Author/s:

Dey, N.
Akter, T.
Barua, M.
Islam, M.
Islam, M.
Parvez, M.
Rahman, M.
Saha, R.

Publisher:

Springer Netherlands

Year of Publication:

2018

This study, conducted in Tala Upazila (with > 0.3 million people) situated in a coastal district of Bangladesh, endeavors to identify the water quality situation and to assess people’s willingness to pay for safe drinking water; with a view to develop policies and programs to improve people’s access to safe and affordable drinking water in the coastal area. A total of 4500 households were surveyed for getting relevant information on willingness to pay of households, while water quality test was performed at 649 high dependent drinking water sources (basically tubewells) for identifying arsenic, salinity and iron concentration. Arsenic test results revealed that overall 36.5% of tested drinking water sources; 63% shallow tubewells and 14% deep tubewells were unsafe due to the presence of high levels of arsenic beyond Bangladesh standard. Electrical conductivity, which is a measure of salinity was very high in about 94% of the tested water sources; while 61% of tested sources had iron concentration higher than the Bangladesh standard. It is evident from the study that people are aware of these problems and on an average, 91% of the households were willing to pay for improving access to safe drinking water. Regardless of economic class, most of the households (75%) were willing to pay BDT 20.0 (0.25 USD) per week for 20 L safe water per day, which is equivalent to 2–6% of their respective monthly income to access safe drinking water. Logistic regression model identified monthly household income, tubewell ownership, distance of drinking water source, etc., as some determinants of households’ willingness to pay for safe drinking water. Encouraging peoples who are currently drinking arsenic-contaminated tubewell water to shift their sources to nearby arsenic free tubewells may be a cost-effective solution to this problem. Engaging community-based WatSan committee (a local committee comprising the user communities for supervising water and sanitation related activities) including local government representatives to design an affordable water tariff structure and generating sufficient revenue to cover the cost of water services in the community would be an effective and sustainable solution to improve access of safe and affordable drinking water in the coastal area of Bangladesh.

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