Welcome to Hakimpara Makeshift Settlement

A water specialist starts work in a new area and faces a new challenge

With a population of 55,000, Hakimpara differs most from Unchiprang by its vast size and by the setup of shelters, which are more densely found on hilltops. This is posing challenges to provide clean water even if the water and sanitation situation of this makeshift settlement is better than in Unchiprang, with toilets and shallow tube wells for water every few steps in the valley.

Shallow tube well with hand-pump in between a toilet (on the right constructed from rainbow plastic sheeting) and shower (on the left constructed from metal sheeting)

Shallow tube wells are constructed close to most latrines. This is convenient for cleaning after using the latrine, but not good for the quality of water being produced from the well. The problem is that shallow tube wells are less than 30ft deep and draw water from the same groundwater aquifer that wastewater from the latrines leach into. That is why most of the shallow wells are contaminated the e-coli bacteria.

Shallow wells with hand-pumps are found in abundance at the bottom of the hills in Hakimpara Makeshift Settlement

Toilets constructed on the side of the hills leach wastewater and contaminate the groundwater aquifer

Since all the shallow wells are drawing water from the same groundwater aquifer and because the dry season commenced, around 23% of the shallow wells have dried up. Also problematic is that although people living close to the shallow tube wells have easy access to water, the people living on the hilltops have a challenging climb up and down the steep slopes with 20 kg of excess water weight. I’ve already slipped twice wearing my outdoor terrain trainers.

To provide clean drinking water and to target the families living on the hilltops, MSF is planning to drill boreholes (deep tube wells) at least 400ft deep to access clean water aquifers. Each borehole will then pump water through a hose or small diameter pipe to the top of the hill into a tank and then will be distributed via tap stands.

Carrying water up a steep and slippery stairway. Children are often given the task to collect water for the household and make the dangerous climb several times a day

My WATSAN Life in Bangladesh: Week 2

This week I surveyed 18 possible drilling locations as well as areas on the hilltops that have enough space to install a large 10,000L tank. It is not realistic to move any tents to make space for a tank or any water treatment facilities. Each family is given an identification number that is used for food distributions and represents a specific plot of land in a specific block (neighbourhood) in the makeshift settlement. If a family were moved to a new location their identification number would no longer match the sequence of numbers of their adjacent neighbours.