Forty one per cent of all improved water sources are contaminated with Escherichia coli bacteria, which suggests a high prevalence of faecal contamination, said a World Bank report.
WB unveiled the report ‘Promising Progress: A Diagnostic of Water Supply, Sanitation, Hygiene, and Poverty in Bangladesh,’ on Thursday at a city hotel.
Bangladesh could reduce poverty and accelerate growth faster by taking urgent actions to improve the quality of water and sanitation, said the report of the World Bank’s WASH Poverty Diagnostics initiative conducted in 18 countries including Bangladesh.
The global money-landing agency recommended that in this Sustainable Development Goal era, Bangladesh must address the ‘unfinished businesses of increasing water supply, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) coverage and improving the quality of access with a focus on the poor and the bottom 40 per cent of the population. Future WASH programs are therefore needed to prioritize safety, inclusion, and sustainability.
The report also said that 98 per cent of Bangladesh’s population have access to water from technologically improved water sources. However, the water quality was poor. E. coli bacteria was present in 80 per cent of private piped-water taps sampled across the country, a similar rate to water retrieved from ponds.
‘Poor water quality and sanitation can hold back a country’s potential because unsafe water and poor sanitation are linked to nutritional disadvantages in early-childhood,’ said Sereen Juma, WB acting country director for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal.
‘In Bangladesh, more than one-third of children under five are stunted, limiting their ability to grow and learn. Bangladesh has made great strides in expanding access to water and can build on that progress by focusing on improving the quality of water and sanitation,’ he added.
About 13 per cent of the country’s water sources contain arsenic levels above Bangladesh’s threshold. Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of natural disasters that disrupt water and sanitation services. During times of disaster, about a third of households in the country’s high-risk areas switch to contaminated, unimproved water sources. The coastal areas are increasingly suffering from salinity-intrusion, which is affecting the poor more, said the report.
World Bank senior economist and also co-author of the report, George Joseph, in his power point presentation said only about half of manufacturing enterprises in Bangladesh have toilets. Only half of the primary schools have separate toilets for girls, and 1 in 4 adolescent girls miss school during menstruation.
About 50 million people use shared, rudimentary toilets, and only 28 per cent of toilets are equipped with soap and water though Bangladesh has successfully eliminated the practice of open defecation, he says.
Admitting the challenges for safe water, state minister for the ministry of water resource Muhammad Nazrul Islam said that the government took initiatives to address the crisis of water.
Local government division additional secretary Roxana Quader, DGHS line director Professor Abul Hasehem Khan, WB consultant Mark John Ellery, Power and Participation Research Centre executive chairman Hossain Zillur Rahman, Water Aid country director Khairul Islam, Rural Development Academy director general MA Matin, DPHE additional chief engineer AKM Ibrahim and Dhaka WASA director Md Abul Kashem spoke among others.
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