Clean water is essential for life, but one in eight of the world's population does not have access to it. This, and lack of safe sanitation, result in over two million people dying from water-related diseases every year. The lack of clean water close to people's homes also affects people's time, livelihoods and quality of life. The quality of drinking-water is a powerful environmental determinant of health. Assurance of drinking-water safety is a foundation for the prevention and control of waterborne diseases.
Water quality is the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of water. It is a measure of the condition of water relative to the requirements of one or more biotic species and or to any human need or purpose. There are three types of water quality parameters. They are:
Despite the abundance of surface water, diseases are common throughout Bangladesh due to contaminated drinking water sources and low sanitation levels.Over-abstraction from rivers and groundwater means that water tables are dropping, while saline intrusion and the natural presence of arsenic are making matters even worse. To make matters worse the natural occurrence of arsenic in many parts of the country has contaminated water in around a quarter of the nation's tubewells.
Sanitation can be defined as access to safe, clean and effective human urine and faeces disposal facilities. Worldwide, 25 billion people live without this essential service and the resulting diarrhoeal diseases kill around 4,000 children a day. Sanitation, along with safe water and knowledge of good hygiene practices, can reduce incidences of these illnesses by 65%.Poor sanitation and bad hygiene can result in the contamination of water sources with millions of disease causing micro-organisms. These micro-organisms work in different ways to incapacitate infected individuals.
According to a national survey in 2003 only 33% of people in Bangladesh had access to sanitation. Every year 125,000 children under five die in Bangladesh from diarrhoeal diseases. That is 342 children every day. But the government has ambitious plans to change this and has committed itself to achieving universal access to sanitation by 2010.
Bangladesh has shown itself to be a leader in the adoption of innovative approaches to sanitation promotion and was the birthplace of Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS). Some of the principles underlying CLTS have been incorporated into sector strategy, though the outcomes sought go beyond the eradication of open defecation; the National Sanitation Strategy of 2005 envisages ‘100% sanitation’ which it defines as:
In 2006, an Evaluation of Arsenic Mitigation Program for VARC was conducted by Eminence with financial support from WaterAid. Later in 2007, Eminence did an assessment of Response of Local government Institutions (LGIs)/Public Service Delivery Institutions (PSDIs) in Response to the Community Demand Creation for WaterAid Bangaldesh.
In 2011, eminence and WaterAid are conducting a baseline study on the situation of water, sanitation and hygiene in selected tea- gardens in Sylhet. An initiative has been taken by WaterAid Bangladesh (WAB) and IDEA – a local NGO to implement a project for improving the rights and access of the tea-garden workers to important WaSH services and facilities. Prior to the project implantation, a baseline benchmark has been initiated to have an independent and objective assessment of the pre-program situation to be able to measure the progress and impacts achieved through the implementation of the program. The overall objective of the study is to assess the present situation and establish benchmarks of the present status of WaSH situation in terms of access of the tea-garden workers and their family members to safe water, safe sanitation and in terms of hygiene practice by them in the selected tea gardens in Sylhet. The study will take place among 320 respondents from five (5) tea gardens in two (2) upazilas of Sylhet district. The upazilas are – (i) Jaintapur and (ii) Sylhet Sadar.