“Water, water, everywhere/Nor any drop to drink”—the situation of 900 families of two remote villages under Sharafpur Union Parishad was no better than the sailor in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, who was surrounded by salt water that he could not drink.
While entering the two remote villages—Akhra and Chandghar—of Sharafpur Union Parishad under Dumuria Upazila Parishad, Khulna district, through zigzag roads, you will see more than one hundred of small water bodies. However, these are filled with saline water, brought in by the daily high tide. While the saline water may be helpful for shrimp farming, it intrudes upon fresh water resources and is a bane for the poor people living in the two villages of the low lying coastal areas.
The every day’s high tides make the courtyards of poor huts muddy and making a way to the high road nearby is very difficult as the saline water rushes into the villages during the high tide.
In the two villages, there is water everywhere, but the villagers cannot not get a single drop for drinking or cooking purposes.
Ashim Kumar Mondal, a farmer of Chandgar village under Sarafpur Union Parishad of the Upazila, explains, “Any search for groundwater for drinking is a futile attempt, as the salinity has taken a deep root as far as 1200 feet below the surface all around the villages, for about a five to six kilometer radius.”
“We could not cultivate anything here due to salinity. We had to collect drinking water from at least six kilometres away spending a lot of time, money and energy,” said Mubarak Ali Morol, an elderly person of the village.
But the situation has now changed, following a initiative from the Dumuria Upazila Parishad, with support from Upazila Governance Project (UZGP), to install a deep water pump six kilometres away from the villages where the level of drinking water is available. The pump water is now transporting by the Union Parishad to the 900 poor families of the villages.
The UZGP, through its fiscal facility support, provided Tk. 10.53 lakh for installing the deep water pump and the Sarafpur Union Parishad is now bearing the cost of transporting the drinking water to the villagers with minimum cost of Tk. 1.66 for a 20-litre water jar.
“It was totally out of our imagination…it was only in one’s crazy dream that one can get a 20-litre drinking water jar for only Tk. 1.66…but now it is possible and we are getting it,” said Usha Rani Mondal, 40, one of the housewives of Chandgar village.
“It gives us a new life! It changes everything…we really got our lives back…it saves our time, money and energy, more importantly, our lives,” Usha said, adding, “It’s a great help to us. We are really grateful to the UZGP, the Union Parishad and the Upazila Parishad for this life-saving initiative.”