In the Rohingya refugee camps the ground water is drying up and there is no clean drinking water left causing a shortage with dire consequences
Drinking water crisis for Rohingyas has deepened as the tube wells or handpumps set up in the camps are inadequate and one third of them have become non-functioning.
Government and international agencies have so far set up 4,370 hand pumps against the need of 7,700 tube wells for ensuring minimum safe drinking water for over six lakh Rohingyas who have taken shelter in Cox’s Bazar fleeing ethnic cleansing in their motherland Rakhine State of Myanmar.
Officials of the government and international agencies said that 30 per cent of the hand pumps already became non-functioning.
Inter Sector Coordination Group’s WASH sector report on Sunday said that 4,370 tube wells had so far been installed in the camps and 30 per cent of them needed ‘immediate rehabilitation or replacement.’ ‘These tube wells are non-functioning would not work without repair,’ said Inter Sector Coordination Group’s WASH sector coordinator Abu Naim Md Shafiullah Talukder.
‘Overuse is one of the reasons for the tube wells’ becoming non-functioning,’ Cox’s Bazar Department of Public Health Engineering assistant engineer Mohammad Nasar Ullah said. According to UN estimation on Sunday, 6,07,000 Rohingyas had entered Bangladesh since the beginning of the new influx, what the United Nations called the world’s fastest-developing refugee emergency, on August 25.
Officials estimated that the new influx already took to 10.26 lakh the number of documented and undocumented Myanmar nationals in Bangladesh entering the country at times since 1978.
The new influx began after Myanmar security forces responded to Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army’s reported attacks on August 25 by launching violence what the United Nations denounced as ethnic cleansing.
The continued Rohingya influx overcrowded health facilities at Teknaf and Ukhia upazilas and put extra pressure on water sources, which would reduce the ground water level, said local government officials and elected local government representatives.
Many Rohingyas erected makeshift shelters in reserved forests, felling trees, setting up shanties on hill slopes and some of them took shelter at overcrowded registered and unregistered camps.
These haphazard sprouting of camps made it hard for aid workers to supply safe drinking water to the Rohingyas, aid workers and public health engineering officials said.
They said that safe water for Rohingyas was not only important only for drinking but also for doing day to day household chores like cooking.
International aid agencies estimated that additional 5.86 crore litre safe water per day was the minimum requirement for the Rohingyas. The water crisis is more acute for Rohingyas taking shelter in Unchiprang area as the area has no access to surface water. Areas close to border and the Naf River have no or very limited access to safe water and latrines, local people said.
Abu Naim Md Shafiullah Talukder and Mohammad Nasar Ullah said that non-functioning tube wells were aggravating safe water crisis for Rohingyas.
WASH sector situation report also said that for sanitation, 24,773 temporary emergency latrines had been built but till there were concerns regarding the quality, durability and the geographic distribution of the infrastructure.
‘Infrastructure surveys indicate that in some areas as many as 36 per cent of constructed latrines are about to get full, compounded by limited space and the current unavailability for faecal sludge management options,’ said the report.
Government and international aid workers estimated that 35,000 emergency latrines were needed. Most of the 3–5-slab emergency latrines were almost overflowing due to over use in a week or so, aid workers said. ‘It is normal that these 3–5 emergency latrines are almost overflowing due to over use,’ said Nasar Ullah. ‘This position would force many Rohingyas to defecate in the open deteriorating the hygienic conditions,’ he added.
Rohingyas continued to enter Bangladesh through different point of Teknaf.
Teknaf upazila senior fisheries officer Delwar Hossain who is responsible for keep account of new arrivals on Monday said that over 1,058 Rohingyas entered through Baharchara, Whykhang and Shah Parir Dwip on Monday.
This article was first published in New Age Bangladesh