‘Water Museum’ may sound too futuristic for 2014. Has water become so scarce that we have to preserve it in a museum? – critics may enquire. True the melting of arctic ice raises water level globally. Posed against this background, it may appear fair to state that it’s the land which needs preserving. We need a realization and initiative that goes beyond nation-state boundaries. We also need a regional forum that shares resources and responsibilities. We need to realize the common’s right to water and acknowledge the rights of river.
The need to shift our attention to water comes from a history of abuse we have wrought on water and watercourses in a number of ways. Large embankments and structural interventions, uncontrolled urbanisation and encroachment, river pollution and mismanagement etc. have taken a toll which has been manifested into desertiﬁcation, intrusion of salinity in sweet water bodies, erratic rainfall and biodegradation. The eﬀects are everywhere if we have the eyes to see. The rivers have shrunk. The marine diversity and coastal ecology has drastically worsened. Surface water has fallen and contaminated. Salinity has increased. The lives and the livelihoods of people are badly aﬀected. The 800+ rivers and tributaries that crisscross Bangladesh’s plain land that gave shape to its economy, culture and heritage are now at risk. So is the general wellbeing of the people. Question is, how ready we are to tackle the changing scenario.
The South Asian nations lack in adequate initiatives to protect the rivers. Biased towards structural intervention, the bilateral treaties and government policies on water management do not look at water from a holistic point of view.
Thanks to the ‘water-commons’ platform, a regional voice is growing in South Asia that started with a vision to uphold the issue of river and its water from a position beyond political boundaries. ActionAid Bangladesh believes that the need is to re-imagine river from a humane and ecological point of view.
The establishment of a ‘water museum’ evolved in this backdrop – making an eﬀort to bring the issue on the table, build critical awareness of the need around water commons and inspire concerted eﬀorts starting from conservation to policy revitalization. ‘Water Museum’ is our call to action.
Let’s save our rivers!