26m citizens still have no access to safe drinking water

World Water Day today

Mustafizur Rahman
Industrial wastes are being released into the River Buriganga at Pagla of Narayanganj polluting the river water. The photo was taken on the eve of International Water Day that falls today. — Sony Ramany

Industrial wastes are being released into the River Buriganga at Pagla of Narayanganj polluting the river water. The photo was taken on the eve of International Water Day that falls today. — Sony Ramany

Bangladesh celebrates the World Water Day today when 26 million of its citizens still have no access to safe drinking water.
The theme of the day is ‘Water and Sustainable Development.’
The government as well as a host of the NGOs would celebrate the day by holding talk shows, seminars and demonstrations.
Around 26 million citizens of Bangladesh still have no access to safe drinking water sources, according to UNICEF and the World Health Organization.
Experts said salinity and arsenic pollution still posed major threats to the safe water sources in Bangladesh although according to official statics 97 per cent of the population,  get safe drinking water.
They held unplanned use of water as the key obstacle to sustainable development.
‘Besides addressing the issues of salinity and arsenic, we have to ensure efficient management of water in agriculture and industrial sectors for a sustainable development,’ Water Aid Bangladesh country representative Khairul Islam told New Age on Saturday.
He said most industrial units in the country did not have effluent treatment plants and were, therefore, polluting rivers and water bodies with their wastes.
The Department of Public Health Engineering, United Nations Information Centre, United Nations Children’s Fund, World Bank, Oxfam, Bangladesh Wash Alliance and NGO Forum for Public Health have jointly organised a national seminar in the city to observe the day in line with the UN’s direction, according to a release of the NGO Forum for Public Health.
The Transparency International Bangladesh will organise a human chain on the Dhaka University campus pressing the demand for integrity in the water sector for a sustainable development.
In 1993, the United Nations General Assembly designated 22 March as the first World Water Day to celebrate water and also to make a difference for the members of the global population who suffer from water related issues. One of the main purposes to celebrate the day was also to prepare for how to manage water in the future.
Access to drinking water has been one of the biggest successes of the Millennium Development Goals, UNICEF said on Friday in a release ahead of World Water Day, but for 748 million people around the world, just obtaining this essential service remains a challenge.
“The story of access to drinking water since 1990 has been one of tremendous progress in the face of incredible odds,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programmes.
“But there is more to do. Water is the very essence of life and yet three-quarters of a billion people – mostly the poor and the marginalized – still today are deprived of this most basic human right.”
In Bangladesh, UNICEF has used an exciting new approach to collect rainwater and then pump it into shallow aquifers, achieving water security for approximately 1 million people whose groundwater had become salinized, the UNICEF said in a release on Friday.
Some 2.3 billion people have gained access to improved sources of drinking water since 1990. As a result, the Millennium Development Goal target of halving the percentage of the global population without access at that date was reached five years ahead of the 2015 deadline.
There are now only three countries – Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique and Papua New Guinea – where more than half the population does not have improved drinking water, according to UNICEF.
Of the world’s 748 million people still having no access to water, 90 per cent live in rural areas and they are left behind by their countries in the quest for progress.

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