Strategies for Water Pollution Control in Dhaka, Bangladesh: An Institutional and Economic Analysis

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This paper presents primary data based on research carried out as part of a large World Bank project. Results from our survey show that water pollution in Dhaka watershed has reached alarming levels and is posing significant threats to health and economic activity, particularly among the poor and vulnerable. Rice productivity in the watershed area, for example, has declined by 40% in recent years and vegetable cultivation in the riverbeds has been severely damaged. We also found significant correlation between water pollution and diseases such as jaundice, diarrhoea and skin problems. It was reported that the cost of treatment of skin diseases for one episode could be as high as 29% of the weekly earnings of poor households. Given the magnitude of the contamination problem, a multi-agent stakeholder approach was necessary to analyse the institutional and economic constraints that would need to be addressed in order to improve environmental management. This approach, in turn, enabled core strategies to be developed. The strategies were better understood around three types of actors in industrial pollution, i.e. (1) principal actors, who contribute directly to industrial pollution; (2) stakeholders, who exacerbate the situation by inaction; and (3) the potential actors in mitigation of water contamination. Within a carrot-and-stick framework, nine strategies leading to the strengthening of environmental management were explored. They aim at improving governance and transparency within public agencies and private industry through the setting up of incentive structures to advance compliance and enforcement of environmental standards. Civil society and the population at large are, on the other hand, encouraged to contribute actively to the mitigation of water pollution by improving the management of environmental information and by raising public awareness.


Keywords: Water Pollution, Health and Economic Impacts, Bangladesh, Clean Technologies, Institutional Development
Stream: Economics and Management
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: , Industrial Water Pollution in Dhaka, Bangladesh


Dr. Ana Marr

Programme Area Director, Department of International Business and Economics
Business School, University of Greenwich

London, London, UK

Dr Ana Marr is Programme Area Director and Principal Lecturer at the University of Greenwich. She is a senior economist with over 15 years of policy-making research, consultancy and lecturing experience in economic and financial-market development, pro-poor credit, microfinance, poverty reduction, business development services, social capital, financial services for enterprise development, warehouse-receipt systems, private capital flows, foreign direct investment, international trade and IFI conditionality. Her extensive overseas experience includes 8 years with Central Bank of Peru, 2 years in Thailand, plus Afghanistan, Armenia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Colombia, Romania, Tanzania, South Africa and Zimbabwe. She has undertaken extensive research work for the World Bank, the UK Department for International Development, EU, GTZ, CFC, among other major international organisations.

Dr. Nandini Dasgupta

Reader and Director, School of Humanities, University of Greenwich
London, UK

Dr Nandini Dasgupta is a development economist with 25 years experience as university lecturer on development, employment and environment (Calcutta, Bombay, London School of Economics). Currently Reader of the University of Greenwich at NRI. 10 years experience in enterprise development and regional growth, socio-economic impact assessment, urban poverty and employment generation, and livelihood strategies. Country experience in Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Vietnam, and long-term in India. Fluent in Bengali.

Ref: I08P0278