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28 May, 2019 11:14:46 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 28 May, 2019 11:15:18 AM


Water management in Bangladesh

Management of water resources has become a crucial necessity in Bangladesh with the ever-growing demand for water and the escalating conflict over various uses of water over the decades
Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed
Water management in Bangladesh

The other name of water is life. There are challenges and prospects of water in Bangladesh.  So water challenges need to be addressed for our future generation.

The economy, the culture and the social values are directly or indirectly depend on water centric activities in this country. There are distinct seasons in Bangladesh and with these seasons, the amount of available water changes significantly. So in every twelve months cycle, Bangladesh starts the year as water stressed country and become wet in the middle of the year and again become water stressed at the end of the year. This cycle goes on for centuries, as there were less people up to the beginning of the 20th century, the changes in the water cycle were not that prominent. But with time, the population and urbanization increases, more food means more water, industrialization came into this country, people became more sensitive about fresh water for drinking, sanitation and hygiene become a part of life. So in every aspect of life water takes the central role and it needs proper planning and management to use the resource sustainable.
The challenges in water sector in Bangladesh are multi-dimensional and multifold. Each parameter or driver has effects on several other parameters. So integrated water resources management (IWRM) and planning is one of the finest tool to overcome several challenges. The population growth of Bangladesh will increasingly stress the water resources management of the country. Thus, it has the potential to be the dominant environmental and possibly the most important development challenges in the coming half of the century. Climate change is also expected to increase monsoon rain and the rainfall pattern is going to be more irregular and erratic in nature. According to IPCC, the rainfall is expected to increase in most regions during 2030. But, during 2050, southern parts of the country along with the eastern hills might get reductions in rainfall. In almost every year, Bangladesh experiences flood, which is a recurrent phenomenon. Both left and right banks of Jamuna will experience more inundation by 2050 and also coastal flooding will increase with increasing trend of cyclones. In Bangladesh only agricultural droughts exist which can be termed as severe moisture stress. This would limit surface irrigation potential in Bring and drought prone areas and will challenge the food self-sufficiency of the country. SLR and its associated salinity intrusion become one of the severe challenges for water sector in coastal zone of Bangladesh. Low-lying areas of coastal zone are highly vulnerable to cyclones, which poses serious threat to life and livelihood of millions of people. Bangladesh has a very opulent and diverse ecosystem, which provides a high quality of life in terms of eco-balance. This ecosystem has come under stress with increase in population, urbanization, exploitation, industrialization and now a day from climate change. Preserving this ecosystem is a major development challenge to move forward. Freshwater availability is key to an effective, affordable water supply service to the population of Bangladesh. The SDGs 6.1 and 6.2 aims to tackle challenges related to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene for population of Bangladesh.

The opportunities in water sector in Bangladesh are immensely encouraging. The perfect blend of soil, minerals and water amalgamation makes the land of Bangladesh extremely fertile with multiple cropping opportunities. The plenteous of rivers in Bangladesh provides a huge advantage.

Almost all districts of Bangladesh are connected with each other and with the major cities like Dhaka, Chattogram and Khulna through river ways. The bountiful of rivers, fresh water wetlands and lakes provide ample scope for fisheries resources in Bangladesh. The open access to sea in a huge advantage to Bangladesh. In addition to the port facilities that could serve the needs of the growing internal trade and commerce of Bangladesh. There is also an emerging demand for coastal tourism.

Other potential areas for exploration are petroleum and marine resources, beach mineral sand, renewable energy by wave and tide, land reclamation by sediment management. More focus on river transport can provide a major opportunity to lower the cost of production, reduce environmental degradation, conserve resources and add to more employment prospects for the people. The total area of Bangladesh is about 1,47,570 km2 with population over 160 million which makes Bangladesh a densely populated country in the world. As Bangladesh becomes more industrialized and urbanized, the demand for fresh water has grown. Bangladesh has also been quite successful in meeting this demand to a large extent by the concerted efforts of the Government.

The nation-wide demand for water is growing every day which is being intensified by several socio-technical drivers such as, high demographic growth, rapid and unplanned urbanization, high demand (like agriculture, fisheries, transportation, commerce and commerce and industries etc), climate change, etc. Moreover, the country is confronted with growing uncertainties in receiving equitable water share from its upper riparian countries. Therefore, it is of high importance for the country to manage this critical natural resource in an integrated and holistic strategic manner.

High temperature, low and erratic rainfall appeared to be one of the major challenges for crop production, changes in river behavior, ground water replenishment. Extreme dependency on ground water for irrigation and industries causes lowering of ground water table and land degradation, which has adverse impacts on human health, animal, and plant production. Use of more surface water is needed with less dependency on groundwater. More quantified research based information on future changes and challenges in extremes are needed. Better information is needed for improved flood and drought risk analysis. Climate scenarios have to be used for an integrated climate changes impact assessment and there is a need to analyze changes in water demand, water availability and salinity and flood risks.  There is a need to correlate the climate change science and the use of this science for different climate scenarios for better policies and strategies in water sector. Management of water resources has become a pre-eminent necessity in Bangladesh with the ever-growing demand for water and the escalating conflict over its alternative uses over the decades.

Water is the lifeline of Bangladesh. If water is not managed, nature may be violent and revengeful for our negligence. It may turn to unmanageable and very chaotic and troublesome for society and nation. Government must take care of any unpleasant situation and timely plan and policies must be taken to face any adverse situation.   

The writer is a regular contributor to The Independent



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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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