Access to water: a human right


Despite being the world’s largest delta having an estimated 1,210 billion cubic metres of fresh water, around 2.6 crore Bangladeshis do not have access to safe drinking water sources, which causes death and poses health hazards to hundreds of thousands of children in the country.

Probably, Bangladesh is being victimized by Indian water aggression by controlling water flows into the alluvial rivers crisscrossed the country that resulting in the extinction of several species of flora and fauna, scarcity of drinking water  and threat for agriculture. The country depends mostly on groundwater for drinking and irrigation in absence of water reservation and sustainable water use policy, and insufficient water flow into rivers and canals during dry season. For a sustainable development, water is considered as life for many lives, agricultural development, cheap communications and a holistic development.

This year Water Day’s motto is “Water and Sustainable Development” that underscores the importance of using water for human development to economic advancement.  For a sustainable development, maximum uses of surface water in drinking, irrigation and industry are essential, remaining underground water reserved. But pollution of surface water in cities and industrial zones push people to largely dependent on groundwater. Even fields located near rivers are often irrigated using groundwater. About 98 percent of drinking water and 80 percent of dry season irrigation water comes from the 21 billion cubic metres of groundwater reserve. The over extraction of groundwater would lower its level and increase the scarcity of drinking water in future. Experts said that when the groundwater level goes below the sea level, saline water flows inwards during tidal surge in rivers which might spell out human devastation and lead exodus searching for natural water reservation.

In 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognised safe drinking water and sanitation as a human right, meaning every person should have access to safe water and basic sanitation. Experts said wastage and pollution of water are major barriers to achieving sustainable development. With rapid urbanisation and industrialisation, the demand for water will drastically increase in the next decades, but the current rate of depletion and pollution of water will lead to its scarcity in the years to come. To solve the problem, experts suggested that the country needs to reduce its groundwater use for irrigation by at least 20 percent and strictly enforce environmental laws to respite freshwater sources from industrial pollution.

Time is thriving so fast to when we would have to engage “water war” for freshwater as its undeniable necessity for sustain life and containing rapid growth of a country. Our due share in international rivers which crossed the country should be met through using diplomatic channels to sustain our civilization growth and sustainable development. A water policy is to be framed within very short time chalking out uses of surface and underground water policy and by remarking water pollution a crime. Otherwise, hundreds of people, including women and children, will suffer malnutrition and dehydration and desertedness grasp the green Bangladesh.