Conference and training workshop on rainwater harvesting
A two day conference followed by one day training workshop on Rainwater Harvesting were organised in Dhaka by Water Aid Bangladesh (WAB) in partnership with Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Rain Forum (Bangladesh) and Institute of Water Modelling (IWM), Bangladesh. The three day programme was organised both at Ruposhi Bangla, Dhaka and International Training Network Centre (ITN) BUET. Researchers, students, professionals, NGOs, bureaucrats and ministers form different parts of South Asia attended the programme.
More than 350 participants from different parts of South Asia attended the meeting. The water experts stressed on the need of rainwater harvesting for solving the water crisis in Bangladesh. The opening speech was given by Dr. Khairul Islam, Country Director, Water Aid Bangladesh. He gave emphasis on the importance of policies and laws to make rainwater harvesting mandatory. Dr. Suresh Kumar Rohilla, Programme Director, Water, CSE talked about the importance of the rainwater harvesting systems from the South Asian context and also cited successful case studies from different cities of India which have successfully implemented the system.
Mr Ramesh Chandra Sen MP, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Water Resources, Government of Bangladesh and Mr Dinesh Gunawardena MP, Hon’ble Minister, Ministry of Water Supply and Drainage, Government of Sri Lanka and Chief Government Whip, Parliament of Sri Lanka were also present to share their views on rainwater harvesting. Mr. Gunawardena was present as special guest. Representatives from Public Works Division (PWD), BUET and IWM also gave their views on the success of rainwater harvesting in Bangladesh. Mr. Sen said that the system like rainwater harvesting is very essential to tackle the water demand of the growing urban population, industrialisation and agriculture. Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Gunawardena said the capacity building and research on rainwater harvesting has been emphasised in the Fifteenth South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) declaration that expands the scope of cooperation between the South Asian countries in tackling the issue of ensuring quality water access to the mostly agrarian population in the region.
On the second day of the convention, representatives from India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka presented successful case studies from their respective countries. Sushmita Sengupta from CSE, India spoke about the traditional and modem rainwater harvesting practices in India, Mr. Prakash Amatya from Centre for Integrated Urban Development (CIUD) emphasised on the usefulness of rainwater harvesting in Nepal, Mr Charles Stanley Weeraratna from Rainwater Harvesting Forum, Sri Lanka talked about the different techniques of rainwater harvesting practised in Sri lanka. Mr Sohail Nazir from Water Aid Pakistan talked about the rainwater harvesting initiatives in the desert areas of Pakistan.
There were also five parallel thematic sessions on different aspects of rainwater harvesting. More than ninety papers were discussed in the form of presentations and posters. Researchers, students and NGOs from South Asia presented their work. The day ended with Dhaka declaration which emphasised on making rainwater harvesting mandatory in both buildings as well as other infrastructural set ups like flyover, stadium, highways, railway stations etc.. The water experts from Dhaka emphasised on the implementation of more demonstration projects in different parts of Bangladesh. More research and training institutes should promote rainwater harvesting said this declaration. The introduction of topic of decentralised system in the course curricula of all the universities were also mentioned.
On the last day of the convention, a training programme was conducted by CSE expert, Sushmita Sengupta. The programme was organised for the technical students and researchers of Dhaka. About forty-four participants attended the programme. The programme was well appreciated. The participants requested WAB to run similar courses in the near future. There was exposure field visits to four rainwater harvesting sites namely Village Education Resource Centre (VERC). Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET), Independent University Bangladesh (IUB) and Public Works Department (PWD). Except VERC, all other sites are located in the heart of the city. VERC is located in Savar, just outside Dhaka. At the end of the field trip, there was a reflection session. Here the participants shared their ideas on the implemented systems. The systems were appreciated and there were requests from Dhaka University to implement a similar system in their campus.