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FEATURE STORY January 6, 2021

Safe water reaches all localities, including slums in Chattogram City


The Chittagong Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (CWSSA) constructed a water treatment plant in Modunaghat to serve the residents of the city. Photo courtesy World Bank

CWASA wins ISO certification

  • Safe drinking water for residents of Chattogram Metropolitan area, Bangladesh’s second largest city.
  • Water supply rose by 20 times to 3.60 billion liters a day in last decade; 40 common water taps for a single slum
  • Two booster pump stations elevated water supply in low pressure and underserved areas; CWASA, the first public utility service in Bangladesh to receive ISO Certificate

Ayesha Begum, 35, one of the 20,000 people living in the five slums of the port city of Chattogram said, “I am happy as I can get adequate water supply for my 5-member family since the last six months." She recounted that she no longer has to wait in long queues to collect water. Being able to access clean waters from a tap changed her life.

The Chattogram Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (CWASA), with support of the World Bank, has installed 40 common taps in her slum located at the lap of a hill, one of the biggest slums in this metropolitan city as it has broaden its scope of services to include the city’s slums and other low income areas.

Mohammad Rustom Ali, 59, a businessman, residing in city’s Bakulia area, where mostly the middle-income citizens live, recounted that before piped water was available, they had to fetch water from a faraway ring well for drinking, washing and all household activities. he added.

like diarrhea, indigestion, loose motion, dysentery, typhoid and different types of skin related diseases. In the past, getting clean water was also expensive for the slum dwellers: 1,000 liters of safe water costed about 200 taka. Now, CWASA is supplying the same quantity of water to the community with only 15 to -20 taka, that resulted in better health and lifestyle.

"The water we used to get was bad in terms of quality and contained arsenic and other particles. Now we are getting clean water that is free from iron and salts."
Mohammad Rustom Ali
Businessman, Bakulia area


Thanks to the project, around 790,000 inhabitants in the city now have access to safe water. Photo courtesy World Bank

These improvements were possible through Chittagong Water Supply Improvement and Sanitation Project (CWSISP), implemented by CWASA with support from the World Bank to improve water and sanitation services in Chattogram city. Earlier, only half of the people living in the Chattogram Metropolitan Area—the country’s second largest city—had access to improved water supply.

The project has helped CWASA to build capacity and undertake reform activities; prepare drainage and sewerage master plans through 2030.

The Project built infrastructures for increasing production of safe water, coupled with the rehabilitation and expansion of its water transmission and distribution network to increase access to safe water within its service area. Water supply capacity by CWASA increased by about 20 times to 3.60 billion liters a day currently from 172 million liters of water per day in 2010.

The project also supports comprehensive institutional development of CWASA to modernize its facilities and improve its efficiency. In parallel, the clarification of institutional mandates for sewerage and drainage in Chattogram paved the way for the project supporting investment planning in these sectors. With improvement in bill collection, its total revenue jumped from BDT 557,562,222 (over $6.5 million) in 2010-2011 to BDT 1,247,632,906 (over $14 million) in 2019-2020. Further, the rehabilitation and extension of the of 190-kilometer transmission and distribution facilities, now ensures round the clock water availability, especially in the under-served areas.

Two booster pump stations, one at Patenga with the capacity of 45 million liter per day, and another at Kalurghat with 98 million liter per day capacity, have been fully reconstructed to pump water to the southern, eastern and northern parts of the city. This has helped significantly improved water supply in low pressure or under-served areas. On March 25, 2019, the construction of Sheikh Russel Pani Shodhonaghar (water treatment plant) with 90 million liter capacity per day was completed and had started supplying satisfactory quality water without any interruption  from the same day.

Still, it’s a long journey ahead with the massive need for sanitation infrastructures within the city since no part of the city is yet connected to any form of sanitation system.with a target of gradually bringing all the city population under a modern sanitation system. 

The project has facilitated developing a drainage improvement strategy and master plan to mitigate the drainage water logging problem. The Chattogram Development Authority (CDA) is leading the implementation of drainage master plan. 

While achieving the ISO certification is a major milestone, but maintaining the certificate represents a mammoth task, which will require planning and allocating the annual budget for maintaining ISO and for auditing every two months. CWASA has already achieved the utility maturity level of 3.06 (Proactive level) and it aims to further elevate to the level of 3.2 on a scale of 5. The ISO 9001 standard is recognized worldwide and provides the customers the assurance that the management systems are constantly assessed and approved. The advantages are many: minimizes mistakes, improves reporting and communications, ensures better quality products and services, more reliable production scheduling and delivery and top of all ensures standards maintained by annual assessments.