E.coli bacteria in 41pc of improved BD water sources: WB

E.coli bacteria in 41pc of improved BD water sources: WB

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Dhaka, Oct 11 – Despite Bangladesh’s remarkable progress in improving access to water and sanitation, 41 percent of all improved water sources are contaminated with Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria, which suggests a high prevalence of faecal contamination, said a new World Bank (WB) report. Besides, E. coli bacteria were present in 80 percent of private piped-water taps sampled across the country, a similar rate to water retrieved from ponds, the report added.
The WB launched the report ‘Promising Progress: A Diagnostic of Water Supply, Sanitation, Hygiene, and Poverty in Bangladesh’ at a city hotel yesterday.
Among others, state minister for water resources Muhammad Nazrul Islam, LGRD ministry senior secretary Zafar Ahmed Khan, WB Acting Country Director for Bangladesh Sereen Juma and LGRD ministry additional secretary Begum Roxana Quader also spoke at the report launching ceremony.
World Bank’s senior economist George Joseph, who is also the report co-author, presented the ‘key findings of the Bangladesh WASH poverty diagnostics’ with Mark John Ellery, senior water and sanitation expert and consultant of WB as moderator.
According to the report, Bangladesh can reduce poverty and accelerate growth faster by taking urgent actions to improve the quality of water and sanitation.
The report also finds that poor drinking water quality affects the rich and poor and the rural and urban population alike. But, the poorest quintile of the population suffers three times more from water and sanitation-related gastro-intestinal diseases, the report added.
According to the WB report, “Today, 98 percent of Bangladesh’s population has access to water from technologically improved water sources. However, the water quality is poor. E. coli bacteria was present in 80 percent of private piped-water taps sampled across the country, a similar rate to water retrieved from ponds.”
Further, naturally occurring arsenic in groundwater also affects people: about 13 percent of the country’s water sources contain arsenic levels above Bangladesh’s threshold. The Chittagong and Sylhet divisions suffer most from arsenic contamination.
Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of natural disasters that disrupt water and sanitation services. During times of disaster, about a third of households in the country’s high-risk areas
switch to contaminated, unimproved water sources.
The coastal areas are increasingly suffering from salinity-intrusion, which is affecting the poor more.
Bangladesh has successfully eliminated the practice of open defecation. Still, about 50 million people use shared, rudimentary toilets, and only 28 percent of toilets are equipped with soap and water.
In urban areas, slums have poor access to clean water and safe sanitation. Large-city slums have five times less access to improved sanitation and have the highest rates of childhood under nutrition in
the country.
“Poor water quality and sanitation can hold back a country’s potential because unsafe water and poor sanitation are linked to nutritional disadvantages in early-childhood.” said Sereen Juma.
“In Bangladesh, more than one-third of children under five are stunted, limiting their ability to grow and learn. Bangladesh has made great strides in expanding access to water and can build on that progress by focusing on improving the quality of water and sanitation,” she added.
“There is scope for Bangladesh to improve access to sanitation beyond the household level to public places, schools, health facilities, and workplaces,” says George Joseph.
According to Joseph, “Only about half of manufacturing enterprises in Bangladesh have toilets. Only half of the primary schools have separate toilets for girls, and 1 in 4 adolescent girls miss school during menstruation. A safe water and sanitation environment will encourage more women to participate in the work force.”
The government has taken up various steps to ensure safe water for the people, Muhammad Nazrul Islam said.
“We have some serious problems as population is growing significantly. It’s true that many people are still depriving from life sustaining element like water. So, we have to ensure security of safe water for
future,” the state minister for water resources said.
This summary report presents the findings of the Bangladesh WASH Poverty Diagnostic (BWPD) study led by the World Bank’s Water and Poverty Global Practices.
Though very few Bangladeshis now fetch water from rivers or defecate in fields, the vast majority still live in environments plagued by inadequate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) that hinder
the country’s overall development.
BWPD is a data-driven exercise with an objective to highlight the key inadequacies in WASH service delivery and guide country and sector priorities for maximum impact during the Sustainable development Goal era.
BWPD gives a snapshot of the quality and inequality of WASH access by generating statistics from numerous datasets. BWPD also attempts to show the implications of these numbers on human development and poverty reduction.
A large portion of the work is dedicated to presenting stylized facts on the synergies between different dimensions of WASH and human development outcomes such as in health, nutrition, and education.
Further, the generated numbers should help government and other stakeholders identify gaps in service delivery and ask questions on why these gaps exist. The final portion of this study begins a discussion on the institutional challenges that could be inhibiting high-quality service delivery. The report concludes by offering recommendations for moving Bangladesh’s WASH sector forward. – Staff Reporter

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