As high as 41 per cent of all improved water sources of Bangladesh are contaminated with E. Coli bacteria, says World Bank report.
E. Coli contaminated water, according to medical literature, can cause pneumonia, breathing problems, and urinary tract infections and diarrhea.
The high prevalence of fecal contamination in water sources of Bangladesh was pointed out in a WB report ‘Promising progress: A diagnostic of water supply, sanitation, hygiene, and poverty in Bangladesh,’ launched on Thursday.
This report contrasts the country’s remarkable progress in improving access to water and sanitation.
And the report says the poor drinking water quality affects the rich and the poor and the rural and urban people alike.
“The poorest quintile of the population suffers three times more from water and sanitation-related gastro-intestinal diseases,” said the report.
The global development agency, in the report, observed that as higher as 98 per cent of Bangladeshis have access to water from technologically improved water sources.
“But, the water quality is poor. E. coli bacteria was present in 80 per cent of private piped-water taps sampled across the country, a similar rate to water retrieved from ponds,” the report added.
“In Bangladesh, more than one-third of children under five are stunted, limiting their ability to grow and learn. Bangladesh has made great strides in expanding access to water and can build on that progress by focusing on improving the quality of water and sanitation,” said acting WB country director Sereen Juma.
Also, the report pointed out, about 13 per cent of the country’s water sources contain arsenic levels above Bangladesh’s threshold.
Chittagong and Sylhet divisions suffer most from arsenic contamination, said the WB. Climate change is increasing the intensity and frequency of natural disasters that disrupt water and sanitation services, it added.
Bangladesh has successfully eliminated the practice of open defecation, the WB recognises.
Still, according to the report, about 50 million people use shared, rudimentary toilets, and only 28 per cent of toilets are equipped with soap and water.
“There is scope for Bangladesh to improve access to sanitation beyond the household level to public places, schools, health facilities, and workplaces,” says George Joseph, the report’s co-author and WB senior economist.
“Only about half of manufacturing enterprises in Bangladesh have toilets. Only half of the primary schools have separate toilets for girls, and 1 in 4 adolescent girls miss school during menstruation. A safe water and sanitation environment will encourage more women to participate in the workforce.”