Coastal villagers in southern Bangladesh reserve water in earthen pots as most water sources have dried up during the dry season. (Photo: UCA News)
Caritas Bangladesh is providing drinking water to dwellers of the southern coastal region and has even opened the gates of its offices so that people can get drinking water from there.
The problem of a shortage of drinking water due to salinity in the region has been exacerbated by the drying up of ponds and other water sources during the dry season.
Shanti Rani, 35, a housewife from Shyamnagor in Satkhira district, used to get drinking water only 200 meters from her home but now she has to walk three kilometers to fetch some.
“I fetch water in the morning and afternoon for my family of five. Sometimes my son goes with me. There is a long queue as many families rely on the same source of water,” she told UCA News, adding that she had never seen this kind of water crisis before.
Caritas Bangladesh is working in the region to find a permanent solution to the water problem or at least to ensure that people get proper drinking water.
“The people in this region are facing a water crisis that makes it difficult to live. There is no water in the ponds. Everything has dried up. The rainwater that was caught inside the Caritas office ground is only for drinking,” Daud Jibon Das, regional director of Caritas Khulna, told UCA News.
I don't think there will be a lasting solution to this problem unless climate change is brought under control globally
“We have taken the initiative to provide drinking water to about 1,000 people out of Caritas' own fund. We have already appealed to donors and we received a positive response from them.
“I do not see any permanent solution to this water problem at the moment. We told donors that a solution could be found by converting salt water into fresh water through filtering at a low cost. But we have failed to convince the donors.”
The government has undertaken many projects and allocated money to tackle the water crisis, according to Abuzar Giffary, head of Shyamnagor district.
“The government has launched many initiatives like rainwater harvesting tanks, re-excavated 60 ponds and installed deep tube wells and reverse osmosis plants,” Giffary told UCA News.
“I don't think there will be a lasting solution to this problem unless climate change is brought under control globally.”
Bangladesh is located on the floodplains of the world’s largest river delta system that empties into the Bay of Bengal, making the country of more than 160 million vulnerable to natural disasters such as cyclones, tidal surges and flooding.
Various studies regularly list Bangladesh as among the countries most vulnerable to climate change.
Climate scientists warn that the predicted sea-level rise due to global warming and the melting of polar icecaps by 2050 have the potential to submerge the entire coastal region of Bangladesh and displace about 20 million people.