21 August 2023

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The Sundarbans region in southwest Bangladesh is home to the largest single tidal mangrove in the world and is known as the 'beautiful forest'. In this coastal haven, water can mean life, but also danger.

Fishing is critical to so many working people in the village of Kaliganj in Satkhira, southwest Bangladesh, but the area is increasingly facing the devastating impacts of climate change such as rising sea levels, flash flooding and cyclones.

Pollution is rife, so every drop of clean water is precious. And when a community gets this for the first time, it creates a powerful ripple, helping to save lives and improve people's health and livelihoods.

Latest statistics from Bangladesh make alarming reading. More than 72 million people don't have adequate toilet facilities and over 3 million don't have access to clean water close to home.

It is often worse for women and girls who are typically responsible for household chores, including collecting water and caring for children and relatives. They also have additional needs for clean water and toilets to help them manage during their periods and childbirth.

Thankfully Kaliganj will no longer face those threats because the village can now access a safe and reliable source of clean water, thanks to players of People's Postcode Lottery and the charity WaterAid.

Bishakha Rani Mondol, who lives with her husband and 16-year-old son, explained the impact of not having decent toilets in her community. She said, "No woman could use the toilet in daylight. It had no privacy. And when I went to use it at night, I often fell and hurt myself."

Bishakha's family is part of the Munda community - a socially marginalised, ethnic minority group that earns a living from fishing and farming.

Now, with player support, there has been a dramatic improvement. WaterAid worked with the community to install a 65-litre underground rainwater reservoir providing a reliable source of clean water, and they built three accessible toilet blocks.

Bishakha added, "We are living a new life now. I have no fear of using the toilet at night anymore. I also greatly suffered from joint pain but now I feel relief that I do not have to go for miles to collect water."

WaterAid also promoted good hygiene, such as handwashing with soap and supporting women and girls to manage their periods hygienically and with dignity. The charity also gives women like Bishakha the opportunity to have a say in the decision making and management of the newly-built water, sanitation and hygiene services in their communities.

Everyone in the community, from children to older people, has benefited from hygiene education. Girls no longer have to skip class while on their periods and their attendance at school has dramatically increased.

Bishakha said, "I am happy that our children will no longer miss class or leave school to collect water for the family. It also gives me great peace that our daughters can now use the toilet at night."

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People's Postcode Lottery, said, "Our players are helping to transform the lives of people around the world, such as Bishakha and her community - providing clean water and toilets which are fundamental to the health and dignity of everyone, everywhere."

Hasin Jahan, WaterAid's Country Director in Bangladesh, shares more on the ripple effect of players' support. She said, "We are working alongside communities in Bangladesh so that everyone has clean water, decent toilets, and good hygiene. We won't stop until every community has the opportunity to thrive."

Players across Britain have raised more than £22 Million for WaterAid over the past 10 years. Postcode Global Trust has awarded these funds to help bring clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene to everyone, everywhere.