Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday urged the Asia-Pacific countries to combine forces to share good practices, knowledge and technologies to help address their water-related common challenges.
She made the call in a video statement that was played at the Fourth Asia-Pacific Water Summit held at Kumamoto in Japan.
She also said that a basin-wise approach is needed to manage the waters of transboundary rivers.
"We attach importance to regional or sub-regional cooperation, including for hydro-power generation and transmission," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said that today's human beings are accountable to future generations to deliver on their international commitments on water, including the water-related SDGs.
"Our youths must be empowered so that they can become responsible actors for water inclusiveness, efficiency and sustainability," she said.
The premier said that water is vital for life and it is fundamental for sustainable development and for promoting a culture of peace.
"We need to ensure sound water management to "build back better" from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic," she added.
She recalled that in 2016, she was a member of the UN High-level Panel on Water that adopted a "Call to Action."
"The mid-term review of the Water Action Decade next year will provide us a platform in implementing the action agenda," she said adding that the Kumamoto Declaration will be a useful contribution to that process.
In Bangladesh, she said, the government has taken an inclusive, whole-of-society approach to water management where more than 85 per cent of its people have access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation facilities.
"We have almost ended open defecation. Our fight against water-borne diseases is a continuous effort. From next month, we shall administer 2.3 million cholera vaccines in the capital city," she said.
The premier also said that Bangladesh is considered a "role model" in water-related disaster management.
She mentioned that the investments in flood embankments, cyclone shelters, coastal polders, green belts, floating agriculture, river dredging, and urban stormwater drainage systems have increased Bangladesh's resilience.
"We have benefited from developing early warning systems and community-based interventions. Our floodplain management aims at managing the seasonal variations in water availability," she said.
The prime minister said that Bangladesh has drawn up a cross-sectoral Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100 to work towards a resilient and prosperous delta.
She said that the government is hosting an International Financing Conference next month for mobilizing resources for implementing projects under the Plan.
"We look forward to using the sediment loads flowing into the Bay of Bengal for reclaiming and elevating lands in our coastal areas. Bangladesh also stands ready to harness the untapped potentials of Blue Economy," she said.
Talking about the climate change issue, Hasina said that Bangladesh is aware of the immense impacts of climate change on water.
"We see growing saline intrusion in our coastal areas. We also see a sharp decline in groundwater levels in some parts of the country. Our government is giving emphasis on nature-based solutions, including rainwater harvesting," she added.
In this regard, she said that the scientists have been working on developing salinity and water-resistant, and drought-tolerant crops, and already invented a number of varieties.
"We are taking an eco-system based approach to protect our wetlands. We recognize our rivers to be living entities," she said.
The Kumamoto City of Japan and Asia-Pacific Water Forum (APWF) Jointly organised the Summit under the theme "Water for Sustainable Development -Best Practices and the Next Generation."
Bashundhara Group stands by 10,000 cold-hit people in Faridpur
Bashundhara Group, the country’s largest business conglomerate, distributed blankets among 10,000 cold-hit people of Sadar, Nagarkanda, Saltha and Sadarpur upazilas of Faridpur.
The blankets were distributed with the all out support from Bashundhara Group Managing Director Sayem Sobhan Anvir.
Bashundhara Group's executive director and Faridpur district Awami League’s industries and commerce affairs secretary Advocate Jamal Hossain Miah distributed the blankets at Talma Union Parishad chairman’s residence on Friday morning.
Speaking on the occasion, Jamal Hossain Miah said, “Bashundhara Group always stands by the people of the country. With the help of Bashundhara Group Managing Director Sayem Sobhan Anvir, blankets are being distributed among the cold-hit people across the country, including Faridpur. Bashundhara Group will continue effort to serve people in the future.”
After getting blankets, the poor people expressed their gratitude to Bashundhara Group for giving them worm cloth during this bone-chilling cold.
Bashundhara Group general manager Md Yunus Khan, Chief Operating Officer (Banking Sector) Md Razib Samad, Faridpur Press Club general secretary and Bangladesh Pratidin correspondent Kamruzzaman Sohel and Talma Union Parishad Chairman Kamal Hossain Mia were present among others in the event.
League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader
pays a courtesy visit to Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, Chairman of country’s leading
industrial conglomerate Bashundhara Group.
Obaidul Quader was greeted with flowers by the Bashundhara family during the meeting at the Bashundhara Group chairman's residence in the capital on Monday.
Bashundhara Group Managing Director, Sheikh Russel Krira Chakra Limited Chairman and Bangladesh Jeweller’s Association President Sayem Sobhan Anvir, Rongdhanu Group Chairman Alhaz M Rafiqul Islam, Awami League Office Secretary Biplab Barua, Bangladesh Pratidin Editor Naem Nizam and Badda thana Awami League General Secretary AM Jahangir Alam were also present during the meeting.
Leaders of Narayanganj district and Rupganj upazila units of Awami League held a view-exchange meeting with Bashundhara Group Chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan on the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Rupganj.
MP from Narayanganj-4 constituency AKM Shamim Osman, Rongdhanu Group Chairman Alhaz Rafiqul Islam, Rupganj upazila AL General Secretary Alhaz Shahjahan Bhuiyan, Vice-President Barrister Khan Mohammad Shamim Aziz, Bashundhara Group Director Liakat Hossain, Kanchan municipality Mayor Alhaz Rafiqul Islam Rafiq, former upazila AL Vice-President Khandaker Abul Bashar Tuku, Daudpur Union Parishad Chairman Alhaz Nurul Islam Jahangir, Rupganj Union Parishad Chairman Alhaz Saladuddin Bhuiyan, upazila AL Information and Research Secretary Kamal Hossain Kamal, Health and Population Secretary Dr Faisal Ahmed and Kanchan municipality AL leader Tariqul Islam Mughal were present at the meeting held at the Bashundhara Group Chairman’s residence in Bashundhara Residential Area in the capital on Monday.
The Awami League retains a “significant level of support” and there is still a lot for the government in Bangladesh to point to as a success story amid current challenges, says Michael Kugelman, director of the newly created South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.
“We have to keep in mind that the ruling party Awami League has been in power since 2009 and it retains a significant level of support,” he said, noting that the party has been able to bring success stories on the economic front and in countering terrorism.
Kugelman said that even if someone talks about all the bad things happening in Bangladesh, the bottom line is that there is still a lot for the government in Bangladesh which helps it sustain a significant level of success and there are people who see reasons to support it.
Mark Goldberg recently sat down with Kugelman to discuss the recent protests in Bangladesh. The Foreign Policy magazine published the podcast recently.
Responding to a question, Kugelman said Bangladesh has been a regional success story for its economic growth. “It's a global success story.”
He described what had happened over the last few months, including consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war, high level of inflation, rising fuel cost and responses from the government like rationing electricity amid power shortages.
Kugelman said disruption in electricity supply was a major strain on the economy and sudden fall in economic productivity was an opportunity for the opposition to take to the street.
Corruption, one of the realities in Bangladesh, scandals in the financial sector could be another trigger for the opposition, he said, adding that economic problems and corruption gave the opposition opportunity to draw more attention.
Kugelman, however, said the protests launched by the opposition parties “was not a mass protest” but a partisan protest.
The foreign affairs expert said the government had the opportunity to explain the “temporary consequences” of external factors.
Kugelman said Bangladesh has demonstrated success in the area of counterterrorism and noted that there was a period when it was a significant problem in the country which had experienced series of deadly attacks.
He said the Awami League government took initiatives to crackdown really hard on the militants, and terrorism has not been a problem in Bangladesh over the last few years. “That’s another success story.”
Bangladesh has become a much bigger player on the global stage, including its role in peacekeeping operations and with its non-aligned and balanced foreign policy, he observed.
Responding to a question on “democratic backsliding” he said it is important to look back at the broader history of Bangladesh.
In the past, he said, BNP (when it was in power) was resorting to similar types of tactics and there were crackdowns as well as reports of enforced disappearances.
Kugelman said many things that are happening today were also happening when BNP was in power.
He said “undemocratic tactics” happen in many countries, including Bangladesh and elsewhere in South Asia, and described them as “hybrid democracy”.
Responding to another question, he said he does not think that there will be a Sri Lanka-like situation in Bangladesh as there are safety measures in the latter.
Kugelman said Bangladesh's economy is much more resilient than Sri Lanka’s has been.
He also responded to questions on Bangladesh’s next national election which he hoped will be held as per the constitution.