161 million

Bangladesh has an abundance of water, with around 24,000 km of rivers flowing through its fertile land. But providing water safe enough for everyone to drink is a complex national problem.

Floods, cyclones, earthquakes and droughts are all common in Bangladesh, causing devastating upheaval to people's lives. Developing clean water, toilet and hygiene services that can reach everyone is extremely difficult and climate change is only making that harder.

Despite these challenges, the country is making impressive progress. We are working with Bangladesh’s government as it rolls out ambitious national plans. A rainwater harvester on the roof of every building. Free public water points in major transport hubs. A primetime children’s TV show, Jol Danga, to raise awareness of good hygiene. All simple but life-changing innovations.

Challenges remain. In the north, arsenic from the mountains seeps into groundwater, poisoning anyone who drinks it. In the south, seawater from the coast does the same, making water taste foul and ruining crops. Sewerage also poses huge problems – only 2% of human waste in cities reaches a treatment plant.

Together, we can tackle these problems and make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene a normal part of daily life for everyone in Bangladesh. We have the commitment, experience, resourcefulness and connections to change millions more lives – starting with those who are hardest to reach.

We will put water and toilet facilities in schools and public places, improving hygiene nationwide. And we will work with communities at risk of natural disasters to build services that last, whatever happens.

people don't have access to clean water.

Over half of the population don't have a decent toilet.

That's 85 million people in total.

children under 5 die a year from diarrhoea.

Caused by dirty water and poor toilets.

Rights for tea-pickers

Image: WaterAid/Abir Abdullah
I used to miss days at work because of illness, so I wasn't paid. Our children were often sick, and sometimes I had to look after them rather than work. These pumps and latrines have made such a difference for us.
Bina Patrou, 45 – Gulni Tea Estate

In a ground-breaking initiative, we are working together with local organisation IDEA to bring clean water and decent toilets to tea-picking communities.

Tea pickers are among the poorest people in Bangladesh, working for about 70p a day. Plantation owners are legally responsible for their workers' health and education, but facilities are often poor. People rely on hand-dug wells and streams for drinking water, and have no choice but to go to the toilet in the open.

“The garden authorities didn’t want to let IDEA or WaterAid in,” says Mrittunjoy Karmi, elected head of the tea-pickers’ council in the Gulni Tea Estate near Sylhet. “They didn’t want us to be educated.”

We are showing tea garden owners and managers that improved water, toilets and hygiene keep workers healthier. So far, thanks to our supporters and partners, 45,000 people across 21 gardens are benefitting from clean water and decent toilets. With 164 tea gardens in the region, we intend to reach everyone working in them.