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Viewpoint – taking a multidimensional approach to small town water supply: The case of Paikgachha

Imrul Kayes Muniruzzaman
Director – Fundraising and Learning, WaterAid Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh imrulkayesmuniruzzaman@wateraid.org

Shahrukh Mirza
Strategic Support Specialist, WaterAid Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh shahrukhmirza@wateraid.org

Khairul Islam
Country Director, WaterAid Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh khairulIslam@wateraid.org

Kolimullah Koli
Independent Consultant koli713165@gmail.com

ABSTRACT: Ensuring access to safe drinking water in climate-vulnerable southwest Bangladesh is a growing challenge. People living in the coastal municipality town of Paikgachha in Khulna District are suffering from an acute crisis of drinking water due to contamination of groundwater by salinity, iron and arsenic. WaterAid Bangladesh piloted a piped water supply model with a progressive tariff approach that brings residents, especially the poor, safe and affordable water, while ensuring financial sustainability of the model. This paper discusses how the multidimensional approach underlying the development of the piped water system successfully addressed the social and institutional dimensions of water supply in a context involving multiple stressors. The initiative has demonstrated that sustainable service with full cost recovery is possible while addressing equity issues in the challenging circumstances of Bangladesh’s coast.

KEYWORDS: water supply, piped water, small town, progressive tariff, sociotechnical approach, Bangladesh