Water Security in Mega-Cities: Dhaka, Bangladesh

Project summary

Bangladesh has been very successful over the past decade in eradicating open-air defaecation throughout the country to just one per cent of its 166 million population. However, the quality of sanitation coverage is an emerging area of concern, with more than 40 per cent of all latrines classified as “unimproved” (World Bank, 2016). Drinking water access is widespread, but half of the drinking water fails to meet water safety standards. In urban areas of Bangladesh, piped water supply only reaches part of the population, and there is no systematic sewer disposal and treatment system. For example, Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital city, has a sewer system, but it serves just 18 per cent of the city. 

Safe and reliable water supply and sanitation are essential for healthy communities, sustainable livelihoods, and human dignity. Lack thereof damages individuals, society and the economy. This project aims to assess perceptions and viewpoints of the current water and sanitation situation in Dhaka from policymakers and other stakeholders, industry, and residents, and identify ways forward to improve current conditions.

Water Institute investigators

Roy Brouwer, Susan Elliott, Derek Armitage, Jennifer Liu

The project is funded by Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor (WSUP) under the Urban Sanitation Research Initiative 

Technical report

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Policy Brief

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Workshop photo

Investigation into perceptions of urban water pollution management led by the Water Institute presented at Dhaka, Bangladesh workshop

Project Publications

Lindamood, D., Armitage, D., Sharmin, D.F., Brouwer, R., Elliott, S.J., Liu, J.A., Khan, M. (2021). Assessing the capacity for adaptation and collaboration in the context of freshwater pollution management in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Environmental Science and Policy, 120: 99-107. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envsci.2021.02.015

Liu, J., Brouwer, R., Sharmin, D.F., Elliott, S., Govia, L. and Lindamood, D. (2022). Industry Perspectives on Water Pollution Management in a Fast Developing Megacity: Evidence from Dhaka, Bangladesh. Sustainability, 14(24), 16389. https://doi.org/10.3390/su142416389

Brouwer, R., Sharmin, D.F., Elliott, S., Liu, J. and Khan, MR. (2023). Costs and benefits of improving water and sanitation in slums and non-slum neighborhoods in Dhaka, a fast-growing mega-city. Ecological Economics, 207, 107763. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2023.107763