Improving drinking water quality in Rohingya camps

Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh - WHO is providing community and household water filters to health facilities, households and the district hospital in Cox’s Bazar, to ensure safe drinking water for Rohingya refugees, their host communities and health workers, who are at increased risk of water borne diseases such as acute watery diarrhoea in the ongoing rainy season.

“Safe drinking water significantly reduces the risk of many diseases, especially now, during the rainy season when the water table from the ground is rising and there is higher chances of water source getting contaminated from latrines,” adds Vincent Leray, WHO’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) specialist.

WHO/ V. Leray

WHO is distributing 2150 water filters to health facilities and households. As many as 150 community filters with a capacity of 25 liters, and 2 000 family filters with 6 liter capacity, are being provided to health facilities and households in Teknaf and Ukhia sub districts, and the Sadar Hospital in Cox’s Bazar. “The filters are being distributed based on the requests form health partners and through them to community. Our priorities are the staff and patients in the health facilities, and households with pregnant woman and newborn babies. We hope to be able to further extend the program to cover all health facilities” says Vincent Leray.

Prior to the distribution of filters, WHO conducted trainings for health partners on installing and maintenance of the filters. Proper use of the filters ensures 5 years functionality, without the need of any part replacement.

Thousands of people are now getting safe drinking water which is critical for reducing water borne diseases, one of the leading causes of illness among Rohingya refugees.

Safe drinking water has always been a pressing need in the Rohingya camps where high levels of E-coli contamination continues to be detected both at the source of water and at household levels. Similar water quality results are consistently being reported from health facilities. The risk of water-borne diseases is especially high now as water quality is expected to deteriorate further in the ongoing monsoon season due to contamination of water table.

WHO Bangladesh/ C. Bercaru