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Experts urge government to increase budget for water, sanitation sectors

  • Published at 10:33 pm August 30th, 2018
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Speakers discuss water and sanitation issues during a round-table event on the occasion of World Water Week 2018 at the daily Bhorer Kagoj conference room in Dhaka on Thursday, August 30, 2018 Rafikul Islam/Dhaka Tribune

Water and sanitation experts made several suggestions regarding improvement in these sectors during  a discussion on Thursday, observing World Water Week 2018

Speakers at a round-table discussion yesterday urged the government to increase investment in the water and sanitation sectors by increasing the budget allocation.

The need for increase in the budget allocation was to facilitate raising public awareness and improving coordination among different ministries and NGOs in order to make the urban areas liveable. 

The experts also sought nature-based solutions to water crisis, titled “Water, Ecosystems and Human Development,” organized to mark World Water Week 2018. 

The event was jointly organized by WaterAid Bangladesh, Bangladesh WASH Alliance, UN affiliate Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), Freshwater Action Network South Asia, Sanitation and Water for All, and Bangla daily Bhorer Kagoj, at the newspaper’s conference room in Dhaka. 

World Water Weekis an annual event observed by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI). It is the focal point for the world’s water issues. This year, it is being observed on August 26-31. 

Prof Dr Md Mujibur Rahman, civil engineering professor at Buet, who read the keynote paper, said the government spent a huge amount of money on Dhaka’s sewerage system, but it was not spent in the correct manner. “Dhaka gets inundated even after a little rain,” he said.

“The government should invest more in green and ecologically friendly infrastructure to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. We should find a nature-based solution for socio-economic development,” he further said.

Bhorer Kagoj Editor Shyamal Dutta, who moderated the discussion, said everyone should come forward to maintain a sustainable ecosystem.

“As water is the most important commodity for our life, we have to be alert about water pollution and work to protect the environment,” he added.  

Food security and nutrition specialist Habibur Rahman said: “India has built barrages on different common rivers to block river water flow, which is drying up the Bangladesh side of the rivers in the northern districts. The northern region is turning into a desert, so we have to find solutions.” 

The speakers also said the quality of life was on the decline not only in Dhaka, but in the entire country, as public health was at risk due to water and sanitation issues. 

They emphasized the need for integrated solutions in water development plans that consider political, social and local realities.

Md Abul Kashem, adviser at Dhaka Wasa, said they were thinking of bringing water from the Padma and Meghna Rivers and set up infiltration system of rainwater to ensure safe water supply to Dhaka residents. 

“We have also taken an initiative to set up five sewerage systems across Dhaka to prevent flash floods. One of those systems is going to be one of the largest in Asia, and its construction will be completed by 2025,” he further said.