Water Quality and Willingness to Pay for Safe Drinking Water in Tala Upazila in a Coastal District of Bangladesh

  • Nepal C. DeyEmail author
  • Mahmood Parvez
  • Ratnajit Saha
  • Mir Raihanul Islam
  • Tahera Akter
  • Mahfuzar Rahman
  • Milan Barua
  • Akramul Islam
Original Paper


This study, conducted in Tala Upazila (with > 0.3 million people) situated in a coastal district of Bangladesh, endeavors to identify the water quality situation and to assess people’s willingness to pay for safe drinking water; with a view to develop policies and programs to improve people’s access to safe and affordable drinking water in the coastal area. A total of 4500 households were surveyed for getting relevant information on willingness to pay of households, while water quality test was performed at 649 high dependent drinking water sources (basically tubewells) for identifying arsenic, salinity and iron concentration. Arsenic test results revealed that overall 36.5% of tested drinking water sources; 63% shallow tubewells and 14% deep tubewells were unsafe due to the presence of high levels of arsenic beyond Bangladesh standard. Electrical conductivity, which is a measure of salinity was very high in about 94% of the tested water sources; while 61% of tested sources had iron concentration higher than the Bangladesh standard. It is evident from the study that people are aware of these problems and on an average, 91% of the households were willing to pay for improving access to safe drinking water. Regardless of economic class, most of the households (75%) were willing to pay BDT 20.0 (0.25 USD) per week for 20 L safe water per day, which is equivalent to 2–6% of their respective monthly income to access safe drinking water. Logistic regression model identified monthly household income, tubewell ownership, distance of drinking water source, etc., as some determinants of households’ willingness to pay for safe drinking water. Encouraging peoples who are currently drinking arsenic-contaminated tubewell water to shift their sources to nearby arsenic free tubewells may be a cost-effective solution to this problem. Engaging community-based WatSan committee (a local committee comprising the user communities for supervising water and sanitation related activities) including local government representatives to design an affordable water tariff structure and generating sufficient revenue to cover the cost of water services in the community would be an effective and sustainable solution to improve access of safe and affordable drinking water in the coastal area of Bangladesh.


Drinking water Arsenic Salinity Willingness to pay 



The paper is based on research funded in part by DFID through Strategic Partnership Assistance (SPA) through the BRAC WASH program. We are grateful to participants who provided valuable information for this study. Thanks to WASH program personnel for their contribution during field work. Thanks to the Data Management Unit of RED for providing necessary support for cleaning the data in time. Thanks also to the Center for Water, Environment and Health Research and Development, Social Innovation and Development Foundation for their support during the study.

Authors contribution

NCD: conceived and conducted the study; analyzed and interpreted the data and wrote the paper. MP: analyzed and interpreted the data, and assisted in report writing. RS: conducted household level survey, assisted in data analysis and GIS mapping. MRI: data analysis and interpretation of data. TA: questionnaire development, training to enumerators, and data collection. MR: coordinated in data collection and reviewed manuscript. MKB: field management during household level survey. AI: field management during household level survey.


The study was funded from DFID through Strategic Partnership Assistance (SPA) through the BRAC WASH program.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nepal C. Dey
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Mahmood Parvez
    • 1
  • Ratnajit Saha
    • 1
  • Mir Raihanul Islam
    • 1
  • Tahera Akter
    • 1
  • Mahfuzar Rahman
    • 1
  • Milan Barua
    • 4
  • Akramul Islam
    • 4
  1. 1.Research and Evaluation DivisionBRACDhakaBangladesh
  2. 2.Department of Environmental Science and Disaster ManagementNoakhali Science and Technology UniversitySonapurBangladesh
  3. 3.Center for Water, Environment, Health Research and Development, Social Innovation and Development FoundationDhakaBangladesh
  4. 4.Water, Sanitation and Hygiene ProgrammeBRACDhakaBangladesh

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