Adverse impact of climate change has started posing a serious threat to the farming sector alongside overall living and livelihood condition in vast barind tract consisting the districts of Rajshahi, Naogaon and Chapainawabgonj for the last couple of years.
The adverse situation has directly been negatively impacting the water, sanitation, overall public health and sustainable livelihood in the region, said AKM Zilani, a development activist of Nachole in Chapainawabgonj.
Substantial and sustainable promotion of water and sanitation related modern technologies have become an urgent need to face the natural catastrophe, he mentioned.
Although the region has achieved sustainable progress in increasing food grain production through strong liberalised smallholders and public irrigation, groundwater use for irrigation is a growing matter of concern in the barind tract, according to a recent study.
Prof Dr Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan, Principal Investigator of the study, says food security of the area is highly dependent on irrigational inputs with groundwater being the main component for food production.
Groundwater is becoming the essential input for increasing food production as well as sustainable agricultural development. Availability of groundwater for irrigation has contributed to manifold increases in food grain production, he mentioned.
More than 40,000 deep and shallow tube-wells and low lift pumps are extracting groundwater everyday for maintaining the farming system especially the irrigation-dependent paddy for boosting its outputs to feed the huge population.
“But, if the present trend of groundwater extraction continues, the water level will decline and water pumps will be non-functional for lack of water. Water level of surface sources, including river and wetland, will also decline,” he said.
Prof Dr Abdul Mannan of Rajshahi University said if river water shrinks day by day due to recharge of groundwater, an ecological imbalance will take place, contributing to the environmental degradation.
The whole water and sanitation is facing serious threat due multifarious reasons including arsenic intrusion, lack of underground recharging, rising of char lands as a result of erosion and accretion leading to water scarcity and quality problems.
There should be measures of finding out effective strategies to cope with the existing and new challenges regarding water and sanitation.
The issue of groundwater recharging should be given priority. To this end, steps should be taken to enrich the surface water resources through necessary excavation and re-excavation of the derelict ponds and canals on an emergency basis.
Policy level interventions are necessary to achieve sustainability of groundwater use for achieving the food security in the country, Prof Mannan suggested saying that it is important to take necessary policy to reduce boro rice production and increase winter crop production.
The government should take initiative to formulate different policy options to reduce boro production so that it can help preserve the groundwater level at optimum stage, he says. -BSS, Rajshahi