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Implement policies to tackle water scarcity in Bangladesh

Turanur Islam
27 Apr 2023 00:00:00 | Update: 27 Apr 2023 00:50:57
Implement policies to tackle water scarcity in Bangladesh

Water scarcity has become a pressing global concern, affecting many regions around the world, and severe water shortag-es have already been observed in some areas. According to the United Nations, the number of people living in water-stressed regions is expected to increase substantially, with more than half of the world’s population projected to be affect-ed by 2025.

Among the countries grappling with water-related challenges is Bangladesh, which has been experiencing issues such as water scarcity, contamination, flooding, and river erosion. These problems are not limited to Bangladesh but are part of a broader global crisis that requires collective action.

To this end, the UN 2023 Water Conference was recently held from March 22-24, 2023, at the UN Headquarters in New York, aiming to address these challenges. Bangladesh played a crucial role in the conference, having been elected as the Vice-President of the UN 2023 Water Conference, providing an opportunity for the country to contribute to global efforts to tackle the water crisis.

Development Organisation of the Rural Poor-DORP a national Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), has been working with the poor, particularly the women, Children and excluded communities, to bring about a positive shift in the water crisis and address problems.

Deputy Executive Director of DORP Mohammad Zobair Hasan was one of the speakers at the conference to talk about Wa-ter Action and Human Rights, specifically implementing the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation at the local level. During his speech, he emphasised the need for all stakeholders to increase coverage by allocating more budget and investing in this critical infrastructure. According to JMP, jointly managed by WHO and UNICEF, in 2021 the coverage of safely man-aged water in Bangladesh is currently around 50 per cent.

Why did DORP attend the UN 2023 Water Conference?

Mohammad Zobair Hasan, from DORP, represented Bangladesh at the 2023 UN Water Conference to address the country’s water-related problems. DORP focuses on sustainable development through self-reliance and participatory approaches, particularly for marginalized communities affected by poverty, natural calamities, crises, sanitation, and health problems. The water problem in the coastal upazilas of Bangladesh is a pressing issue that has become increasingly severe due to population growth, urbanization, and climate change.

Bangladesh is a densely populated coastal country facing natural disasters, worsened by poor infrastructure and low-lying terrain. Water-related disasters lead to loss of life and property damage, leaving people vulnerable with limited resources and inadequate infrastructure. Chronic water issues like reduced drinking water, salinity intrusion, arsenic contamination, and pollution severely impact people’s lives, especially farmers and fishermen.

DORP aims to secure water rights for individuals, in line with the UN’s mandate for safe, clean, affordable, and accessible water without discrimination. Bangladesh’s government is making efforts to address these challenges, but progress is slow due to resource and infrastructure limitations.

What are some of the proposed solutions to the challenges facing the management of water resources?

According to Mohammad Zobair Hasan, Bangladesh faces water-related issues such as flooding during monsoons, water scarcity in the dry season, water pollution in urban areas, and inefficient management of water resources due to a lack of coordination and funding.

Zobair suggests solutions such as rainwater harvesting, water conservation, proper groundwater management, wastewater treatment, flood control measures, basin-wide river management, integrated water resources management, and strength-ening water governance.

To address these issues, Bangladesh needs a multi-faceted approach, including better infrastructure for flood control, im-proved land-use planning, reduced deforestation, sustainable water management practices, strict regulations on industrial waste and sewage discharge, and public awareness and education on water conservation and pollution prevention.

How can water resources be managed efficiently in the face of growing scarcity of resources, and increasing environ-mental challenges and climate change?

Zobair Hasan emphasizes the importance of these measures to address water scarcity and management challenges.

Efficient irrigation systems, rainwater harvesting, water pricing policies, water-saving technologies, protecting wetlands and other water bodies, improving water quality monitoring, and encouraging public participation are crucial for managing water resources efficiently in the face of growing scarcity and environmental challenges.

It is essential to implement policies related to water issues, have clear frameworks, and the commitment of leaders to en-sure sustainable and equitable access to water resources for all. Proactive and collaborative efforts are also necessary.

How can we link the takeaways from UN Water Conference23 in the context of Bangladesh?

The UN Water Conference emphasized the importance of effective water management, including safe drinking water, sus-tainable use of water resources, and resilience to water-related risks. Bangladesh faces similar challenges, but government mismanagement and budget shortages have hindered its water governance. This has resulted in inadequate access to safe drinking water and sanitation, particularly for vulnerable communities.

To address these issues, Bangladesh needs to prioritize investments in water infrastructure, improve water governance, and involve local communities and stakeholders in water management decisions. The government must allocate sufficient budgets for the water sector and establish effective policies and regulations to ensure equitable access to water resources and protect vulnerable communities.

“Involving local communities and stakeholders in water management decisions will promote sustainable and inclusive wa-ter management practices. By implementing these measures, Bangladesh can enhance its water governance and ensure equitable and sustainable access to water resources for all its citizens,’ Zobair said.

How can water resources in Bangladesh be managed efficiently in the face of growing scarcity of resources, and increas-ing environmental challenges and climate change?

Bangladesh faces challenges in managing its water resources due to factors such as climate change and water scarcity. To efficiently manage these resources, a multifaceted approach is necessary. Strategies like promoting water conservation, upgrading infrastructure, encouraging sustainable agriculture practices, managing groundwater, and adopting integrated water resource management can help. Also, implementing measures to adapt to the impacts of climate change like devel-oping early warning systems for floods and droughts and promoting climate-resilient water infrastructure can ensure the long-term sustainability of water resources in Bangladesh.

What role can DORP play in addressing water-related challenges in Bangladesh and globally?

DORP is an organization in Bangladesh that focuses on implementing community-based water and sanitation projects to provide safe and affordable drinking water and sanitation facilities. They collaborate with government agencies, civil socie-ty organizations, and the private sector to promote sustainable water management practices and strengthen water gov-ernance.

DORP is a member of several notable organizations including the Freshwater Action Network South Asia-FANSA BD, Water Supply & Sanitation Collaboration Council-WSSCC, Sustainable Sanitation Alliance-SuSanA, International Water Association-IWA, Bangladesh WASH Alliance-BWA, Sanitation and Water for All (SWA), the Bangladesh Water Integrity Network-BAWIN, End Water Poverty-EWP, and Menstrual Hygiene Management-MHM platform.