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Water Supply in Bangladesh: Is it Time to Think about the Paradigm?

RAiN Forum Newsletter
November' 2012 Edition

It has been a tradition of human nature to adapt to changing conditions of mother earth and making way for it in their own life. Nature has been changing from ages to ages without quite considering how the creatures would cope with that, leaving signs of their realm in different places in diverse manner. People who have grown up with one culture often wonders how things have changed in his/her lifetime. But there are still few matters that have hardly changed in this world from its beginning to date. Counting those things will be daunting task and it was not intended to introduce them here. Among those necessities, or mandatories we could rather say, SAFE WATER can be considered as the base for developing any sort of civilization anywhere. All the civilizations that have flourished in the history evolved around sources of fresh water, though the source might not had the resource to fulfill all the needs. But no society can overlook the necessity of fresh water in their life and never will. As a result, it has been a responsibility of the concerned society to look after the smooth supply of fresh water in daily life. In the present culture of compartmentalization, a certain group of people, from both Government and Non-Government are carrying this responsibility rather than leaving all the people to concern about it. For developed countries and also where the fresh water resources are abundant, it is not a major challenge to supply water and keeping the citizens happy with that. As long as the water is supplied to the demand and the quality is not objectionable, people who are responsible are not under any sort of pressure. But when it comes to a developing country like Bangladesh of South Asia, it has been a major task to optimize the resources and also keeping the quality of that water with the limited financial resources and technology. So water of sound quality and in adequate quantity has become an issue all over Bangladesh. The escalation of this problem of water scarcity have been identified by the people. But the approach towards mitigation of the crisis is still a concern from overall perspective. The sensitization of consumers are not practiced well and the lack of importance given to using the already limited resource is causing shortfall in many places. Apart from that, a proper planning to supply all types of users to their demand, which varies from place to places and user to user, is still not in the scenario. Addressing these issues are very important as the rate of urbanization have been adding to the current shortfall and if the approach of leaving it all to the government does not change soon, people might have to abandon the place that they have aiming to live for their life due to the shortage of this fundamental element of life.

The ideal or suitable way of managing water resources in Bangladesh may bring forth many discordant noises. It has been not so long that many of the professionals in this sector are buoyant to adopt the modern technologies to overcome the shortfall or crisis across different geographical areas of Bangladesh. There is something very appealing about these modern technologies, though a lot of times it has been overlooked how irrational or ecologically destructive it might be on occasions. It is not intended to stop using these modern technologies while many cities and municipalities are being served by them. As long as the system runs fine and meet the demand of people, everyone is content with that. But when problems like salinity, chemical contamination, groundwater depletion along with the increasing demand in expanding cities have already appeared in the horizon, it is getting difficult to manage the demand day by day. For proving ourselves modern by following the western technologies and adopting them, policy makers can go for the sophisticated ways or stick to the current systems, no matter how costly or unsustainable the system is. If the government is willing to prove their intent, they can even bring water on airplanes in modern era. But considering the adaptive capability and available resources, it is of major importance that approaches are taken to help the condition in a manner that will reduce the burden on current economy and also the the system itself is sustainable. Therefore, sensitization on prudent use of water resources and also for adopting the right kind of technology, starting from ancient indigenous rainwater harvesting to the expensive surface water treatment, are necessary to ensure a sound, safe and economically viable practice for future generation.