A tale of Shams Bhumiz: the journey of survival

Shams Bhumiz's family

Every morning brings a challenge for the people of Tiprachora tea estate area. The small community starts their day walking a mile to bring clean water as there is no reliable source of clean water near their community. Most families have to make this journey several times a day, wasting time and risking the rugged terrain.

Located in Moulvi Bazar, Sylhet, Bangladesh, Tiprachora is one of the hilly areas of the country where people are suffering from various stomach and waterborne diseases due to the lack of clean water and toilets.

Shams Bhumiz lives with his family in the Tiprachora tea estate area. They made the same long journey as others in their neighbourhood, from the hills to plain land to collect water for drinking and household purpose.

Life on the hills becomes extremely difficult during the rainy season as the heavy rains prevent people from going far, and the paths become slippery and treacherous. As a result, they have to drink rainwater as it becomes the only source of water during heavy rainfall.

Six months ago, Shams Bhumiz’s family fell sick severely after drinking contaminated rainwater because they did not have any proper rainwater catchment system and did not know how to filter the water. Adding to their struggles, diarrhea, typhoid and other waterborne diseases were a common phenomenon as many resorted to open defecation in this economically backward area.

WaterAid and its partner IDEA have now set up a new toilet and piped water system in this hilly area to ensure easier access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation. The end of a lifetime of hardship traveling miles to collect water has transformed the life of Shams Bhumiz and many like him. In this remote corner of Bangladesh where few organisations work, WaterAid and IDEA are bringing context-specific innovations that define the SDG spirit of leaving no one behind.