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10th International Rainwater Catchment Systems Conference
"Rainwater International 2001"
Mannheim, Germany - September 2001

Section 2: Rainwater Catchment in Humid and Arid Regions

Paper 2.3

Securing Domestic Water Supplies for Rural Bangladesh Through Combined Systems

Karl Wehrle
Vadianstr. 42, CH-9000


Despite having access to abundant rainfall (albeit seasonal), readily accessible groundwater and large river systems, many households do not have access to an adequate supply of potable drinking water in today's Bangladesh.

Water that is clean, clear, with chemical and bacteriological qualities recognised by WHO as being suitable for human consumption is frequently unavailable. Historically these serious and widespread shortages can be attributed to high population growth rates and densities, combined with low disposable household incomes.

In concerted attempts to address this situation, sustained efforts to exploit groundwater were initiated in the early 1970s with the help of international support. By the mid-90s, groundwater reserves were made accessible on a nation-wide scale through the widespread provision of handpumps and tube wells.

However, in 1993 the discovery of naturally occurring arsenic in some aquifers began to emerge. By 1996, the extent of the problem became apparent: approximately 20 million persons were now consuming drinking water with arsenic levels above the WHO guideline value of 0.01mg/litre.

In the light of this water quality crisis, various stakeholders have initiated arsenic mitigation measures in different ways. In this context suitably harvested rainwater represents an acceptable alternative to overcome and supplement the scarce and over-stressed potable water supply situation.

In some regions where families and communities are experiencing severe water shortages, collected rainwater may even represent the only source for potable drinking water.

PDF of full document (3pp, 74kb)

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