Dhaka City is expanding day by day, but distribution of water supply is not equal in different areas of Dhaka city. So we often se situations of severe water crisis in different areas of the Mega city. In my research I tried to investigate how water is utilized in Dhaka City and through the research I tried to identify possible ways to overcome the situation.

Water is an essential element that we need everyday. Urban people are particularly dependent on the water supply agency WASA of Bangladesh Government, as it¶s not possible to depend on natural and resource like ponds, spring, rivers, and tube well. I worked on present status of water supply, utilization, problems and possible steps that can be taken to meet the challenge of providing adequate and safe water for a mega city like Dhaka.

As it is already mentioned that Dhaka is a densely populated city, it is very difficult to provide adequate water to all of the residents. We often see situations like people in different areas are taking illegal connections of water. There are other factors like too much misuse, poor monitoring system which are considered to be important contributors in water crisis. WASA, the only government authorized water supplying agency, is not playing its role properly regarding issues such as lick from pipes, miscalculations of bills, etc. Throughout the research I tried to identify how water can be used effectively with the current available supply, different steps to improve the situation.



This section of my research consists with secondary data and information. This part is completely based on Internet reports and information gathered from different journal, books, newspaper. Here I tried to identify different causes and solutions that we can follow.

The first water supply system was introduced in Dhaka by the British in 1888 under the jurisdiction of the district civil surgeon at Chandighat. The Chandnighat plant treating water from the Buriganga River has the capacity of supplying 3.9 crore litres of treated water to supply mainly in the localities under Lalbagh Police Station and Kotwali Police Station. However, after so many years the treatment plant is unable to produce according to its normal capacity. Moreover, the source of water for the plant, the Buriganga River, has become biologically dead because of ongoing water pollution caused by industrial and domestic sources. The conventional treatment plant, which uses only lime and chlorine for treatment, cannot neutralize the existing pollutants in river water, many of which may cause serious health hazards. That is why people get sticky straw-colored water in the areas where water from the Chandnighat is supplied.

The first deep-water pump was installed in Dhaka in 1949. Till the end of 1960s the water supply in Dhaka was almost surface-water system based. Dhaka WASA was formed in 1963, being separated from the Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE), with the aim of giving better service to its city dwellers. It inherited only 33 deep pumps from DPHE. But, to meet the ever increasing demand of the city dwellers of one of the fastest growing megacities in the world, Dhaka WASA without having any long-term vision, kept on installing



deep-water pumps on a crisis by crisis basis. (See appendix 7.1)

The inadequate supply of water by the Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA) has put residents of many areas in the city in a miserable condition. But at the same time a huge quantity of WASA water is going down the drain every day without being of any use. Official sources told that the WASA has recently been facing a shortage of more than 30 crore litres of water daily against the demand in the area under its jurisdiction. On the other hand, the WASA is losing about 50 crore litres of water a day due to the so-called system loss.

Water crisis is acute at present in the old part of the city and in Khilgaon, Rampura, Mirpur, Agargaon, and Azimpur areas. The daily chores of life, including cooking, cleaning and washing, not to mention the bathing of the residents in these areas, are being disrupted because of inadequate water supply. Senjuti Khan, a resident of Niketan, Gulshan, says, "For the last two months residents of our apartment building have been collectively buying water from WASA. The share of water that we get each day is too little to lead normal household activities. After completing our daily chores we have to go to some relatives' house to take a shower.´ Many hotels are coping with their demand by purchasing water from the WASA¶s water vans. People in some areas are also being compelled to buy water to meet their daily needs. The WASA officials said that, out of their 20 water vans, 15 to 16 would operate in the city during the summer to respond to the need of the people.



At present the WASA is losing about 40 per cent of its total production in the name of system loss. Through illegal connections, a huge quantity of water is going down the drain due to leaks in old and dilapidated transmission pipes and street hydrants. More than 50 per cent of the water is lost due to system loss. The remaining water is either stolen or consumed by people. Zahidul Khan, a resident of Mirpur, says, "We get a little water only for 15 to 20 minutes after midnight. But my neighbors, mostly the residents of the apartments store their huge reserves with powerful illegal lift pumps. As a result we don't get water normally. We even spend sleepless nights collecting a little water from the supply line to be used the following day."The leaks in pipes are so much, and nobody has an accurate estimate about how much water is seeping through them.

The severe water crisis over the years has forced some of the residents of the areas like Gulshan, Banani, Baridhara and Dhanmondi to sink deep tubewell on their own. But the lower middle class people and slum dwellers can¶t afford to do that as it costs TK. 1.5 to 2 lakhs. The residents of Dhaka Cantonment and Dhaka University areas do not take water from WASA as they have pumping houses of their own. WASA sources agree that a considerable quantity of WASA water is used for construction and industrial purposes.

According to Hydro geologist Kazi Matin U Ahmed, a professor of Department of Geology of University of Dhaka (April 24, 2009), Dhaka is perhaps the only mega city in the world, which is totally dependent on underground sources for supplying water to the city dwellers. "With the existing system, the natural recharge is not sufficient to meet the demand of excessive rate of abstraction. The rate of natural recharge through rainwater has decreased since the concrete structures are replacing the water bodies. Moreover, the unplanned

urbanization is facing a huge environmental threat. Because of inappropriate disposal of


domestic and industrial wastes, there is every possibility of filling up the underground vacuums with hazardous effluents. This might cause a serious health crisis in the city. Geologists have addressed these issues to the government, however, nothing has been considered", says Professor Matin. (See also Appendix 7.2)

WASA officials also blame the ongoing power cuts as one of the major causes for the decrease in the production of WASA. The Chief Engineer of Dhaka WASA claims, "Because of load shedding we cannot operate 540 deep pumps for an average of three hours a day. As a result, most of the time we supply 20 crore litres less than our capacity."

Corruption in different level of WASA has become a common seen. Government is allocating huge amount of money for different projects but ultimately the money is not used effectively for the corruption, false budgeting of engineering section. Some WASA officials could not work though they want to because very often they face restrictions from Dhaka City Corporation regarding digging the roads for establishing underground pipes. Recently the situation is changing. WASA has established 38 new deep tube wells in different areas of the city. The situation getting improves but again it depends how well the authority can monitor the situation.



Dhaka City is an overpopulated city. It¶s difficult to provide adequate water supply to all of the residence. But overpopulation is not the only cause of water crisis. Though it contributes to a great extend, there are some other factors.

Firstly, Dhaka WASA is the only water supplying agency in Dhaka. This organization is responsible for billing to the consumers. I found that the billing on water is based on the number of connections that goes to a house, not on the basis of unit usage like electricity. This procedure allows residents to use supplied water without any control or check, which ultimately leads to great misuse. In the slum areas of the country residents don¶t even bother for a legal connection, thus they don¶t need to think about payments. Corruption in WASA authority is also stimulating the practices. As there is no other water supplying agencies general people don¶t have enough say on them.

The authority is always so reluctant about repairing the licked pipes, which is a very common seen, that people are bound to give bribes to get the work done. Dhaka WASA management and monitoring policy are also very much dissatisfying.



To conduct the research I have focused in the following areas to from which I gathered information about what is actually causing the problem and by analyzing those areas I tried to end up with some possible solutions. The areas I focused areH H H H H H H H H H

Major causes of deficit Monitoring policy of Dhaka WASA Billing system- Whether its encouraging or discouraging misuse Water supply and sanitation system in slum areas Government monitoring over the different departments of WASA How the system of water supply works The effect of privatizing WASA Why to establish another water supplying agency Corruption in the authority Possible solutions to overcome the problem



To get the proper insight about the misusing behavior of water, I used both primary and secondary sources to collect the data.  Primary Source  Questionnaire Survey 30 questionnaires  Interview  Secondary Source  Online  Newspaper According to our course instructor¶s guideline, I surveyed 30 people who are mainly households. I did not include service holders because they don¶t have any idea about the daily necessity of water for household tasks.

I took interview of Mr. Nurul Huda, commercial manager of Dhaka WASA. It helped me a lot to identify WASA role and limitation on the crisis.

To get the detail information about water misuses, I took help from different websites and different newspapers (The Independent, The Daily Star and Dhaka Calling). From the newspapers and websites I gathered secondary data which helped me to know about the misuse of water in Dhaka city and so forth.



In this section the primary data are discussed literally and expressed graphically through the assistance of bar graphs, pie charts, etc. the answers to the questions are numbered correspondingly. Response Question 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
5 4 1 4 8 13 1 25 12 18

8 7 3 8 15 11 0 5 6 0

4 9 8 10 4 5 9 0 8 10

13 10 17 8 3 1 20 0 4 2



7. Survey Questionnaire Analysis
Q1: What is causing water deficit in different areas in Dhaka city?

Response Leak from Question Overpopulation Poor Monitoring pipes 1 5 8 4 above 13 All of the

Here about 43% of the respondents chose "D". That is "all of the above" option. Others household (57%) choose the other three, overpopulation, poor monitoring, leakage from the pipes. These respondents are the occasional sufferers. But the first group who choose ³All of the above option" are frequent sufferer. Water crisis is so obvious and frequent in this area that they just can't make one specific reason for the problem.



Q2: WASA is supplying adequate water supply to meet your daily requirements.

Response Strongly Question Agree 2 4 7 9 Agree Disagree Disagree 10 Strongly

34% of respondents which is highest number of respondents strongly disagree with the view that Dhaka WASA is not supplying adequate water for to support their current need. I found that these respondents are the residents of densely populated low-income areas of Dhaka, like Maniknagar, Tikatoli, Gopibaag etc. Most of them have slums nearby their house where people use to take illegal connections from the pipelines.

Other groups, who disagree with the view, are from the areas as like Hatirpul, Green road etc. where pumps are not established in adequate quantity.


Furthermore, 23% respondents agree that they find adequate water which is supplied from the Dhaka WASA and rest 13% are strongly agree with this term, because these two types respondent areas are Dhanmondi, Banani, Gulsan etc. where most of the houses are apartment.

Q3: You are satisfied with the billing system of WASA -

Response Strongly Question Agree 3 1 3 8 Agree Disagree Disagree 17 Strongly

A very funny thing I find from this question is while everyone is dissatisfied with WASA's monitoring, supplying facilities, very few like is dissatisfied with the prevailing billing system. Their positive response helped me too identify one of the important causes for water crisis in Dhaka City,



WASA bills its consumers according to the number of connections they have in their houses. There is a fixed charge for each connection, which is also very little. As residents do not need to pay on the basis of their usage as they do in the case electricity or telephone, they don¶t bother for using water in a reserve way.

Q4: If there is any leakage from the pipelines in your area, how many days the authority usually takes to repair?

Response More Than 21 Question 1-2 Days 8-14 Days 14-21 Days Days 4 4 8 10 8

10 out of 30 respondents agree that Dhaka WASA takes 14 to more than 21 days to fix any leak that occurs from supplying pipes. So if a pipe is left for at least 10 days for leaking continuously, then it is very normal that the area will suffer from water shortage situation. This is the case of the areas like Maniknagar and Gopibaag. Respondents say WASA authority sometimes shows so much reluctancy that sometimes the residents need to pay



bribe. This reluctancy not only causes great wastage of water but also makes the condition of roads and footpaths unhygienic as they go under water that is supposed to go to the houses.

Q5: The number of water reservoirs established by the authority in your area-

Response Question 5 3 8 2 15 1 4 No Reservoirs 3

The question was about the number of water reservoirs from which the supplied water from WASA is pumped to the houses. In most of the areas it is 2. In areas like Dhanmondi, Mohammadpur, Banani, Gulsan etc. we observe highest number of reservoirs. So these areas are less sufferers of water crisis. But in most cases of Dhaka City it is 2. But in some area like Mugda, there is no reservoir at all. So the water comes through long connected pipes from



reservoirs of other areas. These pipes leak very often.

Q6: How many slums do you have in your area or nearby?

Response Question 6 1-2 13 2-3 11 3-4 5 More than 4 1

Here majority responded that they have 1-2 slums. There is only one responded who has more than 4 slums. By analyzing their responses I found that, respondents who have more slums nearby are more sufferers of the crisis.

Slum people usually don¶t apply for legal connections. A person has to go through a long process to get an approval of water connection in his resident. After getting the approval he has to ace WASA's reluctancy of establishing a pump and pipes. After facing all these things he might get able to have a connection. Slum people usually leave in very unhygienic condition and the slums of Dhaka are very much densely populated. Most of the slums are illegally situated. So it's really a hard job for slum people to a legal connection of water. Thus they usually establish pipes through the pipes of WASA. It creates huge pressure on the


reservoir of that area and the supply goes down. Again as slum people don¶t go through sophisticated mechanical process while connecting pipes, so licks often occur.

Q7: What is your opinion about the morning system of water connections in nearest slum?

Response Below Question Better Average Average 7 1 0 9 20 Poor

Residents suffer greatly for the illegal activities of slum people. If they go with complain to the authority, they come to observe after a long time. Again they go through a long procedure. Sometimes the illegal connections are cut off, but within a week they are building again. Sometimes the authority overlooks the situation for the compensation or bribe given by slum people. They even prepare false documents of the connections.


By getting effected from these incidents, most of the respondents tick for the poor monitoring system of WASA.

Q8: Establishing more deep water Tube well can help preventing slum people from taking illegal water connection.

Response Question Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 8 25 5 0 0

Most the respondents tick for strongly agree option. As its really difficult to prevent slum people from taking illegal connections, they think a better way to improve the situation can establishing deep water tube well in the densely populated areas, specially in the slum areas. It will help to reduce pressure from the reservoirs in which water is supplied for fixed number


pay for the purpose.


of legal connections. As the water bill is very low, slum people would not find it difficult to

Q9: There should be more supplying agencies beside WASA.

Response Question 9 Strongly Agree 12 Agree 6 Disagree 8 Strongly Disagree 4

There is different view regarding this issue. 12 out 30 strongly agree with the view and 6 out of 30 actually agree it. They think that, if there is more water supplying agencies, then the load of supporting a huge population will be released from WASA. It will be possible for the organizations to monitor effectively. The response to the problems like pipe leakage or illegal activities will be quicker.

But some criticize this point. They don¶t find it cost effective to establish another agency that will look after the water supply and sanitation for a mega city like Dhaka. This is reflected in their view that 8 out of 30 respondents don¶t agree with a view of establishing another water



supply agency.

Q10: WASA should be privatized.

Response Strongly Question Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Disagree 10 18 0 10 2

Majority of the respondents (18 out of 30) agrees with the point that WASA should be privatized. Again establishing another water supplying agency with same equipment to support a city need is very difficult and will not be cost effective. Under the circumstances, if WASA is privatized then situation will improve. Many private companies will be eager to establish more facilities to improve the situation at their own cost. They can earn get a huge returns if they can just slightly increase the bill. Monitoring will also be improved if private corporations control the agency, as there is less risk of corruption.



For my research purpose, I took interview from Mr. Mr. Nurul Huda, formal commercial manager of Dhaka WASA. He was in this profession for more than four years. He shared some of his vast experience with me. He said the situation of water crisis is very critical and it is getting worse day by day. He thought it has many reasons and among them:

1. The water level under the ground is getting lower. So the WASA don¶t get water properly and for that reason people don¶t get water properly. 2. People waste more water. 3. Over population in Dhaka city. 4. In some place huge apartments build up and these apartments have huge Reservoir or Tanks. These tanks drag all the water in that area and for that reason another areas people don¶t get water.

He also thinks that slums in Dhaka city misuse more water. Furthermore, he said that educated people are conscious about the water misuse, but yet they do this mistake again and again. For example, when they shave, we often open our tab.

He suggests that People should reserve water at the home because it will help them when crisis happen. He argued that because of lack our Government policy, WASA shouldn¶t improve. Their mechanism shouldn¶t improve. So the technology didn¶t change. So people have no other way rather than reserve. He thinks that people who work for WASA are corrupted people.



To solve this issue, he suggested that Government is now more concern about this issue. They try to improve the monitoring system. They try to make consciousness among the people for the water. They also try to cut the illegal lines and they try to establish reservoirs in different affected areas.

The summary of the research findings are given below:

Most of the respondents are not satisfied of the service of the Dhaka WASA where minimum respondent who lives in Dhanmondi, Banani and Gulsan, are satisfied of the service.


Majority of the respondent complains that Dhaka WASA don¶t supply adequate water supply to meet your daily requirements.


WASA bills its consumers according to the number of connections they have in their houses. There is a fixed charge for each connection. However, WASA don¶t want to know that is there any illegal connection in between these connection which is most respondent complain.


WASA don¶t monitor their pipelines. They only monitor the billing system. Their monitoring system of pipelines is not computerized and for that they don¶t have any indicator to find the leakage. That is why, sometimes we find here and there leakage in the middle of the road which makes those areas flooded.


From the Research we find that the area where has slums, are most affected by water crisis.


Most of the respondents want more supplying agencies beside WASA, because the load of
supporting a huge population will be released from WASA and it will be monitored effectively.




From the research, we find that Majority of the respondents agrees with the point that
WASA should be privatized because establishing privatized company, it can be cost

effective than opening a new agency.

Finally, employees of Dhaka WASA are corrupted people.

I have some specific suggestions regarding this issue:

First of all, we need to remove corruption from the Water supply sector. The employee of this sector should be punctual and responsible to do their duty.


Our government should invest more in WASA sector to set up more water pump in different affected areas


Dhaka is a densely populated city, it is very difficult to provide adequate water to all of the residents. For that reason, government should shift huge people from Dhaka city to another place through the help of the Law, otherwise different collusion can be happen.


Government should take initiative to reduce illegal connections and system loss, which is happening mainly due to lack of transparency and accountability, monitoring and professional sincerity.


To ensure water supply from ground and surface water sources, the government may need to stop unplanned residential and industrial development, concrete surface development and improve waste and sewage disposal system. Proper industrial waste and sewage treatment may protect water resources of the city.


\Most of the residential areas including Dhanmondi, Gulshan, Baridhara, Uttara, and Banani are less affected by water crisis because it is designated residential areas. So



To ensure water supply from ground and surface water sources, the government may need to stop unplanned residential. By this way government can reduce water crisis.

High rise buildings waste huge water. So it is necessary to stop to build high rise buildings.


Deep Tube well can reduce illegal connections of water supply. So it can be establishes in the slum areas.


We have plenty of rainfall during the rainy season and even in summer season. This rain water can be used properly to ease the burden of groundwater. All the buildings from middle to high-rise must have a system to pass all the rainwater fall on the roofs to the underground water reservoir of each building. When all the middle and highrise building will use the rainwater, a huge amount of WASA water will be saved.

y y

Arranging recycling of water is one of the best solutions. To meet the present crisis, water needs to be brought from the rivers far away from the city. To purify this water small amount of chlorine and other chemicals will be needed. .And then it will be distributed among the worst affected parts of the city by water Lorries.


Many trees should be planted in the city wherever possible to make the environment water friendly. All the lakes of the city must be cleaned and re-excavated to hold more water. If the water of all the lakes of Dhaka city can be made pure, it will not only help keep our water level reasonable but also the poorest people can have bath there.


At last, it is necessary to create concern among the people of Bangladesh, otherwise all above solutions cannot be helpful to remove crisis of water.



Water means life for the human body, and it is the lifeline for any civilization to take root and flourish. All known civilizations grew around a water source to support life, and to give life to its economy. With change in time, the economic role of water has changed, taking a different but vital fact. But its role in sustaining life, for which there is no substitute, has remained, and turned out to be indispensable because of higher demand from the growing population across the globe.

Allah said, ³The person who waste a thing, is a brother of Eblish´. So we have to use our natural resource, water, effectively and we should also maintain sustainability. From my research, I can say that the effective way to remove the water crisis is to make consciousness among the people. However, government can perform the main role for making the consciousness. If the government charge high bill, then people can use water effectively. Moreover, government should have to make equal opportunity of jobs in other major city like Chittagong, Khulna, Barisal etc, so that people will not come to Dhaka city. Thus I think we can save our natural resource like water.



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Khan, S. (2009, May 10). Water crisis amid severe river water pollution. The financial Express. Retrieved December 8, 2009, from http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2009/05/10/66010.html

Nawaz, T. (2009, May 15). Water crisis: Pitfalls and possibilities. Bangladesh Today. Retrieved December 8, 2009, from http://www.bangladesh2day.com/newsfinance/2009/May/15/Water-crisis-Pitfalls-andpossibilities.php

Billah, M. (2009, March 25). Managing water crisis of Dhaka City. The New Nation. Retrieved December 8, 2009, from http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2009/03/25/news0125.htm

Staff Reporter (2009, October 1) Steps taken to remove water crisis.The New Nation. Retrieved December 12, 2009, from http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2009/10/01/news0485.htm

Khan, M. H. (2007, April 13). Dhaka This Week. Holiday Miscellany. Retrieved December 12, 2009, from http://www.weeklyholiday.net/2007/130407/mis.html


Interview of Mr. Nurul Huda.

Personal observations.

Different areas people opinion.



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