Water is a fundamental human right for survival, health, and dignity. Despite water being arguably the most crucial and sought-after necessity worldwide, it is among the least available.
The Rohingya water crisis requires immediate attention as this Muslim minority group in Myanmar has endured discrimination, persecution, and violence for decades. With over 700,000 Rohingya refugees now living in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions in Bangladesh, access to clean water is a pressing concern. In this blog, we will use real-life experiences of Rohingya residents and reliable data to illustrate the gravity of this crisis.
The Rohingya Water Crisis
Clean water is a scarce resource for Rohingya refugees who cannot afford it. They reside in overcrowded camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where the available water sources are polluted. Statistics reveal that the majority of refugees depend on unsanitary water sources, like wells and ponds, which are frequently polluted with fecal matter and bacteria.
The lack of access to clean water is causing a public health crisis in the camps. Diseases like diarrhea, cholera, and typhoid are rampant, and children are the most vulnerable. The situation is dire, and the Rohingya people are calling for urgent action to address the water crisis.
Authentic Stories from Rohingya Locals
The Rohingya people have been subject to discrimination and persecution for decades, and the water crisis is one of their many daily challenges. To understand the gravity of the situation, let’s hear from some Rohingya locals affected by the water crisis.
Shahida, an 18-month-old girl, and her parents Shamseda and Ayob were exhausted and hungry when we encountered them.
They had established a temporary dwelling on swampy terrain, some distance away from the primary route to Kutupalong Refugee Camp. The location was separated from the camp by a hazardous river, and they had only settled there a few days earlier.
Rohingya refugees, desperate for a place to sleep, had built a dangerous bamboo bridge across this swiftly flowing river and crossed it several times daily in search of desperately needed aid.
“In the middle of the night it flooded and we couldn’t go anywhere. We stood up all night and held our daughter up above us,” said Ayob.
Unfortunately, torrential rain had fallen overnight and had not stopped.
These stories are just a tiny glimpse into the daily challenges of the Rohingya people. We need to hear their cries and take action to address the water crisis.
The statistics on the Rohingya water crisis are alarming.
According to UNICEF and partners, more than 200,000 Rohingya refugees, of which 50% are children, are at risk of flooding and landslides during the monsoon season due to inadequate drainage systems and safe water sources.
These statistics paint a grim picture of the situation in the camps and the lack of access to safe water and sanitation facilities violates fundamental human rights.
Find the root cause and act on it
In addition to providing immediate relief, addressing the root causes of the Rohingya crisis is crucial.
Decades of discrimination and persecution have plagued the Rohingya people. To remedy this, the international community must hold accountable those who violate human rights, facilitate peaceful coexistence among different communities, and establish a path to citizenship for the Rohingya people.
We also need to recognize the resilience and strength of the Rohingya people. Despite their challenges, they continue to work towards a better future for themselves and their families. We must support them in their efforts and work alongside them to find sustainable solutions to the crisis.
How to resolve the water crisis
One of the most effective ways to address the Rohingya water crisis is to increase access to clean water sources by digging wells, installing water filtration systems, and building water storage facilities. NGOs and government agencies can work together to provide these resources to the Rohingya community. Many NGOs actively ensure access to clean water for hundreds of thousands of people daily.
Another vital step in addressing the Rohingya water crisis is to raise awareness among the local population. Many Rohingya people may not know the importance of clean water or the dangers of drinking contaminated water. Educating the community about the importance of clean water can go a long way in preventing waterborne diseases and improving overall health.
Locals must implement water conservation measures, including rainwater harvesting, water-efficient irrigation systems, and reducing water waste. These measures can help conserve water resources and ensure the Rohingya community has enough water to meet its needs.
Encouraging good hygiene practices is another way to tackle the Rohingya water crisis. Providing soap and water, promoting handwashing, and constructing adequate sanitation facilities can prevent waterborne diseases and enhance overall health.
Lastly, supporting sustainable water management practices can help address the Rohingya water crisis in the long term. We can include the following:
● Developing policies and regulations to ensure sustainable use of water resources.
● Promoting water conservation.
● Investing in water infrastructure.
By adopting a long-term water management strategy, we can secure access to clean and safe water for the Rohingya community for generations to come.
The Rohingya people have faced tremendous hardships, including discrimination, violence, and displacement from their homes, for decades. Amidst these struggles, access to clean water has emerged as a critical issue. Clean water is a fundamental human right, and the lack of it poses a severe threat to public health.
The conditions in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where most Rohingya people live, are overcrowded, unsanitary, and lacking in proper infrastructure. As a result, the water sources in these camps are contaminated, and most refugees must rely on unimproved water sources that are often filled with bacteria and fecal matter.
The stories of Rohingya locals and the available statistics provide a grim picture of the situation. Young children and infants are particularly vulnerable to waterborne diseases, and the lack of access to clean water exacerbates their susceptibility to illnesses.
The situation is dire, and urgent action is necessary to address the Rohingya water crisis.
The international community needs to step up and provide the necessary resources to address the water crisis, like building new water sources and sanitation facilities, improving drainage systems, and providing education and training to the Rohingya people on maintaining and managing these resources.
We cannot afford to wait any longer. The time to act is now. We must do everything in our power to ensure that the Rohingya people have access to clean water, sanitation, and fundamental human rights.