Dry season in Bangladesh causes water crisis
In Bangladesh due to high salinity in surface and groundwater, people are facing acute water crisis in many areas of the coastal region and hence, are looking for alternatives. To address the water crisis in this region, where rainfall is abundant, 3R options (water recharge, retention and reuse) are often thought as a potential solution. 3R options can increase water storage capacity and improve water availability throughout the season.
How to enhance water availability through 3R options?
While several 3R options (groundwater recharge, soil moisture storage, closed storage tanks and open surface reservoirs), have been used under different projects in Bangladesh to address the water scarcity, the applications are often constrained by a number of factors, including lack of information on technologies, limited skills, lack of research and lack of awareness. Therefore, research is needed in order to facilitate the utilization of 3R options and to encourage investment decisions towards effective and efficient use of the water resources. This will enable people residing in the vulnerable regions of the country to have access to water. Hence, a study was carried out focusing on assessing the 3R options (including rainwater harvesting) in Bangladesh, especially in rural areas of the coastal region. The study addresses the water management issues as well as recommendations for scaling up existing practices. Reports and publications on previous research and development projects carried out by WASH organizations/researchers were studied. In addition, field visits were conducted to assess the current condition of the different 3R options and to gather feedback from beneficiaries. The study also took support from sector professionals to identify the challenges and draft recommendations. The FIETS (Financial, Institutional, Environmental, Technological and Social) sustainability criteria approach of WASH Alliance International was used in the study in assessing the sustainability of the 3R options in the study areas.
How to sustain 3R interventions in Bangladesh
In Bangladesh there is potential for scaling up of the options of water recharge, retention and reuse to address the challenge of water availability and to improve use of the abundant rainfall in the dry period. To make the best use of the available 3R options and to be sure that implementation of systems is sustainable, the following areas need to be emphasized: develop a mechanism for financial sustainability, include an institutional approach, perform site specific research and enhance awareness raising activities in user groups and local and regional capacity building on 3R options. While some of the 3R interventions have been found very popular in many areas of the coastal region, its applicability could be enhanced within and outside the existing areas through strong collaboration among government, its development partners and local communities to improve the water supply system in coastal region of Bangladesh.
RAIN, with funding of the WASH Alliance International, initiated an in-country study, to understand the context of coastal region in relation to water supply systems, identifying main challenges in bringing 3R options into practices, the benefits and sustainability of such practices, and potential for scaling up of the 3R options in Bangladesh. RAIN was responsible for ToR preparation, contracting, technical guidance to the research, peer-review of report, workshop facilitation, evaluation of research, reporting and follow-up. The local research was done by Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (ITN-BUET).