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Thousand Of Rohingya Refugees Get Clean Drinking Water, Thanks To Green Technology

The UNHCR along with its partner agencies are hoping to install nine more solar-powered water networks across the refugee camp in the coming year.

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Rohingya, Drinking water, amnesty
Formin Akter applies makeup before heading to Chittagong to attend school at the Asian University for Women in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, Aug. 24, 2018. VOA

Thousands of Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, now have safe drinking water thanks to a combination of green technology and sunlight.

Cox’s Bazar has plenty of refugees. More than 900,000. Most have arrived in Bangladesh since August 2017, when violence and persecution by the Myanmar military triggered a mass exodus of Rohingya refugees.

The refugees are living in squalid conditions across 36 different locations in Cox’s Bazar. Water is scarce in most locations. But sunshine is plentiful. Over the past six months, the U.N. refugee agency and partners have been putting into operation solar-powered safe water systems.

Rohingya, Violence. drinking water
Rohingya refugees carry a hume pipe in Balukhali refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, in Bangladesh. VOA

The UNHCR reports the first five systems are now running at full capacity. It says the new safe water systems run entirely on electricity generated through solar panels. UNHCR spokesman, Andrej Mahecic, says this new network is providing safe water to more than 40,000 refugees.

Rohingya, Violence. drinking water
A new toilet recently installed in a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh. VOA

“Using the solar energy has allowed the humanitarian community to reduce the energy costs and emissions,” said Mahecic. “So, there is a clear environmental impact of this. Chlorination is also a life-saver in refugee sites of this scale. The recent tests revealed that most contamination of drinking water occurs during collection, transport and storage at the household level.”

Mahecic notes chlorinated water is safe for drinking and also eliminates the risk of the spread of disease.

Also Read: Lack of Proper Sanitation Affects 620 Million Children Around The World: Report

The UNHCR along with its partner agencies are hoping to install nine more solar-powered water networks across the refugee camp in the coming year. The project, which is funded by the agency, will cost $10 million. It will benefit an additional 55,000 Rohingya refugees.

The UNHCR says its ultimate aim is to provide 20 liters of safe water to every single refugee on a daily basis. It says this will be done by piping in the solar powered water to collective taps strategically installed throughout the Kutupalog-Balukhali refugee site. (VOA)

 

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Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh Face Serious Water Shortage

Because of the growing shortage, the UNHCR began rationing the refugees' daily water supply

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FILE - Rohingya refugees collect drinking water at the Shalbagan refugee camp in Teknaf, Bangladesh, March 5, 2019. VOA

The U.N. refugee agency says water rations for tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh have been cut because of a serious shortage. The U.N. refugee agency reports that temperatures of 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and sporadic rainfall have reduced the region’s water supply to a critically low level.

UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahecic says aid agencies will begin trucking in water in the next two weeks for the more than 140,000 Rohingya refugees living southeast Bangladesh’s Teknaf Peninsula. He estimates the operation will cost about $60,000 a month. Because of the growing shortage, the UNHCR began rationing the refugees’ daily water supply.

“We are talking here about 20 liters a day,” Mahecic said. “This is a minimum standard in an emergency and we, because of the shortage of water, had to go even lower now to 15 liters a day per person. This is supposed to meet all of peoples’ needs for water during the day. So, from hygiene, preparing food, sanitation, everything.”

rohingya
FILE – Rohingya refugee women fill their canisters with water at the Leda refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, Dec. 16, 2017. VOA

Mahecic notes the situation is different in the northern part of Bangladesh’s Teknaf Peninsula, where the 900,000 Rohingya refugees living in the Kutupalong settlement in Cox’s Bazar have water available through boreholes.

The dry spell in the southern part of the peninsula is expected to last a few more weeks, andwill likely be broken when the monsoon season begins in June.

ALSO READ: Rohingya Refugees in Bangladesh Get Identity Cards for the First Time

In preparation, Mahecic says the UNHCR is building better facilities to capture and preserve rain water. He said hundreds of refugees are participating in a project to create a reservoir to capture monsoon rain in Teknaf and preserve it throughout the year.

The project, which is run by the World Food Program with humanitarian agency ADRA and supported by UNHCR, should temporarily improve the situation. (VOA)