PhD Research Proposal
Research Title: Economic Aspects of water Services security in Dhaka, Bangladesh
Safe and acceptable water for human consumption that is available in sufficient quantity, physically accessible and affordable is a crucial prerequisite for human wellbeing. Access to safe water is not only fundamental to good health but also to satisfactory livelihoods, dignity and prospects for economic growth and education. The lack of access to sufficient amounts of safe water leads to human suffering and to loss of human potential which is ethically indefensible as well as economically wasteful ( Richert and Schmoll, 2010). Thus, the development and extension of water services infrastructure have been a key foundational element of industrial and urbanisation since mid-1990. As urban areas have become larger and more densely inhabited, the collective need for better water services (drinking water and sanitation in particular) has become overwhelming.
Cities simply could not grow beyond a certain relatively modest size without the simultaneous articulation of an integrated water services infrastructure to replace the piecemeal local arrangements then in place. By the mid-20th century, many developed nations including the EU, the US and Australia were able to formulate standardised water supply and sanitation services, called “hydromodernism”, based mainly on new ideas about the respective roles of the public and private sectors, new technologies and the water needs of the natural environment (Staddon and Langberg, 2014) However, in many of the developing countries including Bangladesh hydromodernism is yet unattained and even unattainable. In addition, rapid urbanisation in many developing countries including Bangladesh has gone hand in hand with the growth of what are called peri-urban areas that combine urban and rural characteristics and present new challenges to water. A typical pattern regarding Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh is it is heavily dependent on groundwater which has been a severe scarcity source (Staddon and Langberg, 2014).
Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh is an overcrowded city, where about 12 million people are currently living which might be projected to around 22 million by 2025. Dhaka is now the 7th largest city in the world and by 2020 it will be the 2nd largest city in the world (APWF, 2009). The water supply issue has been an important issue for Dhaka city, where the current water demand is approximately 2.2 billion litres per day (this demand will be increased to 1.9 billion litres per day by 2030) but the supply is only about 3.25 billion litres per day. This means the supply is far behind of demand in the current water supply system of Dhaka city. The key cause of this negative supply and demand curve is water supply Dhaka city is heavily dependent on groundwater (87%) which is a severe scarcity of resource, while only 13% of water comes from surface resources which can be a potential source to meet the demand now and in future (DWASA, 2014).
Dhaka city is now facing several challenges in supplying safe and sustainable water to its citizen, while these challenges will be increased more severely in near future with the increased population. The key challenge is to provide available clean and pure water to the citizen of Dhaka from its existing key source (groundwater). The main reasons are a) scarcity of groundwater; b) severe water shortages mainly in summer; c) potentially exposure to arsenic contamination; and d) depleting groundwater level by 3 feet a year. In addition, according to a water expert named Mujibur Rahman, the sources of water are not properly managed, which has put the city at risk of severe water shortage (Rahman, 2013). Although the government and concerned authorities are taking initiatives in addressing the challenges faced, these are not adequate enough to meet the water demand of citizens of Dhaka (Islam, 2012).
According to a report published by World Bank in 2013, Dhaka’s water problems stem mostly from an over-dependence on groundwater, where the city obtains most of its water from over-exploited aquifers. Besides, more than 80 million people in Dhaka city are potentially exposed to arsenic contamination (World Bank, 2013). In these circumstances, water experts suggest Dhaka city increase the usages of surface water sources like rivers, canals, and ponds to meet the water demand of citizens. A report published by the WHO Regional Office for Europe (2011) disclosed “Initiatives to cut the dependency on groundwater and increase the use of surface water should have been taken much earlier”. The Dhaka Environmentally Sustainable Water Supply Project (DESWSP) suggests a reliable and sustainable water supply for Dhaka City dwellers by developing a new surface water supply scheme for supply augmentation. However, experts find a negative impact of this scheme on land acquisition (ADB, 2013).
The management of water resources needs to focus on both supply and demand aspects. Investments in dams, reservoirs, wells, pumps and canals have in the past provided adequate access to fresh water supplies (Faruqee and Choudry, 2012). However, with the growing demand imposed by population and modern usage of water, the supply-side approach to water planning is meeting its limitation. Another study conducted by Faruqee and Choudhry (2012) reveals that the availability of surface water in Bangladesh has declined with greater upstream use by India, in parts of the years, and groundwater potentials are fast depleting with increasing usage, particularly agricultural. The option remaining is to look for improved demand management to bring water use into balance with supply. It has also been now recognized that the country has a better chance of combating seasonal flood (when excess supply occurs) through better flood management rather than flood control measures (Faruqee and Choudhry, 2012).
Although several experts have suggested in different ways, the government of Bangladesh and Dhaka’s Water Supply and Sewerage Authority (DWSSA) could not take any effective initiatives yet to use the surface water effectively for providing water supply to meet the water demand of citizen of Dhaka. On the other hand, no research has been conducted yet on how the sources of surface water can be effectively used to provide available pure and clear water to the population of Dhaka. Therefore, the question has been raised for the authority of Dhaka city as “how can surface water be used effectively to provide water supply to every citizen in the capital city, Dhaka, of Bangladesh?”
As a result, the aim of this study is to examine whether or not raw water deficits into supply in the Dhaka city of Bangladesh can be met by surface waters, relieving pressure on over-pumped and often contaminated groundwater sources. Then, the study will recommend the concerned authority on how to improve access of the poor to secure, safe and sustainable water supplies in the Dhaka city of water scarcity.
The key objectives of this study are 1) to explore the population of Dhaka city and their water needs and current supply by the Dhaka WASA; 2) to analyse the existing source (mainly groundwater) of water in supplying to the citizen of Dhaka; 3) to find out the challenges faced in providing water supply to the citizen of Dhaka; 4) to evaluate the sources of surface water for ensuring water supply to the citizen in future; 5) to identify approaches to improve access of the poor to secure, safe and sustainable water supplies in areas of water scarcity, and to identify the key challenges to the more effective management of water resources in Dhaka city; and 6) to recommend how the concerned authority can use the surface water effectively to fulfil the water demand of the citizen of Dhaka…………