On March 22, many organisations and leaders of Bangladesh widely celebrated Water Day. Ataul Karim, a Bangladeshi entrepreneur and owner of ABM Water Company, has conceptualised a way to face the challenge of the severe drinking water crisis in Bangladesh. He says, “At my locality in Sylhet, the drinking water has a high concentration of iron. At first, I didn't have the know-how, but, I started to explore the field of water resources. So, I studied the latest water treatment technologies such as reverse osmosis, but, struggled hard to establish my own factory and took the challenge to ensure safe drinking water for my countrymen.”
Shahara Begum of Koyra village has a lot to say about this man's endeavour. Koyra is a remote coastal village under Khulna district. Due to frequent cyclones, most of the water sources turned contaminated. Shahara Begum says, “The only source of our drinking water was a tank beside the Mia Bari. He charged us twenty taka per five litres of his water from that tank. It was very difficult for me to afford that price. Now, we have a machine to collect fresh water.”
The machine is just desalination equipment installed by Ataul's ABM Water Company. After the devastation by cyclone Sidr and Aila, several small desalination systems were installed in the coastal areas by international donors. But, due to poor maintenance and complicated technology, most of those systems were damaged and unusable. Ataul's crew simply trains a local technician to handle the machine. And from the nominal price of the water, they ensure the technician's salary, but, they don't take any profit.
Where desalination is not possible, Ataul and his team have introduced rain water harvesting to convert rainwater into fresh drinking water. By introducing desalination treatment and rain water harvesting technology, Ataul has ensured safe drinking water in many remote villages of Bangladesh.
Moreover, Ataul has been awarded as the highest taxpayer in the youth category consecutively in 2016 and 2017 for his hardwork and commitment to his enterprise .He also received the Bristol Blue Award in 2014 for his professional contribution to protecting the environment. The first venture of Ataul's company was to install desalination equipment in some vessels of the Bangladesh Navy, by which, the sea faring sailors could convert saline sea water into fresh and safe drinking water. Ataul's company has recently installed the largest desalination water treatment plant of South Asia for the Chittagong Sea Port.
“I wanted to do something prolific for my country. Through my efforts, I have developed the manpower skill to handle the latest technology in water treatment systems. I have a dream to export our skills to other countries and earn huge amounts of foreign currency for Bangladesh,” shares Ataul.