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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.

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. 


These are the numbers pertaining to the reporting period from 15 September 2019 to 31 March 2020:

  • Number of direct beneficiaries relevant for the reporting period: Two local entrepreneurs are in the process of setting up water kiosks which will benefit, in each location, approximately 500 low-income RMG workers and their households, thus an estimated 4100 (500*4.1*2) people.
  • Number of indirect beneficiaries relevant for the reporting period: One landowner who will provide necessary space and water connections for the water kiosk in Gazipur. The water entrepreneur in Chattogram will set up the water kiosk on his own property.

The overall targets for the project:

  • Number of direct beneficiaries for the duration of the project: 5 local entrepreneurs setting up water kiosks and 500 low-income RMG workers and their households, which include an estimated 2050 (500*4.1) people.
  • Number of indirect beneficiaries for the duration of the project: 5 landowners and public agencies (e.g. DPHE) who will provide necessary space and water connections for water kiosks.

Project partner

  • Drinkwell

Project countries

  • Bangladesh

Project duration

September 2019 – December 2020


  • Japan Tobacco International

Working area


Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation
Hardturmstrasse 123
CH-8005 Zurich

Tel. +41 44 454 17 17
Fax +41 44 454 17 97
E-Mail info@STOP-SPAM.swisscontact.org