The Syedpur Union of Sitakunda Upazila in Chattagram, Bangladesh had a big water-reserve problem: groundwater levels were dropping. During the dry season, more and more tube wells were drying out. The people of the community had to rely on running water motors for longer periods of time to pump out the water they needed. Institutions like the local mosques also relied on tube wells as a water source for ablution.
To tackle this problem, our LEAD Bangladesh youth teams in the locality decided to launch the SAP “Save underground water”. This SAP’s main goal was to reduce community reliance on groundwater and water wastage in the community. To meet the goal of this SAP, youth leaders decided they needed to form a close partnership with the local community and the government office and take a multi-lateral approach. First, the youth mapped the community to understand the exact extent of the problem and to assess the available water resources. Next, the youth approached the Union Chairman for his support and influence in setting up meetings with local mosque committees. They next met with mosque committees to chalk out a more sustainable water usage plan for mosques and to use mosques as a hub of influence regarding water wastage. Finally, youth-targeted specific neighbourhoods to run door-to-door campaigns on water conservation and alternate water sourcing with regular households and have encouraged activism among community youth.
As a result of these steps, a noticeable change has come to the region regarding the community’s water usage behaviour. Firstly, mosques with adjacent ponds rely more on pond water for ablution than tube wells, especially from May to December. Secondly, households are more aware of the impact of the prolonged usage of water pumps to extract groundwater and have reduced the pump usage and the timing of pump usage, which is evident from households having lower electricity bills. Finally, households are using other available water sources like pond water for specific household tasks.
This shift in behaviour among the communities in Syedpur was possible due to the close collaboration of youths with different community stakeholders and community thought leaders.