The Bangladesh Integrated Water Resources Assessment has identified key future challenges for Bangladesh in water use and management.

The challenge

The future of clean water in Bangladesh

Climate change, increasing population and economic growth are placing pressure on water resources in Bangladesh. These pressures may potentially affect the quality and quantity of surface water and groundwater resources and reduce access to safe drinking and irrigation water.

Information was needed on the key challenges to water resource management in Bangladesh and their impact on the poor and vulnerable and the availability of water for economic sectors such as agriculture, industry and households.

Our response

A Bangladesh-Australia joint research project

Researchers from Australia and Bangladesh have examined the issues through a collaborative project on integrated water resources assessment.

The team undertook an integrated biophysical and socio-economic study to provide a national overview of water resources and describe the impacts of development and climate change on both surface water and groundwater.

This study was funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and CSIRO, through the DFAT–CSIRO Research for Development Alliance.

Partners in Bangladesh include the:

  • Water Resources Planning Organisation
  • Bangladesh Water Development Board
  • Institute of Water Modelling
  • Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies
  • Centre for Environmental and Geographic Information Services.

The results

Building local capacity

The project reported several key issues for water management in Bangladesh:

  • food security is achievable, though there will be challenges
  • water is crucial to food security but land may be more limiting in the future
  • groundwater use is unsustainable in some areas, and a concern in many areas
  • sustainable levels of groundwater use, and the exchange of groundwater and surface water, are generally not known
  • increased flooding and salinity intrusion is a key climate change risk
  • climate change is a key concern, and for many water related issues coping with climate variability is likely to enable coping with climate change
  • water use in Dhaka is unsustainable; returning to sustainable use will include solving water quality problem
  • economic development overall is unlikely to be much affected by water related climate change but the structure of the economy may be
  • the poor are very vulnerable to floods, droughts and other water-related hazards.

The project helped build capacity in Bangladesh organisations for integrated water resources assessment, including assessment of socio-economic impacts of climate change and future water demand due to population growth.

Project fact sheet [pdf · 1mb]
Project fact sheet

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