Bashona's story Dhaka City, Bangladesh

When WaterAid began work in Bashona’s community, she was a housewife who spent much of her day collecting water for her family.

Bashona has lived in the slums of Dhaka City, Bangladesh all her life. Often there is no access to clean water so instead the community has to survive on water from a small open tube-well which they have to maintain themselves.

Additionally, the slums have very few toilets, leaving people no choice but to go to the toilet out in the open, creating unpleasant living conditions and increasing the spread of disease.
Bashona recently became the secretary of a 15-person committee that advises WaterAid’s local partners on the water and sanitation needs of the Kalshi Takar Baa slum community. She spends her time meeting with people who live in the slum to discuss problems they are having. She then reports these complaints back to the committee.

As a result, the committee determined that building toilets was their highest priority, followed closely by the need for a clean water supply closer to the slums.

In the last 12 months, 60 toilets have been built throughout the slum. Bashona tells us that there is no longer a bad smell and she is much happier living here. She is proud of her home because she doesn’t feel like she is living among sewage.

There are many other benefits too. Before, her children often missed up to 20 days of school a month because they were sick with diarrhoea. Now they attend school regularly. Her husband is no longer taking days off work from illness, so they don’t have to worry so much about the loss of a day’s wages.

Bashona told us "After joining the committee I am a leader and in the whole of Dhaka City, all the people know there is a woman, Bashona, she’s a leader.

"She can talk to any of the leaders, any of the organisations, any authority of the government and any of the committees. She can talk and she can raise her voice."