Improve Access to Safe Water through Local Entrepreneurship ("Shujola")

The ready-made garments sector is one of the fastest-growing industries in the Bangladeshi economy. The influx of workers from rural to urban areas and the high demand for housing in locations close to ready-made garments clusters have resulted in the rapid expansion of unregulated residential communities in urban and peri-urban areas of Bangladesh. In these communities, the designated government agencies responsible for providing basic public services such as water, sanitation and sewerage are often absent. A recent study conducted by Oxfam in Bangladesh indicates that more than three-quarters of ready-made garment workers have no running water inside their residences. Unofficial and informal service providers fill this gap. They charge high costs for low-quality services. The inadequate access to safe drinking is the main contributor to the poor health of residents.

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District Dhaka
23.810332
90.4125181
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District Gazipur 
24.0958171
90.4125181
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District Chattogram
22.356851
91.7831819
Project duration
2019 - 2021
Financed by
  • Japan Tobacco International

The project

The project “Shujola” aims at providing ready-made garments (RMG) workers in their – often unregulated – residential communities with access to affordable sources of safe water for drinking and bathing. “Shujola” is a Bengali word, meaning clean water source.

The project gives ready-made garments workers and their communities access to safe water at low cost from “water kiosks” that are run by entrepreneurs. A water kiosk can be a water dispensary, a water ATM (Automatic Teller Machine), a bottling plant, or a combination of several of these.

The designated public agencies will engage authorised private sector players to extend the water supply network to new areas. The Dhaka Water Supply & Sewerage Authority has already piloted this concept with Drinkwell, a water technology company, and established water ATMs providing safe drinking water across Dhaka City. The results so far are very encouraging and water from ATMs have gained traction in thousands of households and small businesses across the city. Shujola will add value to the existing concept by:

  • Assisting all market actors to establish detailed business plans and test the commercial viability of the business model.
  • Identifying, selecting and training local entrepreneurs to operate and maintain water kiosks in local communities.
  • Conducting awareness campaigns amongst ready-made garments workers to create demand.
  • Facilitating in partnership with commercial banks the offer of loan products for local enterprises who want to invest in water kiosks.
  • Creating pathways for scale based on the commercial viability of the business model, learnings and experience of the different market actors during the 15-month pilot phase.

Project goals

  • Local enterprises are selected, trained and ready to operate water kiosk as a business franchise in selected locations.
  • Landowners and the public authorities provide necessary space and water connections for water kiosks operated by local enterprises.
  • Low-income households in ready-made garments clusters are aware of the clean and safe drinking water available in water kiosks.

Project partner

  • Drinkwell
  • FloWater Solutions

Results

  • 5 local entrepreneurs were trained, set up and operate water kiosks.
  • Over 5,000 people in ready-made garments clusters have already benefitted from affordable safe water from these kiosks.
  • Over 15,000 people consume safe drinking water through more than 600 water jar sales to institutional clients.
  • 100,000 litres of water supplied to RMG workers’ residential community members and institutional clients.
  • Over 10,000 RMG workers’ residential community members were reached through awareness raising campaigns.
  • 40 low income people are employed by the entrepreneurs.

News

Bangladesh
Entrepreneurial ecosystems
15.07.2021
Shujola – Promoting Water Entrepreneurs and Digital Financing Mechanism in Bangladesh
Shujola – Promoting Water Entrepreneurs and Digital Financing Mechanism in Bangladesh – was a 19.5-month (15 September 2019 - 30 April 2021) pilot project that aimed to ensure access to safe water for drinking and bathing in Ready-Made Garments (RMG) workers’ residential communities.