Dhaka Water Crisis – My Breaking Point

I have to admit – I’m reaching my breaking point. It wasn’t the weather that got to me, or the riots, or the curfews, or the cockroaches, or even having to deal with a hospitalized family member. But, a recent developing water crisis might be the straw that breaks my back.

Click the jump to read more of my dehydrated rambling.

I currently live in what is called the “old part” of Dhaka City (the capital of Bangladesh). In fact, the house I’m staying in is older than Bangladesh itself – having been built back when this region was called East Pakistan. Many of the water pipes that supply water to the old city are so old they go back to the days of British colonialism apparently. Recently, the old city has been having a serious water shortage. I talked about rotating water shortages before – but this is different.

The “regular” water shortages used to last no more than 6 hours. The current crisis has turned water shortages into 12-hour long and two-day long outages. I’m now lucky if water comes even once a day for twenty minutes. I had to go half way across town to the “newer” part of the city just so I could take my first shower in three days (too much information? Sorry). This combined with the regular power outages has made living here almost unbearable. But, as bad as I have it – I’m reminded once again about how much worse off other people are.

There are lots of apartment near where I live – full of families of all ages and income levels. Stress has been high as mothers can’t get clean water for their babies, the elderly can’t take showers to beat the heat, and people are having trouble finding water to drink during this time of fasting. In my block alone there have been frequent fights and shouting. Building owners blaming other building owners, tenants shouting and blaming building managers, building managers yelling at tenants – it doesn’t stop. There are a lot of possible reasons why this problem is happening – but no clear answer what it will take to solve this problem.

The old city is now sprawling with towering skyscrapers full of apartments. This development of large urban populations has increased the demand for water. In addition, there is often illegal piping and pumping – giving some buildings an edge on getting water over others. The city’s water department, in turn, is blaming a lack of power to properly pump water into the old city. A recent editorial in a local newspaper shows helps highlight the extent of the current crisis in the old city – you can read that editorial here.

I’m torn between trying to find a place to stay in the newer part of the city and staying here to console and help (in whatever way I can) family and neighbors here who have it bad.

9 Responses to “Dhaka Water Crisis – My Breaking Point”


  1. 1 Mikey Leung

    dude that sounds rough. keep it dry..

    here’s another good editorial on the same topic. scroll down and read the story with the “Water, Water Everywhere..” headline.

    You’re not the only one suffering.

  2. 2 Mikey Leung

    dude that sounds rough. keep it dry..

    here’s another good editorial on the same topic. scroll down and read the story with the “Water, Water Everywhere..” headline.

    You’re not the only one suffering.

  3. 3 Shawn

    What’s with the dry humour Mikey? 😉

    I definitely am not the only one suffering – and relatively I think I have it easy. That just goes to show you how much Bangladeshis have to endure. Their breaking point and tolerance level is much higher than mine will ever be.

    Can you imagine if this problem of this scale was in Toronto or elsewhere in the “first world”? We’d have riots every other day.

  4. 4 Shawn

    What’s with the dry humour Mikey? 😉

    I definitely am not the only one suffering – and relatively I think I have it easy. That just goes to show you how much Bangladeshis have to endure. Their breaking point and tolerance level is much higher than mine will ever be.

    Can you imagine if this problem of this scale was in Toronto or elsewhere in the “first world”? We’d have riots every other day.

  5. 5 Brian

    So I just stumbled across your blog on google and I must say the living conditions sound rather bleak. I’m currently writing a paper on the water shortage of Bangladesh & the overcrowding of Dhaka from countryside residents. It definitely helps to hear a first person point of view. Good luck out there.

  6. 6 Brian

    So I just stumbled across your blog on google and I must say the living conditions sound rather bleak. I’m currently writing a paper on the water shortage of Bangladesh & the overcrowding of Dhaka from countryside residents. It definitely helps to hear a first person point of view. Good luck out there.

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