Poor families living on chars – river islands particularly prone to flooding – have gained access to safe drinking water in an Islamic Relief project in northwest Bangladesh.

Ayesha Begum, 58, is amongst those to benefit from the project. A widow living in the char village of Paschim Char Amkhaowa, access to drinking water was a daily struggle for Ayesha. Water sources in her village are not functional year-round, and she was unable to afford to install a tube well at home.

Ayesha faced a walk of ten minutes to the nearest tube well, and was forced to bathe in the river: exposing her to water-borne diseases. In Bangladesh, water-related diseases are responsible for 24 per cent of all deaths, with gastroenteritis and diarrheal diseases killing 110,000 children below the age of five, every year.

But when Ayesha took part in a community meeting – held by Islamic Relief Bangladesh as part of our project to improve water and sanitation facilities in the area – she was nominated by local people to have a tube well installed at home.

Safe drinking water at home

The tube well was installed in June, giving Ayesha access to safe drinking water at home for the first time. The well is on a raised platform, helping to prevent contamination when the water levels rise. Now, Ayesha’s neighbours come to her house to collect water.

Ayesha also took part in one of our hygiene awareness sessions, which has enabled her to reduce her vulnerability to potentially dangerous diseases.

The Islamic Relief project installed 20 disaster-resilient water sources, including in local schools – and also improved community health through hygiene awareness sessions.

Islamic Relief has been working in Bangladesh since 1991, delivering development and emergency projects designed to tackle poverty and suffering amongst the country’s most vulnerable communities.