Day 02: Pleanary Session
Bangladesh convention on Rainwater Harvesting
Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, Dhaka
16 June 2012
This plenary was organized to understand better the scenario of rainwater harvesting in South Asian countries India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka. Participants from these countries shared their experiences regarding rainwater harvesting system in their respective countries. The chairperson of this session was Hon’ble Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of water supply and drainage, Government of Sri Lanka and chief government whip, Parliament of Sri Lanka. Dr. Md. Khairul Islam, Country Representative, WaterAid in Bangladesh moderated the event.
Indian experience (Ms. Sushmita Sengupta):
Ms. Sengupta is the Deputy Program Manager of Centre for science and environment, New Delhi. She stated that rainwater harvesting in India mainly focused on urban technology as well as traditional wisdom. She also stated that in India diverse technologies could be found regarding RWH. She also mentioned that in India that there is a intense relation between water and culture. She talked about Anna Hazare who brought change in drought prone areas in Maharashtra. People were migrating from villages because of the scarcity of water. Anna Hazare harvested rain and the result was 28% of population started earning more.
Ms. Sengupta also stressed that technologies also used in RWH in West Bengal before British came. She stated that government also took some remarkable initiatives regarding RWH. She thanked everyone and concluded her speech.
Mr. Prakash Amatya (Nepal):
Mr. Prakash started his speech by stating that rainwater is magic which bring us together. In his presentation he described the time tested technologies of rainwater harvesting system. He also mentioned the evolution of rainwater harvesting in his discussion. The presentation showed the procedure of collecting rainwater in the villages of Nepal. He mentioned that in 2002 initiatives were taken to harvest rainwater in five places of Nepal from his organization. He focused on the fact that massive promotional campaign, policy advocacy is needed to make people aware regarding RWH. He stated that NGOs are promoting RWH and government should take a lead regarding this issue. He also stressed the necessity of youth involvement and Rainwater kiosk in creating a critical mass to promote rainwater harvesting.
Mr. Sohail Nazir (Pakistan):
Mr. Nazir presented the initial findings of the research in Pakistan done by WaterAid and its partners to improve the availability and quality of water in some villages. They collected water baseline data for villages. He stated that the main problem was villagers did not want to share the water source. Therefore, the project initially increased the storage capacity and also tried to increase the level of household awareness. He stated that WaterAid in Pakistan has worked with the local government and the local government allocated budgets for 24 villages. Mr. Nazir focused that they faced some challenges mainly related to diverse cultures of communities and the quality of useable water. He concluded his speech by hoping that these problems will solve in near future in Pakistan as well as in South Asia region.
Mr. Charles Stanley Weeraratna (Sri Lanka):
Mr. Charles briefed about Sri Lanka, its climate, current water supply situation in his presentation. He discussed the traditional rainwater harvesting system, which were agricultural tanks, open-air collection, square brick tank and tree trunk collection. Then he focused on the activities of Lanka Rainwater Forum, that started by a small group in 1996. He also focused on groundwater recharging. He also pointed out the promotional activities and training programs regarding RWH. He concluded his presentation by stating the policy regarding RWH in Sri Lanka.
In the open discussion, participants asked to presenters different questions on rainwater harvesting:
- One of the questions in open discussion was how to control the mosquito problem in open pond system?
In response to this question, Ms. Sengupta replied that fish is a great way to solve this problem as fishes eat the lava. It is a guaranteed solution.
- One of the questions was how are they maintaining the hygiene practice in Nepal?
In response to this question Mr. Prakash stated that it is a challenging task, however they decide earlier whether they would use it in drinking purpose or non-drinking purpose.
- One of the participants wanted to know about the public perception regarding rainwater
Mr. Charles replied that in Sri Lanka lots of people are using rainwater but some are not satisfied because of the taste. He stated that people should be made aware of RWH.
- Another question was that how the rainwater is using in schools in Nepal?
Mr. Prakash stated that in schools rainwater is used for drinking purpose. Before drinking the water get filtered to make ensur of the quality of the water.
Moderator thanked everyone for their active participation. He stated that rainwater is much cheaper than the pre treatment and treatment plans for sewerage water. He stated that RWH is very important for the survival. He emphasized that government is making new regulation, law which recognizes rainwater harvesting where we all could work jointly. He concluded his speech by stating that commitment and conviction is very necessary in this issue and once again, he expressed his gratitude to all the guests and participants and ended the event.