Bangladesh still has serious constraints on economic and social welfare needed for ensuring water security, says a report by the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The country's water security status has been in the second stage of a five-stage table since 2016. The stage score denotes its status of "engaged" in water development.
The report entitled "Asian Water Development Outlook 2020: Advancing Water Security across Asia and the Pacific" released on Friday describes the status of water security in the region by measuring the availability of safe and affordable water supply, sanitation for all, improved livelihoods, and healthy ecosystems, with reduced water-related diseases and floods.
Based on the scores the index prepared five development stages of water security: nascent, engaged, capable, effective, and model.
By improving the performance through adequate policies, ADB members can move up from nascent to engaged to capable to effective and ultimately to model.
The outlook presented that the first two stages (nascent and engaged) place serious constraints on the needed economic and social welfare for water security.
Bangladesh has scored 52.8 out of 100 in the National Water Security Index.
That means even though a significant majority of rural and urban households have access to basic water supply, there is a lack of sanitation. Moreover, economic water security is low and environmental governance is moderate, with severe pressures on aquatic ecosystems. Progress in achieving disaster risk security is low.
The outlook prepared "National Water Security Index (NWSI)" based on five key dimensions (KD): KD1 (rural household water security), KD2 (economic water security), KD3 (urban water security), KD4 (environmental water security), and KD5 (water-related disaster security).
The NWSI score is the sum of the max-20 scores of the five KDs – a maximum score of 100.
Out of five dimensions, with a score of 9, Bangladesh scored lowest in KD1 and KD4. The country scored highest in KD3 (12.1) and second highest in KD2 (11.8)
Bangladesh scored 11 in KD5, which is not the worst. However, the country poses the highest exposure in flood risk.
According to the report, Bangladesh is the main hotspot of flood risk in Asia and Pacific with over 11% of its total population would be exposed in 2030. Whereas, 8.2% would be exposed to river flood and 2.8% would be coastal flood.
In the third edition of the outlook Bangladesh improved by 1.2 points. In the first edition (2013) the country scored 47.0 and in the second edition (2016) the score was 51.6.
Bangladesh ahead of India, Pakistan in water security
Bangladesh's NWSI score is better than Nepal (52.3), India (46.8), Pakistan (42.7) and Afghanistan (39.5) among South Asian countries.
With a score of 62.8, Bhutan and Maldives topped the index, followed by Sri Lanka (60) from the region.
Along with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India and Pakistan are still in the second stage of development.
Among South Asian countries, only Bhutan and the Maldives achieved the third stage of development (capable) for water security.
On the other hand, Afghanistan is still striving in the first stage and achieved the lowest score in the Asia and Pacific region
However, none of the 49 ADB members from Asia and the Pacific have achieved the model stage yet for the overall NWS, not even the Advanced Economies group, highlighting the outlook for 2020.
Ainun Nishat, professor emeritus of Brac University's Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research, said the index has been prepared based on the affordability of water supply and sanitation, linking Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6.
The sanitation system In India and Pakistan is very bad and that in Bangladesh is comparatively better, he mentioned.
"The SDG 6.2 clearly asks for bringing an end to open defecation by 2030 and Bangladesh officially claimed that it has attained 99% of this target. As a result, we've performed better on sanitation," he explained.
But there is a problem with regard to the quality of drinking water, which include arsenic, and a lack of water treatment, he pointed out. "For example, Dhaka WASA cannot ensure the quality of drinking water, while many rural people still use pond water. Considering those, the country may have got a lower score."
Generally, it is said that 96-98% of the population have access to drinking water, he noted, adding, "But, in terms of quality, only 40% of the people get pure drinking water and the rest of them don't."
"Had the index covered water management issues, our picture would have been worse. This is because in the dry season we don't get water from rivers due to transboundary water issues.
"So, the index presents a partial picture related to the country's water supply and sanitation and the score presents that we are in the middle of water security development," he observed.