SWIBANGLA: Managing salt water intrusion impacts in coastal groundwater systems in Bangladesh

Bangladesh is densely populated and it is expected that the population increases significantly in the coming decade, up to 60% more by 2050 according to IIASA (2013). Demand for drinking water will increase accordingly. These developments may cause significant changes in the hydrological system, e.g. leading to a drop of groundwater pressures. Moreover, climate change and a sea level rise are predicted by the scenarios drawn by the International Panel of Climate Change (IPCC, 2013). This leads to, among others, an increase of salt water intrusion, in surface water as well as in groundwater.

SWIBANGLA project Bangladesh

Part of BRAC WASH II Programme

The goal of the BRAC WASH II programme is to contribute to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals by providing integrated water services, sanitation and hygiene promotion expanding to hard-to-reach areas and to under-served populations, in collaboration with government and other stakeholders. As part of the programme, innovative research is addressed in six relevant themes, one of which is the theme salt water intrusion. This project, SWIBANGLA – Managing salt water intrusion impacts in Bangladesh, contributes to the theme salt water intrusion.

Salt water intrusion

In this project, the focus is on salt water intrusion in coastal groundwater systems, as groundwater is the main resource of drinking water. When the salt water intrusion processes and dynamics in groundwater systems are understood, adequate water management measures are feasible. Otherwise, a shortage of sufficient, clean fresh water at the right moment for domestic water supply as well as for agricultural use will occur. Currently, a blue print for accurate policy measures on the issue of salt water intrusion does not exist. In current water safety planning practices in Bangladesh, the issue of salt water intrusion in groundwater systems is underexposed.

Two main objectives

The Department of Public Health and Engineering (DPHE) is the main authority in developing and improving Water Safety Plans for water supply technologies in Bangladesh. The outputs of SWIBANGLA are mainly meant for DPHE, which has been the main stakeholder during the project, but they are also meant for all governmental agencies, NGOs, universities and others that study, manage or have to deal with salt water intrusion impacts in Bangladesh. SWIBANLGA has two main general objectives which contribute to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals: 1. increasing WASH sector stakeholders’ awareness of the salinization of drinking water resources and the threats posed by this process, and 2. increasing WASH sector stakeholders’ knowledge and skills necessary to anticipate on the salinization of drinking water resources.

Additional objectives

The specific additional objectives leading to the main one are: a. create a better understanding of the process of salinization of drinking water resources in Bangladesh, b. provide recommendations for monitoring, c. provide recommendations for adaptation and mitigation, d. achieve an effective, tailored knowledge transfer between the Netherlands and Bangladesh, and e. advise on the integration of the salinization issue in Water Safety Planning.

External link

More information about research of fresh and salt water