Summer Student Work: Reaz ’16 pursues clean water for the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh

Zuhayr Reaz ’16 is doing fieldwork in support of WaterAid in in his home country of Bangladesh, where nearly one in five people — 25 million — do not have access to improved water.

Name: Zuhayr Reaz ’16

Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh

Major: Economics

Adviser: Dr. Khairul Islam, country director for the nonprofit WaterAid and a recognized expert on sanitation and water issues facing the millions who live in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Research Funding: Bates Environmental Internship funded by the Moses Feldman Family Foundation and the Phillips Student Fellowship program.

1. What motivated you to seek this internship?

Growing up in Dhaka, I’ve seen poverty firsthand, and the work that WaterAid does is remarkable. In these slums people live in “buildings” that are just corrugated metal walls with a thin board as a roof, with some electricity from a stolen or illegal line and little or no indoor plumbing or toilets.

Dhaka is one of the poorest cities in the world in terms of its infrastructure. It has terrible drainage systems.

2. What are your day-to-day duties?

I’ve been working to coordinate a program of installing sanitary systems in urban Dhaka, including inside slums where no one has access to any form of safe public toilet or any hygienic method to carry out the process.

I’ve also been helping to record their usage and doing some data keeping in Excel.

A lot of my work has involved hosting hygiene workshops in slum schools for underprivileged children and carrying out art competitions in these schools. The goal is to raise awareness about environmental sustainability and taking care of the latrines that WaterAid has set up.

I also monitor the use and setup of deep tube wells that extract clean water from aquifers deep underground.

3. How do you see your coursework connecting to this internship?

I plan to major in economics with minors in mathematics. So far, I’ve taken two courses in physics, and courses in microeconomics, macroeconomics, atomic and molecular chemistry, chemical reactivity, calculus, and linear algebra, plus courses in acting and French.

This diverse coursework helps me make a reasonable impact in the implementation of projects by WaterAid — and help Dhaka become more environmentally sustainable.

4. The future?

I want to work in the sectors of environmental and human development.


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