Bangladesh facing water crisis

Dhaka, Bangladesh capital requires 2.2 billion litres a day, but can only produce 1.9 to 2 billion, the city’s Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (WASA) reported. WASA runs 600 deep tube wells in the city to extract water, and there are also 2,000 private tube wells throughout the city. About 87 percent of Dhaka residents use ground water, mostly from deep tube wells, while the rest use treated surface water. Rains in mid-April improved the situation but the problem is unlikely to go away.

Much of Dhaka’s water problem centres on its over-dependence on ground water, and water specialists say the city needs to increase its usage of surface water sources like ponds, rivers and canals. Dhaka-WASA (DWASA) obtains most of its water from overexploited aquifers. Power outages and a drop in the water table during the annual dry season from March to May mean DWASA is unable to extract enough water to meet demand. Shortages in early April were so severe in some parts of the city that many didn’t get water for days, while others complained that it was undrinkable. All this together resulted in scores of people protested. And this is happening each year this time - the recurring water crisis in Dhaka brings people out in protest. In 2010 troops had to guard water pumps in some areas. And some 700 patients are currently being treated for diarrhoea a day against a normal average of 250 to 300 per day, the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Diseases and Research Bangladesh, reported on 23 April.

The official population of Dhaka is 12.8 million but unofficial estimates put the actual figure at closer to 15 million, including some 3.4 million living in slums. Another 300,000 to 400,000 people migrate to the city each year, which has witnessed a four-fold increase in its population in the last 25 years. According to the World Bank, the mega-city has the highest population growth in the world.  The 2012 UN-Water Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water report released in April, notes that 70 percent of countries are falling behind the trends required to meet their access targets for drinking water. (IRIN)


Featured image: Residents use what they can to gather enough drinking water in Dhaka. Increasing water demands on the city are not being met (Credit: Mushfique Wadud/IRIN )


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