“Probaho” (Flow of Water)
British American Tobacco Bangladesh
59 water filtration plants have been installed in the East and Southeast part of Bangladesh ensuring pure drinking water for approximately 150,000 people every day
INTRODUCTIONThe ground water in many villages of Bangladesh is contaminated by arsenic, which sometimes even reaches level of 1-2 mg/lit. While the World Health Organization has fixed the acceptable levels of arsenic in water to be 0.01 mg/lit., British American Tobacco Bangladesh took the initiative to provide pure drinking water to arsenic-affected areas through the project called “Probaho” which means flow of water in English. So far 59 water filtration plants have been installed, using government-approved community based water filtration technology.
The project mission is to complement the Government’s aim to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of securing sustainable access to safe drinking water and now this project is providing 300,000 litres of safe drinking water which is free from arsenic and other impurities to arsenic-prone rural communities every day.
FRAMEWORK AND STRATEGYThe installation and operation process is carried out by BAT Bangladesh’s business partner, SIDKO – a government approved NGO for as such operations. In first phase, the preferred location is suggested by BATB’s field team on a need and priority basis. Once the technical team conducts a feasibility check, a shallow tube of 215ft is planted at the site. Then a 10ft by 16ft foundation base is created to set up the plant. The plants have arsenic and iron filters and an arsenic test is done by Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) for the water of each plant. In its last phase SIDKO declares work completion along with the water test results.
BAT Bangladesh is focused on supporting delivering on sustainability agenda by spending on business relevant CSI programs in communities where they operate. The project not only focuses on access to safe-drinking water but also its sustainability is ensured by the local community. At first, a committee is developed with BAT Bangladesh’s assistance to look after the plant on a daily basis, which collects a small amount of monthly fee from families (who collect water daily) and pay the electricity bill and maintenance cost.
ACHIEVEMENT AND IMPACTSo far 59 water filtration plants have been installed in the East and Southeast part of Bangladesh ensuring pure drinking water for approximately 150,000 people every day. Previously women had to cross long distances to carry pitchers full of water to their house but now they can collect safe drinking water from the nearby Probaho plants very easily. The British American Tobacco group has recognised this project by being given the ‘Global EHS Excellence Award’ in 2013.
FUTURE DIRECTIONBAT Bangladesh’s supply chain starts with the hard work of around 32,400 registered farmers in the communities where it operates. The expansion plan of the project is to reach out to the farmer communities, where arsenic is an issue. BAT Bangladesh is now working in partnership with Bangladesh Agricultural University to identify the impact of its CSR projects in the communities. This outcome from this study will help BAT Bangladesh to grow the project in future with the right interventions.
BAT Bangladesh is a part of BAT PLC, the renowned international tobacco group, with brands sold in 200 markets around the world. Essentially BAT makes and market cigarettes, but there is a lot more to it than that. BAT’s sustainable approach is based on sourcing, production and distribution which creates value for a wide group of stakeholders from crop to consumer. These include farmers and their communities, other suppliers, retailer and wholesale trade partners, NGOs, government, regulators and the society at large.