Four billion people in this world face water scarcity for at least a few months every year. At this rate, demand for water will increase 50% worldwide in the next 30 years, said Saber Hossain Chowdhury, MP, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change of Bangladesh on Friday.
Addressing the closing ceremony of the three day-long 6th International Water Conference as its chief guest, he said, "Covid-19 has made us rethink that water should be taken care of from a holistic point of view which ranges from the source to: distribution, economic cycle, agriculture, and then coming back to nature."
"Better water policies can ensure better life for the people and the policy should be better informed," he added.
On the last day of the conference, experts from Nepal, Australia, England, and other countries focused on grassroots innovation and technological solutions by participating in a discussion session titled "Water and Climate: Trinamool Innovation and Solutions."
About the unique geographic features of Bangladesh and its relationship with river and water, Professor Saleemul Huq, Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development stated, for every single area of this country water is the key part as Bangladesh is a deltaic country of three main rivers.
Regarding Bangladesh's drought and flood situation, Huq said the Barendra areas are drought prone and people are dependent on groundwater for their irrigation.
Groundwater is being depleted. During the dry or winter season water scarcity is a big problem, while Dhaka and Chittagong have man-made flooding and heavy rainfall causes water logging, he added.
HE Ken O'Flaherty, COP26 regional ambassador, Asia Pacific and South Asia, FCO-Cabinet Office COP26 Unit Joint Team stated, "the UK [United Kingdom] is clear that to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals we need to help all countries and adaptation and resilience is the top priority for the UK government."
O'Flaherty said they have pledged 11.4 billion more pounds over the next five years and aimed to spend half of that on adaptation.
He added that in early January, the UK announced the formation of an Adaptation Action Coalition and Bangladesh is a key member of this coalition.
During the first thematic session on "Water and Climate: Grassroot Innovations and Solutions," the speakers focused on grassroots innovations and solutions over technological solutions.
Dr Dipak Gyawali, academician, Former Minister of Water Resources, Nepal, stated, "The local community sees water resource management from a different angle. Local solutions and innovations like brushwood dams or rubber dams are more useful. These innovations see natural resources like water as common pool goods."
Dr Liyan Zheng, professor and director, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, said policymakers should investigate carefully and study about grassroots innovations and solutions before developing policies.
Farah Kabir, country director ActionAid Bangladesh, said, "We should shift from a land-centric to water centric approach."
As women and the young girls are the key managers of household water resources, they should have access to water-related decision making, she added.
Among others, Ibrahim Khalil Al-Zayad, member, general assembly, ActionAid International Bangladesh Society; Dr Bushra Nishat, environmental specialist, South Asia Region Environment Unit, World Bank; Dr Vanh Mixap; Dr Liyan Zheng, professor and director, Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Tianjin University of Finance and Economics, China; and Dr Imtiaz Ahmed, professor, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka were also present at the closing sessions of the International Water Conference organised by ActionAid.