Bangladesh deploys army as water shortages spark protests

Bangladesh deployed the army to guard water pumps in the capital Dhaka on Wednesday after acute shortages triggered widespread protests, an official said.

The city's 550 public water pumps have been struggling to meet demand, prompting anger among many of the 13 million residents, Taqsen Khan, the chief executive of Dhaka's water supply authority, told AFP.

The army would help ease the crisis by "ensuring the security of key installations" including pumps and water treatment plants, where hundreds of people have staged demonstrations in the last week, he said.

Residents collect water from a tanker in Dhaka in April 2009. Bangladesh deployed the army to guard water pumps in the capital Dhaka on Wednesday after acute shortages triggered widespread protests, an official said

This year's unusually high temperatures have seen groundwater levels plunge, aggravating supply shortages, while a power crisis bringing daily rolling blackouts means pumps are operating far below capacity.

The shortages have forced many people, especially the poor who live in Dhaka's many slums, to use dirty water, triggering a massive diarrhoea outbreak.

The city's only dedicated diarrhoea hospital has received at least 900 new patients a day, said clinic spokeswoman Sumona Liza.

source AFP

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