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Bindu Water Treatment Plant: Saving Lives Amid Crises

Posted on 22 Jun, 2022

In general, Gaibandha residents draw water for drinking at a depth of 35 to 50 feet below ground level. This water is tainted with iron and arsenic, both are harmful to human health. Arsenic and iron contamination in Gaibandha’s groundwater is relatively higher in the Gazaria and Kanchipara unions. Furthermore, every year, floods destroy a considerable number of tube wells in this area, resulting in a shortage of pure drinking water.

Considering the above scenario, Strengthening Women’s Ability for Productive New Opportunities (SWAPNO) project of UNDP came forward to establish a cooperative with its beneficiaries and facilitated to start a water enterprise in their community at Gazaria union, Fulchari upazila (sub-district) at Gaibandha district. The cooperative used their savings along with the co-finance and support from local government and SWAPNO project, launched the water enterprise and named it “Bindu Nirapod Pani” (in English- Bindu Safe Water) where they treat water and sell at an affordable price in and around the community. The Plant is situated at the “Ashrayan Project Site” which is home to 200 homeless and climate displaced families. In additional to technical support, UNDP and the Embassy of Sweden in Dhaka financed to install a solar system to operate the entire water treatment plant to reduce the carbon emissions.

The recent flash flood at the northeastern parts of Bangladesh has stranded hundreds of thousands of people. The river basin areas of Sundarganj, Sadar, Fulchari, and Saghata Upazilas were swamped as the Brahmaputra River level rose. Around 1800 households of Gazaria union have been marooned, 450 tube wells have been destroyed. All of this resulted in a severe scarcity of safe drinking water.

To minimize the crisis, SWAPNO project and the women cooperative initiated supplying of safe drinking water from its Bindu Water Treatment Plant to the surrounding communities affected by flood. The cooperative has hired a boat to transport water in jars and also using a battery driven van to distribute water in mainland. People can get a jar of 20 liters safe drinking water at BDT 5 (approximately 0.6 SEK) only, which supports them in addressing the water crisis induced by the current flood. Approximately 200 households have benefited from this initiative. SWAPNO beneficiaries also have planned to extend their support to other unions in association with the local administration. SWAPNO’s “Water Treatment Plant” initiative proved to be a sustainable source of mitigating drinking water problem during emergencies. For both the cooperative members and the local communities, this has resulted in a mutual beneficial situation as it promotes women empowerment and saving the lives of the poor as well.