The government is likely to formulate an integrated national plan of action on water to materialize the recommendations of the outcome document of the High Level Panel on Water (HLPW) to be published on March 14.
"Based on the recommendations of the outcome document of the High Level Panel on Water, an integrated [national] plan of action would be framed on water, which will be suitable for Bangladesh," said the Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Md Nojibur Rahman.
Nojibur said the above during a meeting held at the Prime Minister's Office on Saturday before the formal launch of HLPW’s outcome document.
The tenure of HLPW will end on March 14 and after that the UN secretary general and a top level representative of the World Bank will receive the final outcome document from the heads of state and government.
HLPW’s outcome document will also be shared at the World Water Forum (WWF), Brasilia, on March 19, and a Special UN General Assembly on World Water Day on March 22.
Besides, the HLPW members are also committed to help implement their own recommendations.
Principal Coordinator of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Md Abul Kalam Azad moderated the meeting.
Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources Dr Md Zafar Ahmed Khan, former PMO Senior Secretary Suraiya Begum, Local Government Division Secretary Abdul Malek, Acting PMO Secretary Sajjadul Hasan, environmental expert Dr Atiq Rahman and water expert Dr Ainun Nishat, among others, spoke at the meeting.
Two separate presentations on transformation of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and water were given at the meeting.
Abul Kalam Azad said Bangladesh has already selected two lighthouse initiatives to deal with water issues.
He said the first one is water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) project in schools. It aims to improve WASH blocks at all government primary schools by 2022, manage WASH in schools involving the young citizens, and encourage self-motivated cleanliness through cub scouting and school brigades.
The second one is excavation of ditches and ponds to promote sustainable use of surface water, he said.
Nojibur also said everyone in the country needs to be water-smart, adding: "We'll have to take the society approach to help attain the SDGs."
Dr Atiq Rahman said food security, energy security and water security are the three major components or centre points towards attaining the SDGs while there is also a need to bring climate change issues in policy.
He said there is too much water in the rainy season while too little water in the dry season in Bangladesh, stressing the need for bringing a balance by keeping an eye on the misuse of water.
Noting that there is a need to value water, Dr Nishat hailed the government's move to excavate and re-excavate ponds across the country, especially in the southern region, aiming to ensure safe water and thus minimize the risk of arsenic contaminated water.
He, however, warned about using fish feeds in those ponds – saying that the use of fish feeds in ponds would deteriorate the quality of water.
HLPW was established for a period of two years from April 2016 to March 2018.
The two co-chairs of the HLPW are President of Mauritius Ameenah Gurib-Fakim and President of Mexico Enrique Pena Nieto.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is one of the members of the panel while the other panel members are Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Turnbull, President of Hungary Janos Ader, Prime Minister of Jordan Hani Al-Mulki, Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte, President of Peru Pedro Pablo Kuczynski Godard, former President of South Africa Jacob Zuma, President of Senegal Macky Sall, President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon, and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea Dr Han Seung-soo.