Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Status of Dacope Upazila through Climate Resilient Project

Funded by: RUPANTAR

Background of the study

Bangladesh is one of the most disaster affected, low-lying delta countries in the world and formed by the dense network of the tributaries of the mighty Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna, between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. This deltaic flat land is home to approximately 160 million people and density of 1,033 per km². The country has always suffered various types of geographic and hydro-meteorological disasters, but the situation is worsening due to climate change. According to the Department of Disaster Management of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, the major disaster risks in Bangladesh are floods, cyclones, droughts, tidal surges, tornadoes, earthquakes, river erosion, fire, infrastructure collapse, high arsenic contents of ground water, water logging, water and soil salinity, epidemic, and various forms of pollution. The biophysical and socioeconomic condition of Dacope upazila in Khulna District is extremely vulnerable and almost every year this region is being affected by natural disasters and climatic stress like cyclone, flood, water logging, salinity intrusion, storm surge, river bank erosion etc. Though there are 83 cyclones center the community peoples of this area loss their lives and livelihoods due to cyclones within a regular interval of time.  Salinity intrusion causes fresh water scarcity in Dacope upazila, so the community people largely depended on rain water, GOs, and NGOs supply water schemes for drinking purposes. Maximum people of the area are poor and they don’t have adequate knowledge about climate change issues and its impact on their livelihood. They don‘t know how they can adapt with climate change issues to mitigate climatic risks and how to make their livelihood more secure and resistant to disaster. There is a lack of sufficient disaster preparedness at family and community level.


Climate change and water are closely interlinked as the effects of climate change are first felt through water by salinity, droughts, floods and storms. These disasters destroy water supplies and sanitation system and leaving behind contaminated water and putting the lives of millions of people at risk. Without clean water, people are at risk of diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, jaundice, reproductive health disorder etc. Technology and management can interact with local circumstances such as water availability and demand to determine the vulnerability and adaptive capacity of water and sanitation services.


Nowadays, water scarcity affects 88 developing countries that are home to half of the world’s population (Howard and Gelo, 2002). Surface water is any source of water that is open to the atmosphere and is subject to run off from the land. Hence, it is very likely to contain microorganisms that can cause sickness and in some cases more serious, even fatal, illnesses. In some areas, a substantial portion of the surface drinking water is derived from bank filtration that carries a diverse chemicals’ and pathogens’ load (Tufenkji et al, 2002) and requires purification. On the other hand, groundwater is covered by soils and sediments and is considered to be less vulnerable than surface water. Its abstraction though requires drilling and pumping equipment that is not always available or sustainable especially in developing countries. Due to salinity intrusion in surface and ground water in the study areas, water crisis is one of the major problem for drinking, bathing, domestic and also agricultural purposes. A study conducted by Helvetas Bangladesh explores that most of the people of the study area depends on saline water to meet the demand (Rahaman, 2020).


Besides drinking water, diet, bathing, and occupation (e.g., shrimp farming in Bangladesh) are other routes of exposure to high salinity, which also have potential impacts on health. Considering coastal populations’ health, Government of Bangladesh (GoB) and Caritas Development Institute (CDI) reported a range of health problems, which are linked to increased salinity exposure through drinking, cooking, and bathing. The problems include hypertension and miscarriage among pregnant women, menstrual hygiene problem, skin diseases, acute respiratory infection, and different diarrheal diseases (Brammer 2014; Kristensen 2004; Lewison et al. 2016). Strong evidence of the association between dietary salt intake and high blood pressure was found when epidemiological studies were conducted (Naser et al. 2017; Baten and Titumir 2016). Reducing salt intake from 10–12 g/day to nearly a half will have a major impact on preventing cardiovascular mortality rate mainly by reducing blood pressure as raised blood pressure in developed countries is seen as the prime reason for cardiovascular diseases, which is responsible for 62% of strokes and 49% of coronary heart disease (Baten and Titumir 2016).


Due to salinity, there is a record that, especially in southernmost coasts, the women and adolescents wash their menstrual clothing with saline water (as they don’t have sufficient access to free water as well as do not have sufficient money to purchase sanitary pads or sometimes pads are not available where they live). This repeated saline water washing of menstrual clothing and use of those clothes frequently puts them under the threat of different kinds of hygiene issues. These sometimes lead to skin diseases and other sexual problems (Tanya 2019).


The study reveals that water borne diseases like diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, jaundice are common diseases in the study area which is faced by 77% respondent. The other diseases like asthma, hyper tension, allergy which are suffered by 23% respondents (Rahaman, 2020).


DPHE and other organizations provide alternate water sources as resilient water technologies such as rainwater harvesting system, restoration and conservation of surface water (Pond, Dighi), tube-well.


To overcome this worsening situation, Rupantar works from April 2015 to provide alternate water, sanitation and hygiene services to the salinity affected people of the study area who have lack of sufficient disaster preparedness at family and community level.


The broad objective of the study is to explore present climate change adaptation scenario and identify progress, scope of the project against baseline data of three areas of interventions and also to find out the effectiveness and sustainability of the project in Dacope Upazila in Khulna District. The specific objectives of the study are as below:

o             To identify progress of the project against baseline data

o             To identify the further scope of work in three areas of interventions

o             To find out the effectiveness of the ongoing sustainability project.