Sustainable Waste Management System (Bangladesh)

$6,195 $5,805
Raised Remaining

Under Green Channel’s awareness based program, this quarter the team reached out to a new school (for underprivileged children) called Change the Lives. In this school we led workshops based on environmental education, the goals of which were to introduce the following conceopts among children:

  • No-littering
  • Recycling
  • No smoking
  • Personal Hygiene

The team started out with a small introduction about Green Channel followed by interactive games. Some of the children participated by singing songs, staging a performance or showing any other talents they had.

Next, the team led a workshops on personal hygiene, illustrating the importance of using tooth-brushes and hand-washing on a regular basis. Through short entertaining skits the team then showed the children why one must not litter and how important it is to create a litter-free environment and to avoid both active and passive smoking.  Cartoon videos were used to teach the children about causes of diseases, followed by an act about the types of diseases such as typhoid, jaundice and diarrhea. The 8 steps of hand washing were then demonstrated in an interactive way after which the children were asked to demonstrate if they could remember all 8 steps.

Next, the team showed the children a water filter that it had created with the help of a plastic bottle, pebbles, fine sand, cloth and charcoal, to produce pure water. Some of these children usually drink dirty water and thus thought this was a very simple and useful technique to produce fresh water for them and their families. .

The workshop was concluded with a short art competition followed by prizes for all the children. Special prizes were also given to the children who had the best two artworks. The children also received a pair of toothbrush and a toothpaste.

The purpose of this project is to continue the education programs among children. In the next few quarters we plan to also lead a few workshops in privileged schools, hoping to ultimately create a platform where we can bring both privileged and under-privileged children for environmental education.

Two Projects for Summer and Fall 2015:

Project #1: School-Grounds (Starting June) 

Phase I Experimental Phase:

Two schools have been selected to start off the School Project in June 2015. Based on the success of this phase, we will conduct Phase II (replication phase) with more schools.

Project proposals will be sent at the beginning of June to 2 local schools in Dhaka for Phase I.

Objective: Enhancing environmental education for children of age 11-12 through a holistic environmental education curriculum.


  1. To introduce all relevant educational concepts in the education system
  2. To create a stimulating environment for learning and growth opportunities  
  3. To encourage independence of thought, diversity of perceptions and intellectual engagement
  4. To facilitate environmentally conscious decision-making processes among the children of in their everyday life

Environmental Concepts to be introduced:

  • No-littering
  • Recycling
  • Composting
  • Personal Hygiene
  • Other Innovative Solutions


  1. Hand out interactive readings
  2. Documentaries
  3. Workshops
  4. Games
  5. Skits and Talent Shows
  6. Group discussions with guided questions
  7. Design & Build (design a project for your community/ innovative solutions)

Project #2: Rainwater Harvesting Project (Starting late July)

Phase I (Experimental Phase):

We are planning to start out with Uttara Society.

Phase II (Mass Replication):

We will expand our project and help in reducing water scarcity amongst low income-groups, depending on our success during the first stage.

Objective: To provide solution for water scarcity and reduce groundwater depletion.


  1. Reduce water scarcity by building rainwater harvesting systems.
  2. Find innovative solutions to improve the drainage systems of Bangladesh (long term solution).

We are currently at Research Phase for this project.

Research Details

Presently, about 162.2 million people live on 56,977 sq. miles (1,47,570 sq. km) of land which makes Bangladesh one of the most densely populated country in the world. From the last census report of 2001, it is evident that between 1961 to 2001, the population increased by 123.1 million (12.31 crore). In 40 years, the population increased by 77 million (7.70 crore). The population was 75 million in 1971 and in less than 40 years it has crossed 152 million. The present figure of population is 162.2 million which will increase to 200 million by 2020 (The Daily Star, July 11, 2010). Moreover, speakers at a dialogue on January 12, 2011 at Dhaka University said Bangladesh's population would be 222 million by 2051 and 250 million by 2081.

Therefore, among other concerns, fresh water supply will be a crucial issue for this country as its population is ever on the increase and when the state will fail to provide it, this can lead to intense unrest and social instability. The gap between supply and demand of water is ever-increasing. In this regard, Chairman of National Disaster Management Advisory Council Dr. MA Quassem said, “Water availability in Bangladesh is around 90 billion cubic metres (BCM) during the dry season against the demand of about 147 BCM, a shortage of nearly 40 percent, resulting in drought- like situation in large parts of the country” (The Daily Star, August 22, 2010).

Bangladesh is going to face severe water crisis within the next couple of decades due to random contamination of surface and ground-water, absence of comprehensive water sharing with neighbouring countries and mismanagement in preserving rainwater. Although the whole world is seriously thinking of conserving their water resources for ensuring water security, Bangladesh is destroying its surface and ground water by throwing waste into water bodies and over extracting ground water.

Today, rivers around the country are being filled up or being encroached upon in such a manner that is threatening the very existence of human habitation. According to a survey conducted by the Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB), there are 310 rivers in Bangladesh. Of these, 57 are border-rivers, the condition of 175 is miserable and 65 are almost dead. Eighty percent of the rivers lack proper depth. The latest study of BIWTA reveals that 117 rivers are either dead or have lost navigability. Such rivers include Brahmaputra, Padma, Mahananda, Meghna, Titas, Dhaleswari, Bhairab, Sitalakkhya, Turag, etc.

As rivers got polluted we became more and more dependent on ground-water as a source of drinking water. It is reported that presently 86% of WASA's drinking water comes from ground-water. Besides, excessive use of ground-water during the Boro season may have an adverse effect on the country's drinking water, warned International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on January 23, 2010. The excessive use due to widespread urbanisation, the recharge of the ground-water is not occurring as before. As a result, the ground-water level is falling between 1-3 metres every year. For example, during the last 12 years the ground-water level has fallen to almost 34 metres. According to a study conducted by the Bangladesh Agriculture Development Corporation (BADC), in 1996 the ground-water level was 26.6 metres in different parts of Dhaka city which fell to above 60 metres in January 2008. If this fall of ground water continues, what will happen in 2050 when even deep tubewells will be unable to strike water. For example, in 2001, deep tubewells could strike at a depth of 200 to 300 feet but now they have to go about 1,000 feet to get uninterrupted supply.

Reuse of water can reduce the total water demand. It can be applied both in the domestic and industrial sectors. Rain-water harvesting can also reduce water scarcity. There must be mandatory provisions of rainwater harvesting for every new structure coming up which will be particularly helpful for purposes like car washing, gardening, etc., at least for a certain period of the year and also serve as a reliable source of drinking water in the coastal areas of the country. New innovative technologies are needed to accelerate the utilisation of rain-water.

Bangladesh is a tropical country and receives heavy rainfall during the rainy season. In the coastal districts, particularly in the offshore islands of Bangladesh, rainwater harvesting for drinking purposes is a common practice in a limited scale for long time (Chowdhury et al, 1987). In some areas of the coastal region with high salinity problem, about 36 percent households have been found to practice rainwater harvesting in the rainy season for drinking purpose (Hussain and Ziauddin, 1989). In the present context, rainwater harvesting is being seriously considered as an alternative option for water supply in Bangladesh in the arsenic affected areas.

Rainwater harvesting systems

Rainwater harvesting, low-cost systems that collect and store rainwater for year-round use, offers a cost-effective and practical solution to ease Dhaka’s water crisis. It is estimated that rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems could supply more than 15% of Dhaka’s requirements. Since 1997, one thousand RWS have been installed in Bangladesh, mostly in rural areas. The systems’ capacities vary from 500L to 3,200L, at costs in the range of US$50-150. If RWH is undertaken as a serious investment, it could help conserve groundwater and recharge the water table. About 150bn liters of rainwater could be harvested during the monsoon season alone. Water can be stored for four to five months without bacterial contamination – an important fact given that 110,000 children in Bangladesh die of waterborne illnesses every year.


  • The quality of rainwater is comparatively good.
  • The system is independent and therefore suitable for scattered settlements.
  • Local materials and craftsmanship can be used in construction of rainwater system.
  • No energy costs are incurred in running the system.
  • Ease in maintenance by the owner/user
  • The system can be located very close to the consumption points.


  • The initial cost may prevent a family from installing a rainwater harvesting system.
  • The water availability is limited by the rainfall intensity and available roof area.
  • Mineral-free rainwater has a flat taste, which may not be liked by many.
  • Mineral-free water may cause nutrition deficiencies in people who are on mineral deficient diets.
  • The poorer segment of the population may not have a roof suitable for rainwater harvesting.

With the beginning of 2015, we have restructured a number of things at Green Channel. First of all we have decided to recruit new members for each of the teams (Projects, PR, Finance and IT) and second we have decided to structure each department and create a more sustainable way of training new members.

Under the Projects Department the Waste Management Project has been divided into 6 Action Projects (see document attached):

  1. Project Trash Patrol (the setting up of trashcans, our ongoing project till 2016)
  2. A new project that will work towards creating a sustainable way of collecting Residential Waste (in the process of being designed)
  3. A new project that will work towards creating a sustainable way of collecting Commercial Waste (will be designed after 2016)
  4. A new project that will work towards promoting composting practices in communities (will be designed after 2016)
  5. A new project that will work towards promoting recycling practices in communities (will be designed after 2016)
  6. A new project that will work towards raising awareness among children from an early age (in the process of being designed)

In 2015 we will be working on Action Projects 1, 2 and 6.

Recently we have been in touch with a private organization called Waste Concern in Bangladesh, who have done significant amount of work in this field for the past 20 years. Their knowledge and expertise have proved to be extremely valuable to us and thus we hope to work in partnership with them in the following years.

For Project 1, in the next 6 months we hope to complete Phase 5-10 (out of the 16 phases). For Project 2, we hope to design a project in partnership with Waste Concern using their models and patented composting processes in communities and schools. For Project 3 we will be launching a 3 day long program in two schools in Dhaka (sometime within the next month) which if successful will be be replicated in all the other schools of Dhaka. This program will consist of a few environment related topics, a small quiz competition, followed by a field trip.

The Rainwater Harvesting Project has been postponed to June, as it is closer to the Monsoon season. A project proposal has been made for the project. We will be approaching Uttara Society (a part of Dhaka) in March. They have been having water problem hence are very interested in participating in our experimental phase.


1. Waste Management

Dhaka city’s waste management system is currently insufficient, with 2500 tons of waste per day or about half the total waste generated in the city remaining uncollected everyday. In order to help alleviate this problem, Green Channel Foundation seeks to research and develop projects in the area of waste management in Dhaka city. After a city-wide anti-littering campaign that focused on raising awareness by setting up trash cans in different areas of Dhaka city, we are now planning on expanding our waste management efforts in three ways, which include:

  • Research and development of a cost-effective family-scale biogas system for use by low-income groups in Dhaka city
  • Development of models for waste separation and recycling in both residential and commercial areas
  • Development of new, innovative ways to increase awareness about waste management issues in Dhaka city

Biogas Systems

Biogas systems convert biodegradable waste to biogas. We are planning to visit Jahangirnagar University in December. They have a system that supplies biogas to 30 families.

After visiting JU, we aim to:

  • have a basic design for the first prototype ready
  • find a suitable location to build our prototype
  • make necessary project proposals

Waste Segregation

Currently, we are concentrating on segregation as it is a major problem in Dhaka city. We are planning to first start this initiative at Uttara Society and then eventually expand . The Uttara Society Welfare Committee has accepted our idea of starting waste segregation at selected households and to make sure it remains separated outside. Waste will be segregated into four categories: paper, glass, plastic and organic waste. We will be providing separate garbage bins of specific colours and common trash cans outside. We are now waiting to hear back from Waste Concern, a non profit organization that also works on waste segregation, for partnership and cooperation. We plan to publicize this project especially in Uttara through an educational seminar to begin with.

2. Rainwater Harvesting Project

Water scarcity is an important issue in Dhaka city, one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Because of heavy industrial contamination of surface water, about 90% of the water supply in Dhaka city comes from groundwater sources. The excess demand has currently caused the groundwater level to decrease at a rate of three meters every year, already having sunk by 50 meters over the last forty years. In a 2006 report by Dhaka WASA, the water deficit was identified as 500 million liters per day.

In stark contrast to the water deficit, Bangladesh is blessed with an annual rainfall of 2290 mm (100-year average, World Bank 2009). However, natural groundwater recharge from rainfall in Dhaka city is hampered by paved surfaces, up by 344% from 1960. Moreover, surface runoff from paved surfaces contributes to waterlogging and flooding problems in the city.

The aim of this project is to provide solutions for both the water scarcity and waterlogging problem in Dhaka city, by investigating the untapped potential of rainwater as well as methods to recharge groundwater. Different aspects of the project include:

  • Development of cost-effective family- or community-scale rainwater harvesting systems for low-income groups in Dhaka
  • Research and development of methods to reduce surface water runoff and/or improve groundwater recharge in Dhaka
  • Development of awareness initiatives to better educate the Dhaka community on city water issues such as water scarcity, depleting groundwater levels, waterlogging, etc. Advocacy of using rainwater harvesting systems in middle- and high-income households.

Rainwater catchment system

The rainwater catchment system is supposed to collect rainwater and reduce usage of groundwater. We have talked to Sunbeams School and they have approved the idea of building our first prototype. Our Head of Logistics has come up with the basic design. He is currently working on the schematics for the formal project proposal. Once we have submitted the proposal, we can start building the system.

If the first prototype is successful, we then plan on reaching out to lower-income groups because water shortage has always been a problem for them. In the long run, we want to promote the idea of building a catchment systems all over the city. It is cost effective and it can lower the rate of groundwater depletion.

Reduction of Surface Runoff/ Improvement of groundwater recharge


  • Analyse city policies and find out if government has taken any steps to improve groundwater recharge.
  • If not, then come up with ideas to reduce surface runoff and  improve groundwater recharge.
  • Propose ideas to government.

This part of the project is the second phase. We plan on working on it once we have built at least two working prototypes.

Collecting & Testing Rainwater Samples

Over the course of two weeks, samples of rainwater were collected from multiple areas in Dhaka deemed as prospective locations for establishing rainwater harvesting systems. The samples are being tested for pH and impurities to determine whether they are safe for consumption or other plausible uses.

Dear Donors, 

This month we are very excited to welcome new recruits into the Green Channel family. We are currently restructuring the organization, allowing for more flexibility and autonomy among the frontline members. Our new structure will include the following positions:

  1. Governing Body (includes the President and all the VPs)
  2. Executive Co Heads
  3. Secretary
  4. Treasurer
  5. Head of Corporate Relations
  6. Head of Project Management 
  7. Heat of IT 
  8. Head of Public Relations

We have recently completed our interviews with some very promising candidates  who will be filling up some of the vacant positions from 2 through 8. 

This year we have also welcomed a Global Giving visitor called Neeharika Tummala who was very impressed upon visiting sites where we have set up our trashcans. We have sat down and also discussed her observations, our aspirations and current action plans. 

Currently we are also exploring new ideas for small scale projects that smaller teams within th eorganization can design and implement. Few days ago, 2 of our Governing Body members, Sarah Seraj and Zabir Islam took a tour of JU’s biogas facility. The biogas there is piped to 30 residential homes. The GC representatives spoke to Dr. Khabir Uddin, the designer of the system, about the possibility of making a pilot-scale biogas system for houses in the slums of Dhaka, to which he has shown great interest and we look forward to discuss with him on this further. 

At Green Channel we encourage and inspire an entrpreneurial spirit. All our members are great leaders, constantly coming up with new ideas, leaping for new opportunities and executing effective projects. With your continued support and assistance, we hope to make a significant difference in Bangladesh's waste management system. 

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Project Leader

Navin Rahman

Dhaka, Dhaka District Bangladesh

Where is this project located?