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Country Paper


Asian Water Development Outlook 2007

© 2007 Asian Development Bank
All rights reserved. Published 2007.

The views expressed in this book are those of the authors and do not
necessarily refect the views and policies of the Asian Development Bank or
its Board of Governors or the governments they represent.

The Asian Development Bank does not guarantee the accuracy of the data
included in this publication and accepts no responsibility for any conse-
quence of their use.

Use of the term “country” does not imply any judgment by the authors of
the Asian Development Bank as to the legal or other status of any territorial
Country Chapter – Bangladesh
Geoff Bridges

Executive Summary and sanitation sector lies with the Ministry

of Local Government, Rural Development,
Some two billion Asians—66% of the Asian and Co-operatives, which delegates functional
population (or nearly 75% of all those in the responsibilities to the Department of Public
world without such facilities)—lack access to Health and Engineering (DPHE), Local
adequate sanitation. Many Asian countries face Government Engineering Departments,
huge financial costs to clean up the environment city corporations, and city water supply and
because of a lack of investment in sanitation, sewerage authorities in Dhaka and Chittagong.
leading to massive pollution of surface and Recent policy shifts seek to transform DPHE
groundwater. The cost of cleaning a river already into a facilitator and technical support institu-
polluted with industrial waste or sewage is far tion and to transfer greater responsibility to
higher than the cost of the infrastructure to local bodies.
dispose of the pollutants properly. Water and
sanitation must get top priority from political National Water Strategy and Policies
leadership everywhere; postponing action is The 1998 National Water Supply and Sanitation
not an option because to delay will cost a great Policy aims to change traditional service delivery
deal more. This key message was conveyed by and increase sector capacity by decentralization,
the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at the user participation in planning, development,
Stockholm World Water Week, 12–18 August and operation and maintenance through local
2007.1 government and community-based organizations.
The 2004 National Water Management Plan
Sector Framework aims for 100% basic water supply and sanitation
In Bangladesh, the Ministry of Water coverage in towns and rural areas over 10 years.
Resources is responsible for management Government coverage targets for piped water
of national water resources, with the Water supply in urban areas are 70% by 2010 and 90%
Resources Planning Organisation (WARPO) by 2015, with 100% coverage to at least a basic
coordinating all relevant ministries through minimum service level by 2010. A roadmap to
the National Water Council to plan all achieve access to safe drinking water and appro-
aspects of water development and act as priate sanitation under the policy was formulated
the clearing house for water sector projects. in the Sector Development Program – Water and
Statutory responsibility for the water supply Sanitation Sector in Bangladesh (SDP-WSSB),
2005 – 2015.

Asian Water Development Outlook 2007

Bangladesh Water Resources Management million households. Central to this is the Total
has abundant Bangladesh has abundant water resources, but Sanitation Campaign, which was started by a
water resources, seasonal variations (90% of rainfall occurs during Bangladeshi nongovernment organization in
the monsoon months, with no way to store 1990 and is now a successful national program.
but seasonal
surplus water) and natural arsenic contamination The approach engages with local communities to
variations and affect water availability. All major rivers flowing identify problems with open defecation, identi-
natural arsenic through Bangladesh originate outside its borders. fies defecation zones and the “walk of shame”
contamination Only 7% of the catchment area of its three main to them, and then estimates excreta deposited
affect water rivers lie in Bangladesh, making it heavily reliant to generate shared community concern and
availability on upstream countries to release adequate flows. momentum to change the situation. The biggest
Coastal aquifers have high salinity, and wells challenge is to maintain the momentum and
penetrate more than 250 meters to find accept- to reduce inequalities in access. Water resource
able quality water. Key institutions responsible pollution is a key concern: Dhaka treats only
for planning and implementing water resources 10% of its wastewater.
management in Bangladesh are WARPO and the
Bangladesh Water Development Board (BWDB). MDG Target Progress
World Health Organization/United Nations
Water Supply Children’s Fund (WHO/UNICEF) data for 2004
People not served by piped systems rely on tube- show overall water supply coverage achieved was
wells (76%) or sources of doubtful quality. Water 74% (82% urban and 72% rural), with overall
source contamination is a serious problem: 22% sanitation coverage of 39% (51% urban and
of the approximately seven million tubewells 35% rural). Progress on meeting the Millennium
are contaminated with arsenic, with 29% of the Development Goals (MDGs) in urban areas by
shallow ones and 9% of the deep ones contami- 2015 needs to be improved, with both urban
nated by bacteria. Many water and sanitation water and sanitation off track and regressing
authorities are financially dependent on central (urban water coverage decreased from 83% in
Government, which controls sector operations, 1990 to 82% in 2004 and urban sanitation
including setting tariffs. In Dhaka, there is a coverage decreased from 55% in 1990 to 51%
serious water crisis due to a drastic fall in the in 2004). Progress in rural areas has been much
groundwater table. An agreement is expected in better, with rural water off track but expected to
September 2007 covering separate unified policy hit the target after 2015, and rural sanitation on
frameworks for Dhaka and Chittagong water track to meet its target by 2015.
utilities. Insufficient finance is a major reason for
inadequate infrastructure and services. Future Plans
The 2001 National Water Management Plan
Sanitation (NWMP) provides a framework for future
About 16% of urban households do not have investments in water resources management, with
a sanitary latrine. Bangladesh plans to achieve expenditure of US$17.9 billion over the next 25
an annual increase in sanitation coverage of 2.4 years. In the short term, it focuses on institutional
development and the enabling environment, plus
urgent programs for metropolitan flood protec-
tion, urban and rural water supply and sanitation
to meet the MDG targets, and preparing a
national pollution control plan. Indicative costs for
the first 5 years were US$1.5 billion.

Utility Performance
Most water systems only provide up to four hours
of service daily, collection efficiencies are low, and
most consumers are not metered. Staffing-con-
nections ratios are generally high. Nonrevenue
water is typically around 40–60% of total supply,
but is as high as 70%. The Dhaka system capacity
can only supply 75% of the estimated demand,
and in Chittagong only 30%. Groundwater has

Country Chapter – Bangladesh

high iron content, blocking well screens and ne- and also must focus on expanding coverage,
cessitating additional treatment. Many industries tariff reform, increased wastewater treatment
and domestic households have constructed deep capacity, greater water conservation, and effective
wells, leading to aquifer depletion of up to three implementation of the National Water Policy,
meters/year. Chittagong has no sewerage system, at the same time ensuring adequate minimum
wastewater being discharged into open channels. water resources are available through treaties with
neighboring countries.
Successes/Failures and Key Issues
Bangladesh is one of the leading countries for
implementation of an Open-Defecation-Free Introduction
Policy and the model has been adopted by several
other countries. Main issues and key challenges The purpose of the Asian Water and
are summarized as follows: Development Outlook (AWDO) is to enable
leaders and policy makers to understand their
• High vulnerability to natural disasters, likely
respective national situations, to appreciate their In Dhaka, there
to increase as sea levels rise and the effects of
present sector performance and the key issues
climate change are felt. is a serious water
in their country, and, by learning from the
• Increasing shortage of water and reliance on
experiences of other countries, to encourage them crisis due to a
neighboring countries. drastic fall in
to take effective action to tackle those issues.
• Weak and fragmented institutional and
Achievement of these goals has been constrained the groundwater
regulatory framework, the sector being
overly centralized, planning mainly supply-
by the limited availability of data and published table
current status information, as well as detailed
driven, and priorities unclear.
future plans.
• Low tariffs and poor cost recovery due to low
During the last decade, Bangladesh’s
willingness to pay—a core constraint—with
social and economic development has been
revenue not even covering recurrent costs.
impressive, with gross domestic product (GDP)
• Poor utility performance due to lack of
growing an average 5% and with low rates of
institutional capacity and investment.
inflation. However, nearly half the population
• Increasing pollution and depletion of water
remains poor and per capita GDP remains low
at US$482 (fiscal year 2007).2 The National
• Need to increase sewerage interception and
Poverty Reduction Strategy (NPRS) reaffirms
treat all raw sewage.
that reducing poverty and accelerating the pace
• Needs for greater recognition of small-scale
of social development are the most important
providers and their status formalized.
long-term strategic goals. Fully consistent with
• Connection of the urban poor (no connec-
the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),
tion fee or subsidized fee).
the NPRS aims to halve the number of poor
• Poor technical performance and service levels
people by 2015 and to achieve substantial
in many utilities.
improvement in almost all aspects of human
development. Private sector development is a
Future Vision central theme of the NPRS, reflecting the fact
Bangladesh needs to increase water sector invest- that the private sector accounts for close to 70%
ments to at least 1% of gross domestic product of total investment, 80% of GDP, and 90% of
total employment.3
The country had a Human Development
Index (HDI) value of 0.530 in 2004 (0.422 in
1990), and was ranked 137th worldwide in terms
of HDI. GDP per capita in 2004 was US$1,870
PPP4 and the country’s Human Poverty Index was
44.2%.5 Urbanization is significant and increasing
rapidly, with 25% of the population living in
urban areas in 2005 (19.8% in 1990), the annual
1990/95 urban growth rate being 4.1%.6 In terms
of water resource availability, the per capita total
actual renewable water resources (TARWR) value
reduced from 8,809 m3/year in 2000 to 8,090

Asian Water Development Outlook 2007

m3/year in 2005, with total water used being 7% Sector Status and
of TARWR.7 Of the 79.394 billion m3 of water
withdrawn in 2000, the proportion of withdrawals
Performance Overview
by agriculture, industry and domestic users was
96%, 1%, and 3%,8 respectively.
Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to natural Sector Framework
disasters, primarily annual flooding due to its
low-lying nature and flat topography and the The Ministry of Water Resources is responsible
magnitude of precipitation and run-off during for management of national water resources,
the monsoon season. In 2004, severe flooding with the Water Resources Planning Organisation
caused an estimated US$2.3 billion in damage and (WARPO) under the Ministry having a mandate
income loss, with 39 of 64 districts and 36 million to coordinate all relevant ministries through the
people (27% of the total population) affected National Water Council to plan all aspects of
(endnote 3). The implications of changing rainfall water development and act as the clearing house
patterns should be compared with the total esti- for water sector projects.
mated economic losses due to floods and droughts Statutory responsibility for the WSS sector
between 1990 and 2002 of US$3.2 billion.9 The lies with the Ministry of Local Government,
population is about 140 million,10 of whom about Rural Development, and Co-operatives, which
25% live in urban areas. Overall annual popula- delegates functional responsibilities to the
tion growth is 1.4% but urban population growth Department of Public Health and Engineering
is nearly double that at 2.5%,11 with the urban (DPHE), Local Government Engineering
population expected to predominate in about Departments, City Corporations, and city
30 years time. Uncontrolled urbanization and water supply and sewerage authorities in Dhaka
rural-urban migration are placing heavy demands and Chittagong. Historically, DPHE has been
on urban infrastructure; inadequacy of basic urban responsible for planning, design, and implement-
services is a chronic problem.12 Poverty incidence ing water supply and sanitation (WSS) services
has decreased significantly, to about 40% in in rural and urban areas. Recent policy shifts
2005,13 but Bangladesh still remains one of the have sought to transform DPHE into more of a
world’s least developed countries. facilitator and technical support institution while
Urban centers contribute more than 40% transferring greater responsibility to local bodies.
to GDP, but this is constrained by limited urban Under the Pourashava Act of 1977, the provision,
services, including water sector service provision. operation, and maintenance of water supplies
The NPRS of 2005 recognizes this in its seven- are the statutory responsibilities of pourashavas
point strategic agenda to reduce poverty to 30%, (municipalities), but many lack the resources as
including achievement of the water MDG targets. well as the financial, technical, and managerial
capacities to undertake their responsibilities.
Neither do they have the autonomy to set their
own water tariffs, create positions, and appoint
personnel; these functions are undertaken by
national Government on an ad hoc basis. Water
utilities are merely administrative units of local
governments, not separate legal entities, and
their accounts are part of the overall accounts
of the pourashava. The sector is therefore, overly
centralized and does not efficiently respond to
user needs and demands. Planning and imple-
mentation is largely a supply-driven, top-down,
and target oriented process and suffers from
duplication, unclear priorities, and uncoordi-
nated development (endnote 12). The Ministry
of Health plays an important role in setting water
quality standards and in the monitoring and
control of drinking water quality in urban and
rural areas.

Country Chapter – Bangladesh

National Water Strategy and

The 1998 National Water Supply and Sanitation
Policy is the most significant policy for the sector
to meet the MDGs because it aims to change
traditional service delivery and increase sector
capacity by decentralization, user participation in
planning, development, operation and mainte-
nance (O&M) through local government and
community-based organizations. New roles are
given to DPHE and Local Government Division
(LGD), with the Policy also recognizing the
important role of nongovernment organizations
(NGOs) and the private sector. The National
Water Management Plan of 2004 aims for 100%
basic water supply and sanitation coverage in
towns and rural areas in stages over the following
10 years. Government coverage targets for piped
water supply in urban areas are 70% by 2010 and Through the SDP, the Government also
90% by 2015, with 100% coverage to at least a approved the formulation of a Regulatory
basic minimum service level by 2010. Similarly, Commission. There is no independent regulator
the national sanitation goal is to achieve 100% for the water sector.
coverage by 2010 through an accelerated
Following promulgation of the National Water Resources Management
Water Supply and Sanitation Policy, a roadmap
to achieve the necessary access to safe drinking Bangladesh has abundant water resources,
water and appropriate sanitation under the Policy although seasonal variations and natural arsenic
was formulated in the Sector Development contamination of some aquifers have affected
Program—the Water and Sanitation Sector in water availability at certain times of the year.
Bangladesh (SDP-WSSB), 2005–2015—ap- For instance, 90% of rainfall occurs during the 2004 National
proved in January 2006 to plan, coordinate, monsoon months of June, July, August, and Water
and monitor all sector development activities September, but as the country is a flat delta there
to provide basic minimum service levels to all is no cost-effective way to store excess monsoon
citizens by 2010 in a programmatic manner. The water. The TARWR concept is, therefore, not the Plan aims for
specific SDP objectives (endnote 12) are to: most appropriate measure of water availability 100% basic
• ensure that the basic minimum needs for
for Bangladesh, useable water being a more water supply and
water and sanitation services for all citizens,
appropriate assessment tool, particularly in view sanitation cover-
of the fact that, all major rivers flowing through age in towns and
but especially those of the poor, are met by
Bangladesh have their origins outside its borders
2010, and upgrade the service levels after
and only 7% of the catchment area of its three
rural areas over
main rivers (the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and 10 years
• decentralize the service delivery mechanism
Meghna) lie in Bangladesh. Coastal aquifers
and build capacity of local government
have high salinity, and water supply wells must
institutions for sustainability of investment
penetrate more than 250 meters to find water
and good governance;
of acceptable quality. Diversion of low flows at
• recommend optimal service delivery options
Farakka has increased the inland penetration of
including a public limited company (PLC)
salinity.14 Bangladesh is therefore heavily reliant
model for the urban WSS sector;
on neighboring countries to release adequate
• propose a transitional plan to realize sector
flows in terms of quantity and quality.
reform and sector capacity building; and
Bilateral/multilateral cooperation between
• outline a sector investment plan to fulfill the
co-riparian countries based on a basin wide
sector targets, sector reforms, and capacity-
management approach is therefore extremely
building needs.
relevant for Bangladesh, particularly because

Asian Water Development Outlook 2007

All major rivers there are 57 transboundary rivers that cross the ing, and disseminating national water resource
flowing through India/Bangladesh border alone. Following the data; updating water resource assessments; and
Bangladesh 1975 construction of the Farakka barrage in monitoring NWMP and its impact. Periodically
India, 17 kilometers upstream of the border, a WARPO updates the NWMP and contributes
originate outside
series of bilateral water-sharing agreements have to 5-year plans. BWDB is responsible for
its borders. Only been made. The current 1996 Treaty on Sharing management of national water resources and has
7% of the catch- of the Ganges Water lasts until 2026, but in view been the main architect of water infrastructure
ment area of its of India’s own water resource issues there is no development for more than 45 years. Its mandate
three main rivers guarantee that such water-sharing mechanisms has been to work as a sole agency for planning
lie in Bangladesh will continue. Although the present treaty does and implementation of flood control, irrigation,
not provide a long-term guaranteed minimum water resource management, and protection
flow to Bangladesh, it provides a framework for of coastal areas. However, its original mandate
further negotiation with India.15 The discharge has become progressively inappropriate due to
of untreated municipal and industrial wastewater economic, social, and demographic changes and
into surface water courses has a negative impact the ensuing increased competition for water, and
on water quality. as a result it has been severely criticized because
Although Bangladesh suffers from major flood- it is a centralized and extended organization,
ing during the annual monsoon season, of greater has emphasis on construction and limited
concern are the soil becoming waterlogged due to emphasis on future sustainability, has a limited
blockages in and the poor condition of irrigation multidisciplinary focus and limited contact with
schemes. A further water resource issue is the beneficiaries, and there is a lack of participatory
increased abstraction of water from the upstream water management.
reaches of surface sources having a negative impact Under the BWDB Act of 2000, management
on downstream abstractors, with some areas suffer- was separated from the Governing Council and
ing from streams running dry as a result.16 the role of the organization modified to separate
The two key institutions responsible for policy making from operational management.
planning and implementing water resources Many of the powers formerly exercised by the
management in Bangladesh are WARPO and Government were vested in the new Governing
the Bangladesh Water Development Board Council, with the intention to make BWDB
(BWDB). WARPO was established under the increasingly autonomous.17 However, there has
1992 Water Resources Act and its mandate been limited achievement of this aim.
further elaborated in the National Water Policy
of 1999. Its two main roles are to (a) work as the
exclusive government institution for macro-level Water Supply
water resources planning, and (b) work as the
Executive Secretariat of the Water Resources People not served by piped systems generally rely
Council (WRC) and its Executive Committee. on tubewells (76%), ponds, and other sources of
Its core functions include maintaining, updat- doubtful quality. Contamination of water sources
is a serious problem: 22% of the approximately
seven million tubewells are contaminated with
arsenic beyond the Bangladesh Standard (0.05
milligrams per liter), with 29% of the shallow
ones and 9% of the deep ones contaminated
by bacteria because of poor maintenance and
sanitation conditions.18 Bangladesh needs to
increase by a factor of 2.2 its 1990–2004 rate of
water supply coverage if it is to meet the MDG
water target by 2015.19
Dhaka water and sanitation are governed by
the 1996 Water Supply & Sewerage Authority
Act, which includes a requirement that where
the Government provides finance or acts as a
surety for finance, all scheme approvals have to
be by the Government. Chittagong water and
sanitation are controlled by the 1963 ordnance.

Country Chapter – Bangladesh

As long as water supply and sanitation authorities focus on development of the sector in its poverty
remain financially dependent on federal financ- reduction strategy, which has broad funding
ing, central Government remains in control of agency support and, together with its external
its operations, including setting tariffs, creating development partners, is taking a broad-based
positions, and appointing personnel. Without and deliberate approach to sector reform and
autonomy, many authorities continue to rely on institutional change.
out-dated procedures, such as single-entry ac- Momentum in the sector is significant,
counting systems, manual billing and collection, and the current environment is conducive of
and manual customer databases. change. Extensive discussions and consultations
In Dhaka, there is a serious water crisis with development partners, most notably the
due to a drastic fall in the groundwater table, four Joint Strategy Partners (Asian Development
exacerbated by frequent power cuts and load Bank [ADB], The United Kingdom Department
shedding. The Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage for International Development [DFID],
Authority (DWASA) supplies about 1.65 million Government of Japan, and World Bank) and
cubic meters per day (m3/day) of water compared Danish International Development Agency
with an estimated demand of over 2.2 million (DANIDA), were carried out during prepara-
m3/day. Some 88% of the water are pumped tion of ADB’s proposed Dhaka Water Supply
from 444 deep tubewells, drastically lowering the Project (May to July 2007). The Government
water table by around 3 meters/year.20 In addi- and its development partners are expected to
tion, a severe power crisis has gripped the country sign an agreement in September 2007, which
because only around 3,500 megawatts are would include a common understanding of
produced compared with the official estimated core undertakings by the Government and two
demand of 4,200 megawatts.21 This situation is separate unified policy frameworks for Dhaka
typical of urban water supply systems throughout and Chittagong water utilities. The development
the country. partners indicated their interest for immediate
It is ironic that with significant shortfalls and medium- term investments for both cities.
in the provision of potable water, the country In its effort to improve and expand sustainable
suffers from major flooding every year. In 2005, service delivery of water, wastewater, and drainage
DWASA estimated that it served 75% of the services to the people of Dhaka and Chittagong
city population of 12 million with a safe water cities, the Government will follow a strategy of
supply. Out of this, 5.5 million received a piped (i) increasing the governance and accountability
water supply, of which 75% was continuous. A of service delivery institutions, (ii) increasing the
further 0.5 million had access to piped water transparency of operations and the efficiency of
via stand posts, and an additional three million resource utilization of service delivery institu-
slum-dwellers had access to a DWASA bulk tions, and (iii) build on the resulting efficient
water supply. The remaining population of three service delivery management framework to
million had their own supply system. About 83% enhance the quality and expand access of services
of the existing water supply is from groundwater to all strata of the city populations. Water source
resources, such large-scale abstractions having led Insufficient finance is a major reason for in- contamination is
to a continuous lowering of groundwater levels. adequate infrastructure and services. On average, a serious prob-
Leakage and intermittent water supply have pourashavas recover only about 64% of O&M lem: 22% of the
permitted pollution to enter the distribution net- costs through revenue collection, only three of approximately 7
work through dilapidated water and sewer pipes. the 298 pourashavas being self-sufficient, with
The groundwater has high iron content but no revenue collection efficiency varying from 60%
million tubewells
reported problems with arsenic. Unauthorized to 85%. Because water supplies are generally not are contaminated
connections, leaks, inadequate O&M, poor metered, 12.5% of property tax is earmarked for with arsenic
metering and meter reading, and under-billing water supplies, although in practice this rarely
have led to high values of nonrevenue water happens. As long as municipalities remain heavily
(technical losses 21% and administrative losses dependent on national government subsidy
31% in 1995/96).22 for much of their revenues, there will not be
Despite huge challenges, Bangladesh’s adequate incentives to assume greater financial
water sector presents significant opportunities as responsibility.23
evidenced by recent developments for Dhaka and A further constraint in the sector is the
Chittagong Water Supply Utilities. The present limited availability of power. Per capita power
Caretaker Government clearly places a strong generation is only about 158 kilowatt hours per

Asian Water Development Outlook 2007

year, one of the lowest in the world. Only 33% partnership can be seen by comparing India and
of the population have access to electricity and Bangladesh, which faced similar problems 10
a significant proportion of that is unreliable, years ago. Despite India enjoying far more rapid
with frequent power outages and low voltage. In economic growth, widening the income gap
fiscal year 2006 up to 1,312 megawatts of power between the two countries, the growth rate in
shedding occurred on 347 days in the year. Many rural sanitation coverage in India is less than that
industries rely on back-up power generation; achieved in Bangladesh. The biggest challenge
those without simply have to stop operating. now is to maintain the momentum achieved in
Over the last decade, annual net energy demand recent years and to reduce inequalities in access.
has grown by 8.1%, but to meet an expected The government response has been to allocate a
average annual GDP growth rate of 8% over the significant proportion of the annual development
next two decades, the needed average annual program for sanitation to subsidize demand
energy growth rate is 12%.24 among the poorest 20% of the population.26
Pollution of water resources is a major
problem. Dhaka only treats 10% of the wastewa-
Sanitation ter produced by its 15 million population. The
greatest need is for cleaner surface water sources
Sixteen percent25 of urban households do not have a through increased effluent treatment. Currently,
sanitary latrine, although the mere construction of a no industrial wastewater is treated in the country
latrine does not ensure their usage or a proportion- due to the weakness of regulatory boards.27
ate improvement in hygiene behavior and health.
Much work remains to be done on behavioral
attitudes to hygiene and sanitation. MDG Target Progress
Strongly supported by its aid partners,
Bangladesh plans to target an achievable annual World Health Organization/United Nations
increase in sanitation coverage of 2.4 million Children’s Fund (WHO/UNICEF) data for
households. Central to this is the Total Sanitation 2004 indicate that overall water supply coverage
Campaign which was started by a Bangladeshi achieved was 74% (82% urban and 72% rural),
NGO in 1990 and now involves more than 600 with overall sanitation coverage at 39% (51%
NGOs working with local district authorities. urban and 35% rural).28 Of the 82% urban
The approach is based on initially engaging with water supply coverage, 24% was through house
local communities to identify problems associ- connections, the equivalent figure for rural water
Progress on meet- ated with open defecation. The identification supply being 0%. Coverage by public standpipes
ing the MDGs in of defecation zones and the “walk of shame” to was 7.2% urban and 0.5% rural (2003 data). For
urban areas needs them, and the estimation of excreta deposited, the 51% urban sanitation coverage, 7% was due
are the two initial tools used to generate shared to sewerage connections, while for rural sanitation
to be improved,
community concern and momentum to change sewerage connections were insignificant.29 Progress
with both urban the situation. As the campaign has developed and on meeting the MDGs in urban areas by 2015
water and sanita- demand for services increased, a vibrant small needs to be improved, with both urban water and
tion off-track and business sector has emerged (estimated at some sanitation off track and regressing (urban water
regressing 3,000 small businesses and demonstrating the coverage decreased from 83% in 1990 to 82%
capacity of small-scale providers to respond to in 2004 and urban sanitation coverage decreased
local markets), and Bangladesh is now a world from 55% in 1990 to 51% in 2004).30 Progress
leader in producing, marketing, and maintaining in rural areas has been much better, with rural
low-cost latrines. water off track but expected to hit the target after
Village efforts have been supported by 2015, and rural sanitation on track to meet its
NGO-led microfinance schemes, mobilizing target by 2015.31 However, coverage by itself as a
savings, and providing loans. Successive govern- monitoring indicator without an assurance that
ments have made rural sanitation a priority; the existing facilities continue to give appropriate
1998 National Water Supply and Sanitation service, in particular the quality of water delivered
Policy established a policy framework for at the customers premises or the need to effectively
partnerships of small-scale entrepreneurs and treat sewage, becomes less meaningful. Coverage
community groups to provide support for mar- figures are, therefore, likely to overestimate the
keting and training through local and national true provision of acceptable improved facilities for
government agencies. The effectiveness of this both water and sanitation.

Country Chapter – Bangladesh

Future Plans affected by internal conflict and weak leadership, Most water
lack of political support, and court litigation. systems only
The National Water Management Plan (NWMP) However, the Caretaker Government (CTG) provide up to 4
was prepared in 2001 and provides a framework constituted in January 2007 has demonstrated
hours of service
to guide future investments in water resources strong commitment to combat corruption,
management. The plan proposes an indicative fighting it being high on its agenda. The CTG daily, collection
expenditure of US$17.9 billion over the next fully reconstituted the ACC in early 2007 and efficiencies are
25 years. In the short term, the NWMP focuses framed new laws to tackle corruption. The ACC low, and most
on the institutional development and enabling has started legal and prosecutorial actions against consumers are
environment together with urgent programs, a number of influential but corrupt politicians, not metered
such as metropolitan flood protection, water public officials, and businesspersons.37 The ACC
supply and sanitation, urban and rural water is now reported to be functioning effectively and
supply and sanitation to meet the MDG targets, has earned the respect of the people.38
and preparation of a national pollution control
plan. The indicative cost for the first 5 years of
the program was US$1.5 billion.32 Utility Performance
Few water systems in Bangladesh enjoy 24-hour
Governance supply, most only providing up to 2–4 hours of
service daily. In addition, collection efficiencies
Governance can be considered in several ways, are low, typically of the order of 50%, and most
ranging from the transparency of government and consumers are not metered. Staffing-connections
business dealings, the efficiency of the business ratios are generally high. Nonrevenue water is
process (delays in project implementation), to the typically around 40–60% (depending on definition
implementation of regulations and sector perfor- and survey), but in some centers is as high as 70%
mance, e.g., nonrevenue water. Such assessments are (Sylhet). In Dhaka, system capacity is 1,650 million
necessarily subjective and so to provide an overall liters per day (Mld) and is only capable of supply-
indication, the corruption perceptions index (CPI) ing 75% of the estimated demand. Similarly, in
produced by Transparency International will be
used as a proxy indicator. In 2006, the CPI score
for Bangladesh was 2.0, making it 156th in the
overall ranking and 24th out of 25 in the regional
ranking.33 Only Australia, the People’s Republic
of China, Indonesia, Mongolia, and Sri Lanka in
Asia and the Pacific region had ratified the United
Nations Convention against Corruption, with
Bangladesh signing up in 2007,34 suggesting a lack
of government determination in the region to tackle
Bangladesh is widely perceived as being
one of the least transparent countries in the
region. Reports of merit considerations being
over-ridden in the appointment of staff,
award of contracts, and the appointment and
management of contractors, etc., has resulted
in inappropriately qualified appointees being
awarded work, and construction quality being
seriously compromised. These negative effects
on the quality of services seriously undermine
the credibility, reliability, and accountability of
public service agencies.35 The Anti-Corruption
Commission (ACC) was set up in November
2004 to investigate and reduce corruption, but
it has been viewed with suspicion, especially by
the media, since its inception.36 ACC has been

Asian Water Development Outlook 2007

Table 1: Utility Performance

Indicator Dhaka Chittagong Khulna Sylhet

Public/private sector public public public public
Main water source river (17%) + ground- river + groundwater — —
water (83%)*
Population in area of responsibility 12 million 3.85 million 800,000 600,000
water (%) 80 30 66 25**
sewerage (%) 30* — — —
No. of connections 243,477** 41,114 15,000 10,000**
No. of public taps 920** — — 80**
Supply Continuity (hours of supply) 1 to 10 intermittent 11 to 15 15**
Volume produced / distributed (m /day) 3
1,650,000** 175,000 — 21,000**
Per capita consumption (liters/day) — 155 (est.) — 120**
Overall nonrevenue water (%) 37 28 — 70
Staffing ratio / thousand connections 15.36** — 11.0 13.33
Revenue collected (US$ million/month) 3.162** (based on 0.3780 0.0257 0.0021
Collection efficiency (%) 97.3**(FY06/07) 109.6 75 30
80**(FY 05/06)
O&M Expenditure (US$ million/month) 2.397** 0.3243 0.0070 —
(2005 audit)
Connection fee (US$) 7** (for 0.75”) — — —
21** (for 1”)
Typical domestic tariff based on 20 $1.54 $1.37 $1.40 —
Annual capex (US$ million) — — 0.3501 —
Independent sector regulator? No No No No

Exchange rate used: US$1 = Taka71.40 as at 1 May 2007.

Most data on Dhaka, Khulna and Sylhet in this table and details of the main utility concerns abstracted from unaudited data being collected from
utilities to populate the SAWUN Benchmarking Database.

Chittagong data abstracted from Mohammed Osman Amin, UNCC Bangkok, 25–27 July 2006. Status of Water and Sanitation Services in
Chittagong WASA.

Items marked * are abstracted from Hedayetullah Al-Mamoon, UNCC Bangkok, 25–27 July 2006. Water Utility Services in Dhaka City: Present
and Future

Items marked ** abstracted from personal communication from Rafiqul Islam, ADB Bangladesh Resident Mission, 9 August 2007.

Chittagong, supply capacity is 175 Mld, only 30% about 3 meters/year. Chittagong has no sewerage
of the estimated demand of 585 Mld. Groundwater system, all wastewater being discharged into open
has high iron content, blocking well screens and drainage channels.
necessitating additional treatment. Many industries Table 1 summarizes recent utility perfor-
and domestic households have constructed their mance data.
own deep wells, leading to aquifer depletion. Selected national indicators are summarized
Aquifer levels in Dhaka are declining at a rate of below:

Country Chapter – Bangladesh

Water availability (per capita) 8,090 m3/year

Box 1: Water for the Urban Poor
Water quality poor
Present government policies for water utilities do not encourage
Improved water supply 74%
efficient operations, so there is a need to formulate a separate policy
for public sector commercial operation based on decentralization and
Improved sanitation coverage 39% the delegation of power. This must involve the private sector, which
Wastewater treatment poor has largely been kept out of the sector, because private initiative is
Governance Transparency 2.0 universally recognized as the engine of growth. Involvement of trade
Index (CPI) unions in revenue billing and collection has proved so successful that
their involvement has been expanded.
The key concern in DWASA is the high There is a desperate need to provide water supply and sanitation
average value of nonrevenue water at about 41%
services to the urban poor living in slums. In Dhaka, about 25% of the
which the Authority wants to address effectively.
population fall into this category. One major problem in providing them
In addition, it is their policy to meter all custom-
ers, but currently only some 74.5% of connections with services is the existing law that requires potential customers to hold
are metered. In Khulna, key issues are assessing title to the land before they can gain access to water and sanitation
the level of nonrevenue water and system losses, services. DWASA implemented a program of partnering with several
estimating and controlling illegal connections, NGOs, led by Dustha Shasthya Kendra (DSK), to provide these services
overall capacity building, the continuous improve- to slum dwellers. The most important component of the program was
ment of services, and improving the efficiency that NGOs became DWASA’s customers on behalf of the urban poor
of the cost recovery system. In Sylhet, collection and were provided with metered community water points, for which the
efficiency must be improved to make the system NGOs collected the water tariff from the community and paid DWASA.
sustainable, consumer surveys are needed to A special feature of the program was the successful involvement of
update the consumer database and identify illegal women as managers of the community water supply system.
connections, technical training of personnel is
a high priority, together with the introduction Source: Khondaker Azharul Haq, Vice-Chairman Citizens Forum on Water and
Sanitation Initiatives in Bangladesh.
of computer based billing, and assistance is
required to control the excessive current water
demand, which is now severely affecting system
performance and customer satisfaction. The main described in Box 1 below, need to be found for
issues in Chittagong are the need to increase water the water sector in the Government to improve
resource development dramatically to meet the water service coverage and provision, and to
major deficit between supply system capacity and maintain the impetus of progress achieved in the
demand, the poor quality of groundwater sources, sanitation sector.
and the absence of a sewerage system. One of the key issues for the water sector is
the increasing shortage of water, especially in the
dry seasons. There is a need to safeguard adequate
Successes, Failures, and water resources in the future. Bangladesh’s
Issues reliance on neighboring countries to make
adequate seasonal releases to meet irrigation and
Bangladesh is one of the leading countries for potable water demands as well as residual flows to
the implementation of an Open-Defecation-Free maintain and improve river water quality is likely
Policy and should be congratulated on the to become an issue of increasing importance
drive to eliminate open defecation through the as sea levels rise and saline intrusion penetrates
provision of basic sanitation in rural areas. Due higher up river reaches and as the water needs of
to its major success in Bangladesh, the model neighboring countries increases and competition
developed there has been adopted by several for available water becomes more intense.
other countries. However, the provision of water There is also a lack of planning in existing Bangladesh is
in urban and rural areas has not been anywhere institutions, with several organizations sharing one of the lead-
near as successful and Bangladesh is unlikely to responsibilities in the sector. Such fragmentation ing countries for
meet its MDG water targets. This failure has does not help in the resolution of issues such as
been compounded by the lack of generating water resources management.
capacity in the country which has an impact on The main issues and key challenges may be of an Open-
pumping and treatment costs as well as feasibility. summarized as follows (key messages raised in the Defecation-Free
It is clear that more champions, such as the one main AWDO text are highlighted in bold): Policy

Asian Water Development Outlook 2007

• Bangladesh is highly vulnerable to natural optimize such gains, health authorities can play
disasters and this is likely to increase as sea a key role in relation to water, sanitation, and
levels rise and the effects of climate change hygiene, including (i) establishment of sci-
are felt. ence-based evidence, (ii) advocacy to nonhealth
• The increasing shortage of water and the sectors, (iii) normative guidance role to legislative
reliance of Bangladesh on neighboring and policy planners, (iv) hygiene promotion, (v)
countries to favorably regulate upstream monitoring and surveillance; and (vi) emergen-
river reaches and safeguard water availability cies and natural disasters. Consideration should
is a key issue that needs urgent action. be given to health authorities taking a more active
• The institutional and regulatory framework role in sector development and management to
is weak and fragmented as a result of maximize such benefits.
the sector being overly centralized, not
efficiently responding to user needs, and
with planning and implementation largely Key Sector Players
supply-driven, top-down, and target oriented
as well as suffering from duplication, unclear • Ministry of Water Resources
priorities, and uncoordinated development. The Secretary
• Low tariffs and poor cost recovery due to Room 409, Bldg. 6, Secretariat,
low willingness to pay in the absence of an Dhaka
adequate public awareness campaign. This T: 716 8688 F: 716 2400
is a core constraint, leading to under- • Water Resources Planning Organisation
investment and undermining development (WARPO)
of the whole sector. For many service Director General
providers, revenue does not even cover House 103, Road 1, Block F,
recurrent costs, let alone contribute to the Banani,
accumulation of sufficient reserves to fund Dhaka
new capital investment. The situation is T: 881 4554 / 988 0879 F: 988 3456
even worse in the sanitation sector. • Bangladesh Water Development Board
• Utilities perform poorly due to lack of (BWDB)
institutional capacity and investment. Director General
• There is increasing pollution and depletion WAPDA Building,
of water resources. Motijheel,
• There is a need to increase sewerage Dhaka
interception and treat all raw sewage. T: 956 4665 / 955 2194 F: 956 4763
• Many people are provided with water sector • Ministry of Local Government, Rural
services by small-scale providers, particularly Development and Co-operatives
in major cities and large towns, so there The Secretary
needs to be greater recognition of their Local Government Division,
role, with their status formalized until such Room 604, Bldg. 7, Secretariat,
time as the formal utility is able to provide Dhaka
services to SSIP customers. T: 716 3566 F: 716 4374
• Connect the urban poor (no connection • Department of Public Health Engineering
fee or subsidized fee). (DPHE)
• Technical performance and service levels Chief Engineer
are poor in many utilities (nonrevenue 14, Shaheed Mansur Ali Sarani Kakrail,
water, low coverage, intermittent supplies, Dhaka 1000
etc.) and need to be progressively improved. T: 934 3358 F: 934 3375
• Ministry of Health
Health authorities in most countries in • Dhaka Water Supply and Sewerage
Asia and the Pacific region do not have direct Authority
responsibility for developing water supply and 98 Kazi Nazou Islam Avenue
sanitation systems, focusing primarily on hygiene Kawranbazar
promotion and water quality surveillance, Dhaka
although the benefits of such development accrue T: 880 28116792
to the health sector in terms of health gains. To E: mddwasa@bangla.net

Country Chapter – Bangladesh

• Chittagong WASA T: 0088 (0821) 816211-112

Mr. Moqsumul Hakim Chowdhury F: (88-821) 719336 / 719335
The Chairman, Chittagong WASA • Bangladesh Water Partnership (GWP South Asia)
Dampara House 39 Road 11
Chittagong Dhanmondi, Dhaka
T: (880-31) 285 1806 F: (880-31) 610 465 T: 8802 550 1960 F: 8802 911 0055
• Khulna City Corporation E: kahaq@dhaka.net
Water Supply Department
Khulna Donors active in the sector are summarized
T: 880 41 72543 F: 01711 217 113 in the Table 2, which also provides an indication
(mobile) of the current status of key projects funded by the
• Sylhet City Corporation Asian Development Bank.

Table 2: Donors active in Bangladesh’s water sector

Donor Sector/Area of Support Sample ADB Projects Status

Asian Development Bank Urban, Rural and Basin Water Secondary Towns Integrated Loan approved in 2004.
(ADB) Development and Management Flood Protection Project II Closing date in 2009.
Secondary Towns Water Loan approved in 2006.
Supply and Sanitation Sector Closing date in 2013.
Dhaka Water Supply and Supplemental Technical
Sanitation Project Assistance (TA) approved in
2006. Loan proposed.
Small Scale Water Resources Loan approved in 2001.
Development Sector II Closing date in 2009.
Southwest Area Integrated Loan approved in 2005.
Water Resources Planning and Closing date in 2013.
World Bank Water resources, irrigation, fish- Active/ongoing water
eries, inland water transport, supply project
water supply and sanitation
Australian Agency for Good governance and
International Development improved basic service delivery
with an emphasis on health,
education and natural resource
management at the state and
community level
Japan Bank for International Water Supply
Japan International Agricultural/rural development
Cooperation Agency
United States Agency for Environment (including water
International Development supply and sanitation)
United Nations Environment
Development Programme
Canadian International Environmental management
Development Agency including treatment of arsenic
from contaminated drinking
water sources

Asian Water Development Outlook 2007

Future Vision the quality and quantity of water resources.

• Strengthen the institutional and regulatory
Progress towards achieving the MDG targets in framework and progressively devolve
Asia and the Pacific region has been less rapid responsibility to increasingly autonomous
than anticipated such that, at current rates of local service providers, with services
progress, the sanitation MDGs will not be met demand-driven, and the planning process
in many Asian countries. As a result, the “Vision simplified and strengthened to ensure clear
2020” document on “Delivery of the MDGs prioritization and coordinated development.
for water and sanitation in the Asia-Pacific • Treat all wastewater discharges to at least
Region” was prepared to point the way forward, primary level within 5 years.
and was unanimously endorsed by ministers • Set sustainable and affordable tariffs to
from 38 countries at the Asia Pacific Ministerial progressively move toward full cost recovery.
Conference in December 2006 held in New • Progressively improve service standards
Delhi. The overarching framework is principled (nonrevenue water, hours of supply, etc.)
governance, together with a move from policy
as intention to policy as practice. To achieve the The cost of achieving the water sector
objectives, partnerships will be essential. The MDGs worldwide has been estimated at US$10
2020 vision can be achieved by billion/year, a seemingly large sum but one that
only equates to 5 days’ worth of global military
• a concerted campaign over the next 5 years
spending or less than half of what rich countries
to raise awareness and generate momentum
spend on mineral water.39 In reality, it is a small
to change polices and governance practices
price to pay for improved quality of life, millions
and build sector capacity,
of young lives saved, increased productivity, and
• multistakeholder approach in each country
for generating an economic return to boost pros-
to achieve synergies and a united effort, and
perity. Governments should aim for a minimum
• active sharing of information and experience
of 1% GDP spending on the water sector.
across the region as part of a region wide
Bangladesh needs to increase water sector
investments to at least 1% of GDP and also
The future vision for the water sector in must focus on expanding coverage, tariff reform,
Bangladesh should include the following: increased wastewater treatment capacity, greater
water conservation, and effective implementation
• Find and effectively support more cham-
of the National Water Policy, at the same time
pions in the Government to drive sector
as ensuring adequate minimum water resources
development and efficiencies forward.
available through treaties with neighboring
• Prioritize the sector in terms of investment
and human resource development.
The Index of Drinking Water Adequacy
• Make effective provision to avoid future
(IDWA) value for Bangladesh (see Table 3) is
shortages in water resources and supplies
37, ranking it in the fourth quartile of the 23
through negotiation with neighboring
countries evaluated in the IDWA background
countries, implementation of effective
paper for AWDO.40 The component values for
conservation measures, and sensitization
“quality” (53), “resource” (56) and “access” (67)
and education of consumers and the general
are fair, but leave considerable room for improve-
population supported by public awareness
ment. However, both “capacity” (33) and “use”
(-22) component values are very poor and drag
• Recognize the important role of small-scale
down the overall IDWA value.
providers and formalize their status and
Increasing the domestic per capita consump-
contractual status with formal utilities.
tion IDWA “use” component value could be
• Strengthen environmental legislation en-
achieved through increasing the number of
forcement to halt and reverse the decline in

Table 3: Index of Drinking Water Adequacy (IDWA) value for Bangladesh

Resource Access Capacity Use Quality IDWA

56 67 33 -22 53 37

Country Chapter – Bangladesh

14 Rashid, Haroun Er and Babar Kabir. 1996. Case Study:

people connected to piped networks, but this Bangladesh - Water Resources and Population Pressures
raises the question of water availability and in the Ganges River Basin. In Proceedings of the October
system capacity (in Dhaka, water demand already 1996 IUCN Workshop on Water and Population Dynam-
ics: Case Studies and Policy Implications. Montreal,
exceeds production capacity by some 33%). The Canada.
progressive provision of more connections, with 15 ADB. 2003. Water Sector Roadmap: Bangladesh, p. 6.
connection fees made affordably small or free Manila..
16 Comments made by Dr. Khondaker Azharul Haq,
and the excess funded through the tariff, together former MD of DWASA, at Consultation Meeting on
with the development of a sustainable tariff struc- AWDO in Singapore, 23 August 2007.
ture and unit charges, would have a major impact 17 ADB. 2003. Water Sector Roadmap: Bangladesh, Section
IVA. Manila.
on the “use” value. The “capacity” component is a 18 Arsenic Policy Support Unit, International Training
measure of the population’s capacity to purchase Network – Bangladesh. 2004. Risk Assessment of Arsenic
water based on per capita GDP in purchasing Mitigation Option. Dhaka.
19 WHO/UNICEF. 2006. Meeting the MDG Drinking Wa-
power parity US$. Its value is obviously linked ter and Sanitation Target: The Urban and Rural Challenge
to the general economic situation in the country, of the Decade, Table 2.
and is, therefore, much harder to influence. 20 Presentation by MD of DWASA: Water Utility Services
in Dhaka City: Present and Future, Capacity Building
This AWDO country chapter is a dynamic Workshop on Partnerships for Improving the Perfor-
document that should be updated and expanded mance of Water Utilities in the Asia and Pacific Region,
periodically to reflect changes, issues, and 25–27 July 2006. Bangkok, Thailand.
21 Bangladesh Today. 5 May 2007.
proposed remedial strategies in the national 22 ADB. 2005. TA for Preparing the Dhaka Water Supply
water sector. It is recommended that in the next Project.Manila.
update, there should be a specific focus on (i) 23 ADB. 2005. CSP Up-date, 2006–2010, Appendix 3L.
water resources and environmental management, 24 ADB. 2007. Asian Development Outlook 2007, Box
(ii) wastewater treatment, and (iii) tariff reform. 2.14.1, p. 166 on Bangladesh. Manila.
25 Local Government Division’s Progress Report on Sanita-
Endnotes tion. 2006.
26 UNDP. 2006. Human Development Report 2006, Chap-
1 ADB. 2007, 7 Aug. Asia Faces Huge Environmental ter 3, Box 3.4, p. 123.
Clean-Up Due to Inadequate Sanitation. ADB News 27 Comments made by Dr. Khondaker Azharul Haq,
Release. former MD of DWASA, at Consultation Meeting on
2 Personal communication from Rafiqul Islam, ADB AWDO in Singapore, 23 August 2007.
Bangladesh Resident Mission, 9 August 2007. 28 WHO/UNICEF. 2006. Meeting the MDG Drinking Wa-
3 ADB. 2005. CSP Up-date, 2006–2010. Manila. ter and Sanitation Target: The Urban and Rural Challenge
4 Purchasing Power Parity. of the Decade, Country, regional and global tables. Joint
5 UNDP. 2006. Human Development Report 2006, Tables Monitoring Programme Report.
1 to 3. 29 WHO/UNICEF. 2006. Joint Monitoring Programme
6 Tannerfeldt, Goran and Per Ljung. 2006. More Urban, for Water Supply & Sanitation. Coverage Estimates: Im-
Less Poor: An Introduction to Urban Development and proved Sanitation – Bangladesh and Improved Drinking
Management, Tables A4 and A6. SIDA Earthscan. Water. Bangladesh.
7 UNICEF. 2006. Water a Shared Responsibility: UN 30 WHO/UNICEF. 2006. Meeting the MDG Drinking Wa-
World Water Development Report No. 2, Total Actual ter and Sanitation Target: The Urban and Rural Challenge
Renewable Water Resources (TARWR) from Table 4.3. of the Decade.
8 FAO/AQUASTAT 2005. Earth Trends Data Tables: 31 UNDP. 2006. The Millennium Development Goals:
Freshwater Resources 2005. Available at www.fao.org/ Progress in Asia and the Pacific 2006, Table 2.
waicent/faoinfo/agricult/agl/aglw/aquastat/water_res/in- 32 ADB. 2003. Water Sector Roadmap: Bangladesh, p. 22.
dex.htm Manila.
9 WHO Collaborating Centre for Research on the Epide- 33 Transparency International. 2006. Corruption Index CPI
miology of Disasters. Available: www.cred.be/emdat/in- 2006 Regional Results: Asia Pacific.
tro.html 34 Personal communication with Dr. Khondaker Azharul
10 Unit for Policy Implementation, Local Government Haq, former MD of DWASA, 20 August 2007.
Division. 2005. Sector Development Program: Water and 35 ADB. 2003. Water Sector Roadmap: Bangladesh, p. 39.
Sanitation Sector in Bangladesh. Dhaka. Manila.
11 ADB. 2004. TA to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh for 36 Global Corruption Report 2006, part 2. In Country
the Secondary Towns Water Supply and Sanitation project. Report: Bangladesh, section 8, p. 125.
Manila 37 Personal communication from Rafiqul Islam, ADB
12 ADB. 2006. RRP for Proposed Loan for Secondary Towns Bangladesh Resident Mission, 9 August 2007.
Water Supply and Sanitation Sector Project, Project No. 38 Personal communication with Dr. Khondaker Azharul
36297. Manila. Haq, former MD of DWASA, 20 August 2007.
13 Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics. 2006. Preliminary 39 UNDP. 2006. Human Development Report 2006, p. 8.
Report on Household Income and Expenditure Survey 40 Rao, Bhanoji. 2007. Access to Drinking Water and
– 2005. Estimated at 28.4% in urban areas and 43.8% Sanitation in Asia: Indicators and Implications. Back-
in rural. Dhaka. ground Paper for AWDO.

Asian Water Development Outlook (AWDO) 2007
AWDO is a new publication commissioned by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in view of
the increasing importance of water in the future development scenarios of the Asia and Pacific
region. In recent years, water has steadily gravitated toward the top of the national agendas
of ADB’s developing member countries. This is a desirable development because water is
an essential requirement for human and ecosystems survival. In addition, water is a critical
component for most development needs. Without adequate quantity and quality of water, it
will not be possible to ensure food, energy, or environmental security of nations.
AWDO is aimed at Asian and Pacific leaders and policy makers and those interested
in understanding the complexities and dimensions of the current and the future water
problems, and how these can be addressed successfully in policy terms. Its main objective is
to raise awareness of water-related issues and to stimulate an informed debate on how best
to manage Asia’s water future. These are important and complex issues, and their timely
management can contribute to the achievement of all the water-associated Millennium
Development Goals and beyond.
AWDO 2007 is ADB’s first attempt to make a forward-looking assessment of the possible
water future for the most populous region of the world. It is now increasingly being
recognized that water is likely to be a major critical resource issue of the world, and that the
social, economic, and environmental future of Asia is likely to depend on how efficiently and
equitably this resource will be managed in the coming years.

About the Asian Development Bank

ADB aims to improve the welfare of the people in the Asia and Pacific region, particularly
the nearly 1.9 billion who live on less than $2 a day. Despite many success stories, the region
remains home to two thirds of the world’s poor. ADB is a multilateral development finance
institution owned by 67 members, 48 from the region and 19 from other parts of the globe.
ADB’s vision is a region free of poverty. Its mission is to help its developing member countries
reduce poverty and improve their quality of life.
ADB’s main instruments for helping its developing member countries are policy dialogue,
loans, equity investments, guarantees, grants, and technical assistance. ADB’s annual lending
volume is typically about $6 billion, with technical assistance usually totaling about $180
million a year.
ADB’s headquarters is in Manila. It has 26 offices around the world and more than 2,000
employees from over 50 countries.

About the Asia-Pacific Water Forum

The Asia-Pacific Water Forum (APWF) provides countries and organisations in the region
with a common platform and voice to accelerate the process of effective integration of water
resource management into the socioeconomic development process of Asia and the Pacific.
The APWF is an independent, not-for-profit, non-partisan, non-political network.
The APWF’s goal is to contribute to sustainable water management in order to achieve
the targets of the MDGs in Asia and the Pacific by capitalizing on the region’s diversity and
rich history of experience in dealing with water as a fundamental part of human existence.
Specifically, the APWF seeks to champion efforts aimed at boosting investments, building
capacity, and enhancing cooperation in the water sector at the regional level and beyond.

Asian Development Bank

6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City
1550 Metro Manila, Philippines

Asia-Pacific Water Forum

Secretariat: Japan Water Forum (JWF)
6th FI,1-8-1 Kojima Chiyoda-ku
Tokyo, Japan APAN 102-0083
Tel +81 3 5212 1645
Fax +81 3 5212 1649