WaterAid launches Rohingya refugee appeal

Posted by
Carolynne Wheeler
18 September 2017
Bangladesh, Water, Toilets, Hygiene, Girls and women
Thumbnail Md. Mehedi Hasan - Pacific Press / Barcroft Images

The international development charity WaterAid today launched an emergency appeal for vital access to water, toilets and hygiene for Rohingya refugees now sheltering in southern Bangladesh, to help prevent the outbreak of disease.

Since violence began in late August, an estimated 400,000 refugees have fled violence in Myanmar, arriving in Bangladesh with next to nothing. Many are sick or injured.

With hundreds of thousands living in makeshift camps without reliable water sources or good sanitation, threats of outbreaks of water-related diseases like diarrhoea, cholera and typhoid pose a serious risk.

Tim Wainwright, Chief Executive of WaterAid UK, said:

“The Rohingya people now arriving in southern Bangladesh are exhausted, traumatised and hungry. Many are injured. Clean water and toilets, as well as food, shelter and medical care, are all in short supply under the influx of nearly 400,000 refugees in three weeks, with more arriving each day.

“WaterAid is using its 30 years of expertise in Bangladesh to help ensure refugee camps have a reliable water supply, decent toilets, shower facilities for women and girls, and hygiene kits – including soap and menstrual hygiene materials – for health and for dignity.

“In emergency situations where provision of clean water and sanitation is inadequate, the threat of an outbreak of waterborne disease like diarrhoea, cholera or typhoid is all too real. Such a public health crisis will subject an already marginalised population to even more suffering and further strain Bangladesh’s infrastructure, which has already dealt with severe monsoon flooding.”

The crisis comes following torrential monsoon rains which sparked the worst flooding in Bangladesh’s north in more than a decade, affecting 8 million people across 32 districts and destroying thousands of homes, school, hospitals and roads. WaterAid Bangladesh has provided emergency supplies of drinking water and will work in weeks and months ahead to rebuild and rehabilitate wells and latrines contaminated, damaged or destroyed in the flooding.

Even before this crisis hit, 4.8 million people in Bangladesh lived without access to clean water and more than half (53%) were without a decent toilet. Some 2,000 children under five die in Bangladesh each year of diarrhoeal illnesses caused by the lack of safe water, toilets and handwashing with soap.

About the Bangladesh Rohingya refugee appeal:

  • £4 will buy a family a hygiene kit including items like soap, washing powder and sanitary towels, a 20-litre jerrycan for storing water, and a drinking glass
  • £15 will give access to clean drinking water for one family from a deep tube well
  • £25 will provide 25 women and girls with the ability to keep themselves clean in a safe, private shower block
  • £100 will provide access to an emergency toilet for one refugee family

Donate to the Bangladesh emergency appeal >


For more information, please contact:

In London: Carolynne Wheeler, news manager on [email protected] or +44 (0)207 793 4485 or Fiona Callister, global head of media on [email protected] or +44 (0)207 793 5022, or call our after-hours press line on +44 (0)7887 521 552 or email [email protected].

In New York: Emily Haile, senior communications and media manager, on [email protected].

In Dhaka: Faysal Abbas, manager of advocacy and communications, on [email protected] or +88 0170334040.

Notes to Editors:

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 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 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.