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Implementation of water, sanitation rights in Barind stressed

RAJSHAHI, Sept 21, 2014 (BSS) - Full-fledged implementation of water and sanitation rights in Barind region has become indispensable for the hard-to-reach people as their living and livelihood condition is becoming vulnerable gradually.

In the dry Barind part of the country, right to safe drinking water and sanitation of the public in general particularly the poor and distressed is being violated due to the present adverse impact of climate change.

The observations came at a daylong seminar styled "Role of NGO Forum for Public Health towards Development of the Barind People" held at seminar hall of Institute of Bangladesh Studies (IBS) in Rajshahi University. "Be Beside the Hard-to-Reach" was the main slogan of the seminar.

IBS organized the seminar with financial support from Higher Education Quality Enhancement Project of University Grants Commission, where large number of researchers, academics and NGO leaders were present.

RU Vice-chancellor Prof Mijanuddin and Executive Director of Barind Multipurpose Development Authority Engineer Ahsan Zakir addressed the seminar as chief and special guests respectively with IBS Director Prof Shahidullah in the chair.

In their keynote speeches, RU Pro-VC Prof Chowdhury Sarwar Jahan and Programme Facilitator of NGO Forum for Public Health Sabit Jahan gave an overview of water and sanitation related scenario in the drought-prone area.

They said lack of access to safe drinking water and sanitation is a national problem rather an individual one. So, there was no alternative but to ensure transparency, accountability and good governance in the sector.

Prof Sarwar Jahan said people in the drier part of the country has become vulnerable in terms of access to safe water and sanitation, as both surface and underground water resources were depleting especially during the dry season.

The whole water and sanitation is facing serious threat due to multifarious reasons including arsenic intrusion, lack of underground recharging, rising of char lands as a result of erosion and accretion leading to water scarcity and quality problems.

Supply of safe drinking water and sanitation were the prerequisites to meet fundamental rights like education and health.

There should be measures of finding out effective strategies to cope with the existing and new challenges regarding water and sanitation.

Moreover, safe water and adequate sanitation facilities are crucial to protect the underprivileged community from different waterborne diseases, as many of them suffer from such diseases because of their ignorance about healthcare, Prof Chowdhury mentioned.

To mitigate the situation, substantial promotion of water management and modern technology related to sanitation was needed immediately, he remarked.

Coordinated efforts from different government and non- government sectors were essential to fight the vulnerability, he suggested.

Policy level interventions are necessary to achieve sustainability of groundwater use for achieving the food security in the country, Prof Sarwar Jahan suggested saying that it is important to take necessary policy to reduce extraction of groundwater.