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Speakers say

DWASA's poor steps to improve water quality

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Staff Reporter :
Speakers at a roundtable discussion alleged that Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) hardly took any step to materialize the Sewerage Masterplan prepared in 2010 and to improve water quality.
The views came at a 'Civil Society and Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue: Preparation for FMM in Bangladesh' at YWCA Bhaban in the city held Tuesday. Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) organized the dialogue ahead of the SWA Finance Ministers' Meeting (FMM) that will be held in Washington DC, USA on April 13-19.
SWA regional coordinator for Asia and Pacific Siddhartha Das and SWA CSO representative of South Asia and Research Director of Development Organization of the Rural Poor-DORP Mohammed Zobair Hasan made two presentations.
Speakers said that all the safe water sources are being contaminated by the solid waste and faucal sludge dumping, industrial pollution and encroachment of rivers, canals, waterbodies.
The sewerage coverage in Dhaka city is only 20 per cent that is polluting rivers around Dhaka and the human waste is mixed with piped
water due to lack of sewerage system and treatment plants degrading water quality too, they said.
But DWASA hardly takes any step to materialize the Sewerage Masterplan prepared in 2010 and to improve water quality, they alleged.
Referring to a survey by UNICEF India, Siddartha Das said that each of the family member can save health expenditure of Tk 50,000 a year only by using safe water and sanitation. The same theory can be applied for Bangladesh too as the social context of India and Bangladesh is almost same.
Saifur Rahman, Chief Engineer of Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE), said, "The basic water coverage in Bangladesh has attained 98 per cent in the MICS report. But safely managed water has to be supplied to each doorstep to attain SDG which is challenging in this social and structural context."
He also informed that 10 per cent of the total water is used for drinking and household activities, while 90 per cent is used for irrigation and other purpose.
There are only 12 water testing laboratories now. Another 54 labs will be commissioned by next year which will help improve water quality, he added.
He further said there is a national taskforce to protect river, but hardly effective and the drive to evict illegal structures along the river banks and action against the grabbers is merely an eye wash.
Additional Secretary of LGD Zahirul Islam said the government has formed a national river conservation commission to formulate the third master plan to prevent the encroachment and pollution of the country's five rivers and increase their navigability.
He said that it is necessary to strengthen DPHE to ensure WASH in Bangladesh.
"Although there is US$ 3.0 billion investment in WASH sector, there is a huge gap in financing. We do not know the actual amount of the financing gap. We will be able to know after formulation of a National WASH Account," he said.

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