SYMPOSIUM: Water Quantity, Quality and Health in South Asia in a Changing World

The symposium will take place in the afternoon. It will be preceded by the public thesis defense of M.M. Majedul Islam (in the morning) and it will be followed by the public thesis defense of Muhammad Shahid Iqbal. Note the two locations for the defenses and the symposium!

Diarrhoeal disease is still one of the leading causes of death, in particular in developing countries, such as Bangladesh and Pakistan, and in children younger than 5 years of age. Diarrhoeal disease can be caused by waterborne pathogens. These waterborne pathogens can be ingested with drinking water, recreation water and irrigated vegetables. Waterborne disease may be influenced by global environmental change, such as urbanisation and climate change. At present still only a limited number of studies has looked into this problem. The pathogen concentration in the surface water is an important risk factor for diarrhoeal disease. This concentration can also be influenced by global environmental change. Some statistical models exist that link climate change to increased waterborne pathogen concentrations. In their PhDs, Majed Islam and Shahid Iqbal have measured faecal indicator bacteria (FIB) concentrations and developed process based models for these bacteria in rivers in their respective countries Bangladesh and Pakistan. They have performed scenario analysis, using the state-of-the-art climate scenarios that are used for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, to better understand the impact of global environmental change on the FIB concentrations. FIB are not pathogenic, but more harmful microorganisms are expected to respond in a comparable way to global environmental change. Majed and Shahid individually conclude that their rivers are grossly polluted and that in these areas sanitation, waste water treatment improvements and manure management have a much larger effect on FIB concentrations than climate change.

The theses of Majed and Shahid focus on microbiological water quality. Of course, also other water quality variables are important in these areas. Moreover, problems are aggravated because of water quantity issues. For example, in the Kabul basin in Pakistan the groundwater is rapidly depleted and quickly replenished with contaminated surface water. This leads to contaminated drinking water. Drinking water in Pakistan is not usually boiled before consumption. In Bangladesh also salinity strongly influences the water availability. Global environmental change influences water quantity and quality issues. To celebrate the PhD thesis completions of Majed and Shahid, we organise a symposium entitled “Water Quantity, Quality and Health in South Asia in a Changing World”. You are very welcome to attend this symposium that will take place in the city centre in Wageningen in between the two defences. The speakers will discuss their expertise in the light of the title of the symposium.

Programme of the day

Public thesis defense

Aula, Generaal Foulkesweg 1, 6703 BG Wageningen

11.00 – 12.30 M.M.Majedul Islam “Assessing the Impact of Socio-economic Development and Climate Change on Faecal Indicator Bacteria in the Betna River, Bangladesh


Café Loburg, Molenstraat 6, 6701 DM Wageningen

13.00 – 13.15 Prof. Ana Maria de Roda Husman: Microbiology in a changing world

13.15 – 13.30 Prof. Eddy Moors: Managing water quantity and quality issues in South Asia in a changing world

13.30 – 13.45 Prof. Carolien Kroeze: Water quality issues in South and Southeast Asia

13.45 – 14.15 Break

14.15 – 14.30 Prof. Fulco Ludwig: Water quantity issues in South Asia

14.30 – 14.45 Prof. Jack Schijven: QMRAspot

14.45 – 15.00 Prof. Gertjan Medema: Microbiological modelling in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals

Public thesis defense

Aula, Generaal Foulkesweg 1, 6703 BG Wageningen

16.00 – 17.30 Muhammad Shahid Iqbal “Quantifying the Impact of Socioeconomic Development and Climate Change on Escherichia Coli Concentrations in the Pakistani Kabul River

17.30 Reception in the Aula

A free lunch will be provided. To get a better understanding of the attendance for the lunch, please register by emailing Shahid Iqbal at by Monday the 28th of August 10am.