In Bangladesh, we may expect that whatever comes out of the tap will be drinkable. The data, however, suggests a very grim reality.
Bangladesh scored 26.90 out of 100 in the 2022 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), meaning the local tap water is one of the most dangerous in the world.
Bangladesh ranked fifth in terms of access to safe drinking water in South Asia and 128th overall.
In South Asia, Bangladesh is only ahead of Nepal (25.90), India (18.30), and Pakistan (15.30).
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka ranked first in the region with a score of 46.70, followed by the Maldives (41.2), Bhutan (31.5), and Afghanistan (27.80).
The Yale University’s EPI index looks at the quality of drinking water in 180 countries around the world based on the number of age-standardized disability-adjusted life-years lost per 100,000 persons (DALY rate) due to exposure to unsafe drinking water. All of the countries on the list are ranked by a score from 0 to 100, with a score of 100 indicating very safe drinking water and a score of 0 indicating the most unsafe.
QS Supplies, one of the UK's largest independent bathroom wholesalers and retailers, has used EPI and CDC data to create a new set of data visualizations to illustrate the severity of the situation and to flag the countries where it is and is not safe to consume the tap water.
The data from the CDC suggests that the water coming out of the tap in Bangladesh is “not safe to drink.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than a quarter of the world's population lives in water-stressed countries, and a similar number uses a drinking water source contaminated with feces.
These conditions cause diarrheal diseases including cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio to spread through drinking water each year. Common chemical contaminants include lead, mercury, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and microplastics.
While the large cluster of 100-rated nations in the centre of the data visualization consists entirely of European nations, the 24 countries with the lowest rating are all in Africa.
Among the 180 countries, there are only 50 that the CDC lists as having drinkable tap water. The US disease control agency discourages drinking tap water in much of Asia and Latin America and in every country in Africa.
According to the CDC's safety advisory on tap water, no country in South Asia has access to drinkable tap water.
Read more: How to Build Dhaka as a Water Wise City