with safe sanitation services in Dhaka. Our work has been replicated by other organisations in Bangladesh, which has led to improvements in the construction of sanitation facilities.

Here’s how the system works:

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 Chattagram, helping them utilise large-scale investment from international financial institutions to improve services for low-income customers.

Report: March 2015 – Setting up an LIC unit: DWASA’s approach to serving low-income communities in Dhaka


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 or call us on +44 (0)20 7822 1867.