World Water Day : There is no substitute for water to save life
Dr. Muhammad Mahtab Hossain Mazed
Today Wednesday 22 March is World Water Day 2023. Different programs have been adopted in Bangladesh like other countries of the world. Various organizations and institutions have taken various programs to celebrate the day.
Through the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the government is carrying out various programs aimed at protecting the natural environment and reducing water pollution, including ensuring safe water by 2030. The Ministry of Water Resources and its subordinate organizations are working efficiently through the proper management of water resources, the development of advanced technology that is tolerant to climate change and its proper use.
And in riverine Bangladesh, water and sustainable development are inextricably linked. Without water our life is stagnant; Likewise, water is essential for the natural flow of climate and nature - which are closely related to our lives and livelihoods. Various development programs of our government are ongoing with the aim of making Bangladesh a developed and prosperous country by 2041.
Another name of water is life. There is no substitute for water to save life. Willing to bet life for a sip of water. This competition is now a daily scene in today's world. The first World Water Day was officially proposed in Agenda 21 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992 to address water issues, and the first World Water Day was celebrated in 1993. Since then, the importance of observing this day has gradually increased.
The United Nations member states dedicate this day as a day to focus on the UN recommendations and development proposals on water resources within their respective national borders. The right to water must be recognized as one of the fundamental prerequisites to define a minimum standard of living.
It must be recognized as a basic pre-requisite for survival. It is said that in 2030, the world's water demand will increase by 40 percent. The amount of water we have now is what we are crying out for. As a result, no one knows where fresh water will come from. We have to move forward by making maximum use of available water and preventing water wastage.
It is said that more than 90 percent of industrial wastes are dumped into surface water in Southern Hemisphere countries. This means our surface water is constantly being polluted with industrial waste. By 2030, more than half of the world's urban population will live in slums without access to clean water. 884 million people in the world are deprived of their right to safe drinking water.
3.5 million people are suffering from various water borne diseases. We talk about water rights and water. Equality is a big deal here, which applies to Bangladesh and global realities alike. It is said that a poor citizen in a developing country has to spend 12 times more for every liter of water than the wealthy. This is global statistics. It is said that 1.7 trillion gallons of water is wasted in the world every year.
We are dependent on rivers. Because underground water is not visible to the eye, people usually mean river water when they say water. But we have a lot of dependence on underground water. When talking about water monitoring or protection, everyone only talks about river protection.
The fact that the river water is visible quickly comes before us. But we depend heavily on groundwater for agriculture, drinking water and industrialization. But we are not at all focused on underground water conservation. There is a lack of civic movement to preserve them. International rivers meet 60 percent of the world's freshwater needs. About 40 percent of the world's population depends on 145 international rivers. Most of the world's water is used for crop production, industry and drinking water. We also use water to generate electricity.
Now let's come to the statistics of Bangladesh. There are 1000 Wasa deep tube wells in Dhaka alone. And various industries have seven thousand. The water level is dropping by three meters every year. The amount of land affected by drought is about 5.5 million hectares.
Daily water demand in Dhaka is around 250 crore liters and it is increasing. Comparing Dhaka with hilly areas or coastal areas, it can be seen that in coastal areas, a person has to walk for an average of 2 hours to collect water. And 25-30 percent of the total income is spent only on water. Despite that, 23 percent of people in coastal areas drink salty and unsafe water. A study by the United Nations revealed that 74 percent of water collection work is done by women. 63 percent of people face problems in getting drinking water.
75 percent of people depend on hand tube wells, although many areas do not get proper water from them. About 41 districts are affected by arsenic. Another statistic shows that 41 percent of the population drinks water contaminated with sewage. Only 34 percent of people have access to clean water. 1 crore 94 lakh people are exposed to arsenic contaminated water. Water is a matter of equality in the reality of Bangladesh.
Even if we calculate very conservatively, it can be seen that the people of the coast spend four times more than the people of Dhaka to get water. 70 percent of slum dwellers have no valid documents to get water. As a city dweller, I get 140 liters of water, but in that proportion a slum dweller gets 20 liters of water. 80 percent of what the government spends on water is for the people of the city.
Only 20 percent is spent on the people of the village. Water is wasted in agriculture sector. Another emerging issue of water availability in Bangladesh is the challenge of climate change and plastic pollution. Many of our fresh water reservoirs have become salinized due to ocean encroachment, and this will become more so in the future. Plastic pollution in our water bodies is increasing drastically. There is still confusion about the actual number of our rivers. Some say that the number of rivers in Bangladesh is 770. Water Development Board says 405. Determining the correct number of rivers is very important.
Pollution and climate change are creating a major shortage of fresh water. Research has revealed that the river water of Bangladesh is the most polluted among the river water of Asia Pacific. Out of these 29 rivers are severely polluted. Moreover, the rate of wetland loss in Bangladesh is the highest in the world. Our constitution has a provision to protect biodiversity including water bodies.
The right to life is synonymous with the right to water. Without the right to water and clean air, the right to life becomes meaningless. There are WASAs in urban areas and local government bodies at the local level for water supply.
The list of organizations dealing with water is quite long. High court has declared river as a living entity. According to the verdict, the geographical location of rivers and reservoirs should be determined by creating a digital database. Land grabbing has been declared a criminal offence. Despite that, the occupation of the river did not stop. Due to encroachment, donor agencies are withdrawing funds from the project to bring water from Meghna to Dhaka city.
The government apparently has no initiative to evict the encroachers in Meghna. Water shortage is evident in coastal areas, southern and Barendra regions. Special measures should be taken for these three regions. Rainwater conservation should be made mandatory. All springs are drying up due to commercial forestry in Chittagong Hill Tracts.
A social and economic impact study of these plantations should be done to close them down and ensure natural afforestation there. Heavy machinery is being used to extract sand and stones from the rivers in the hilly areas. They adversely affect river water and ecosystem. They must be stopped. Rainwater harvesting must be considered for coastal areas. The water availability mapping of the entire country should be made public. Otherwise people will not be aware. Deep tubewells should be discouraged. Reservoir should be arranged.
29 rivers suffering from severe pollution should be declared Ecologically Critical Areas. Exemplary penalties should be imposed against polluters and encroachers. So far not a single river has been completely freed by the government. Laws should be enforced against encroachers, with incentives if necessary to save rivers. An assessment of how biodiversity is lost when rivers are subjected to pollution and encroachment is the need of the hour. Public awareness should be increased. There should be a voice against pollution and encroachment. Water should be rationed.
> Health Information:-
Life is another name of water. Without water we cannot even think of existence. Access to clean water is now recognized as a human right worldwide. The United Nations has declared the right to water as a human right. There is no doubt that water is an essential ingredient for a healthy life. But how much water is necessary for a person to live a healthy life?
Experts say that more than 70 percent of our body is water, so we need to drink enough water throughout the year. But normal water needs are different for each person.
Eg - > Children, men and women also have different water requirements. Those who do more physical work, exercise regularly should drink more water than others.
> 6-8 glasses per day for women
> Women who exercise or do heavy work 8 to 10 glasses
> 8 to 10 glasses of water is enough for men, but those who exercise excessively should drink 10 to 14 glasses of water.
And drinking water every morning on an empty stomach is very beneficial for the body. Get up after sleeping and drink water on an empty stomach. Drink as much as you can. Start the day with water.
Finally, we hope that World Water Day will focus on ensuring clean water and efficient use of water resources.
Author, Founder Chairman, Jatiya rogi Kallyan Society.