© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen
Bangladesh

Clean Drinking Water from the Skies Above

© Helvetas / Simon B. Opladen

In the south of Bangladesh, natural disasters, cyclones, spring floods and floods cause soil and groundwater to become saline. Helvetas enables disadvantaged populations to collect rainwater in cisterns and filter basins to store clean drinking water for the dry season. Helvetas also demonstrates ways families can improve their diet.

  • Project Name
    Panii Jibon: Rainwater for Clean Drinking Water and Food Security
  • Project Phase
    2021 to 2023
  • Funding
    Donations, contributions, SDC programme contribution
  • Thematic focus
    Climate & Disaster Resilience

When soil and groundwater become saline

The Ganges Delta, also known as the Green Delta for its high fertility, in southwestern Bangladesh could be a farmer’s paradise, where crops can be grown and harvested several times a year. However, climate change, deforestation of the protective mangroves and massive-scale shrimp farming have upset the balance of nature. Seawater is intruding further and further inland, exacerbating groundwater salinity. Helvetas provides support of the most essential kind for distressed farming families in the Bagerhat district, namely: drinking water and food.

Now that the groundwater has become more saline, rain is the only source of potable drinking water. People used to resort to dirty surface water during the dry season.

Where possible and practicable, we provide support for the construction of communal reservoirs with sand filter pumps. Over the next few years, another 50,000 people will be able to secure their drinking water supply for the dry season. 14,000 people will also receive new latrines.

Farmers are also building large rainwater basins to irrigate their fields and gardens. With this water they can grow and sell more crops, and improve their diet. The fish they raise in the basins are a supplementary boost to their nutrition. In the years to come, 35,000 families should be eating a healthier and a more balanced diet thanks to rainwater basins.

Another important objective of the project is for the authorities and the people to acknowledge affordable access to clean drinking water as a basic right. Helvetas trains communities to request that the government fulfil its duties and ensure that drinking water is available to all. In committees they participate in the planning of water projects and make sure they are properly implemented. Since people are organized into farmers’ groups, local development does not depend solely on individual commitment, but on support from the community.

«The water from the pond isn’t clean and the groundwater has gone salty. That’s why we now collect rainwater to keep our children healthy.»

Protap Mazumder, a tailor and father in Morrelganj, Bangladesh

Climate & Disaster Resilience

Every year, we support over 1,000,000 people in adapting to climate change, reducing the risks of disasters, sustainably managing natural resources, and conserving nature.

How Helvetas Supports People in Bangladesh

Helvetas helps farmers in Bangladesh prepare for climate change and promotes political participation, especially among women.

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