Water pricing for slum dwellers in Dhaka metropolitan area: is it affordable?


Tahmid Saif Ahmed, Abdullah Al- Hadi, Abdus Salam


Like many other developing countries, Bangladesh is facing serious water management challenge to ensure affordable water supply for all, especially in urban areas. Both the availability and the quality of water are decreasing in the poor urban areas. Besides, the population situation of the country is getting worst in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, which became one of the megacities in the world in terms of population and urbanization. The aim of this thesis is to address the following question:  “Are slum dwellers in Dhaka city capable for paying for Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) services?”.  This study focused on three slums in Dhaka city namely Korail slum, Godown slum, Tejgaon slum to determine the current water price in selected slums and to compare it with water price of other cities of the world. A field study has been conducted during July and August 2014. It involves semi structured questionnaire survey and focus group discussions with slum dwellers and various stakeholders. For secondary data source, a wide range of books, peer-reviewed articles, researcher documents, related websites and databases have been reviewed.  Result shows that slum dwellers are paying about 7 times higher than legal connection holder. Slum dwellers are paying about 23% of their average monthly income for domestic water supply, whereas in most of the countries, legal connection holders are paying less than 5% of their average monthly income for the same purpose.  It is also observed that laws to prevent environmental pollution are rarely enforced. Overall service delivery is considered to be poor due to an inadequate tariff structure, high non-revenue water, lack of authority and commitment, inadequate management capacity, lack of sector coordination, inadequate investment, absence of effective decentralization, etc. The situation can be improved by higher investment, effective private sector participation, improved billing and revenue collection, structural reforms, establishing a regulatory body and finally converting DWASA into a truly service oriented commercial organization. Finally, it is observed that the slum dwellers in Dhaka City are capable for paying for DWASA.