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WATERAID: Clean water for a family in Bangladesh

WaterAid/ DRIK/ Habibul Haque
Julia is pumping treated water that is safe for drinking to bring to her family, Bangladesh.

Arsenic and excessive salt from rising sea levels poisoned Julia’s young family with every sip of water they took. The pond near the rural village where Julia, her husband and their two children live in Bangladesh is their primary source of water. But it was contaminated by the poisonous carcinogen arsenic and so high in salinity, the entire family was at risk of hypertension and high blood pressure.

But Julia only had two choices: Either collect the pond water she knew was making her family sick or travel miles from her village to pump drinking water from a distant well, which caused incredible hardship. If she chose to go to the well, Julia had to carry heavy jars that were difficult to lift and caused her long-term physical pain. She also had to walk miles to and from the well, which could take all day, instead of caring for her two young children, Priota and Tuli. Every time she left her children behind, her heart broke. As she carried the empty jars she would fill to quench her family’s thirst, she wished that finding clean water wasn’t so hard. Every family in their village was suffering.

Then, their lives changed forever because of support from WaterAid donors who believe that everyone — no matter where they live — should be able to access clean drinking water. WaterAid has a technical team of engineers who specialize in solving problems like Julia’s. As part of a large-scale initiative to ensure no one goes without clean water, we are working in three of the most water insecure districts in Bangladesh to pilot appropriate technology to meet the specific needs of each community. In Julia’s village, we are using a simple, yet powerful technology called a pond sand filter. The pond sand filter pumps water from the pond and passes it through several chambers containing sand and gravel, which treats the raw water and removes contaminants. The water supplied through a pond sand filter is free of arsenic and salt and suitable for consumption.

This simple change has radically transformed the lives of everyone in Julia’s village. Instead of fearing sickness with every sip, they are confident their water is safe and clean. Instead of spending hours collecting water, they can care for their families and improve their livelihoods. This project is just one example of how donations from WaterAid supporters are being turned into technology that is making transformational change — getting clean water to a thirsty world.

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