“Save rainwater today to enjoy your tomorrow”
Eighteen months ago, Hasnine Zobayed Noman, a qualified electrical engineer, walked through the doors of Bangladesh’s first innovation incubator with the idea to improve rainwater harvesting for the country’s poorest families. Now, with his innovative water collection system up and running, Noman has won a contract with aid organisation, MERCY Malaysia, to provide clean water for a clinic serving Rohingya refugees.
For Noman, it has been quite a journey. He started out consulting community groups in four areas of the country – Habiganj, Cox’s Bazar, Korail in Dhaka and Khagrachari – about their access to this precious commodity. His findings were stark. High numbers of people he spoke to were suffering acute water shortage, waterborne diseases, skin conditions and arsenic poisoning. Residents of Korail – a large informal settlement area – siphon water from mains supplies because they have no other source, he discovered.
Noman set to work with innovation specialists from Udhvabani Lab, Bangladesh’s first innovation incubator, and water experts to tackle the growing problem of water scarcity and contamination. Udhvabani Lab is run by Dhaka Community Hospital Trust, which has a long track record as a healthcare provider treating illness and poisoning caused by unsafe water. Over a decade ago, the organisation released groundbreaking research about arsenic poisoning in river and ground water in certain areas of the country.
As an electrical engineer and keen entrepreneur, Noman, years before, had attempted to create a commercial water management system controlled by smartphone, but decided to turn his efforts to developing a solution for the poorest communities in his country. He realised huge amounts of rainwater was going to waste because the poorest households do not have the means to collect it.