Rural piped water supply in Bangladesh: myth or reality

2018-02-12T15:09:30Z (GMT) by A.K. Ibrahim
Bangladesh achieved considerable progress in rural water supply since its independence in 1971. More than 97 percent of rural people have access to safe water within 150 meters. This scenario, in comparison to many other developing countries is excellent. The main source of safe water is ground water aquifer. At present, the average number of households per tube well varies from 2 to 5 (NAMIC, 2003 and 2004). This estimates considers both public and private tubewells. The number of private tube wells is a few times that of public tube wells indicating that the private sector plays a commendable role. The presence of arsenic in ground water overshadowed this success. The problem of arsenic contamination has become a matter of serious concern. It is estimated that about 29 million people are potentially at risk (Ahmed and Ahmed, 2002). Analysis of data on screening of tube wells shows that there are many villages where almost all water sources are arsenic contaminated. About 8000 villages have been found where arsenic contamination rate is 80% or more. It is an urgent need to provide safe water sources to those villages. Dug well, deep hand pump tube well, pond sand filter and rainwater harvesters are considered as alternative options for providing safe water. Arsenic removal technologies are also considered to treat arsenic contaminated water. All these alternative options are site specific and have some limitations. These alternative options cannot be considered absolute solutions. Removal technologies have also some limitations.Under such situation piped water supply using surface water or safe ground water in rural Bangladesh may be considered as long-term solution. Both government organizations and NGOs are now piloting more than 100 piped water supply schemes in the country. In this article, the author will try to explain prevailing situation in rural piped water systems and its prospect.

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CC BY-NC-ND 4.0