Rationing water in Aila-affected areas

Posted :23 Nov, 201300:00:00

Rationing water in Aila-affected areas

Yasmin Reema
Bilkis could not go to school today. She went to Buri Goalini village by walking for collecting drinking water. The village is 5 kilometres far from her village. These villages are of Gabura union, Samnager upazila under Satkhira district. Bilkis is not alone; they are a group of 25 women and children. Some of them go by rickshaw-van. Sometimes Bilkish also go by rickshaw-van. Today she has to go by walking. To come back with water it will benoon. So she will not be able to go to school today. Zinnat Jahan, an inhabitant of Soragram of the same union returned home from Zelekhani area taking water by boat which is 6 kilometres far. Boat rent is Tk 200. She took drums for 10 families. For drums the rent cost is Tk 20. Tk 15 more has to be given for a drum of water. Altogether it costs Tk 35 for 20 litres of water. Behula Bibi is the oldest woman of Kholisha Bunia village. It is very difficult to walk for her but she has to go to collect rationed water.

Kusum Begum, member of a wealthy family of Dhumghat village, has come to Zelekhani to collect water by boat. She said, “Pond water is so salty that one can fall if one drinks it.” She ties her 17 cows all the time as they can’t eat dirty water. She also said, “Cattle are suffering for want of water, we feel for them but we are helpless, we can’t give water to them.” Kusum Begum’s family is so large. Two pitchers of water is needed for the cattle and they lead there life with four pitchers of water. She has to go out for searching drinking water every day. She wanted to sell the cattle seeing their suffering but she did not find any buyer. After Aila, cattle have become thin. Butchers don’t want to buy them. It will be impossible to tend cattle due to the crisis of water.

Zinnat Jahan said that they have nothing to do because two litres of water is given through rationing for each person. Nothing can be done with this little water. Most of the families suffer greatly as cyclone “Aila” took away everything from them. So they have to depend on rationed water. They have to use salty water of pond for cooking. Some days ago Khalek Dad could not buy drinking water, so they had to drink contaminated water and the little child was attacked with diarrhea within a few hours. There is crisis of pure drinking water in the large coastal areas of Samnogor and Asasuni upazilas of Satkhira district. People have been suffering from salty water for last 15 years in this region. After Aila it has become intolerable. Local people’s representatives also don’t know where they will go for searching water. Malika Begum, word commissioner of No 1 Gabura union, said there are 15 villages in Gabura union. Tube wells were successfully set up in Gabura, Zelekhani, Labuburinai and Passemari. Pure drinking water was not found in other tube wells in another 11 villages. All of them drank pond water. There were 42 ponds in this union. After Aila 41 ponds have become useless. One or two tube wells are active. People are surviving depending on this tube well water and rationing water.  Two litres of water is given for each family. As the male members are busy with their work, women and children have to collect water.
S M Shamim Ahmed, public health engineer of Satkhira district, agreed with us about the sufferings of the people of Aila-affected areas and said that the district public health department is working heart and soul for solving this problem. Some local organisations also help them in their work. In the dry season pond water became very salty and they had to drink collected rain water.

As the rain water has been finished the problem has become intolerable. NowSatkhiraJuboAcademyand Samnagar Gonomukhi Sangstha provide 130,000 litres of water at 22 points. But the problem is so severe that they have to follow strict rules in providing water so that not a drop of water is spoilt. To collect water people have to stand in line for hours. Haiatunnabi Khan, Headmaster of local school said that the attendance of students has decreased; it has come into almost zero. His two sons also study there. They could not attend school for last one month. The rules of rationing water are so strict. They issued cards. If the card is not shown, no one will get water.



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