Finance Minister AMA Muhith said Tuesday Bangladesh is now giving priority to river water conservation for its best use although once the country was not so serious in this regard. “Sweet water across the world is very limited. We have to ensure its best use as our agriculture is very much dependent on it,” he said at a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony in Dhaka Tuesday. The government signed Tuesday a MoU with the Netherlands, the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the 2030 Water Resource Group in Dhaka for taking help to formulate the Delta Plan 2100 and its implementation for Bangladesh.
Mr Muhith said: “A very old survey reported international common river water flow to Bangladesh. The survey said the country receives only 7.0 per cent of water of common rivers as a lower riparian country. But I do not think so. I believe Bangladesh is getting more water.”
“So I urge the researchers to conduct a comprehensive study on water flow from international common rivers so that we can get latest data on it. It will be helpful for water management in Bangladesh,” he added.
The Netherlands government had signed an agreement with Bangladesh in 2012. It had also signed a grant agreement last year under which it is providing Tk 870 million to Bangladesh in a bid to finalise the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 by the year 2016. The MoU in Dhaka was signed by Mr Muhith, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Ms Lilianne Ploumen and Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment Ms Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Programme Leader of the World Bank Ms Lia Carol Sieghart, and the 2030 Water Resources Group Executive Director Anders Berntell.
The partnership will help develop and implement the Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100, a long-term and holistic vision for the Bangladesh Delta, and help to realise the country’s goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2021 while maintaining the unique biodiversity and physical characteristics of the delta.
Two-thirds of Bangladesh lies in the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta and need special focus for sustainable delta management. Beset by an already high and growing population density along with growing urbanisation, proper planning and management of the delta will secure Bangladesh’s future development over the next decades through improving water safety, food security, and disaster resilience.
The Delta Plan aims at creating a long-term vision for delta management, preparing for different scenarios and responses, identifying and organising government institutions to address challenges and create and facilitate a long-term investment programme bolstered by private sector participation and development partners.
Ms Lilianne Ploumen said: “The Bangladesh Delta Plan can only be a success if it benefits all people of the society.”
“A delta plan only works if everyone is involved. The Netherlands, being a polder country, already has considerable experience in this regard, but in Bangladesh overall involvement is not yet a matter of course. The very poorest, and women in particular, hardly have a say. This really calls for improvement,” she added.
Ms Melanie Schultz said: “Like all delta countries, Bangladesh and the Netherlands share a common cause to manage these complex environments. They are, therefore, natural partners in the exchange of knowledge and know-how.”
“Adaptive delta management will build a stronger foundation for prosperous Bangladesh,” said Lia Carol Sieghart, Programme Leader of the World Bank.
The function was also addressed by Water Resources Minister Anisul Islam Mahmud, General Economics Division Member Prof Shamsul Alam, and Economic Relations Division additional secretary Kazi Shofiqul Azam.