Day01: Inaugural Ceremony

Day01: Inaugural Ceremony

Summary of deliberations of the inaugural ceremonyBangladesh convention on Rainwater Harvesting
Ball Room, Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, Dhaka
15 June 2012Introduction:

WaterAid with its co-organizers: Rain Forum, IWM, Centre for Science and Environment, India, ITN-BUET organized the first Bangladesh convention on rainwater harvesting on 15 June 2012 at Ruposhi Bangla hotel. The convention ended on 17 June 2012.

Inaugural ceremony took place on 15 June 2012. Hon’ble Ramesh Chandra Sen, Minister of Water Resources , Government of Bangladesh, Hon’ble Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Water supply and Drainage, Government of Sri Lanka were present as Special guest in the event. The event was chaired by Dr. Md. Khairul Islam, Country representative, WaterAid Bangladesh.

Dr Suresh Kumar Rohilla, Programme Director, Centre for Science and Environment, India delivered his speech on rainwater harvesting at the South Asian context. Speeches were also given by Syed Azizul Haq, President Rain Forum, Dr. M Monowar Hossain, Executive Director, IWM; Professor Mafizur Rahman, Director ITN-BUET.

Welcome speech by Dr. Md. Khairul Islam, country representative, WaterAid Bangladesh :

Dr Khairul Islam expressed his gratitude to the honorable guests and fellow participants and focused on the importance of rainwater in Bangladesh economy. He stated that the demand of water is increasing rapidly over the years in Bangladesh. However there is no plan to recharge the depleted aquifers in urban area by rainwater, as a result rainwater is being wasted. To overcome this situation he stated that Dhaka WASA with ITN BUET has piloted some innovative projects. He emphasized the fact that the honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has instructed appropriate authorities to explore opportunities for rainwater harvesting. Dr. Md. Khairul Islam mainly focused on three issues regarding rainwater harvesting; i. sector capacity, ii. engagement of private sectors, and iii. policy advocacy. In his speech he appreciated the work of RAJUK, as it has incorporated rainwater harvesting in the draft Building Code. He then gave an overview of the convention and its plan and concluded his speech by acknowledging the guests for spending their valuable time in the inaugural session.

Speech by Dr. Suresh Kumar Rohilla, Program Director- Urban Water Management, Centre for Science and Environment, India:

Dr. Suresh Kumar Rohilla expressed his gratitude to the guests and participants and described about the activity and function of Centre for Science and Environment. He stated that South Asia have mastered even in the worst drought cases in previous years. Giving the example of Rajasthan he said rainwater harvesting can solve water scarcity. He recommended that proper awareness need to be built via education, capacity building and campaigns on rainwater harvesting. He emphasized on the fact that both government and municipality should take initiatives to make this thing happen. He also suggested short term and long term targets regarding this. He highlighted the need for making rainwater-harvesting system existing in new building, preservation of lakes and pond, and model demonstration projects should be done to popularize rainwater harvesting.

Speeches from co-organizers

Syed Azizul Haq , President, Rain Forum: Syed Azizul Haq thanked WaterAid for leading the event. He emphasized on the fact that rainwater should be stored properly in a systematic way so that it solves the water scarcity in future. He stated that our current Prime Minister has passed a categorical order in 2000 that every building should have rainwater harvesting system. He also stressed that some NGOs have come forward to make people aware regarding the importance of rainwater harvesting. In addition he added that RAJUK is updating its plan regarding building code.

Dr. M Monowar Hossain, Executive Director, IWM: He stated that over use of ground water is creating pressure on the availability of water. Because of climate change, the resources of ground water can be critical. He asserted the fact that though, the overall situation regarding ground water in Bangladesh is satisfactory but it is not available in all the areas. He said that IWM has been successful in piloting study on artificial recharge. In order to focus rainwater harvesting system he suggested doing more researches as well as integrating research and action together for positive result. He also stated that active involvement of all stakeholders is important in this regard.

Professor Mafizur Rahman, Director, ITN BUET: Professor Mafizur Rahman said in his speech that, BUET has already started research on rainwater harvesting a decade ago. He stated that rainwater harvesting should be incorporated in urban areas. He said that affordable and acceptable solutions for rainwater harvesting should be developed through proper research. He focused on the fact that the quality of rainwater should be improved.

Speech by special guest Hon’ble Dinesh Gunawardena, Minister of Water Supply and Drainage, Government of Sri Lanka:

In his speech, His Excellency Mr Dinesh Gunawardena said that scarcity of water is increasing day by day. He stated that women are being affected the most due to the lack of access to water. He also mentioned that excessive use of chemicals which lead to contamination of water causes serious health hazards like kidney failure. He declared that Sri Lanka has achieved the MDG goal already and the President of Sri Lanka has committed to provide pure drinking water to all citizens. He emphasized the fact that new buildings in urban areas need to have rainwater harvesting system. In addition, he stated that rainwater could be used for non-drinking purpose and it can promote ground water recharge. He asserted that the concept of capacity building for rainwater harvesting system was emphasized in the 15th SAARC meeting, 2008. He concluded his remarks by wishing success to Bangladesh in terms of rainwater harvesting.

Hon’ble Ramesh Chandra Sen, Minister of Water Resource, Government of Bangladesh

Mr Ramesh Chandra Sen greeted everyone and stated that the supply of water is reducing day by day but the demand of water in increasingly. He also focused on the fact that climate change is putting extra pressure on water sources. He articulated that if the rainwater is harvested in a proper manner it could be used for different purposes. For that advocacy is needed. He emphasized that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has instructed to take actions for installing rainwater harvesting system. He concluded his speech by wishing the success of the convention.

After the speeches, Dr. Khairul Islam thanked everyone and invited everyone to join in the cultural program and dinner.