Prosfutita Sana, a 52-year-old housewife who lives at the ward number-4, Tildanga Union of Dacope, Khulna. Waking up before dawn every day, Prosfutita walks to a water plant to collect fresh drinking water which is about five kilometers away from her home. She returns home at noon. Without this strenuous journey through an uneven path, she won’t be able to collect water for cooking and drinking.
“Though the walk itself takes two hours, I have to wait for more than two hours as the queue becomes so long to collect the water,” said Prosfutita with deep frustration. This is a daily routine for thousands of people in Tildanga Ward number 4, 5, 6, and 7 and many unions in the coastal district.
The scarcity of drinking water is acute as freshwater aquifers are not available at suitable depths. Besides, the surface water contains high saline in this area. Households are mainly dependent on a few water technologies and sources including Rain Water Harvesting (RWH), Pond Sand Filters (PSF), and pond water for drinking purposes. But the technologies are expensive and barely affordable for the poor community. Thus, they compelled to drink gangrenous water from the local sources.
During the devastating Cyclone Aila in 2009, almost all the freshwater sources in Dacope were destroyed. In most places, the pond is not useable for drinking purposes because of salinity in the shallow and deep aquifer levels. The embankments are eroded and groundwater sources are flooded. Therefore, about 60 percent of pond contaminated by high saline.
Due to the impact of climate change, the daily struggles of thousands like Prosfutita are being intensified. Over the past 25 years, salinity incursion in Dacope has increased by about 26 percent and the affected areas are expanding each year. As the water sources are drying up and demands are increasing, women like Prosfutita are forced to walk further and further to collect drinking water for their families.
Suitable groundwater is absent in most of the places of Tildanga Union, and quite expensive as well. Pond Sand Filter (PSF) is a promising source of water supply for the affected community. But the maintenance and management cost is very high. Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) system appears to be a suitable option both at household and community levels. Considering the overall situation, the Approaching Community Empowerment (ACE) project of ADRA Bangladesh distributed 62 water tanks for the unprivileged community of the Tildanga Union.
Prosfutita said that “I couldn’t drink enough water to mitigate my thirst for a very long time. Now, I can store enough water in the water tank and can drink as much as I need,” she was crying in joy when she got the water tank.