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“Since Cyclone Aila, many people still haven’t returned to their normal lives,” says Imrul Kayes Muniruzzaman, Director of Fundraising and Organisational Learning at WaterAid Bangladesh.

When the cyclone hit Khulna in southwest Bangladesh in 2009, the impact was devastating. Many of the community’s safe water sources were destroyed and six years on, some still haven’t been rebuilt.

Women walk to collect water in Khulna, Bangladesh.
Women walk to collect water in Khulna, Bangladesh.

The impact of the disaster has been compounded by the fact water is scarce in Khulna, and frequent seaweater flooding can make the scant supplies unsafe to drink – forcing people to travel long distances to collect clean water.

“People walk around two to three kilometres and this burden mainly falls to women and children,” Imrul explains. “Lack of clean water is one of the major challenges people are facing.”

Finding solutions with the community

With the support of the HSBC Water Programme, we’ve been working with the community in Khulna to find sustainable solutions to accessing clean, safe water.

Together, we’ve been installing sand filters, which use a hand-operated tube to pump water from local ponds, with the treated water distributed through taps.

The technology is not only effective for coastal areas affected by seawater flooding, it also provides a long-term solution to the problems the community have been facing.

“The project has a participatory approach,” says Imrul. “We’ve worked with the local government from the beginning to ensure sustainability, and found solutions together with the community."

The chance to earn an income

In total, our work in Khulna aims to reach more than 30,000 people with safe water, 60,000 people with toilets and 85,000 people with hygiene education, including through local schools.

Women collect water from a supply point in Khulna, Bangladesh.
The project will allow women to spend less time collecting water and give them the chance to earn an income.

The project will also benefit 5,000 women living in extremely marginalised areas, reducing the amount of time they have to spend collecting water and giving them the chance to earn an income and spend more time with their families.

Read more about our work in Bangladesh >