Safe water crisis in coasts even after 5 years of Aila

Safe water crisis in coasts even after 5 years of Aila

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Experts and researchers at the consultation meeting yesterday stated that the lack of government will as one of the reasons behind the severe drinking water crisis in the Aila-hit areas in the south-western part of the country even after 5 years of the occurrence.
They urged the government to take immediate actions to ensure safe water and sanitation of the marginalized population of the coastal areas in the country.The consultation on Revisiting Aila: Cry for Safe WaSH was held at the DPHE conference room at Kakrail in the city to mark the five years anniversary of the devastating cyclone Aila hit the south-western coast of Bangladesh on May 25 in 2009.
Zuena Aziz, additional secretary and director general, LGD, addressed the consultation as the chief guest.
NGO Forum and Bangladesh Centre for Advance Studies jointly organised the function.
Presided over by Dr. A. Atiq Rahman, executive director of BCAS, the meeting was also addressed, among others, by Dr. M. Feroze Ahmed, VC, Stamford University Bangladesh; Engr. Md. Nuruzzaman, Chief Engineer, DPHE; and Mr. Syed Md. Tajul Islam, Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources as the Special Guests.
A Presentation was made on WaSH Situation of Aila-affected Areas by Dr. Adbullah Harun Chowdhury, Professor, Environmental Science Discipline, Khulna University.
The experts recommended various actions including proper repairing of the embankments; safe water and sanitation facilities need to be ensured in the shelters during disaster period; to overcome the crisis.
The other recommendations include taking steps to preserve a sweet water pond in every union as per the government policy, saline water shrimp culture practices should not be extended further, government-owned khals should not be shut for shrimp cultivation or any other purpose, professional training on the safeguard and rescue mechanism during disaster need to be provided at local leve, developing awareness among people on the impact of climate change and salinity intrusion and safe WaSH.
The experts also emphasised the need for joint and coordinated efforts by the GOs, NGOs, local government, including individual level is necessary; undertake massive research work to overcome the safe water, environmental & health crisis considering the present reality.
The participants mentioned that 40 lacs people of 64 upazilas under 11 coastal districts of south-western coast have been living with the pains of Aila. 5 years have passed away but it has not been possible ton ensure water and sanitation services for them due to natural & human-induced reasons as well as lack of government will. The present amount of salinity in the soil of this region is 7.6 to 15.9 ppt when the soil tolerance level is just 0.4 to 1.8 ppt. Again, the amount of rainfall recorded after Aila was 3,112 mm which gradually went down to 2,769 mm in 2012.
The meeting was informed that the cost for drinking water is almost 300 times higher in comparison to Dhaka. The impact falls on the sanitation and hygiene systems as well. Overall the situation is mounting the rate of malnourishment. Migration is taking place. A study shows that 45 per cent of total population in South Bedkashi and 25 per cent of the total population of Moharajapur under Koyra union has been migrated.
Different professionals and representatives of the marginalized coastal population also took part in the Consultation and spoke out for strong government actions to reconstruct polders, re-excavation of ponds and khals, stop giving away the ponds on lease. – Staff Reporter

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