Bangladesh Sustainability Excellence Awards Finalists 2023: How Shah Rafayat Chowdhury is empowering over 300,000 across marginal communities
Shah Rafayat Chowdhury is the Co-Founder & President of Footsteps, currently empowering over 300,000 people across Bangladesh with safe water and sanitation access, disaster resilience, and improved public health services, especially for the marginalized communities.

Shah Rafayat Chowdhury is the Co-Founder & President of Footsteps, currently empowering over 300,000
people across Bangladesh with safe water and sanitation access, disaster resilience, and
improved public health services, especially for the marginalized communities.
Project Trishna is their safe water distribution project and the word Trishna means thirst in
Bengali, and is on a mission to fulfill the thirst of the masses with its simple yet unique
strategy. Trishna first identifies communities experiencing water contamination or
shortages, after which customizes water systems according to community’s needs to be
implemented in community institutions such as schools, hospitals and public spaces
where people can easily access drinking water without any conflict. Afterwards, funding
to implement the water system is mobilized through CSR- private companies provide
funding to cover the capital and first year expenditures of the system in return for
branding on the system, so that whoever uses the system are aware of the company’s
role in ensuring safe water in the community. After implementation, Project Trishna
conducts an extensive capacity building session to build value for safe water, as well as
community’s technical and financial capacity to maintain the water systems without
further donor support for one year. After the first year, community fully adopts the water
system ensuring safe water access with their own resources, thus ensuring sustainability
and resilience of solution of the target community.

Since 2015, Project Trishna has ensured safe water access in 121 schools, 12 hospitals, 39
public spaces and 172 low income households in 13 districts across Bangladesh,
empowering 3,12,218 people with safe water access, among which 68,576 are children
benefitting from the initiative. Renowned private entities such as Prime Bank, City Bank,
IDLC Finance, Olympic Industries, Mutual Trust Bank, United Group have taken part in
Project Trishna over the years in empowering communities with access to safe drinking
water, improving health status and ensuring children are able to go to school without
falling sick by keeping them safe from waterborne diseases such as cholera, hepatitis and
dysentery.

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