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Responding to safe water requirements of Rohingya refugees

Water and sanitation
© UNICEF Bangladesh/2017/Khalid
Kausari Bibi (11) assists her family in collecting water.

By Iftikhar Ahmed Chowdhury

Cox’s Bazar, 30 September 2017: Water is a major issue among the Rohingya refugees and the desperation for safe water is clearly visible when equal or more people line up before parked water delivery trucks than they do in front of the relief-carrying lorries.

Rahima Khatun (30) collects water two times daily from the water supplied through the Department of Public Health and Engineering (DPHE) trucks, supported by UNICEF. “Two pitcher-full water collected twice daily meets the requirement of my 10-member family. We have not encountered any water-borne disease so far by drinking this water. I really cannot imagine what we will do without it,” said this Rohingya woman who came to Bangladesh on September 7 with her family.

“We try to collect as much water as possible for drinking, bathing and other household chores. Without safe water, how can we survive,” asked Kausari Bibi (11), who also assists her family in collecting water. 

Taking into consideration such desperation, UNICEF along with its partners in the WASH sector, are doing everything possible including installation of deep and shallow tube wells, trucking water, based on the location of Rohingya influx to rigorously step up safe water supply.

Water and Sanitation
© UNICEF Bangladesh/2017/Khalid
Rohingya housewives line up for collecting drinking water.

“We provide more than 60,000 litres of water in Ukhia and Teknaf through six mobile water carrying trucks and 14 surface water treatment plants supported by UNICEF and serve nearly 200,000 people daily with water,” said Md. Nasrullah, Assistant Engineer of DPHE, adding, this capacity will soon be increased to over 100,000 litres per day. 

“The demand for safe water is so intense that despite our best efforts, we had to return more than 200 people empty handed yesterday,” added Momin Ullah, Driver, DPHE water delivery truck.            

Meanwhile, UNICEF is also supporting NGO Forum for Public Health to install 50 deep tube wells, WaterAid Bangladesh to install 27 deep and 75 shallow tube wells, supporting OXFAM to install 10 deep and 120 shallow tube wells in Kutupalang new settlement where most of the new arrivals are residing.

“With UNICEF support, we are working to dig 50 deep tube wells. The average depth of the ground aquifer is 700-800 feet. It, therefore, takes around 6-7 days to sink a deep tube well here,” said Abdus Salam, Supervision Engineer, NGO Forum.

“So far, we have almost completed digging three deep tube wells. But as soon we are done with installation of 50 deep tube wells, we will be able to support the water needs of more than 20,000 people in this new settlement,” he explained, adding, water crisis is very acute in the new settlement with the number of refugees taking shelter soaring each passing day.



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