Support from MiiR is being used to construct water, sanitation and hygiene-education projects in an area just outside of Dhaka (the capital city) called Demra, where Water1st has been working since 2006.

Our local partner organization, Dushtha Shasthya Kendra (DSK), has pioneered a world-class program for providing critical water and sanitation services to urban slum areas.

Bangladesh has one of the world’s highest rates of internal population migration from rural areas to urban centers. New arrivals settle in crowded, unplanned residential areas which lack basic services like water supply, connections to sewers, electricity, and stormwater drainage. DSK enters these communities and forms action committees comprised of local residents, who analyze their living conditions and prioritize their own needs. Access to clean water and toilets usually top the priority list, and DSK offers technical and financial assistance to anyone within the planning area to construct their own water system and toilet.

One of DSK’s brilliant moves has been incorporating micro-lending into its operations. Water systems and toilets are not given away. Users must repay the full construction cost to DSK over 1-2 years. Repayment rates have exceeded 96%. These repaid loans are then used to fund more projects. Currently, 49% of our annual budget for Bangladesh comes from repaid loans.


Population: 154,695,000
Population living below $1.25 a day: 43%
Life expectancy: 70.3 years
Death rate, under 5: 41 per 1,000
Our Local Partner: Dushtha Shasthya Kendra (DSK)


5 loan-based projects
serving approxmiately 200 people

*Source: UNICEF



Each water project entails drilling a deep well (about 200 feet deep) and installing a submersible pump. The quality of the groundwater is tested for arsenic, coliforms, and nitrates. Once it is determined that the water is safe, groundwater is pumped to a storage tank.

The water is then piped to several faucets within the compound, including the toilets. A toilet will be built that has a porcelain bowl for easy cleaning and durability, a water seal to isolate waste from the living environment, and a large settling pit which provides several years of storage before it requires emptying. These toilets are simple, but vastly superior to latrines, which are totally unacceptable solutions for urban density living. The superstructure of the toilet is constructed of brick, which provides a structurally sound platform for the water tank.

Community members receive training in operation and maintenance of the water system and toilet. They also receive comprehensive hygiene education to emphasize ways to use the water and toilets to prevent illness. These systems provide huge health and economic benefits to the residents of the living complex. One water system usually serves 30-50 people.

As projects are constructed we will update this page with GPS coordinates of exact locations of water systems and toilets and number of people benefiting.


Water systems and toilets are provided on a loan basis. The beneficiaries repay the construction cost of the toilet and water system over two years. The loan repayment is deposited into DSK’s project account and is used to construct additional water systems and toilets in the future.

DSK’s loan recovery rate has consistently run about 98%, which is exceptionally high considering the income level of the people who have taken out the loan. The loan program has been so successful that 49% of DSK’s 2016 project budget comes from the revolving loan fund. In other words, DSK is able to do twice as many projects thanks to the loan approach.


Demra residents are primarily manual laborers, working as rickshaw pullers, garment workers, dock workers, street vendors, and other entry level, low-wage occupations available to people migrating from rural areas. Workers earn 3,000 – 10,000 taka per month, roughly $40-$140/month. Many families rely on more than one income to survive.

Prior to the construction of a water project, these families spend about 45-60 minutes a day collecting water and spend 500-1000 taka to purchase water. They also spend 1000-1200 taka per month on medicine to treat illnesses, usually diarrhea. After a project is completed, the time spent collecting water drops to 10-15 minutes (the time it takes to fill buckets, pans, etc.). The amount of water used increases 400%-1000%. And the cost decreases to 500 taka or less.

Money spent on medicine to treat illnesses decreases to as little as 100 taka per month. Because of these projects, families spend less money and enjoy better health and quality of life.