Ripples of reform in Dhaka(Indian express summary-27th June 2018) ; posts Indian express summary-27th June 2018 about Ripples of reform in Dhaka.

Ripples of reform in Dhaka


Water reforms to be learnt from Dhaka.


  • Dhaka, with a population of 12.5 million, is the sixth-largest mega city in the world
  • Transform of Dhaka’s water scenario began in 2005
  • Bangladesh per capita income in PPP terms less than 60 per cent of India’s.

Challenges in Dhaka regarding water availability:

  • Polluted rivers with industrial effluents and municipal sewage
  • City remains heavily (80 per cent) dependent on groundwater for its drinking water needs.
  • Using deep tube wells is enormous, particularly since the water quality is good and is potable without any treatment.
  • Water-table is at least 600 feet deep
  • Rapid decline in Dhaka’s water table at the rate of about 2-3mts per year for close to three decades.
  • Indiscriminate suction pumps installed beneath underground tanks in the city tend to reduce or choke off pressure elsewhere in the system causing backwater and stagnation, and hence contamination of water
  • The piped network for distribution of water in Dhaka was in a state of disrepair with innumerable (mostly unidentified) leakages and illegal connections.
  • Loss of water due to physical leakages in the pipes was more than 50 per cent. Less than 60 per cent of the homes had water meters.
  • Half of the water supplied to the networks was ever billed and only 62 per cent of the water bills were actually collected.
  • Surveys showed that many of the slum-dwellers were either using DWASA-supplied water through illegal tapping, or paying local middlemen a much higher price for the water they needed. Only one-third of the water supplied by DWASA was paid for.


10 years ago, the WHO had declared that the entire population of Dhaka was at the risk of cholera

What Dhaka did?

  • The Government of Bangladesh accorded high priority to safe water and appropriate sanitation as part of its National Poverty Reduction Strategy.
  • The Asian Development Bank offered support to the Dhaka Water and Sewerage Authority (DWASA) to carry out reforms in the water services sector and build its capacity
  • The World Bank is currently engaged in supporting work on sewerage and sewage treatment for Dhaka.
  • Started connecting the urban poor through community mobilisation.
  • Dhaka has managed to invest enough in its water distribution infrastructure to raise the coverage of water connections in the non-slum areas to close to 100 per cent.
  • The replacement of the old pipes has resulted in reduced physical water losses in the range of 2-14 per cent at commission.
  • In one-third of the city,introduced district metering areas (DMAs), each one hydraulically isolated, independent of the other areas in water pressure, quantity, and quality.
  • Trenchless technology for laying pipes allowed faster execution and reduced inconvenience to the residents, so commonly observed in trench digging works in most Indian cities.
  • Change in leadership, as Taqsem Khan was brought in to head DWASA from the private sector in 2009.
  • DWASA has built a state-of-the art training facility to organize regular training programmes for its staff to use smart water technologies to sustain the efficiency gains.
  • To ensure financial sustainability, there has been tariff increase of 5 per cent every year since 2007 and in 2016 again they raised the prices
  • DWASA has successfully completed computerization of the entire databases of approximately 3,00,000 connections, and monthly water bills are issued from this database.
  • Households living in slums (25 per cent of the population) are also being connected with a piped network, albeit at a much slower pace, and are paying for water without any cross-subsidy.
  • Slum residents organised themselves into community-based organisations and ensured that all water bills were paid on time and were supported by DWASA

Way forward for India:

  • With more mega cities in India, highly inadequate drainage and sewerage networks, and lack of sewage treatment continue to pose major challenges — 70 per cent of the city has no form of sewerage and there is little sewage treatment.
  • It is high time for the decentralized governance to learn from Dhaka reforms and transform our water management
  • Greta initiatives to be started alone and anyways we can expect donars coming in like Dhaka case.


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