A tube well for Ismatara
“Water means life for women in this camp,” says Lalaputu, 31, a refugee mother of six children. “Water is the most important thing I need. Without water, cooking meals, washing clothes and bathing would be impossible.” Lalaputu has lived in the world’s largest refugee camp here in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh since fleeing violence in Myanmar in August 2017.
Alongside almost a million people, one of Lalaputu’s challenges was getting safe water for her children — a problem she didn’t worry about in her home village in Myanmar. There her family had a tube well next to their house. They could get water whenever they needed. Neighbours also collected water from their tube well.
Lalaputu’s husband, Rahamat, recalls the family’s early struggles to find water in the refugee camp. “A bit far down the hill from our shelter, runs a stream. The water is not deep, but it flows,” says Rahamat. “But the water is not drinkable. We dug a hole beside the stream and waited for it to fill up. We hoped the sand and soil would work as filters.”
Sadly, Rahamat’s desperate measures didn’t work. “My children and my wife got sick drinking that water,” he says. “They had diarrhoea and other health problems, but we had no choice. We had to drink that water.”
Thankfully, those days are over. Now Lalaputu and her daughter, Ismatara, 8, can collect water from the deep-tube well that World Vision installed near their house. Each deep-tube well serves 100 families — about 500 people on average. Ismatara no longer has to walk far to collect water, scaling the camp’s many steep sandy hills while balancing a heavy eight-litre aluminum water jar on her hip. It was tiring and time-consuming. Sometimes, she had to miss sessions at the child-friendly space that she loves.
“This tube well removed the pain of collecting water from afar,” says Ismatara, “I can drink water and bathe easily now. Drinking water from the tube well doesn’t give me stomach pain and diarrhoea. It’s safe!”