Meeting held on bettering desalination plant services
The top officials of Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) on 24 July 2017 met representatives from 12 NGOs — officially termed as Partner Organisations (POs) — that are operating desalination plants installed in different salinity-hit coastal areas of Bangladesh under the PKSF’s ‘Learning and Innovation Fund to Test New Ideas (LIFT)’ programme.
Dr Md Jashim Uddin, Deputy Managing Director (Administration) of the PKSF, chaired the meeting held at PKSF Bhaban in Agargaon, Dhaka.
A range of issues including safe water supply situation in the target locations, rationalizing desalination plant technology, operational management and sustainability were discussed in the meeting.
The executive directors of different POs and their representatives highlighted the massive response of the people who avail services from the desalination plants run by his organization. “People are highly appreciative of the low-cost services we provide. Sometimes, our plants are operated at capacity to meet the demand,” said one of them.
They, however, stressed the need for providing training to the plant operators so that they can fix minor technical glitches without wasting time for bringing technicians from as far as Dhaka.
The coastal people are increasingly leaning towards using desalinated water instead of rainwater or water from other surface sources, said another PO representative. “They have understood the health benefits of desalinated water. However, more extensive Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) activities are needed to ensure wider coverage.”
One of the PO representatives spoke on the challenges regarding improvement of distribution channels, and ensuring sustainability of the interventions by building community ownership.
Guest of Honour at the meeting, Dr Mustafa K Mujeri, executive director of the Institute for Inclusive Finance and Development (InM), lauded the NGOs for their activities. “You are doing a noble job by providing safe water to the salinity-afflicted coastal people.”
The InM is currently conducting a study titled ‘Innovative Solutions to Sustaining Access to Safe Drinking Water’, for which they will survey the desalination plants installed by the PKSF. Dr Mujeri also discussed about different aspects of the study with the PO representatives.
Highlighting the PKSF’s strive to serve the distressed, the underprivileged and the extreme poor of the country, Dr Md Jashim Uddin urged the POs to ensure that the safe water interventions made by the PKSF operate not for profit, but to serve those in need.
“Ensure quality service and transparency. Be more proactive in dispelling any confusion or misunderstanding that may arise among people over any aspect of our services. The PKSF is committed to serving the poor and will extend all possible help to ensure uninterrupted supply of safe water to a wider number of people of the salinity-affected areas.”
AQM Golam Mawla and Dr Sharif Ahmed Chowdhury, both general managers (programme), and other PKSF officials concerned were present at the meeting.
The PKSF has so far installed 51 desalination plants, 20 of them under the LIFT programme, in the coastal areas where climate change-induced salinity ingress has created an acute dearth of freshwater. The water from the plants are sold at a minimum service charge, usually ranging between Tk 0.10 and Tk 0.50 per litre, to cover the operational cost only. However, the extreme poor and physically incapacitated people are provided the desalinated water free of cost.