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Bringing Back the Basics


Water & Life, along with Shobar Jonno Pani Ltd. is creating a good living condition for slum dwellers

With an aim to improve the living conditions of poor slum dwellers through the access to essential services like drinkable water at home, sanitation, solid waste management, hygiene, civil security, Water and Life Bangladesh (W&L) started working in Dhaka in 2010. Currently, the NGO works in the slum of Bhashantek.

Based on a comprehensive approach and social entrepreneurship, Water & Life Bangladesh and Shobar Jonno Pani Ltd. have been working in Bhashantek since 2010. Shobar Jonno Pani Ltd (or SJP) is a social enterprise that acts as a local operator for water management and other essential services. It builds a water network and distributes good quality water in every house where local operators do not want to or cannot to invest.

In parallel, the non-profit organization Water & Life Bangladesh allows incubation of new services (such as access to rehabilitated latrines) and community mobilization through hygiene awareness session, firefighting training and creation of dwellers’ committees. Community engagement in WASH services delivery is vital in ensuring project sustainability. The beneficiaries are involved in a variety of key decision-making processes (e.g. on design, tariff, service, area demarcation). The inhabitants become actors of their own development without being the direct managers of the essential services, which requires the skills of an enterprise and avoids conflicts of interests.

The lives of the slum dwellers have numerous difficulties. According to W&L, the biggest challenge W&L Bangladesh would like to address is the lack of essential and safe services in urban slums such as water, sanitation, drainage, solid waste management, and firefighting. The lack of access to essential services leads to higher water-borne diseases incidence, because of unsafe water storage and consumption of poor quality water. Furthermore, the environmental conditions in the slums (clogged drains, waste thrown in ponds and low quality and unsafe latrines) are aggravating factors leading to an even higher incidence of diseases.

The organization provides access to safe running water in every house after constructing a water network legally connected to Dhaka WASA’s own network. The households have legal and sustainable access to water, available at all times of day and night. They pay a fee to cover their water consumption, which gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility for their individual tap.

W&L also trains brigades of firefighting volunteers into reacting to fire events occurring in the slum. The organization provides equipment and extinguishers to the brigades so as to increase their preparedness to disasters. Hygiene awareness-raising sessions are held for the community members to safely manage their water and increase their knowledge of best hygiene practices preventing water-borne diseases.

Since 2015, the organization has been providing a paid service for door-to-door solid waste collection. One year later, a pilot project for improved latrines access was inaugurated and will now be scaled-up at the whole slum’s level.

– l 7000+ people have sustainable access to safe water at home;
– More than 120 volunteer firefighters are trained and equipped in the slum;
– More than 1,000 people (mostly women and children) attend hygiene awareness-raising sessions every year;
– More than 1,000 people(mostly women and children) attend hygiene awareness-raising sessions every year;
– Almost 3,500 people get their waste collected every day at home;
– 1– beneficiaries have access to a renovated sanitary block of improved latrines in the slum.

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