Kids Are Playing in Baktarpur

Children playing in Baktarpur

In the slums of the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka, playtime can be a rarity. But when Shefaly installed a water system for her family and neighbors, her courtyard filled with smiles and laughter.

Shefaly and her family used to rely upon an inconsistent hand pump to obtain the majority of their water. The pump was hard to operate, and sometimes the water table dipped too low for the shallow tubewell to draw much water at all. “Often," Shefaly told us, "I had to go to my neighbours’ houses or to the river to collect all the water I needed for domestic use. It was a time consuming and laborious job."

Shefaly standing in her doorway

The trips to gather water took Shefaly away from her home, away from her work, and she told us they even brought her shame. So when she met Rina, a field officer from partner DSK, Shefaly was overjoyed to hear about WaterCredit. She immediately applied for a loan, and, in less than a month, a group of contractors and engineers arrived to install a new water system.

Far from using her loan to simply replace her handpump, Shefaly designed a system including a new, deeper borehole well, a submersible pump which pushes safe water to a rooftop tank, and a series of taps inside her home and out. Shefaly didn't just want to bring safe water to her own household, she wanted to ensure the rest of her community could access the basic human necessity too.

Shefaly's laudable dedication to her neighbors stemmed from one simple fact: she knew that all the women living near her faced similar, daily struggles. She had walked with them to the Dholeswari River. She had watched them leave their children at home, or ask their young daughters to help gather water instead of attending school. She knew they needed a change.

Neighbor showering in Shefaly's courtyardToday, her courtyard sees a steady-but-relaxed stream of neighborhood women gathering small amounts of water as they need it. All the while, their kids play and laugh in the surrounding area, climbing bamboo and chasing each other around the garden.

Watching the children and smiling herself, Shefaly said she is "happy that other families are also enjoying this facility," adding that she "will never take money from [her] neighbors, as water is a gift of nature."

Capital: Dhaka
Population of 160 million
20 million lack access to safe water
63 million lack access to improved sanitation
77% of the total population lives on less than US$2 per day