Speakers at a webinar demanded that integrity should be duly considered for proper valuation of water.
The speakers raised that demand during a webinar titled "Role of Integrity in valuing water" which was organised by Bangladesh Water Integrity Network in collaboration with Change Initiative, NGO Forum for Public Health and Water Integrity Network on Monday, said a press release.
Ainun Nishat, renowned Water resource and Climate Change expert, was present as Chief Guest on the occasion.
Also present in the webinar were Dr AKM Saiful Islam, Professor, IWFM, BUET; Engineer Shahidul Hassan, President, BAWIN and Former Chief Engineer, LGED; Engineer Md Abdullah, Managing Director, KWASA; Professor Dr AK Enamul Haque, Environmental Economist; SMA Rashid, Executive Director, NGO Forum for Public Health; Dr Reba Paul, Adjunct Fellow, University of Sydney; and Executive Director (Honorary) of Change Initiative M Zakir Hossain Khan.
The main purpose of organising this webinar was to observe World Water Day, 2021, the release said.
During the webinar, the speakers said that valuing water is difficult but it is necessary. Economically water can be a private good, a public good, and a common pool resource but hunger, urbanization, and other complex global challenges trace on these economic attributes of water, complicating valuation and management. Other than that, water also has a special cultural value, with a central role in many customs and rituals.
The speakers added that value of water is much more than its economic value – water has enormous and complex value for our households, food, culture, health, education, economics, and in the integrity of our natural environment.
If people overlook any of these values, they risk mismanaging this finite, irreplaceable resource. Valuing water provides the basis for recognizing and considering all benefits provided by water, including their economic, social, and ecological dimensions, the speakers said.
Internationally, valuing water has been prioritized as a global action to achieve sustainable water resources management by the United Nations and the World Bank High-Level Panel for Water, added the speakers.
During the webinar, Executive Director (Honorary) of Change Initiative M Zakir Hossain Khan said, "According to a survey of UNDP three-fourth of coastal population in Bangladesh is consuming polluted water every day, not only that due to the scarcity of water the children especially women of a household have to suffer much."
"When we talk about water integrity, we measure the accesses of water and availability of water. When the economic value of water is being considered integrity is linked. We hardly consider the pollution causing by different activities for which water management is being affected largely while we measure the valuation of water," added Zakir.
Professor Dr AKM Saiful Islam said, "About 2 million people lack access to safe water, 48 million people lack access to improved sanitation and 30% of the total population lives on less than sanitation in Bangladesh."
During his speech, Dr Saiful highlighted how water is being polluted and crises was intensified due to climate change and urged people to provide equal importance to both proper valuation and integrity in water sector.
Professor Emirates Ainun Nishat stated that the demand for water has increased drastically and for this, proper usage of water, availability, and mitigating the uncertainty of getting water need to be prioritised.
Professor Ainun said, "In this matter navigation needs to be a top priority and ranking must be done in terms of drinking water and food security. Equal distribution of water needs to be fulfilled. Moreover, water quality must be considered in the valuation of water."
Professor AK Enamul Haque said, "The weaker or poorer population will not be able to take the burden of the high economic value of water."
During his speech, he suggested that in public policy for valuation, we need to consider that who can spend how much money on water. Equity or price discrimination for different economic groups needs to be considered and evidence-based policy should be adopted.
Dr Reba Paul said, "Water is a precious resource. Water scarcity is not a problem rather poor management of water or fragmented projects to manage the water resource is the main reason for water-related problems."
She said that we must need to take science-based adaptive planning to mitigate the challenges and integrity is key to water resource management.
Binayak Das said, "Emphasis should be given on the water integrity issue should be and it should be advocated with the Government of Bangladesh."
SMA Rashid said, "Water has both direct and indirect value and it is a multi-sectoral issue."
He suggested that to align with SDG's goal in 2030 to protect water resources with application of the integrity management toolbox and inter-agency collaboration need to be introduced.
Engineer Md Abdullah claimed that not only safe drinking water but also irrigation is very important and valuable part in water management.
Abdullah said, "The main challenge in water resource management is how to meet the demand for water with limited resources."
He claimed that aligning with the National Integrity Strategy Khulna WASA has introduced Integrity Management Toolbox and successfully improve the water integrity.
Engineer Shahidul Hassan said in his speech that we need to control the excessive use of water and fair price of water need to determine.