Water researchers and experts at a discussion called for ensuring integrity in water and sanitation services for sound public health as an integrity approach in water and sanitation builds trust of consumers.
They viewed that many people suffer from various water-borne diseases besides many other health and social disorders. So integrity in water and sanitation services has become crucial for residents, resilience and reputation.
The experts came up with the observations while addressing a webinar titled “”Wash Integrity Management: Challenges and Way Forward” on Thursday evening.
Bangladesh Water Integrity Network (BAWIN) hosted the virtual webinar in collaboration with Change Initiative, NGO Forum for Public Health and Water Integrity Network (WIN) discussing and devising ways and means on how to ensure integrity, transparency, accountability and good governance in the water sector.
Renowned water expert Prof Ainun Nishat addressed the meeting as chief guest, while BAWIN President Engineer Shahidul Hassan delivered his concluding remarks. Zakir Hossain Khan, Executive Director of Change Initiative, moderated the discussion.
Prof Saiful Islam from Institute of Water and Flood Management (IWFM) in Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and Kazi Monir Mosharof, Focal Person of Integrity Management Project, NGO Forum and Coordinator, BAWIN, presented two separate keynote papers on the issue.
Khulna Water and Sewerage Authority Managing Director Engineer Md. Abdullah, NGO Forum for Public Health Executive Director S.M.A. Rashid, SIMAVI Country Coordinator Alok Majumder and VERC Executive Director Yakub Hossain were the panel discussants.
In his remarks, Prof Ainun Nishat opined that the value of water is much more than its economic value because water has enormous value in terms of households, food, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of the natural environment.
So, proper valuation of water along with its enhanced protection depends on the practice of integrity at all levels.
Besides, Prof Nishat said water demand has increased significantly. So, proper uses of water, availability and mitigating the uncertainty to get water should be given priority. Besides, navigation needs to be a top priority and ranking must be done in terms of drinking water, food security.
In addition to ensuring equal distribution of water, water quality must be considered in the valuation of water, he added.
Prof Saiful Islam apprised the participants that water is a scarce resource around the world. He claimed that two million people lack access to safe water, 48 million people lack access to improved sanitation and 30 per cent of the total population lives on less than sanitation in Bangladesh.
Highlighting the issues of how water is being polluted and crises being intensified due to climate change he stressed the need to give equal importance to both proper valuation and integrity in the water sector.
Sharing his expertise on the issue S.M.A. Rashid said water has both direct and indirect value and it is a multi-sectoral issue. Protecting water resources with application of the integrity management toolbox together with inter-agency collaboration has become indispensable to align with SDGs goal in 2030.
Rashid said water is a precious resource so science-based adaptive planning alongside integrity can be the effective means of mitigating the challenges in terms of water resource management.
In his remarks, Engineer Abdullah underscored the need for advocating the water integrity issue with the policymakers.
Engineer Shahidul Hassan claimed that not only safe drinking water but also irrigation is a very important and valuable part in water management. The main challenge in water resource management is how to meet the demand for water with limited resources.
He underlined the need for controlling the excessive use of water besides determining its fair price.