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Fact Sheet ‐ 8: A Bacteriological Water Quality Issue: Rohingya “Forcefully Displaced Myanmar Citizens” Camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh

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Background: An estimated 671,000 Rohingya people have come to Bangladesh from Myanmar’s Rakhine State since 25th August 2017. This has increased the total Rohingya population to 884,000 in 13 camps in Cox’s Bazar district. Newly arrived Rohingya peoples are living in spontaneous settlements, and there is an increasing need for humanitarian assistance; including shelter, clean water, and sanitation for about 1.16 million people.

Collectively the sector has installed 6057 water points and 50,087 emergency latrines.

Purpose of the Report: This factsheet provides the information on the water quality (by testing faecal coliforms, Escherichia coli and electrical conductivity) results obtained from forcefully displaced Myanmar citizen camps by a blanket sampling.

Summary: This factsheet is aimed to provide evidence-based information on microbiological and chemical quality of drinking water collected from the Rohingya camps in Cox’s Bazar. Throughout the project duration, water samples were collected from 3527 water points (tube wells, tap stands and water trucks). Many people do not practice hygiene properly while collecting water from tube wells. Usually they insert the water collection pot into the mouth of the tube wells. Therefore, micro-organisms present in the brim of the water collection pot may get in contact with the tube well mouth and gradually they can make a biofilm over there and thus increasing the risk of contamination of water during collection afterwards. Moreover, many people touch the tube well mouth with dirty hands even after defecation which increases the chance of introducing fecal microorganisms in the tube well mouth. To get the actual scenario whether the source water is really contaminated or the contamination is occurred due to malpractice, samples were collected before and after decontaminating the mouth of the tube wells.

Normally the water of deep aquifers is microbiologically safe to consume but secondary contamination occurs during water collection, transportation, preservation and point of use. Therefore, it is important to check the water quality at point of use water from the households. As the Rohingya population is living in densely crowded area and a single water point is shared by a quite large number of people, so it is not possible to check water quality from every household. Thus, we have planned to test water quality from two households who are using water from the same source.

Sample collection was started from 5th March, 2018. The samples were transported by air shipment from Cox’s Bazar to the Environmental Microbiology Laboratory of icddr,b; Dhaka maintaining cool chain and processed according to the standard procedures. As microbiological indicators, faecal coliforms and E. coli were enumerated; and electrical conductivity was measured as the primary concept of the load of dissolved chemical parameters in the water body.