On track to safe water

In Bangladesh, a new initiative is transforming the lives of railway passengers – with access to free, safe water.

Kamalapur Railway Station, situated in the capital of Dhaka, is the largest and busiest train station in Bangladesh, with over 40,000 people travelling to and from it each day.

The majority of passengers are people taking a long, hot commute to their jobs. Previously, they had no choice but to stay hydrated with store-bought bottled water – an expensive option for the country’s poorest people, but with so much of Bangladesh’s groundwater unsafe to drink, the only alternative to sometimes deadly illness.

WaterAid Bangladesh spotted the potential to help thousands of people every day by building dedicated safe water points within Kamalapur Railway Station itself. Situated in the ticket hall are now basins and taps, fully accessible to disabled users, where people can drink, wash and fill their bottles for free.

Passengers and staff are delighted by the new facilities, describing them as 'wonderful', 'a spectacular achievement' and 'useful for everyone, particularly the poor'.

The water points are the result of collaboration between WaterAid Bangladesh and the state-run transport agency Bangladesh Railway. Funding provided by mobile phone company Robi allowed WaterAid to build a system that uses precise filtering to make the water safe and fit to drink, while also being sustainable; Kamalapur’s facilities will be able to serve 55,000 users every day.

Kamalapur is not the only station to benefit either; five other stations across the country have rolled out their own public water points under the same project, including those with airport access. Plans are to reach up to 20 stations in total, helping hundreds of thousands of people daily.

However, with Bangladesh Railway serving a total of 440 stations across its network, a big challenge remains to encourage others to invest in passenger health too. With 53.8 million passengers travelling its network each year, the potential to reach so many with safe water should not be ignored.

Read more about WaterAid's work in Bangladesh >