Sanitation Innovations in Urban Bangladesh

Video | 27 May 2014

On-site sewage treatment and sludge management systems are helping Bangladesh bring sustainable sanitation solutions to the crowded slums of Dhaka.


Title: Sanitation Innovations in Urban Bangladesh

Description: On-site sewage treatment and sludge management systems are helping Bangladesh bring sustainable sanitation solutions to the crowded slums of Dhaka.

VO: Bangladesh is on track to achieve the Millenium Development Goal for access to clean water and clean sanitation. In 2003, the government launched a successful campaign to achieve 100% sanitation coverage. Today, only 4% or 5% of the population still defecates in open places compared to 42% when the campaign began.

Dhaka’s largest slum is called Korail, covering 36 hectares in the city core with a population of 100,000 people. An NGO known as DSK has been working in Korail since 2004. One of the biggest problem was lack of access to safe water.

For years community organizations pressured the water utility Dhaka WASA to supply water to the slum. But Dhaka WASA refused because residents are illegal squatters. Then finally last year a breakthrough, with financial support from the Asian Development Bank,  Dhaka WASA constructed a water pipeline into the slum to provide safe water for thousands of residents.

SOT: Moshammat Setara Begum
Korail Resident
We had to drink dirty water before. We got sick from cholera, diarrhea, skin disease, jaundice and dysentery. Many of our children and elderly got sick and some died. Now that we can drink clean and safe water, we don’t get sick like before. And our children are safe and free from many diseases.

VO: A new water supply also made possible a big improvement in sanitation and hygiene. There are now 160 blocks of sanitary latrines with septic tanks. An underground drainage pipeline was also constructed to keep the main lanes dry.

Now NGOs are piloting larger scale solutions to improve environmental sanitation in poor communities. This DSK on-site sewage system is treating waste water from 252 household toilets in near poor Bowniabad slum. Serving the neighborhood of more than 1,000 people the project covered the capital costs of construction of the sewage system, operation and maintenance are looked after by the beneficiaries.

SOT: Maksuda Begum
Mirpur Bowniabad Resident
DSK trained us how to maintain the system, and after how many days it has to be cleaned. We all contributed to a fund in the bank, which we are using to take care of it.

VO: Sludge management is another big sanitation challenge and public health issue. The government has started to address this problem in the recent Secondary Town Water and Sanitation Project. The project is supported by ADB and implemented by local government bodies. A pilot initiatives in 10 towns include sludge removal equipment and services, and construction of a sealed drying bed for the safe disposal of sludge.

SOT: Robin Raihan Ahmed
Project Director
When the septic tanks are full, the people are throwing and dumping sludge here and there. Thus, polluting the environment and creating nuisance to the people. But in this project we have constructed sludge removal location and specific place for dumping. My feeling is that this was what the management feels as very important and the time has come to give importance and concentration on this issue.