Towards Poverty Alleviation: The Water Sector Perspectives

by Q. K. Ahmad

Jun 1, 2003
Given the context of diminishing water availability as a result of water pollution and inadequate development of water resources on the supply side and increasing population and expanding economic activity on the demand side, this paper reviews water-poverty interfaces and suggests ways of contributing to poverty alleviation through water sector interventions. The unequal distribution of the available water within communities and among various water users in the same country and across countries is discussed as a key issue in this context. The paper examines the causes of poverty with particular reference to the pattern of access to water supply as well as to water for various economic activities. It also considers water-related disasters such as flood, cyclone and riverbank erosion and their adverse human and natural consequences. Water deprivation is seen as both a state and a process -- the former being the situation prevailing at a particular point of time and the later implying how that state has been reached and how may it evolve in future. The paper argues that the water crisis is primarily one of management, given the persisting traditional -- sectorally focused and fragmented -- approach. The appropriate alternative, it is argued, is integrated water resource management (IWRM), which is holistic in approach and focuses on the various uses of water and different categories of its users. It suggests ways of moving forward in terms of improved and participatory water development and management, which can contribute significantly to poverty alleviation. The second part of the paper highlights the National Water Policy of Bangladesh as a case study. The policy, adopted in 1999, broadly encompasses the various elements of IWRM. It enunciates principles and directions for water planning and utilization towards fulfilling the national goals of economic development, poverty alleviation, food security, public health and safety, decent standard of living of the people and protection of the natural environment. The policy has adopted a holistic approach and provided guidelines for participatory water management. The paper points out that a Bangladesh National Water Management Plan has been drafted within the framework of the National Water Policy with a view to improving water development and management so as to address human, economic and environmental needs of water, with special emphasis on the water needs of the poorer segments of society.
Towards Poverty Alleviation: The Water Sector Perspectives


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