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Innovation of an Indigenous technology with low-cost Available Materials to Supply Potable Water to the Salinity-Prone Coastal Bangladesh



The southern part of Bangladesh is vulnerable due to the saline intrusion, seasonal flood, high tide, pathogens and the contamination of chemicals from coastal industries. The scarcity of potable water is high after experiencing a coastal mega flood due to climate change and the situation get epidemic shape. Due to the numerous deaths and illnesses caused by waterborne diseases, various household water treatment devices and safe storage technologies have been developed to treat and manage water at the household level. The removal of salinity, microbial and physico-chemical contaminants will be tested here in this study using an innovative laterite soil impregnated porous pot filter (LSIPPF) composed of iron rich locally available laterite soil and plant biomass having noble attributes e.g. durable, affordable for the poor people and more effective in the removal of the contaminants. The performance of the LSIPPF will be evaluated in terms of flow rate, physicochemical contaminant (salinity, turbidity, fluorides, phosphates, chlorophyll a, magnesium, calcium and nitrates) and microbial contaminant Escherichia coli, Vibrio cholerae, Salmonella typhimurium, Shigella dysenteriae) removals. One of the main targets to develop this filter is to produce saline free and bacteriologically safe drinking water for attenuating the health risk of the new born, children, adolescent and aged people. Extensive experimental studies will therefore determine the long-term performance of LSIPPF and the best filter with standard composition of laterite soil and plant biomass will then be recommended to the saline affected poor communities for the household treatment of drinking water. Local people are eager to adopt such durable and affordable treatment system which is compatible with the local environment. LSIPPF will be surely socio-culturally acceptable, technically simple, easily accessible, sustainable, cost effective, and user friendly possessing potential for dissemination.


What actions do you propose?


World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) global assessment reports have indicated that most of the world’s human population do not have access to safe drinking water, while one sixth of the world population (1.1 billion people) have access to adequately safe water supplies. Approximately 80% of communicable diseases in the world are water-borne. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set a target to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015 compared to 1990. The availability of safe drinking water, particularly in Bangladesh's hard to reach areas, is expected to worsen as the country experiences the effects of climate change, experts say. As a result of climate change, salinity in Bangladesh's coastal areas has increased, causing a lack of sweet water. Women in coastal and haor areas need to go miles to collect a pitcher of safe drinking water (APHA 1991, APHA 2001, WHO 2011, Gleick 2009, Brundtland 2012, BBS 2013). The problem of saline water intrusion in both surface and ground water is a great concern of safe drinking water in the coastal Bangladesh which is undoubtedly the malice consequences of climate change and global warming. The saline water intake directly are of another major anxiety now-a-days due to the prevalence of water-borne diseases and the possibility of occurring chronic diseases to the poor coastal people. So, to provide them safe drinking water free from saline compounds can be considered as the top-most significant adaptation  way and could be a time-demanding research approach for us. In this study, we will give effort for the removal of the salinity, microbial and physico-chemical contaminants using an innovative laterite soil impregnated porous pot filter (LSIPPF) composed of iron rich locally available laterite soil and plant biomass having noble attributes e.g. durable, affordable for the poor people and more effective in the removal of the contaminants (Khan and Aneire 2012, Pitman and Läuchli 2004, Umali 201). Various water treatment devices and safe storage technologies, such as the use of disinfectants (such as chlorine and iodine), filtration, distillation, reverse osmosis, solar disinfectant and water purifiers, have been reported to decrease salinity along with climatic diseases like endemic diarrhea caused by waterborne pathogens and to improve the microbial and chemical quality of drinking water (Safriel 2011, Jury and Vaux 2007, Sarwar and Khan 2007, Sarwar and Golam 2005, Baumgartner et al. 2007, Suhrke 1994, Azad et al. 2009).

Although various systems and devices have been extensively reported in the literature, little is known locally about the existing options and how to assist local communities in making informed choices on whether a particular system or unit will be appropriate to their situation, or which unit should be selected. A need therefore exists to source and investigate appropriate units and to determine their efficiency in contaminant removal under local conditions as well as their potential sustainability, and to provide some guidance on both the selection and use of these units under local conditions. One of the main targets to develop this filter is to produce saline free and bacteriologically safe drinking water for attenuating the health risk of the new born, children, adolescent and aged people.


Proposed actions

Construction of LSIPPF:

In this study, a prototype of LSIPPF is going to develop to study its feasibility to combat the climate change impact by proving a fundamental adaptation intervention. The whole study will be divided into two parts. Firstly, a household based filter will be prepared and tested and secondly the obtained results will be tested in the real-scale filter.


Development of house hold-scale LSIPPF

Firstly, different types of prototypes will be tried and developed with different configurations, for example, a prototype with a low cost anti-microbial additive (preferably organic, indigenous and must be proven food safe). The primary focus to develop a one owns ease of deployment (how easy it is to gather materials and build the unit), and cost.  In each try of prototype of LSIPPF, a 3 feet long pipe will be used. The ingredients of the filter are a 3 feet long pipe, a smooth cloth, a funnel and a water pot to collect water. The active component of the column, the sorbent, is typically the iron rich naturally available laterite soil, coarse Sand (0.5-1.0 mm) and Coal and plant biomass. The addition of sand and coal is optional here and will be added if designated contaminant present in the water. No external pressure and solvent will be given in the column and the flow relies on the force of gravity to pass the sample through the column. Firstly, the bottom of pipe will be bind with a smooth cloth to stop the flow of components out of pipe. A funnel also attach to that end of the pipe in order to ensure the flow of water into the specific direction. Then, the pipe will be filled with coarse sand followed by laterite soil, coal and plant biomass respectively. The upper most 0.5 feet was kept empty to input sample water.


Development of real-scale LSIPPF

This study will be based on PSF technology and the outputs of the household-scale LSIPPF.

To conduct a pond based rapid filter, jhama brick chips (gravel) will be used which is very effective in treating of color, odor etc. Effective bacterial action in slow sand filter (SSF) is another filter medium (CAWST 2010). The action commences with the sticking of the jelly-like floc to the grain of sand where bacteria adhere and trapped. Soon a biological jelly will be formed around each grain where biological activities carried out. Due to the large intervals of necessary wash-up of this film, almost all the bacterial load of pathogenic type retained on it. SSFs are hundred percent effective in bringing down the bacterial contents of water. In the three treatment beds, 40 mm downgraded bricks chips, plant biomass, coarse sand and fine sand beds will be taken initially.


Utilization of LSIPPF:

Treatment procedure

Firstly, the saline water from both surface of ground water will be allowed to pass through the house-hold LSIPPF. The gradient along with the gravity will flow the water into the filter. Thereafter, the sample usually passes through a 3 feet long LSIPPF and the clean water free from both saline compounds and pathogenic bacteria will be collected from the collection chamber. Subsequently, treated water finally collected to a storage tank from where the samples were collected for laboratory tests. The stored water will then distribute to the house hold or to the whole villagers if the real-scale LSIPPF is being used.  


Adoption of user manual:

A user friendly operational manual will be developed afterwards the successful development of the LSIPPF which will be convenient, graphical or pictorial, easy understandable, easy going for the poor uneducated villagers, simple trouble shoot solutions, etc.


Awareness training program:

We strongly believe that no alternatives of climate change adaptation practices will be successful until the sincere awareness and/or the practices of the user or general public. Realizing the fact, an awareness training program at regular interval on climate change issues, how to face them, intervention, safe drinking water, pathogen, diseases and stable life style will be carried out.

Development of drinking water fund or climate resilience fund:

For the establishment of climate resilient society and to merge the climatic interventions into every aspects of our society, fund is the primary requirements. The government, NGOs, and international agencies are working on it. The coastal villages of Bangladesh will develop a fund named drinking water fund or climate resilience fund.


Strategic Analysis



a) Qualified/competent academic researchers to maintenance the research activities.

b) Eagerness among the researchers involved in this study to carry out innovative research.

c) Adequate Undergraduate and Master’s students can be involved in this program to make this study sustainable.

d) Enthusiastic approach of rural people and management and their continual cooperation and support to further patronize the established infrastructure.

e) Thrust to high scientific and technical knowledge and quality research.

f) Communication with some renowned foreign universities and laboratories (Environmental remediation laboratory, Hokkaido University, Japan).

g) Availability of the raw materials locally and regionally with low price.



a) Possibility of the proposed technology to be less effective which will then be needed further investigation to be more effective.

b) Absence of complete and systematic curricula for integrated management of the LSIPPF.

c) Unavailability of complete database for climate change related adaptation in Bangladesh.

d) Low level of diseases and health awareness among the rural dwellers. 

e) Poor budget allocation for the development activities.



a) An example of quality adaptation practice can be promoted in other salinity prone area of Bangladesh.

b) Skilled manpower from local dwellers can be developed and organized capable of taking care of their own resources.

c) An integrated adaptation program can be developed which will ultimately enhance the research capabilities to combat climate change.

d) Basis of higher research facilities.

e) External funding for adaptation research and joint academic exchange/research programs can be achieved with renowned foreign universities in future.



a) Political unrest in the country.

b) Natural calamities.

c) Prolonged fund obtaining process.


Behavioral changes:

Social and cultural acceptance of this LSIPPF is a crucial issue. It may be haphazard to assume that people would readily accept this technology for daily use in their households. Perceptions can be very hard to change even if the technology is backed by scientific facts. So, an information and education component to encourage and promote the use of the technology will be developed once. After the successful implementation of this project, the behavioral change among the villagers and the performance of the LSIPPF will be regularly monitored and assessed thereafter for finding out the limitation, improvement area and so on. This will be a continuous process until we reached satisfactory level of attitudinal changes of the people.


Outputs or outcomes:

At the end of the study following outcomes are expected-

1. A novel method that can reduce the health impact induced by saline and microbial contaminated water onto the vulnerable population in the society. Upon successful completion of this project followed by its outstanding outcomes, it will bring significant changes in the mind set-up of the policy makers in the government of Bangladesh, donor communities, and non-governmental organizations.

2. Upon successful applicability of this research, it will connect public health with the safe drinking water in coastal Bangladesh.

3. The cost-effectiveness of the technology will bring required willingness to the poor people to adopt safe option in all time.

4.  This study will certainly provide a motivation to the community people, policy makers and researchers to work out polluted water by safe water.

5. The success rate of this technology will be measured and repeatedly assessed by the satisfaction of the users, the sound health of the vulnerable group and successful conduction of this research.

6. This study has a great impact on ongoing thirst for finding the diverse options to reduce the water salinity and pollution from the surface and ground water to attain MDGs.

7. This study will certainly promote improved monitoring criteria and will eventually support to design and implement complete solutions to meet the objectives taken in remediate the saline water with innovative interventions.

Who will take these actions?

The actions will be implemented by the project technical team which will mainly be consists of environmental scientists, hydrologists, public health specialists, and sociologists.

Technical team, project consultants and project personnel will conduct different meetings and discussions with all major stakeholders e.g., local community people, community leaders, NGOs, and governments officials to explore most vulnerable community or regions, develop LSIPPF and conduct feasibility study in  terms of cost, raw materials, water quality, health and sustainability.

Technical team, project personnel and community leaders will ensure the development of LSIPPF with the strong involvement of the local communities, to create a sense of ownership among the communities involved in the construction of real-scale LSIPPF.

Government with the help of INGOs, NGOs and local organizations can bring new policy to create awareness, and disseminate of LSIPPF in every coastal community.

Government with the help of INGOs, and NGOs will provide technical and financial support, and other motivation for the adoption of LSIPPF in every household level.

Where will these actions be taken?

The project seeks to develop a low cost laterite soil impregnated porous pot filter (LSIPPF) to combat the climate change impact by proving a fundamental adaptation intervention in the coastal regions of Bangladesh (southern part of Bangladesh) where 35.1 million populations that represent 28 percent of total population of the country (BBS, 2003) are living covering a total of 147 upazillas (sub-district) under 19 districts. Out of these 19 districts, 12  districts covering 48 upazillas meet the sea or lower estuary directly and severely affected by saline water due to sea level rising. These 12 districts in the coastal belts is our major concern in which people consume saline and polluted water directly due to lack of sufficient potable water and suffers frequently from different water-borne diseases related to salinity. After development of the LSIPPF, every household of the coastal belt will be covered by the LSIPPF which save the people from the impact of climate change.

What are other key benefits?

  1. The technology's potential for low cost, indigenous and portable primary stage water treatment equipment would have a huge impact not only in Bangladesh but also in other low lying developing countries (with access to laterite soil) as well.
  2. A novel method that can reduce the health impact induced by saline contaminated water onto the vulnerable population in the society. Upon successful completion of this project, followed by its outstanding outcomes, it will bring significant changes in the mind set-up of the policy makers in the government of Bangladesh, donor communities, and non-governmental organizations.
  3. Upon successful applicability of this research, it will connect public health with the safe drinking water in coastal Bangladesh The cost-effectiveness of the technology will bring required willingness to the poor people to adopt safe option.
  4. This study will certainly provide a motivation to the community people, policy makers and researchers to work out saline water by safe water.

What are the proposal’s costs?

The proposed cost in USD for the successful implementation of this project is total 9975 USD. The breakdown of this cost is as follows-

Travel Cost in the Southern part of Bangladesh (650); Feasibility assessment through questionnaire survey and focus group discussion (550); Attitude and Practices (KAP) surveys (375); Field Water Quality Assessment (875); Design and Development of LSIPPF (5000); Treatment of drinking water (1675); Monitoring and Maintenance (625); and Reporting, food, accommodation, etc (225). 

Time line

The proposed actions will be phased generally in four categories. Initially, the study, experiments, research feasibility measurement, improvement area, scope and socio-economic and behavioral investigation will be carried out for the first year after onset.

In over the short-term (5-15 years), Development of house hold-scale LSIPPF, Development of real-scale LSIPPF, Utilization of LSIPPF, Adoption of user manual, Awareness training program, Development of drinking water fund or climate resilience fund and behavioral changes will be synthesized, revised, checked, troubleshoot tools and further developed for the assurance of the long-term application. The main target here is to develop such an wonderful system which will be error free, popular and cost-effective among the users.

In case of medium term (15-50 years), the proposed actions will be further revised, reshaped and new technological involvement will be ensured to get additional and advance level of facilities. In addition, the monitoring aspect will be strengthened so that errorless services can be assured. Finally, a new generation will be trained up sufficiently to accustom with this technology and to add value and their effort for self maintenance. Behavioral and attitudinal changes of the adult people will be the ongoing process.

In long-term (50-100 years) phase, we strongly hope that this technology will be suppressed by some other similar technologies, the life-quality of the people will be significantly standard, the scientists will be able to reduce the salinity impact in case of drinking water. 

Related proposals

There is no relevant proposal among climate CoLab proposals

Similar type of projects in the world:

1. Mahmood Q, Baig SA, Nawab B, Shafqat MN, Pervez A, Zeb BS (2011) Development of low cost household drinking water treatment system for the earthquake affected communities in Northern Pakistan. Desalination 273: 316–320.

2. Ahammed MM, Davra K (2011) Performance evaluation of biosand filter modified with iron oxide-coated sand for household treatment of drinking water. Desalination 276: 287–293

3. Baig SA, Mahmood Q, Nawab B, Shafqat MN, Pervez A (2011)Improvement of drinking water quality by using plant biomass through household biosand filter – A decentralized approach, Ecological Engineering 37: 1842– 1848




1)      American Public Health Association, AWWA, Manual of design for slow sand filtration. In: Hendricks, D. (Ed.), AWWA. Research Foundation and American Water Works Association, Denver, CO, USA, 1991.

2)      APHA. Revisions to Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater (Suppl.). Washington, DC, 2001.

3)      Baumgartner, J., Murcott, S., Ezzati, M., Reconsidering ‘appropriate technology’: the effects of operating conditions on the bacterial removal performance of two household drinking-water filter systems. Environ. Res. Lett.2, (2007). 1–6.

4)      BBS (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics), Statistical Yearbook of Bangladesh -2012, 32nd ed., Ministry of Planning Government of The People's Republic of Bangladesh, Dhaka, 2013.

5)      CAWST, Biosand Filter Manual: Design, Construction, Installation, Operation and Maintenance. <> (retrieved 24.02.2010).

6)      E. Khan, Aneire, Drinking Water Salinity and Maternal Health in Coastal Bangladesh: Implications of Climate Change. Environmental Health Perspectives 119(9) (2011)1328-1332.

7)      G.H Brundtland, The Global Water Crisis: Addressing an Urgent Security Issue, in: H. Bigas (Eds.), Papers for the Inter Action Council, 2011-2012. Hamilton, Canada: UNU-INWEH, 2012.

8)      M. Sarwar, M. Golam, Impacts of Sea Level Rise on the Coastal Zone of Bangladesh; Lund University International Masters Programme in Environmental Science, Lund University, Sweden, 2005.

9)       M. Sarwar, M.H. Khan, Sea Level Rise: A Threat to the Coast of Bangladesh. International Quarterly for Asian Studies, 38(3/4), (2007) 375-400.

10)  P.H. Gleick, Water Conflict Chronology, Version 2004-2009” in The World’s Water. The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources, 2008-2009. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2009, pp. 151-193.

11)  U. Safriel, Balancing Water for People and Nature, in: A. Garrido, H. Ingram (Eds.), Water for Food in a Changing World: Contributions from the Rosenberg International Forum on Water Policy, New York and London: Routledge, 2011, pp. 135-170.

12)  W.A Jury, H.J. Vaux, The Emerging Global Water Crisis: Managing Scarcity and Conflict between Water Users,  Adv. Agron. 95 (2007) 1-76.

13)  WHO (World Health Organization), Guidelines for drinking water quality-1, recommendations, 4th ed.: World Health Organization, Geneva, 2011.

14)  K. Azad, A. Jensen. R. Kathe, L.C. Kwei, Coastal Aquaculture Development in Bangladesh:Unsustainable and Sustainable Experiences; published online:22 August 2009, Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, 2009.

15)  A. Suhrke, Environmental Degradation and Population Flows. Journal of International Affairs, 47, 1994

16)  D.L. Umali, Irrigation-Induced Salinity, 2013. DOI:10.1596/978-0-8213-2508-7

17)  M. Pitman, A. Läuchli, Global Impact of Salinity and Agricultural Ecosystems ; Biomedical and Life Sciences ;Salinity: Environment - Plants - Molecules ; 2004, A, 3-20, DOI: 10.1007/0-306-48155-3_1.