POST TIME: 22 October, 2019 00:00 00 AM

Crisis of drinking water

A climate change-friendly development is being made through ensuring transparency and accountability besides establishing a good relationship among the people and local government representatives

Shakila Parvin

“Water here is salty and it becomes more salty in the month of Chaitra and Baishakh. Eyes and mouth are etched and salt is appeared on the body,” Jahanara Begum, a housewife in a southwestern district, was cmplaining.

Describing the severe taste of salty water, Jahanara living in the village of Gabura in Shamnagar Upazila in Satkhira, said they could not think about cultivating of crops due to excessive salts in the soil rather there was acute shortage of drinking water in the area.

She, however, said the crisis of drinking water has reduced to some extent in the last few years.

The villagers said the local non-governmental organization Local Environment Development and Agricultural Research Society (LEDARS) has been playing an important role in ensuring safe drinking water for the commoners.

An NGO is running various programmes including repairing of ponds and setting up modern pond sand filter (PSF), activating deactivated PSFs, formation of committee at community level to maintenance of PSF, setting up bio-sand filter and taking measures to artificially replace salty water from underground by sweet water.

Sources said, an organization has so far set up a total of 189 rain water harvesting technology for tiger wounded families, bio-sand filter for 5,250 families, new PSF by digging 11 ponds, activating 21 deactivated PSFs and 10 underground technology to replace salty water by sweet water that facilitated 15,881 families to get safe drinking water.

An activist Mohon Kumar Mondal said that they are not only resolving the shortage of safe drinking water in the huge areas of the country’s southwestern  part rather an NGO is playing a significant role in carrying out different development oriented activities. The programme includes adoptable agriculture, alternative employment, primary health services, skill development for the mass media people, and protecting environment in the coastal area and skill development programme for the local government representatives, he said.

Bhabotosh Mondal, Chairman of Burigoalini Union Parishad at Shamnagar Upazila in Satkhira, said an NGO is working to increase the capacity of Union Parishad to make the government activities more dynamic by taking different programmes including providing trainings to UP members to develop their skills to tackle the climate change vulnerabilities, preparing yearly budget aiming at making the Union Parishad climate and disaster tolerable and place it before the people.

As a result, a climate change-friendly development is being made through ensuring transparency and accountability side by side establishing a good relationship among the people and local government representatives.

Project manager of LEDARS Shawkat Hossain said in assistance with Bread For the World, an NGO is implementing the “Strengthening security of lives and livelihood of climate change vulnerable people” at Shamnagar Upazila in Satkhira and Koyra Upazila in Khulna under the project.

Under the project, an NGO identified the woman dominated climate vulnerable families in the coastal area and provided them health cards to ensure their primary health services. About 3,500 families were given primary health services and free medicines from 14 medical camps every month.

Besides, an NGO is counseling for children, adolescent and pregnant mothers and creating awareness about nutrition and hygiene issues. It also provides treatment to women and provides them free medicines through special camps on different occasion.

It is known that along with vulnerabilities to climate change the local people who are dependable to the Sundarbans and many of them embrace death at the attack of tigers. Thus, the widows who lost their husbands at the attacks of tigers are called as “tigers widows” (bagh bidhoba). An NGO is carrying out programme to bring back solvency of over 200 distressed tiger widows along with establishing their social rights.

LEDARS Programme Manager Ranjit Biswas said they have already provided trainings and follow up trainings to about 700 farmers and 200 tiger widows on cultivation of adoptable paddy and vegetables. It also distributed 32,155kgs of salty, and water resistant verities of paddy and 13,743 monsoon vegetables seeds.

He said an NGO also provided training to prepare composed fertilizer and provided them necessary materials to prepare it. Besides, it distributed 14,280 fruit trees to set up horticulture garden in the salty areas and set up 20 exhibition plots in assistance with trained farmers.

The official said the NGO arranges agricultural fair every year while it built 40 homes as seeds homes through providing special trainings. It also dug small ponds at 68 paddy fields, re-dug two canals and set up five tube wells to turn one seasonal lands to more than one seasons and set up a laboratory to examine soil and water.

Siraj Gazi, a member of LEDARS climate resilient group, said comprising about 800 farmers, they formed a total of 37 climate resilient groups, 4 self help groups and two farmers cooperative societies to ensure adoptable agriculture.

He said about 120 acres of unusable lands have turned into productive sector as the activities of adoptable agriculture and production of paddy and vegetables and increase of water management for agriculture are enhanced.

Local MP SM Jaglul Haider appreciated the roles of LEDARS saying that it has played a positive role in protecting the people vulnerable to climate change.

He mentioned that the government has taken different programmes to protect the people from risks of the climate change.

“It is important of taking such initiatives by non-governmental organizations along with the government to make easy the combined efforts to tackle major risk from climate change impacts,” he added.

The writer is a contributor to
The Independent

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