Tuesday, January 23, 2018 02:20:47 PM
Rafiqul Islam :
Experts and policymakers here say regional cooperation is a must to resolve long-standing water problems in South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India and Nepal, and to harness the full value of water.
There are many transboundary rivers, including the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna, in the region. Bangladesh in particular faces severe water problems, like flooding and riverbank erosion, due in part to a lack of cooperation with its neighbors, officials said at a consultation in the capital Dhaka.
On July 31, state ministers, senior and government officials, businesses and representatives from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and development partners gathered at the Fourth Consultation of the UN High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) on Valuing Water at the BRAC Center Inn.
Bangladesh has 57 transboundary rivers, and 93 percent of its catchment is located outside the country's borders.
Muhammad Nazrul Islam, State Minister of Bangladesh for Water Resources, said some countries have adequate water sources from upstream lakes and glaciers and think of water as their own resource, but water should be universal and all should have equitable access to it.
Highlighting various water-related problems Bangladesh has long been facing, he said, "When we get too much water during monsoon [season], then we hardly can manage or conserve water. But during the dry season, we face severe water scarcity."
"Basin-based water management is urgent in South Asia to manage water of common rivers and to cope with water-related problems in the region," said Abu Saleh Khan, a deputy executive director of the Dhaka-based think tank, Institute of Water Modelling (IWM).
Such management could include knowledge and data sharing, capacity development, increased dialogue, participatory decision-making and joint investment strategies.
With just 3 percent of the world's land, South Asia has about a quarter of the world's population. Rice and wheat, the staple foods in the subregion, require huge amounts of water and energy, even as water resources are coming under increasing strain from climate change, pollution and other sources.
In January 2016, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim and then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon convened a High Level Panel on Water (HLPW), involving 11 heads of state and government to accelerate change in the way governments, societies, and the private sector use and manage water.
The regional consultation was held in Dhaka as part of a high-level consultation on water called the 'Valuing Water Initiative'.
The goal of the Valuing Water Initiative is to achieve the water-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by inspiring better decision-making, and making better trade-offs between competing claims on water.
Today, freshwater is facing a crisis around the world, compounded by extreme weather events, droughts and floods. Water sources are threatened by overuse, pollution and climate change. But water is essential for human health, food security, energy supplies, sustaining cities, biodiversity and the environment.
"'We never know the worth of water until the well is dry' is a saying in several different languages from around the world. And indeed, water is often taken for granted. That is why the High Level Panel on Water launched the Valuing Water Initiative last year," said Netherlands Ambassador in Dhaka Leonie Cuelenaere. She said water is a key element of Bangladesh's culture and economy, but its 700 rivers frequently flood and create problems for local communities.
"Yet simultaneously, a shortage of fresh water occurs in the dry season. So valuing water - socially, culturally, economically and environmentally - is crucial here," said Cuelenaere.
Regarding excessive use of water, Nazrul Islam noted that about 3,000 litres of water is required to irrigate one kilogram of paddy in Bangladesh.
"We have to change our lifestyle to cut water use, and need to innovate new varieties of crops which could be cultivated with a small volume of water," he added.
Suraiya Begum, Senior Secretary and HLPW Sherpa to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, said about 90 percent of Bangladesh's people think that they have enough water, but some pockets in the country still face scarcity every year.
Focusing on Bangladesh's strong commitment to conserve water and environment, she said Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina considers water a precious resource and advocates for its wiser use.
Valuing water can make the cost of pollution and waste apparent and promote greater efficiency and better practices.
Willem Mak, a project manager (valuing water) of the Netherlands government, said pricing of water is not synonymous with its true value, but is one way of covering costs, reflecting part of the value of these uses, ensuring adequate resources and finance for related infrastructure services.
He said valuing water can play a role in peace processes via transboundary water management or mitigation.
Dr Khondaker Azharul Haq, the president of Bangladesh Water Partnership, said water has many values - economic, social, cultural and even religious - while the values of water depend on its quality and quantity, and time and dimension.
"Rather than [only] economic value," he said, "water has some values that you cannot count in dollars, particularly water for environmental conservation."
The main objective of the July 31 water consultation was to obtain views from a wide array of country-level stakeholders on the proposals from the HLPW on the valuing water preamble and principles.
The water meet also encouraged governments, business and civil society to consider water's multiple values and to guide the transparent incorporation of these values into decision-making by policymakers, communities, and businesses.
The members of the UN high level panel are heads of state from Australia, Bangladesh, Hungary, Jordan, Mauritius (co-chair), Mexico (co-chair), Netherlands, Peru, Senegal, South Africa and Tajikistan.
FINANCE Minister AMA Muhith has recommended Bangladesh Bank to start merger of problem banks, but experts fear that such a move would not stop the rot the country's banking sector is facing. On December 28, Muhith wrote a letter to BB Governor Fazle Kabir pointing out that it was the ...
AFP :Turkey on Monday shelled Kurdish militia targets in Syria and claimed progress in a cross-border offensive that has stoked concern among its allies and neighbours.The Turkish military on Saturday launched operation "Olive Branch", its second major incursion into Syrian territory during the seven-year civil war.The operation, where Turkish war ...
Bollywood actress Yami Gautam took to Twitter to applaud the victory of India at the Blind Cricket World Cup 2018. India retained Blind Cricket World Cup title after beating Pakistan by two wickets in a thrilling final played at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in UAE on Saturday. India had previously ...
Entertainment Report :If he would alive today he will turn into 77. He died on August 21 of 2017. His sudden demise made a gap in the field industry. He was basically a guardian in film arena. Today is birthday of legendary film actor Razzak. Younger son of Razzak, Khalid ...
A NATIONAL daily reported that at least 3,480 Bangladeshi workers died abroad in 2017, mostly due to stroke or heart attack. Unbearable physical and mental stress, workload, malnutrition, ill health care, thin sleep and rest time, and unhygienic living decrease the life expectancy of the Bangladeshi expatriates workers working in ...
World no. one all-rounder rounder Shakib Al Hasan booked his place in the IPL auctions as a 'Marquee' player list with a base price of RS 2 Crore which is the base price for the all 16 elite players in the Marquee Players' list.The star all-rounder Shakib was placed alongside ...
Shreya Ghoshal is known as the melody queen when it comes to romantic songs and her songs are loved by listeners worldwide and this is the reason Shreya is the prime choice for all the film makers whose films are based on romantic theme. Recently Shreya recorded a beautiful romantic ...
Reuters, Amman :Jordan's King Abdullah expressed concern on Sunday over a decision by Washington to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying East Jerusalem had to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.In remarks during talks with U.S. Vice Mike Pence in Amman, the king said the only solution to ...
DHAKA and Naypyidaw both are now making final preparations to repatriate and receive the first batch of Rohingya Muslims despite protest from different quarters for not ensuring their security and fearless movement. According to media reports, Rakhine State's Chief Minister Nyi Pu insisted on completion of the finishing touches on ...
Entertainment Desk :National Award winning actress Aparna Ghosh has always been lauded for choosing experimental projects for film. Being popular in small screen, she is famous in big screen as well for her extraordinary acting and simplistic smile.The actor steeped into the media through acting in a TV drama titled ...