WaterAid brings water and toilets to Rohingya refugees

28 September 2017
Bangladesh, Myanmar, Disasters, Water, Human rights, Toilets
Thumbnail Tommy Trenchard A woman carries a jar of water up a muddy slope in Balukhali refugee camp, where thousands of Rohingyas who fled violence in Myanmar are now living.

Urgent action must be taken to bring clean water, toilets and hygiene supplies to the Rohingya refugees, if a cholera outbreak is to be avoided, WaterAid said today.

WaterAid is digging wells, building toilets and giving out hygiene packs in the Kutapalong makeshift extension Rohingya refugee camp.

Since late August, over 400,000 Rohingya people are estimated to have fled violence in Myanmar to seek sanctuary in Bangladesh. At the moment most refugees are living wherever they can find or build shelter, but the Bangladesh government is working with aid agencies to establish an organised camp with water, sanitation and hygiene services, healthcare, education and other crucial services.

The World Health Organisation warned this week of a high risk of cholera outbreaks – a waterborne disease that spreads quickly in unsanitary conditions. Already refugees are suffering from diarrhoeal diseases and typhoid also poses a threat, particularly as many are already sick, injured and exhausted.

WaterAid Bangladesh will be working in the Kutapalong makeshift Camp to provide water, sanitation and hygiene kits to over 70,000 people. This work will include providing 170 water points and building 600 pit latrines as well as handing out hygiene kits that include soap, toothpaste, and women’s sanitary products; and disinfectant.

Dr Md Khairul Islam, Country Director, WaterAid Bangladesh said:

“Many of the refugees are currently living in appalling conditions with no clean water or anywhere to go to the toilet. They have no choice but to take drinking water from nearby lakes or drainage channels.

“There is a real risk of an outbreak of more serious waterborne disease which is why WaterAid is acting fast to provide clean water, decent toilets and help to keep clean to the Rohingya refugees.

“This work will be challenging because the areas in which we will be working are remote, making it more difficult to get drilling equipment and the like to where it is needed. The area is currently experiencing intermittent rain which presents challenges in how to dispose of human excreta safely.

“We will be using the knowledge built up over 30 years of working in Bangladesh to help play our part in providing a clean and safe temporary home for the Rohingya people who have arrived here.”

WaterAid has launched an emergency appeal for its work with the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh. Donate here >


For more information, please contact:

In London: Fiona Callister, global head of media, [email protected] or +44 (0)7785725387

In Dhaka: Faysal Abbas, manager of advocacy and communications, [email protected] – +8801730334040

Or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552 or email [email protected]

Notes to Editors:

Read the World Health Organisation Situation Report >


WaterAid’s vision is of a world where everyone has access to clean water and sanitation. The international organisation works in 35 countries across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific Region to transform lives by improving access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation in some of the world’s poorest communities. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 25 million people with clean water and, since 2004, 24 million people with sanitation. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org, follow @WaterAidUK or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

  • Some 289,000 children die each year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by dirty water and poor sanitation. That’s almost 800 children each day, or one child every two minutes.

  • An estimated 844 million people (around one in ten) are without clean water

  • Nearly 2.3 billion people (around one in three) live without a decent toilet

  • For every £1 invested in water and sanitation, an average of £4 is returned in increased productivity.

  • Just £15 can help provide one person with access to clean water.

  • For details on how individual countries are keeping their promises on water and sanitation, please see our online database, WASHWatch.org.