Women campaign for rainwater harvesting in saline coastal Bangladesh – Global issues

Lalita Roy now has access to clean water and also provides a service to her community by working as a pani apa (water sister), looking after the community’s rainwater harvesting plants. Credit: Rafiqul Islam / IPS
  • by Rafiqul Islam (Khulna, bangladesh)
  • Associated Press Service

“In the past, drinking water was scarce. Roy, a resident of the Bajua Union in Dakope Upazila in Khulna, tells IPS one to two kilometers per day for every day.

She had to get water standing in line; a water jug ​​is not enough to meet her daily living needs.

“We require two pitchers of drinking water per day. I have to spend two hours every day to get water. So there were various problems. I had health complications and I couldn’t do household chores because of lack of time,” she said.

After receiving the rainwater harvesting plant from the Gender-Based Climate Adaptation (GCA) Project implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Roy is now collecting drinking water using the water harvesting plant. rain, making her life easier.

“I’m getting facilities, and now I can spend an extra two hours with my family… that’s why I’m benefiting,” she added.

Shymoli Boiragi, another beneficiary of Shaheber Abad village in Dakope Upazila, said that in the past women in her locality suffered greatly in getting drinking water because they had to walk 1-3 kilometers a day to get water. take water.

“We lose both time and household chores. After harvesting rainwater from factories, we benefit. Now, we don’t have to travel long distances to get water to be able to do extra household chores,” said Boiragi.

Shymoli revealed that coastal people suffer various health problems from consuming salt water and also spend money on water collection.

“But now we are conserving rainwater during the ongoing monsoon and will drink it for the rest of the year,” she added.


With support from the project, rainwater harvesting plants have been installed in about 13,300 households belonging to 39 lay unionists in Khunla and Satkhira. One Pani apa (country sister) has been deployed to each group from the beneficiaries.

Roy, now deployed as a Pani apasaid the GCA project conducted a survey of households in need of a water plant and selected her as the Pani apa for two wards.

“As a panic apa, I have been provided with a variety of tools. I visit each household twice a month. I clean their water tanks (rainwater plants) and repair them, if necessary,” he added.

Roy says she provides services to 80 households with rainwater harvesting plants and if they have any problems with their water tanks, she will come to their home to repair the plant.

“I go to 67 households with water plants, once or twice a month for maintenance. If they call me on my cell phone, I will also go to their house,” said Ulashini Roy, another. Pani apa from the village of Shaheber Abad.

She said one household gives her 20 Taka per month for her maintenance services while she receives 1,340 Taka (US$15) from 67 households, helping her cover family expenses.

Ahoke Kumar Adhikary, regional project manager for the Gender Climate Adaptation Project, said they have supported the installation of rainwater harvesting plants in 13,300 households. Each plant will store 2,000 liters of rainwater in each tank for the dry season.

Water plants need maintenance, that’s why the project used Pani apas for each parish union (ward or council). They work at the community level on maintenance.

“They provide a number of services and we call them Pani apas. Job of Pani apas Adhikary said.

He say Pani apas receive Taka 20 from each household per month to provide their services and if they need to change the faucet or waterworks filter, they will.

The Pani apas He added, charging for equipment replacement of water plants.


The coastal belt of Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change as it is hit hard every year by cyclones, floods and storm surges, which destroy its freshwater resources. Freshwater aquifers are also being affected by salinity due to sea level rise.

Ullashini Roy said fresh water is not available in coastal areas and people’s drinking water is scarce.

“The water you are looking at is salt water. Groundwater is also salty. People in the area cannot use saline water for domestic and drinking purposes,” said Adhikary.

Ahmmed Zulfiqar Rahaman, a hydrology and climate change expert at the Dhaka-based Center for Geographic and Environmental Information Services (CEGIS), said if sea levels rise by 50 centimeters by 2050, salinity The surface will reach Gopalganj and Jhalokati districts – 50 km inland from the coastal belt, hastening the drinking water crisis there.


According to a 2019 study, people who consume salt water experience various physical problems, including acidity, stomach problems, skin diseases, psychological problems, and high blood pressure.

It was even blamed on getting married early because the salinity gradually changed the girls’ skin color from light to gray.

“There is no fresh water around us. After drinking salt water, we suffer from various waterborne diseases such as diarrhea and cholera,” said Ullashini.

Hypertension and high blood pressure are common in coastal people. Research also shows that people feel psychological stress from having to constantly get soft drinks.

Shymoli said when the drinking water reserves run out in any household; family members are worried because collection in coastal areas is not easy.


Rahman said river flows in Bangladesh decline rapidly during the dry season, but a solution needs to be found for the coastal area.

The hydrologist proposes a possible solution to build more freshwater reservoirs in the coastal area through appropriate management of ponds at the community level.

Rahman said low-cost rainwater harvesting technology should be transferred to the community level so that coastal people can store rainwater during the monsoon and use it during the dry season.

He added that the government should subsidize desalination plants because desalinated brine is very expensive.

Report of the United Nations Office IPS

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© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service

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