The Dhaka Water Services Turnaround

Dhaka’s water utility, DWASA, has reformed into one of South Asia’s most efficient water utilities. 

The Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) is a breakthrough turnaround story in the delivery of clean, reliable, affordable, and continuous water supply to the residents, including the poor, in Dhaka.  Water utilities in South Asia continue to struggle financially and clean potable water is an exception rather than a norm in most cities.

This report summarises an ADB project which helped turn around DWASA and offers critical insights for policymakers in the region.

Dhaka’s key problems were the following:

  • Inadequate supply of clean water to meet rapidly growing demand.
  • Poor quality of water distribution network and high water losses.
  • Low quality and reliability of water supply and poor service delivery.
  • Limited coverage of slum dwellers.
  • Financially unsustainable utility.
  • Inefficient and ineffective management systems.

The reform program rested on four broad pillars:
• Improving local governance and strengthening the local institutional
• Preparing a sector strategy for demand-side management;
• Improving financial sustainability; and
• Strengthening DWASA’s governance, organisational structure, and financial
management capacity.

This summary is based on a report by the ADB: The Dhaka Water Services Turnaround.  


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