Substantial progress has been seen in the drinking water supply as per the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), but achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), particularly SGD 6.1 regarding safely managed drinking water with much more stringent targets, is considered as a development challenge. The problem is more acute in low-income water-scarce hard-to-reach areas such as the southwest coastal region of Bangladesh, where complex hydrogeological conditions and adverse water quality contribute to a highly vulnerable and insecure water environment. Following the background, this study investigated the challenges and potential solutions to drinking water insecurity in a water-scarce area of southwest coastal Bangladesh using a mixed-methods approach. The findings revealed that water insecurity arises from unimproved, deteriorated, unaffordable, and unreliable sources that have significant time and distance burdens. High rates of technical dysfunction of the existing water infrastructure contribute to water insecurity as well. Consequently, safely managed water services are accessible to only 12% of the population, whereas 64% of the population does not have basic water. To reach the SDG 6.1 target, this underserved community needs well-functioning readily accessible water infrastructure with formal institutional arrangement rather than self-governance, which seems unsuccessful in this low-income context. This study will help the government and its development partners in implementing SDG action plans around investments to a reliable supply of safe water to the people living in water-scarce hard-to-reach coastal areas.
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