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Transforming lives through access to water and sanitation

Project time period


In the major cities of Bangladesh, poor and commuter communities are deprived of access to toilets as public sanitation is a highly undermined priority in urban life across Bangladesh. Project Sunrise by WaterAid has improved the health, safety and dignity of millions of people, by renovating or building toilets.

© GMB Akash

The lack of safe, clean toilets in the cities leaves people with no choice but to go in the open. Women and children are put at risk and are exposed to harassment and indignity. People’s health and the local environment are severely impacted without safe water and appropriate toilets, leaving people trapped in a cycle of poverty.

When H&M customers purchased gift cards during H&M’s Holiday Campaign in 2013, they were contributing to transforming lives for millions of people in Bangladesh. The number of purchased gift cards secured a donation from the H&M Foundation that made Project SUNRISE possible.

Additional funding and app tracking toilets

The availability of clean, accessible and secure toilet facilities has led to an increase in use by commuters, pedestrians and the floating population – and women in general. 31 toilets have been built in Dhaka, and they have been used more than 5.3 million times! In addition, a smartphone app called “Toilet tracker” has been developed. The app helps you identify nearby public toilets and includes information about their quality and ratings from previous visitors.

Thanks to this project a revolution has sparked in the city and the perception and use of public sanitation has changed in Dhaka. Mayors of both Dhaka North and South City Corporations have publicly declared their support of this initiative and are now able to drive the work championed by Sunrise on their own. After seeing successful progress from the project, the government of Bangladesh has decided to allocate additional funds to Dhaka City Corporations by building 145 more public toilets. Furthermore, the level of public interest, media attention, and government backing has created the scope to go beyond the capital and reach the wider urban population. This means the project has moved onto the cities of Chittagong, Khulna and Sylhet where six toilets will be built.

The project provided an opportunity for making a huge impact in public sanitation services as WaterAid promoted a new era in public-private partnership with a new model for renovation, management and supervision of public toilets in Bangladesh. The H&M Foundation’s targeted funding have reached millions of people who live and work in Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna and Sylhet, providing them with safe, sustainable and dignified public sanitation services.

Project Specifics

  • Total Donation: 37.1 million Swedish krona
  • Program Period: 20132019
  • Countries: Bangladesh
  • Focus Areas: Water
  • Partners: WaterAid


  • 31 new public toilets have or will be built in Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna and Sylhet.
  • 5.35 million times have the toilets served the population in Dhaka as of March 2018.