Bangladesh has made commendable progress in the WASH sector, yet it faces significant challenges from the impacts of climate change in pursuit of Sustainable Development Goal 6 by 2030. Highlighting the critical link between climate change and WASH, ITN-BUET hosted a side event during “The International Conference on Water and Flood Management (ICWFM)”, organized by the Institute of Water and Flood Management (IWFM). This event was held at the CIRDAP Auditorium on October 16, 2023.
A.H.M Khalequr Rahman, Superintending Engineer of the Store Circle at DPHE and the keynote speaker of the event provided an overview of the challenges and opportunities in establishing climate-resilient WASH systems. He showcased several technologies currently being implemented by DPHE in diverse climate scenarios, including coastal, hilly, flood-prone areas, and more.
A panel discussion took place at the event, featuring experts who shared their experiences, insights, and valuable lessons from their endeavors in implementing climate-resilient WASH strategies. The panelists included representatives from BRAC, Unicef Bangladesh, DPHE, and ITN-BUET.
In his statement, Mr. Md Liakath Ali, Director of the Climate Change Programme, Urban Development Programme, and Disaster Risk Management Programme at BRAC, emphasized, “It is essential to acknowledge that those residing in climate-vulnerable regions are not the ones responsible for climate-related challenges, yet they bear the effects of these risks. Hence, we need to explore ways to achieve climate justice.”
Ms. Nargis Akter, WASH Officer, Unicef Bangladesh, underlined the importance of not solely relying on technological solutions to tackle climate risks. She stressed the need for a strong emphasis on building resilience, ensuring that approaches are not only cost-effective but also sustainable over the long term. Moreover, Ms. Dilruba Farzana, Executive Engineer in the Survey Investigation and Research Division at DPHE expressed the view that it is essential to involve communities from the project planning and throughout its entire implementation process.
In his remarks, Mr. Alauddin Ahmed, the Project Manager at ITN-BUET, highlighted, “While our efforts often concentrate on training experts, it is crucial to recognize the significance of collaboration among organizations in addressing climate-related challenges. Building the capacity to engage in international negotiations and leverage technology will enhance our ability to become more resilient to climate impacts. Additionally, we must conduct research with localized climate-specific data for driven decision-making.”
The participants of the side event engaged in an interactive question-and-answer session where they had the opportunity to seek further clarification on key topics and delve deeper into the practical aspects of implementing climate-resilient WASH strategies.Valuable recommendations emerged from the attendees, including the need for collaboration between national and international universities and implementing authorities to effectively address climate-related risks. Additionally, the participants underscored the importance of considering social aspects, including mental health, in the context of climate resilience.
More than 80 participants participated in the event with representatives from WASH sector stakeholders, including academia, research organization, governmental and non-governmental organizations, development partners, I/NGOs, private sectors, and the media.