Low-tech innovations from the grassroots are the key to overcoming the growing water crisis across the globe, observed speakers at an international conference on Friday.
Addressing the inaugural session of the two-day conference entitled “Water Roots Innovation,” ActionAid Bangladesh Country Director Farah Kabir said present-day water challenges include a wide array of issues like climate change, pollution, population growth, and ageing water infrastructure, and innovations are needed to deal with the challenges.
“From the platform Water Roots Innovation, we are here to introduce innovations,” she said.
Organized by ActionAid Bangladesh, the two-day conference is being held in coastal town Kuakata under Patuakhali district. The objective of the conference is to support innovations, ideas, and initiatives to restore, protect, and improve rivers and water sources.
On the first day of the conference, six foreign participants – two each from Nepal, India, and China – shared the experiences of working in the water sector in their respective countries.
Five innovations from Nepal and Bangladesh were also presented.
Md Asaduzzaman, a member of Jhampa Village Development Foundation, made a presentation about an innovative thousand-foot-long floating bridge on the Jhampa Baor (natural water body) that they built with 839 plastic drums to ease communication from Jhampa village to Manirampur upazila headquarters in Jessore.
He said the construction of the bridge had cost them Tk5,000,000 which was contributed by 60 members of the community.
People have to cross the Jhampa Baor every day for various purposes and the innovative bridge have reduced the hardship, he added.
Sabitri Pokharel, adviser of Mahila Adhikar Manch, Nepal, presented a unique irrigation system developed by people living in Terai region of Nepal.
Around 30% people in Nepal have to access the accumulated water on top of the hills through pipelines using siphon techniques, but the Terai community people have invented a unique irrigation system using traditional implements which helps them use the groundwater for daily chores, said Sabitri Pokharel.
One small boat, one husking pedal, a 10 kilogram stone, some rope and spare parts are all that is needed to set up the irrigation system, locally called Devi Cal, which does not need any manual labour, fuel, or electricity operate, she noted.
Among other issues, the conference speakers pointed out the fact that unplanned development activities at the regional and national levels are killing rivers, at the cost of social, financial, and cultural problems for people who depend on the river for their livelihood.
They urged policymakers to formulate water- and river-centric development plans to overcome the crisis.
Chief Whip of the parliament ASM Feroz and Dhaka University Professor Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, among others, spoke at the conference.
National and foreign delegates from South Asia and other parts of the globe are taking part in the conference to contribute to discussions about the emerging issues of water justice and innovation. The conference will end today.