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					                    Changing the Profession:
The Evolution of Approaches Amongst Engineers
  to Water Policy and Practice in Bangladesh


                                    Ainun Nishat




Improving Policy-Livelihood Relationships in South Asia
Issue Paper 4
Changing the Profession:
The Evolution of Approaches Amongst Engineers to
Water Policy and Practice in Bangladesh




Ainun Nishat




Improving Policy-Livelihood Relationships in South Asia
Issue Paper 4




The UK Department for International Development (DFID) supports policies, programmes and projects
to promote international development. DFID are providing funds for this study as part of this objective
but the views and opinions expressed here are not necessary those of DFID.
                                                              Contents


Acronyms and Abbreviations.................................................................................. ii

1.      Introduction ..................................................................................................... 1

2.      Evolution of Approaches in the Water Sector .............................................. 3
  2.1      Pre-Colonial Period (pre 1757) .............................................................................................. 3

  2.2      Colonial Period (1757-1947)................................................................................................... 4

  2.3      Post-Partition Period I (1947-1959) ....................................................................................... 4

  2.4      Post-Partition Period II (1959-1971) ...................................................................................... 4

  2.5      Bangladesh Period I (1972-95)............................................................................................... 5

  2.6      Bangladesh Period II (1995 to present) ................................................................................ 6

3.      Development Challenges................................................................................ 7
  3.1      National Water Policy and Challenges ................................................................................. 7

  3.2    Issues in Land and Water Resources ................................................................................... 9
    3.2.1    Agricultural Land Availability.............................................................................................. 9
     3.2.2       Climate Change ............................................................................................................... 10
     3.2.3       Water Quality................................................................................................................... 10
     3.2.4       Flooding and Drainage Problems .................................................................................... 10
     3.2.5       Management of Dry Season Demands ........................................................................... 10
     3.2.6       Strategic Implications for Water Balance......................................................................... 11

4.      Where do we Stand? ..................................................................................... 13
  4.1    Water Related Sectoral Issues ............................................................................................ 13
    4.1.1   Domestic Sector .............................................................................................................. 13
     4.1.2       Agricultural Sector ........................................................................................................... 13
     4.1.3       Environmental Sector ...................................................................................................... 14
     4.1.4       Fisheries Sector............................................................................................................... 14
     4.1.5       Navigation Sector ............................................................................................................ 15
     4.1.6       Industrial Sector............................................................................................................... 15

5.      Assessment of Capacity of Institutions Involved in the Water Sector ..... 17
  5.1      Water Management Institutions .......................................................................................... 17

  5.2      Performance of Educational Institutions in Training Water Engineers .......................... 20

6.      Discussion ..................................................................................................... 21




                                                                        i
Acronyms and Abbreviations

BADC       Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation
BFWMS      Bangladesh Flood and Water Management Strategy
BUET       Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology
BWDB       Bangladesh Water Development Board
DAE        Department of Agricultural Exensions
DCMU       Data Collection and Monitory Units
DoE        Department of the Environment
DPHE       Department of Public Health Engineering
DTW        Deep tubewell
EPADC      East Pakistan Agricultural Development Corporation
EPWAPDA    East Pakistan Water and Power Development Authority
FAP        Flood Action Plan
FCD        Flood control and drainage
FCDI       Flood control drainage and irrigation
GIS        Geographical Information Systems
IBRD       International Bank for Reconstruction and Development
IWRM       Water Resources Management
LGED       Local Government Engineering Department
LLP        Low lift pump
NGOs       Non-Governmental Organisations
NEMAP      National Environment Management Action Plan
NMIDP      National Minor Irrigation Development Project
NWMP       National Water Management Plan
NWP        National Water Plan
NWPo       National Water Policy
STW        Shallow tubewell
UN         United Nations
WARPO      Water Resources Planning Organisation




                                              ii
1. Introduction

Over the past few years there has been a significant shift at the global level among the engineers and
professionals working in the field of water resources management. Demand for water was analysed
through the approaches of " water for people", "water for nature", and "water for food security" and
now efforts are being made to harmonise these three concerns. Country level, regional and world
water visions have also been prepared through partner organisations involved in various aspects of
water management. In every approach, effective participation of stakeholders in all project stages are
being highlighted; environmental concerns are taken seriously; and emphasis is being given to
sustainability of projects, which can be achieved through proper operation and management of all
completed projects. Engineers and professionals all over the world are changing their approaches in
the field of water resources management.


In Bangladesh, water resources management still remains sectoraly focused but it has been
recognised that an integrated strategy and programme is required. It is also acknowledged that the
activities in the water sector are compartmentalised, with each agency having its own sectoral
approach and poor inter-agency coordination. There is complaint that engineers responsible for water
management have focused only on flood control, drainage and irrigation (FCDI) projects, an approach
which has caused serious adverse environmental impacts, including declines in fisheries, wetlands
and aquatic resources. Further, planning and management in the water sector has always been
based on a top down approach. Operation and maintenance of completed projects have been
neglected and thus sustainability is hardly achieved.


Until the 1970s, attention was given to flood control and drainage (FCD) problems but more recently
attention has transferred to development of irrigation and drainage projects. In other words, water
management was focused on supporting the agricultural sector, with other water-related sectors such
as navigation, domestic water supply, fisheries, forests and ecosystems remaining on the sideline.
Among them, maintenance of national channels which is essential for sustenance of navigation, has
been left to nature, domestic water supply is being handled through installation of manually operated
tubewell systems, and industrial water supply has been left to the entrepreneurs. Thus inter-sectoral
conflicts are emerging.


The Bangladesh Water Policy was formulated in early 1999 and a Strategy for Development finalised
in June 2001. These two documents are being used to formulate the National Water Management
Plan (NWMP), which will lead to a project implementation programme. It is expected that the NWMP
will form the basis of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) in the Country. At this stage
questions are being asked as to whether the engineers and other professionals are ready to adapt to
the emerging approaches and concepts in the fields of IWRM. How far have the professionals
accepted the changes and what are the constraints of the process?


Water is a key element in life and livelihoods in Bangladesh. The base of the economy is dependent
on agriculture, and water management plays an important role in economic wellbeing. There is a
rhythm in the availability of water in Bangladesh, with the country facing alternately a situation of "too
much and too little". On an annual basis the country floods, as it has no control over the huge flow
that comes from upper catchments and flow into the Bay of Bengal, but at other times of the year it
suffers from drought like conditions. The agricultural system of the country has evolved around the



                                                    1
hydro-meteorological system, with the cropping sequence following the water management system
and vice-versa.


Thus it is important that approaches of the water engineers also evolve with time and that they are in a
position to respond to the demands of society. This paper will reconstruct and analyse the process
through which the water sector has proceeded. Then the capabilities of this institution will be
evaluated and the preparation of the NWMP will be considered. This will lead to an understanding of
the demand to change the approaches of the profession. Within this the paper will consider what the
influences were behind the policy changes and the specific policy drivers, and whether the changes
are likely to happen in the desired direction. Consequently the study will identify the relationship
between the policy developed and the adequacies and responses towards the policy, at the
implementation level.




                                                   2
2. Evolution of Approaches in the Water Sector

Management and development of water resources, has been a major area of public intervention for a
long time in Bangladesh. The nature of interventions and the extent of commitment of the authorities
have, however, varied over time, as has the involvement of the communities where such interventions
where intended to be served. Even before the British rule, the then Bengal had a public works
programme for the construction of small water reservoirs to reduce the adverse impact of flood and to
provide water for irrigation during the dry season. Public initiatives towards the development of water
resources began in 1957, with the recommendations of the Krug Mission set up by the United Nations
(UN) system in the wake of the devastating flood of 1954. This Mission identified that the
development of water resources, especially control of floodwater, was a crucial variable for the
increase of agricultural production. Subsequently, in 1964, a Master Plan for water development,
concentrating on flood control and drainage was formulated, which emphasised the construction of
large-scale embankments and polders.


This was followed in 1972 by the Intentional Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) study,
which recommended a strategy that consisted of the implementation of small- and medium-scale low-
cost, quick generation flood control and drainage projects. The emphasis here was on minor irrigation
that depended on tubewells for ground water irrigation and low-lift pumps for surface water irrigation.


Water development activities continued to focus on FCDI development with the objectives of
increasing food grain production. In 1983, the government initiated a National Water Plan (NWP)
preparation exercise, which was completed in 1986 and updated in 1991. The target of the NWP was
to resolve emerging inter-sectoral conflicts and to facilitate IWRM. After the devastating floods of
1987 and 1988, a five-year (1990-1995) Flood Action Plan (FAP) was launched with the focus on flood
mitigation. However, it was gradually realised that the FAP studies should pay attention to IWRM and
not just the flood problem. All water management plans focused mainly on agricultural development,
neglecting the water needs of other sectors, especially the social and environmental impacts of water
resources development interventions.


2.1 Pre-Colonial Period (pre 1757)


During the Mughal period, water resources were managed under the authority of the King. At that
time, Bengal, already a cotton-growing tract, was one of the greatest silk-producing regions in the
world, with calico, chintz, silk and tassar weavers acquiring international fame and Dhaka muslins
being much sought after by European traders. In addition, people of that period practiced different
indigenous techniques for flooding irrigation and supplementary irrigation, with some embankments
being built by local landlords.


The main water management related features of the period were:


   •    Agriculture, was mostly rain-fed and Kharif I and Kharif II were the main crops.
   •    Water management was practiced with flood embankments, flooding irrigation and
        supplementary irrigation with indigenous equipment.
   •    Excavation or re-excavation of canals and ponds were a major activity.
   •    Local administration had an organisational structure for maintenance of flood embankments.


                                                    3
2.2 Colonial Period (1757-1947)


The water management system that existed in the Mughal period collapsed under the colonial rulers
who had no interest in taking charge of the region’s water management due to the complexities of the
existing system.


The main water management related features of the period were:


   •    Flood management responsibilities were taken up by the local Zamindars (land lords).
   •    Mechanised navigation and dredging were introduced mainly for carrying jute from East
        Bengal and tea from Assam to Calcutta;
   •    Irrigation Department of Provincial Government was responsible for water management. They
        completed some major projects to support inland water transport but did little for flood
        management and irrigation.
   •    Local efforts for pond and canal excavation continued.
   •    The Railway engineers carried out major river training works for some important railway
        bridges. In fact the concept of "guide bunds" for river training was tried on the Ganges at
        Hardinge Bridge and the design methodology was finalised through scientific research.


2.3 Post-Partition Period I (1947-1959)


After the partition of India, in the then East Pakistan, the Zamindari system was abolished with the
passage of the East Bengal State Acquisition and Tenancy Act, 1950 and all water related works,
which were conducted by the Zamindars were abandoned. In the Post-Partition period development of
large-scale FCD projects began to take shape.


The main water management related features of the period were:


   •    Abolition of the Zamindari system led to the collapse of all flood management activities.
   •    Major floods of 1954, 1955, 1956 drew national as well as global attention.
   •    Several major studies were completed: Krugg Mission Report, 1956; Professor Thiesse’s
        Report, 1956; General Hardin’s Report, 1957; all centering on flood management and
        supplementary irrigation.


2.4 Post-Partition Period II (1959-1971)


The Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB) (previously East Pakistan Water and Power
Development Authority, EPWAPDA) was entrusted with the responsibility of developing the water
resources sector and efforts towards its development began in 1959. On the basis of the report of the
Krug Mission, which concluded that water resources development would be essential to the increase
of agricultural production, focus was given to flood control projects. In 1964, a Master Plan for water
development, concentrating on flood control and drainage was drafted. Large-scale embankments
and polders were constructed to control floodwater but unfortunately, somewhat less attention was
given to the improvement of drainage and irrigation.



                                                   4
Embankment of tidal streams to prevent ingress of saline water is necessary throughout the delta area
and the coastal plain of Chittagong district. Formerly embankments were built by those affected and
were not very effective. In 1960, however, the BWDB implemented a Coastal Embankment Scheme
designed to cover all the affected areas. The Scheme envisaged the construction of approximately 60
polders, with sluices for drainage, but in many cases the agricultural aspects of the polders have not
been developed.


The main water management related features of the period were:


   •    EPWAPDA was established in 1959.
   •    East Pakistan Agricultural Development Corporation (EPADC) was set up in 1961 to provide
        agricultural inputs including minor irrigation equipment.
   •    Flood management and food security were the primary goals in water management.
        EPWAPDA adopted structural options for flood management as their main focus of activity.
   •    1964 IECO Master Plan was prepared which opted for flood control through polders,
        embankments, pumps, regulators and sluices, to support rice cultivation in monsoon months.
        Barrage concepts were floated for three major rivers to supply irrigation water. In total, 58
        large projects were planned for FCDI.
   •    Some major projects were completed e.g. Chandpur Irrigation Project; Meghna Dhonagada
        Irrigation Project; Coastal Embankment Project; and Dhaka-Narayanganj-Demra Irrigation
        Project.
   •    EPADC supported dry season irrigation, first through low lift pumps (LLPs) then through deep
        tubewells (DTWs).
   •    Navigation, fisheries, domestic and industrial water supply, and the environmental sector
        remained marginal or ignored.
   •    No integration existed between sectoral organisations and all planning was top-down.


2.5 Bangladesh Period I (1972-95)


In 1972, the IBRD fielded a mission to review the investment and performance of the water resources
sector. Among other objectives, the Mission "recommended a strategy consisting of small, low-cost,
quick generation FCD projects".      Since 1972 this has been put into effect and water resource
development has been a mix of minor irrigation models and low cost FCD schemes along with larger
more capital intensive FCD and FCDI schemes.


In 1974, Bangladesh experienced a devastating flood resulting in renewed interest in flood control and
prevention. Given the state of the national economy (recovering from the shock of war), policymakers
became aware of the need for quick implementation of FCD improvement projects.


The main water management related features of the period were:


   •    Land and Water Sector Report (1972) prepared by IBRD which focused on the introduction of
        dry season irrigation. Bangladesh Agricultural Development Corporation (BADC) became the
        vehicle for this approach.




                                                  5
   •    The BWDB continued with polders as the preferred option and in flash flood prone areas
        submergible dykes were introduced.
   •    The importance of small projects and consultation with local people was recognised by donors
        and BWDB accepted this approach; Local Government Engineering Department (LGED) also
        took up small scale projects; operation of BADC was squeezed and brought to a halt.
   •    Shallow tubewells (STWs) were introduced and put in by the private sector; operation of
        DTWs and LLPs was also privatised.
   •    The importance of IWRM was recognised and NWP preparation was taken up in 1982. The
        First NWP was submitted in 1986 and updated in 1991.
   •    The floods of 1987 and 1988 drew global attention to flood management issues; FAP was
        taken up in 1989 on the basis of 11 guiding principles and 26 components were completed.
   •    The importance of river training, non-structural measures for flood management, IWRM,
        planing on a year-round-hydrological basis, people’s participation, environmental impact
        assessment and a multi-criteria analysis planning process were recognised.
   •    The use of modern tools such as hydrodynamic models and Geographical Information
        Systems (GIS) mapping were introduced.


2.6 Bangladesh Period II (1995 to present)


Following a FAP recommendation, the preparation of a comprehensive NWMP was initiated in 1998
and completed in 2001. Meanwhile, the government formulated and approved the National Water
Policy (NWPo) in January 1999, which lays down the broad principles for development of water
resources and their rational utilisation by all elements of society. In 1996, a treaty was signed for long
term sharing of the flows of the Ganges River. This should enable the country to take up projects for
development of the flows of the major rivers.


The NWMP will give Bangladesh a long-term investment program with a portfolio of projects. To
ensure IWRM, major projects should be taken up only after the plan is completed. However, in the
interim Bangladesh should implement the high-priority projects that were identified for early
implementation in the Bangladesh Flood and Water Management Strategy (BFWMS) of 1995. These
include priority flood proofing, forecasting and disaster management projects; river management and
coastal protection projects; urban protection projects; and water and flood management projects.


The main water management related features of the period were:


   •    Steps to formulate the new NWMP were worked out in 1995.
   •    NWPo was adopted in January 1999.
   •    Water Resources Planning Organisation (WARPO) produced Strategy for Development in
        June, 2001.




                                                    6
3. Development Challenges


3.1 National Water Policy and Challenges


The NWPo published by the Ministry of Water Resources in early 1999, lays down the broad principles
for development of water resources and their rational utilisation. It is intended to help guide both
public and private actions in the future, for ensuring optimal development and management of water
that benefits both individuals and the society as a whole. The Government entrusted the WARPO of
the Ministry of Water Resource with preparation of the NWMP. The Plan is intended to provide the
necessary advice on follow-up actions to be taken for implementing the NWPo, thereby contributing to
national economic development through rational management of water resources, in a way that
protects the natural environment and improves the quality of life for the people of Bangladesh.


The NWMP will be reviewed and updated every five years and set in the context of development
indicators up to 50 years ahead. It will be a firm plan for the next five years, an indicative plan for the
subsequent five years, and a perspective plan to 2025. Sector agencies of the Government and local
bodies will prepare and implement sub-regional and local water-management plans to conform with
the NWMP and approved Government guidelines.


In line with the requirements of the NWPo, the NWMP is being prepared in a comprehensive and
integrated manner, with regard for the interests of all water-related sectors. Widespread consultation
has been conducted amongst a broad range of stakeholders throughout the country and following a
thorough assessment of development issues, different development options have been carefully
considered and debated.


The Development Strategy for the Water Sector as enunciated here has been prepared after a review
of alternative strategies that accord different emphases to national goals. From this, it has been
concluded that a balanced strategy should be adopted, giving equal weight to each goal. The Strategy
sets out a framework for action within which the NWMP is to be formulated. It makes clear the steps
that the Government intends to take to ensure development of effective institutions and legal and
regulatory measures, and to enable efficient and equitable management of the sector as a whole. It
further sets out the main aims and focus of activities within each sub-sector, such that these may
proceed in a coordinated manner consistent with achieving Policy objectives.


Water sector development must conform to and address the NWPo of 1999, of which the prime
intention is “….to ensure progress towards fulfilling national goals of economic development, poverty
alleviation, food security, public health and safety, decent standard of living for the people and
protection of the natural environment.” The six formative objectives as determined by the Policy can
be summarised briefly as follows:


   1.   To address issues related to the harnessing and development of all forms of surface water
        and ground water and management of these resources in an efficient and equitable manner;
   2.   To ensure the availability of water to all elements of society including the poor and the
        underprivileged, and to take into account the particular needs of women and children;




                                                    7
   3.    To accelerate the development of sustainable public and private water delivery systems with
         appropriate legal and financial measures and incentives, including delineation of water rights
         and water pricing;
   4.    To bring institutional changes that will help decentralise the management of water resources
         and enhance the role of women in water management;
   5.    To develop a legal and regulatory environment that will help the process of decentralisation
         and sound environmental management, and will improve the investment climate for the private
         sector in water development and management; and
   6.    To develop a state of knowledge and capability that will enable the country to design future
         water resources management plans by itself with economic efficiency, gender equity, social
         justice and environmental awareness, to facilitate achievement of the water management
         objectives through broad public participation.


The achievement of these objectives requires a comprehensive implementation package involving:


   •     New legislation and regulations, particularly a Water Resources Act and a regulatory
         framework for private sector participation;
   •     Institutional development and strengthening at central and local levels;
   •     Consultation and participation with the direct beneficiaries in the hand-over and development
         of water schemes;
   •     Decentralisation and devolution of responsibility for management and operation of water
         schemes to local government and local water groups; and
   •     Private sector participation in the development, financing, management and operation of water
         schemes at the local and regional levels, as well as in the major cities. This could involve
         local and international companies with the appropriate qualifications, financial backing and
         expertise.


The package above represents a clear mission statement that the NWMP must address.                 It is
important however, to appreciate that there are social and economic imperatives that must be taken
into account including:

         Population Growth
The rate of population growth has slowed to less than two percent per year, but in absolute terms this
still means that the population is projected to increase by 40 percent from approximately 129 million in
2000 to 181 million by 2025, and 224 million by 2050.


         Rapid Rate of Urbanisation
Most of the predicted population increase is expected to be in urban areas, where, partly due to rural-
urban migration, the population will increase, from 27 million (21 percent of the total population) in
2000 to 73 million (40 percent) by 2025, and 136 million (60 percent) by 2050. Therefore, substantial
investment and improved provision of social and economic infrastructure will be required in urban
areas.




                                                    8
        Focus on Poverty Alleviation
Of the population as a whole 57 percent in rural areas and 51 percent in urban areas are classified as
poor. Poverty is the country’s most pressing socio-economic issue and must be addressed within a
comprehensive planning framework that facilitates interventions which directly assist the poor.


        Employment Generation
Job-creation, particularly in the urban areas, will become a key policy issue. The projected growth in
urban population means that some 14 million new employment opportunities will be needed in the next
25 years and a further 21 million by the year 2050.

        Democratisation and Development
Demand is increasing for full consultation and participation at all stages in the planning and
implementation of sector programmes and project interventions.

        Education and Public Health
Major investments will be required in education and public health to eliminate illiteracy, develop new
skills and ensure the well-being of all the people. Additional investment will be needed to manage the
adverse impact of arsenic contamination.


        Food Self-Sufficiency
The Government’s target of rice and protein self-sufficiency to 2025 will require continuing yield
improvements as well as the intensification and expansion of irrigation by private sector farmers.

        Environmental Conservation and Protection
Effective measures to control and reduce wastewater pollution from municipal and industrial sources
are needed to improve and sustain water quality standards for surface and ground water. The Fifth
Five Year Plan (1996 to 2002) fully recognises these issues and sets out a clear programme for the
devolution of power to District Level and the establishment of District Level Area Development Plans.


3.2 Issues in Land and Water Resources


The land and water resources setting of Bangladesh is deeply ingrained in the culture of the people
and has been instrumental in shaping the way people live and work. The situation, particularly in the
face of growing population pressure, is not static however and important issues have emerged in
recent times to which future plans must respond.


3.2.1   Agricultural Land Availability


Whilst agriculture remains the predominant land use, occupying mainly the extensive flood plains, it
will face increasing competition, particularly from the expansion of urban and rural settlements and
culture fisheries. Current predictions are that by 2025 agricultural land availability per capita will be
56 percent of the 1996 level. This underscores the importance of continued efforts to intensify
production consistent with the Government’s aims to maintain food self-sufficiency. An increase of up
to two percent per annum would be needed to sustain per capita production levels.




                                                      9
3.2.2   Climate Change


The potential impacts of climate change are of great importance to Bangladesh. In broad terms,
evaporation to precipitation ratios are expected to progressively rise, prompting an increase in
irrigation water requirements unless offset by diversification towards less water intensive crops. Whilst
groundwater resources may be little affected, dry season trans-boundary flows may reduce. Main river
flooding may increase in duration and flash flooding will tend to be more frequent, as will cyclones.
Surge depths will increase and a sea level rise of 0.5 m by 2050 would exacerbate drainage
congestion. Accretion of new coastal lands may be slower as a result.


3.2.3   Water Quality


Surface water quality in industrial areas, particularly around Dhaka, is generally extremely poor and
faecal contamination, particularly in village ponds and small streams, is a major problem. Man-made
pollution of aquifers is currently generally not a problem, although there are some indications already
that this may be changing. However, the presence of arsenic in the shallow aquifer is a major threat to
human health, as it is both toxic and carcinogenic. About 25 percent of the population lives in areas
where contamination exceeds Bangladesh standards, with a further 21 percent in areas where the
more stringent World Health Organisation standards are exceeded. This dire situation requires priority
attention.


3.2.4   Flooding and Drainage Problems


The major causes of flooding in Bangladesh are: high flows in the trans-boundary rivers; internal
rainfall; and the low elevation of the country. In addition, synchronisation of peak flows of the major
rivers, spring tides in the Bay of Bengal, and cyclonic surges can combine to worsen the flood
situation, as happened in 1988 and 1998. The northeastern and northern trans-boundary rivers are
susceptible to flash flooding from the adjacent hills in India. Man-made obstacles, such as inadequate
sluices and culverts, as well as siltation, often impede drainage. Drainage congestion is caused by
high outfall water levels, caused generally by flood flows in the main rivers or by tidal influence.
However, the pattern of flooding is not the same every where, and the issues are different in different
hydrological regions.


3.2.5   Management of Dry Season Demands


Meeting the many dry season consumptive and environmental demands through a balanced use of
both surface and groundwater is a key sectoral objective. Liberalisation of groundwater in the 1980’s
brought about a massive expansion in its use, which has contributed substantially to agricultural
growth. However, seasonal draw down of the water table has increased, to the extent that a transition
from cheap suction pumps to force mode pumps will be required in some areas. Low cost hand
tubewells, which have proliferated to serve rural water supplies, are being similarly affected by draw
down and many are affected by arsenic. Current evidence nevertheless points to there being a
sufficient quantity of groundwater to meet consumptive needs in most of the 56 percent of the country
underlain by groundwater.     However, further research and studies will be urgently taken up to
determine more precisely the adequacy of the resource in both quantitative and qualitative terms.



                                                   10
Improved monitoring will also be introduced, with a focus on those areas that are critical to future
planning.


Surface water is an important strategic resource for Bangladesh in the dry season. It is the only
resource for some 44 percent of the country (barring some small pockets of groundwater used for
domestic and municipal supplies) and provides a means of making up deficits in those areas
ostensibly served by groundwater. Secure surface water flows are required if in-stream needs are to
be met. From a strategic viewpoint, although further studies and research are needed, sufficient is
known to guide short-term actions. Medium- to long-term strategies will be conditioned by the
outcome of further studies and research.


3.2.6   Strategic Implications for Water Balance


From the assessments made, it is clear that the Ganges flows secured under the 1996 Treaty are
critical to the sustenance of the Southwest Region. It is apparent also that there is little overall margin
in total national water balance if all foreseeable eventualities are factored in.      Improvements are
needed in long range water resource and agricultural demand assessment, coupled with preparation
of a strategy for maintaining water balances beyond the Plan period and beyond the 2026 end-date for
the Ganges Water Treaty. At the same time, treaties securing Bangladesh’s share of the flows of the
other 53 trans-boundary rivers should be brought into place. Though many of these rivers contribute
only a small proportion of the overall balance, locally they are important.


Effective management of both surface and groundwater resources is vital, each being of substantial
importance to future development of the country. Opportunities exist to build upon the conjunctive use
already widely practiced by farmers. However, all water resource developments come at a price, and
issues of affordability and economic efficiency must be fully addressed.




                                                    11
12
4. Where do we Stand?


4.1 Water Related Sectoral Issues


The principal factor influencing Bangladesh's water resources is the steady increase in the demand for
water, especially in the domestic and agricultural sectors, mainly as a result of increasing population
and expanding economic activity. Demand for other uses of water will also increase as the economy
grows. The predominant concern, therefore, is to plan responses in the context of the steadily rising
demand for water not only for various water-using sectors, but also to maintain ecological sustainability
in the water ecosystem. In Bangladesh, the strategy of water resource development has so far
centered around flood control and irrigation expansion to promote food grain production. It is now
widely recognised that conflicts among alternative and competing uses of water are becoming more
acute as the demand for water is increasing. It is therefore necessary to formulate a long-term vision
for IWRM to address the demands of all water-using sectors and maintain a sustainable environment.


4.1.1   Domestic Sector


The NWP gives top priority (in allocation terms) to domestic water supplies. In rural areas substantial
programmes have been taken up to provide safe and reliable water supplies. By 1997 a total of
1.21 million tubewells were sunk through the joint efforts of the Department of Public Health
Engineering (DPHE) and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs).


4.1.2   Agricultural Sector


Food self-sufficiency is of prime importance to Bangladesh. The introduction of high yield variety rice
and the expansion of irrigation have both contributed to increased food production over the past two
decades. However, in a normal year, the country is still has a deficit in food grain production of 1.5 to
2 million tons.


The main source of irrigation water in recent years has been ground water (69 percent in 1996/97).
Expansion of surface water irrigation by LLPs has stagnated in recent years, largely due to reduction
of trans-boundary stream flows, shrinkage of wetlands and reduction of river recharge due to over
extraction of ground water. On the other hand, the irrigated area has doubled in the last decade owing
to the rapid expansion of STWs which are both affordable and a profitable investment for farmers.
Abstraction of ground water in the absence of any regulatory framework will result in continued decline
in dry-season water table depths. The alternative is DTWs which can abstract water from below
"suction limit", which is an expensive technology and without subsidy is not within the affordable limits
of the farmers. Recent estimates by the National Minor Irrigation Development Project (NMIDP)
suggest that by setting STWs at progressively greater depths, this technology can continue to expand.
The NWMP is expected to assess the present irrigation water use and make projections for its future
levels on the basis of the water supply status and the extent of irrigable land, demand for irrigated
crops and the relative profitability of irrigation modes. The plan will also take note of the emphasis
given in the NWPo on the need for focusing on increasing irrigation efficiency through drainage water
recycling, rotational irrigation, water conserving cropping patterns and conjunctive use of surface and
ground water.



                                                   13
4.1.3   Environmental Sector


Most of the country's environmental resources are linked to water. Hence, it is vital that the
development and management of water resources includes measures to protect, restore and preserve
the environment. The quality and quantity of water are inter-linked issues for maintaining a balanced
environment. Poor water quality endangers public health and the natural ecosystem. Other
environmental problems, often related to inadequate water quantity, include sedimentation, saline
intrusion, and wetland and bio-diversity loss.


In Bangladesh, water requirements for environmental protection fall into the following categories:


•   Prevention of saline intrusion;
•   Conservation of the Sundarbans;
•   Maintenance and resuscitation of wetlands;
•   Dilution of pollutants and effluents; and
•   Maintenance and restoration of channel morphology.


The NWPo is committed to ensuring that all water management agencies give full consideration to
environmental protection, restoration and enhancement in accordance with the guidelines of the
National Environment Management Action Plan (NEMAP), which was designed through an innovative,
participatory process in line with Agenda 21 of the Rio Earth Summit.


4.1.4   Fisheries Sector


Water requirements for the fisheries (capture as well as culture fisheries) sector vis-a-vis water
availability have substantial implications for future water management.         Average per capita fish
availability in the country is about 7.5 kg and up to 80 percent of animal protein in the national diet is
derived from fish alone.


Fish availability in Bangladesh has declined over the past 15 years due to a combination of the
following factors:


•   Reduction and modification of the habitat as a result of flood protection schemes;
•   Pollution of water bodies by industrial effluents and agrochemicals; and
•   Over fishing and harvesting of fish fry.


The problem is further compounded by the limited access of the rural poor to inland water bodies.


The NWPo places higher priority on fisheries in terms of allocation of water compared to agriculture,
and specifically states that water development plans shall not interrupt fish migration. The policy also
stresses the need to preserve wetlands and to ensure their linkage with perennial flows.


Water requirements for fisheries comprise the requirements for riverine and flood plain capture
fisheries, freshwater aquaculture and brackish water shrimp and prawn production. To estimate the
water requirements for capture or open water fisheries is a complex task because of the pronounced
seasonal variation in fishing grounds. Related to this task is the principal question of whether culture


                                                   14
or pond fisheries should be progressively encouraged as opposed to capture fisheries in order to halt
the trend of diminishing fish output. The answer to this question, which is necessary to formulate a
water demand scenario for the fisheries sector, depends on a clear policy decision concerning the
relative emphasis to be placed on different types of fisheries. Moreover, the vision to revitalise the
fisheries sector should include, in its mission and strategies, interventions aimed at protection and
rehabilitation of degraded wetlands as special ecological zones, thereby minimising the loss or even
enhancing the scope of capture fisheries.


4.1.5   Navigation Sector


Inland navigation is of substantial economic importance to Bangladesh because its numerous water
courses provide the cheapest means of transportation. Food grains, jute and jute goods, fertilizer,
cement, coal, stone and sand are the principal commodities transported via rivers, while throughout
the country, country boats provide a network of facilities for passenger movement. However of late,
flow reduction and siltation have reduced the navigability of many channels.


4.1.6   Industrial Sector


Water is essential for most industries. It is needed, in varying quantities, for raw material processing,
boiler cooling and effluent discharge. Industrial plants obtain water from various sources including
municipal supplies through the urban distribution network, and hence, the 1991 NWP grouped
domestic and industrial water requirements under one component. Certain industries however, have
provisions of supply installed in situ from surface or ground water sources and these industries tend to
pollute water by discharging untreated effluents.


The NWPo has highlighted the effluent discharge problem as a critical water management issue and
set broad guidelines to prevent water pollution caused by industries.




                                                    15
16
5. Assessment of Capacity of Institutions Involved in the Water Sector


5.1 Water Management Institutions


Institutions and the way they are set up determine the long-term ability of a nation to manage its water
resources. Water policies and strategies express the nation’s priorities and how those priorities
should be achieved; institutions are the tools for realising them. One of the important goals of
institutional development in the water sector is to make the system responsive to people’s needs.
Redesigning institutions therefore requires public participation at all levels.


An efficient water sector institution has three key components: a legal and regulatory framework;
administrative rules for implementation; and organisations that carry out the work. During the mid-
eighties, the need for institutionalisation of various project initiatives was recognised. For example, to
accommodate this need, a post for a resident socio-economic advisor was created in the Early
Implementation Project. However efforts to either strengthen the existing institutions involved in water
management at local level or to facilitate the process of building up new organisations, which would
have been conducive to the sustainability of the water management system were weak. Due to this
unbalanced approach (which emphasised only a few selected activity types), the much-needed task of
institution building at the local level (involving the other water users as well as the line agencies)
suffered. This lack of attention to institution building was also visible at the national level.


One of the main reasons why local initiatives in Bangladesh have received such limited recognition
and are often even discouraged is that most development projects in Bangladesh are "identified" by
international development agencies and implemented by highly centralised line agencies. The BWDB,
with its organisational structure that does not coincide with the administrative boundaries of
Bangladesh, is particularly alien and unaccountable to local government bodies. So, although many
BWDB projects are the result of accurate local assessments, they are subject to the agency's
hierarchical decision making authority. This is true even for small rehabilitation projects and approval
of maintenance budgets.         In many projects, although participatory appraisal techniques were
introduced several years ago, these were only applied to gather information. Final approval of a
proposed project by locally elected bodies is never considered in the context of the project.


In some cases it would be incorrect to presume that the BWDB engineers ignored indigenous water
management technologies. Many of the BWDB systems are built upon or replace indigenous
systems. For example, the haors' submersible embankments, which protect the haors from early
floods before they are completely submerged, are man-made and have been there for generations.
The human settlement of the haor area, which took place some time during the fourteenth century, is
closely linked to the construction of those embankments which, over the centuries, year after year,
were continually raised, re-sectioned, cut and closed. Without them, most of the land comprising the
haor would not be suitable for cultivation. The BWDB identified and upgraded this technology, gave it
a new name and thereby became its official owner.


In Bangladesh BWDB, WARPO, IWTA, DPHE and LGED are the major water related institutions, and
all but WARPO and LGED have been active for many years. These exceptions are comparatively new
organisations that have been playing a vital role in the water sector in recent years. Each of the
organisation has some deficiencies (Table 5.1a) in their rigid sectoral focus:


                                                      17
•   On technical matters, they have excellent capability, but they are not changing with the demands
    of the time and adopting managerial responsibilities;
•   BWDB’s activities are still dominated by structural flood management considerations and they are
    reluctant to work with local communities;
•   BWDB has professional capability in engineering design and construction of complicated water
    management structures but they need capacity building in the planning process and also for
    effective management of the project in association with local communities;
•   BADC is a moribund organisation; minor irrigation is controlled by the private sector;
•   IWTA, WASA, DPHE, Department of Fisheries have not been main-streamed into IWRM;
    Department of the Environment’s (DoE) role is very weak;
•   Organisations responsible for modern tools such as hydrodynamic modeling and use of GIS are
    well developed;
•   LGED is emerging as a major player with a focus on small and medium sized projects. It is well
    linked with local governmental institutions;
•   Only LGED has regular in-service and well organised training programs to equip their
    professionals and engineers and to assist them with the evolution process.
•   Engineering education at tertiary as well as secondary levels is still focused on hardware plus
    construction techniques. Management, environmental and social aspects are not adequately
    addressed.
•   In-service training is very poor and professional training programs are inadequate. In general,
    excluding LGED, engineering organisations have no formal in-house training program.




                                                   18
   Table 5.1a: Water Sector Organisations and Agencies: Functions and Shortcomings
Organisation                Current function                                             Major deficiencies/problems
Planning Commission         Establishing multi-sectoral investment priorities;           Inadequate professional capacity; lack of
                            recommending allocation of resources                         vision and motivation
National Water Council      Overview of the Implementation of National Water Policy      Too few meetings and inadequate
                                                                                         service support from the Water Ministry
Water Resource Planning     Preparation and periodic updating of the National Water      Water policy formulation;
Organisation (WARPO)        Management Plan; establishment and operation of a            National water planning; monitoring;
                            national data base; inter-sectoral coordination.             formulation of water legislation and
                                                                                         regulations; intersectoral coordination of
                                                                                         water plans; central data system
River Research Institute    Surface water modeling; river-training studies               Mathematical modeling for, among
                                                                                         others, surface and ground water;
                                                                                         inadequate funding
Surface Water Modeling      Mathematical river, flood management, irrigation system,     Continued existence after Flood Action
Center                      national and regional, and environmental modeling, and       Plan (FAP)
                            survey and data collection; developing a national
                            hydrological data base
Environmental Impact        Collecting hydrologic, topographic, soil, and flood regime   Continued existence after FAP
Assessment Unit and         data; Developing assessment guidelines; studying
Geographical Information    assessments of projects
System
Bangladesh Water            Project planning and implementation; flood control and       Weak planning, implementation, and
Development Board           watershed management; salinity control; maintaining          operations and maintenance capability;
(BWDB)                      water channels for transportation; regulating water          too large
                            channels
Hydrology Directorate of    Collecting ground and surface water data                     Not adequately linked with national water
Bangladesh Water Board                                                                   planning
Flood Forecasting and       Collecting and disseminating information                     Lacks proper coordination and linkage
Warning Center of BWDB                                                                   with the national Data Collection and
                                                                                         Monitory Units (DCMU)
Local Government            Planning, designing, and implementing rural                  Little or no coordination with BWDB and
Engineering Department      infrastructure development projects; Thana/Union             other agencies; inadequate authority for
(LGED)                      drainage, embankment, irrigation, land and water use         enforcing water regulations
                            planning; small-scale water schemes, canal digging
                            programs, town protection schemes
Roads and Highways          Constructing and maintaining primary and secondary           Road networks intervening with water
Department                  roads                                                        courses and affecting hydrological
                                                                                         regime; little or no coordination with
                                                                                         BWDB and other agencies

Public Health Department    Rural and urban water supply and sanitation                  Little or no coordination with BWDB and
                                                                                         other agencies; inadequate enforcement
                                                                                         of water regulations
Department of Agriculture   Disseminating information on agricultural technology,        Little or no coordination with BWDB and
Extension (DAE)             including water and land use                                 other agencies
Bangladesh Agriculture      Operating low-lift pumps and tube-wells; harnessing hill     Little or no coordination with water sector
Development Corporation     streams; controlling salinity; distributing water for        agencies; inadequate responsibility for
(BADC)                      irrigation                                                   enforcement of water regulations
Bangladesh Inland Water     River conservancy work, including river training for         Inadequate coordination with water
Transport Authority         navigational purposes; disseminating navigational and        sector agencies; inadequate authority for
                            meteorological information, including river charts;          enforcement of water regulations
                            hydrographic survey; programming for dredging and
                            reviving dead or dying water bodies; developing,
                            maintaining, and operating inland river ports; developing
                            rural water transport
Department of the           Monitoring pollution in rivers, ground and drinking water;   Insufficient coordination with other water
Environment (DoE)           working with FAP agencies to develop environmental           sector agencies; inadequate enforcement
                            protection measures; collecting and analysing                of water regulations.
                            environmental data; monitoring and analysing surface
                            water for pesticides and heavy metals; analysing
                            wastewater samples; helping agencies prepare EIAs.




                                                             19
5.2 Performance of Educational Institutions in Training Water Engineers


Bangladesh University of Engineering & Technology (BUET) is the primary institution in the country for
engineering graductes, for employment in the water sector. Besides BUET, there are four Institutes of
Technologies who offer under-graduate courses in engineering. All five academic institutions follow
the same curricula, which was developed in the early 1960s, with some changes to accommodate
courses on modern technologies such as computer programming. The curricula have become more
engineering hardware based and in the process subjects related to social sciences have been
dropped. Thus these academic institution are not helping the profession to adjust to the present day
demands that call for a move from water development to water management.


It must also be noted that on-the-job training in water management institutions is absent. In the name
of training, a great deal of money has been spent over the years, both inside the country as well as
abroad. In the absence of any demand from inside the institutions, most of these training courses are
not focused and well planned. Lack of any career planning in these organisations also contributes to
the stagnant situation. The training offered by IHE, Delft to Water Supply and Sanitary Engineers as
well as to Water Management Engineers has made some impact on changing the attitude of the
professionals.




                                                 20
  6. Discussion

  All water sector organisations have followed sectoral, mono-disciplinary, centralised and command
  controlled approaches so far. This trend should be changed to multi-disciplinary, decentralised,
  integrated approaches based on participatory methods. Bangladesh has made some progress in this
  respect but almost all changes have taken place under pressure from donors and the NGO
  community. The factors pulling and pushing the process are shown in figure 6.1a.




                                                 •   Participation
                                                 •   Integration
                                                                         Targeted
                                                                         Position




                                                         Present
         •   Mono-disciplinary                           Position
                                                                                    •   Multi-disciplinary
         •   Centralized                                                            •   Decentralized
                                                                                    •   Private sector
         • Public sector
         Factors pulling backward
                                                                                    Factors pushing upward
         •
                                                                                    •
             Professional rigidity
                                                                                        Donor pressure
         •
                                                                                    •
             Institutional rigidity
                                                                                        Changing Global
         •   Lack of professional                                                       Thinking
             capacity
                                                                                    •
             c
                                                                                        Increased and better
                                      Earlier                                           understanding of the
                                                                                        stakeholders
                                      Position
                                                 •   Sectoral approach
                                                 •   Command control



Figure 6.1a: The changing scenario of approaches of professionals in the water sector



  Studies of the trend of changes in water management in Bangladesh indicate a major influence of
  external agencies and some important natural calamity that drew the attention of the world. Attentions
  were obviously drawn after the floods of 1954 and 1955, and again after the 1987 and 1988 floods.
  Changes in global approach such as Agenda 21 have prompted all donors to have a fresh look at their
  approaches as well as the types of activities they support.


  In modern times the first shift from a traditional and community based approach to a modern and well
  organised approach, having a master plan as a guide, was initiated at the recommendation of the
  Krugg mission in 1957. In 1964, International Engineering Company of Chicago prepared the first
  master plan. BWDB was setup in 1959 (known as EPWAPDA), and the engineers recruited by them



                                                                    21
were mostly civil engineers (and some mechanical engineers to support dredging operation) educated
nationally at BUET. BWDB mainly performed planing, execution and management of FCDI projects
which were always handled through a top-down approach, a trend which continues today despite
considerable criticisms.


The next efforts at reform were made in 1972, a time when the donors recognised the need to switch
to small projects and to shift from flood management to dry season irrigation projects. The aim of the
shift was to increase agricultural production as well as employment in the rural areas. In the early
1980s, MPO attempted to develop another national water management plan which was guided by the
World Bank, the output was basically a mixture of the 1964 and the 1972 approaches.


In 1987 and 1988 flood changed the whole scenario in the water sector. These devastating floods
destroyed the economic structure of the country. At that time some new ideas emerged and peoples
participation and appropriate guiding principles were introduced. But approaches of the professionals
of the water sector remain in the format of “the old school”, that is, focussed towards infrastructure not
on management aspects.




                                                   22
                   DFID's Policy Research Programme
The purpose of the Department for International Development's (DFID) Policy Research
Programme is to ensure policy options that improve the livelihoods of the rural poor are
developed and promoted. The programme seeks to learn lessons by comparing
experience in different parts of the world, whilst acknowledging that the livelihood
opportunities for the rural poor vary greatly and are often location specific. The
programme has commissioned four research studies that focus on policy options for
improving access to natural capital, supporting livelihood diversification, improving
access to rural finance and investigating rural-urban linkages to improve the livelihoods
of the rural poor.

This study, focused on natural resource policies in South Asia, seeks to achieve this
through a twin-track approach. It analyses the policy process itself - its origins,
characteristics, linkages with other policies and institutional arrangements for policy
interpretation and implementation, and also analyses the impacts of policy on rural
livelihoods in terms of access to "capital assets" (natural, social, human, physical and
financial).




               Research Partners and Collaborators
The "Improving Policy-Livelihood Relationships in South Asia" research project,
commissioned under the DFID's Policy Research Programme, has been implemented by
the Stockholm Environment Institute at York, in partnership and collaboration with the
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), the Marine Resources
Assessment Group (MRAG) and the University of East Anglia's Overseas Development
Group (ODG) in the UK; the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS) and the
World Conservation Union (IUCN) in Bangladesh; Development Alternatives (DA), the
Centre for Economic and Social Studies (CESS) and Sustainable Initiatives in
Development (SIDT) in India, and the Integrated Water Management Institute (IWMI) and
University of Ruhuna in Sri Lanka.


 iied
  International
   Institute for
Environment and
 Development

				
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