On the occasion of International Human Rights Day 2022, participants in the water rights campaign across the coast, LEDARS and Upazila Youth Forum organized a human chain with the support of Participatory Research and Action Network-PRAN, Action Aid Bangladesh, under the theme ‘Water rights are human rights, ensure water rights of all coastal people’ in front of Shyamnagar Upazila Press Club on 13th December 2022.
Youth, women, people affected by the water crisis demanded to ensure universal, equitable and sustainable access to safer drinking water for the coastal communities of Bangladesh, along with increased government allocation and investment, stopping the use of groundwater, digging large area-based ponds, canals and reservoirs to retain rainwater, creating freshwater reservoirs.
President of Upazila Climate Advocacy Forum and valiant freedom fighter Master Nazrul Islam presided over the event, Vice President of Shyamnagar Upazila Press Club Md. Mostafa Kamal, Secretary Zahid Sumon, Shyamnagar Upazila Youth Forum President Md. Mominur Rahman, President of Munshiganj Union Climate Resilient Forum and former Headmaster of Tripani Secondary School Dhananjay Kumar Mistry, President of Shyamnagar Upazila Online Press Club Maruf Hossain Milon, Journalist Md. Belal Hossain and Md. Abu Saeed, Action Aid Shyamnagar Upazila Manager Moslem Uddin Laskar, Education Secretary of Pipilika Youth Team Umme Humaira, LEDARS’ Md. Shawkat Hossain, Poritosh Kumar Baidya and others were also present.
The speakers said that the right to safe drinking water is a basic human rights. If the water rights of the coastal communities in Bangladesh are not protected, other basic human rights will also be undermined. Water crisis in the coastal region of Bangladesh is not new. Freshwater scarcity is one of the most important coastal risks. Water rights of coastal communities are particularly threatened by climate change, including coastal location, overuse and unplanned use of limited natural resources. Due to the increase in sea level, the salinity of the water sources is increasing, on the other hand, the groundwater is also saline in the coastal area.
Speakers also said that the people of the coast are suffering from other problems due to the shortage of fresh water. Many people are suffering from high blood pressure due to the use of salt water in daily activities including cooking and drinking. Besides, various risks are increasing for pregnant women including pre-eclampsia, uterine problems. Extra hours are being spent in fetching water from far away, and many are being victims of harassment. The economic pressure on families is increasing while buying water. Therefore, effective and timely measures should be taken urgently to ensure supply of fresh water to the coastal areas. Speakers emphasized on taking long-term planning to ensure uninterrupted water supply as well as right to safe drinking water to take urgent consideration of drinking water crisis of coastal communities.