Tuesday, 30 May, 2023, 6:22 PM
Advance Search
Home Op-Ed

Ensure safe drinking water for sustainable development

Published : Wednesday, 22 March, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 603

Ensure safe drinking water for sustainable development

Ensure safe drinking water for sustainable development

Climate change and its associated impacts are seen as the biggest threats to the country's development. Extreme climatic events and intensified and frequent hazards leave massive impact on almost all sectors of live-in particular agriculture, water, livelihood, and health.

 Being the 7thmost climate change-vulnerable country, Bangladesh faces more challenges day by day. The coastal zone of Bangladesh is especially vulnerable to climate change-induced events such as cyclone, tidal surge, flooding, river erosion and salinity intrusion.

The coastal zone of Bangladesh covers about 20 percent of the country and more than 30 percent of cultivable land. It is a matter of great concern that, climate change-induced sea-level rise will significantly increase river salinity during the dry season which is further aggravated due to less water availability in the major rivers. The salinity level of surface water, ground water or soil generally increases almost linearly from October to late May with the gradual reduction of upstream freshwater flows.
About 35 million people are facing serious drinking water crisis and being deprived of their basic safe drinking water rights because of freshwater salinization and co-contamination in the coastal aquifer. Increasing salinity creates more stress on the coastal community people of our country who rely on both surface and groundwater for drinking.

Alongside, there are severe health impacts due to increased intake of saline water which increases the risk of health diseases such as high blood pressure, reproduction complexities, heart diseases as well as waterborne diseases.

Across the coastal region of Bangladesh, access to safe drinking water is becoming a major threat to the lives of the people. The available sources of safe drinking water are decreasing due to salinity intrusion arising from the impacts of climate change, storm surges and cyclones.

However, the status of the water crisis, particularly arising from salinity intrusion, is not homogeneous across the coastal area. Some of the coastal areas of Bangladesh are experiencing severe challenges arising from different factors.

According to the National Adaptation Plan (2022), Climate change will further aggravate historical sea-level rise and projections for the coastal areas. This will substantially affect coastal communities, infrastructure and livelihoods.

Salinity intrusion in the south-west region reduces the freshwater-supported area, resulting in decreased agricultural production in many parts of the coastal zone, especially the Khulna and Patuakhali regions and small areas in Noakhali and Chattogram. Considering this context of country, the non-governmental development organization-BRAC's Climate Change Programme is working to ensure safe drinking water security at climate-vulnerable Mongla upazila through rainwater harvesting system (RWHS).

Indeed, nature's gift of pure and free rainwater storage has many benefits. The biggest advantage is that if this water is stored in the right way, it is the safest to use.

On the other hand, storing water from natural sources does not require mechanical energy to extract groundwater. It saves electricity. All in all, the benefits of rainwater conservation are manifold. Also, using rainwater for non-essential or non-essential purposes such as toilet flushing, car washing, swimming pool water, etc. reduces pressure on groundwater, preventing wastage.

On March 22nd, the globe celebrates World Water Day with an aim to increase awareness of the importance of water to all living creatures. The UN General Assembly made this day a yearly observance since 1993 to raise community understanding about the importance of conserving water.

According to the UN, water security is the capacity of a population to safeguard sustainable access to adequate quantities of acceptable quality water for sustaining livelihoods, human well-being, and socio-economic development. Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 is about "clean water and sanitation for all". As we struggle to achieve SDG 6, with integrative and collective effort, we can address the impact of climate change and ensure safe drinking water for all.

It should be noted that, water is not an infinite resource. It is a limited resource. Water supply infrastructure is inadequate in this country. Realizing the importance of water, water sources should be restored. Above all, all-out awareness should be developed to prevent water wastage along with controlling groundwater extraction.

Obviously, water resilience in Bangladesh needs to be integrated at the basin, city, and utility level to ensure adaptation measures for water systems integrate with other urban services and are effective. Water utilities and service providers, in particular, need to have sustainable and resilient water resources management to provide safe and secure water.

The writer is a Specialist, Advocacy and Communications, Climate Change Programme at BRAC

« PreviousNext »

Latest News
Most Read News
Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
Published by the Editor on behalf of the Observer Ltd. from Globe Printers, 24/A, New Eskaton Road, Ramna, Dhaka.
Editorial, News and Commercial Offices : Aziz Bhaban (2nd floor), 93, Motijheel C/A, Dhaka-1000. Phone: PABX- 41053001-06; Online: 41053014; Advertisement: 41053012.
E-mail: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], For Online Edition: [email protected],   [ABOUT US]     [CONTACT US]   [AD RATE]   Developed & Maintenance by i2soft