Experts at a discussion here yesterday said strengthening cooperation among the South Asian countries is a must to resolve trans-boundary water problem.
Today, more than ever, cooperation is needed to meet the water-related needs of South Asia's growing population in the river basins for food production, energy, industrial and domestic uses and sustain its ecology, they said, adding, that's why cooperation among the neighbouring countries can be nurtured through dialogue and people-to-people contact.
Oxfam in Bangladesh arranged the discussion at Cirdap auditorium in the capital.
During the meeting Oxfam launched a five-year project -- Trans-boundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA) project -- to promote improved policies and practices that protect the rights of communities along the trans-boundary Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) river basins.
Speaking at the discussion, State Minister for Water Resources Muhammad Nazrul Islam said as a lower riparian, Bangladesh will continue its efforts until it achieves an equitable share of benefits for all in the entire basin.
"It is essential for wellbeing of ecosystems and millions of people in Bangladesh as well as the basin. We call upon our neighbours in the upstream to respect the rights of the lower riparian countries so we can prosper together," he said.
The minister hoped that TROSA project will be able to replicate the successful model of the Mekong basin to enhance regional cooperation in the GBM basins.
IUCN country representative Ishitaq Uddin Ahmad said trans-boundary water governance is linked to geopolitics, economies and livelihoods, cultures and heritage.
"To make it just and win-win, the upper and lower riparian countries need to follow certain principles, like causing no harm to anyone, preserving ecosystem integrity and rights of the communities," he added.
Member of the National Commission for the Protection of the River Sharmeen Murshid stressed developing a 'People's River Master Plan' and called upon different actors to come together to set a minimum common position to share the rivers in this region.
Among others, the event was attended by advisor of South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics (SANDEE) Prof Dr AK Enamul Haque, Paribesh Bachao Andolon (Poba) Chairman Abu Naser Khan, General Secretary of Bangladesh Paribesh Andolon (Bapa) Abdul Matin, Anowar Sadat of Bangladesh Nadee Bachao Andolon and Sheikh Rokon of Riverine People.
Funded by the government of Sweden through its Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) office in Bangkok, Thailand, the project is a country component of Oxfam's regional programme Trans-boundary Rivers of South Asia (TROSA).
The programme will be implemented by Oxfam and regional and national partners in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The Bangladesh component of the project has been named as “Trans-boundary Rivers for Our Sustainable Advancement – TROSA” and will be implemented in the GBM basins.