Water resources planning in Bangladesh dates back to 1964 when a 20 year Master Plan was prepared by the then EPWAPDA (Now BWDB). Several important studies were undertaken after the severe flooding in 1954 and 1955; Krug Mission Report of 1957, General Hardin's Report of 1963 and Professor Thijsse's Report of 1964 are the most important among them. The Master plan of 1964 had emphasis on large-scale flood control, drainage and irrigation projects to enhance agricultural production which shaped the water sector development till 1975..
International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) Mission reviewed the 1964 Master Plan and advocated a strategy attaching high priority to small-and medium-sized, quick yielding low-cost, labour- intensive projects based on minor irrigation. By mid 70â€™s, many sub-sectors started using both the surface and groundwater extensively with a rapid increase in number of tubewells and low lift pumps. This caused water scarcity during the driest part of the year, which further aggravated by large-scale withdrawal of Ganges, water at the Farakka Barrage in 1975.Gradually attention was increasingly focusing to the impacts of water sector development on environment, fisheries, forests, domestic and industrial water supply, bio-diversity and salinity management with the increased use of both the surface and groundwater.
A joint GOB-World Bank Mission in 1970 recommended that National Water Plan (NWP) was needed which would be based on systematic assessment of resources and demand. The government then created the Master Plan Organization (MPO) under the Ministry of Water Resources in 1983. The National Water Plan (NWP) project was initiated in 1983 under the Master Plan Organization (MPO) to formulate a perspective plan (1985-2005) for water resources development. The project made a comprehensive assessment of water resources available both from surface and groundwater sources and demands for all including navigation, fisheries and environmental. It assembled a substantial amount of information, developed a range of planning models and analytical tools and recommended strategies and programs for the water sector. National Water Plan (NWP) was completed in 1987, and was later updated in 1991. The NWP made the proposals to institutionalize the process of water planning and long-Âterm water resource management in the country. As per its recommendation Water Resources Planning Organization (WARPO) was established in 1992 to carry out the task of national water planning as a continuing exercise
In June 1992 MPO was renamed as the Water Resources Planning Organization (WARPO) and the mandate for the organization was published in Bangladesh Gazette an the 22nd December 1991. The Water Resources Planning Act (Act no XII of 1992) provides the legal framework for the Organization.
Meanwhile the severe floods in 1987 and 1988 triggered a remarkable response from the international community and 16 donor countries came forward to finance the Flood Action Plan (FAP); the Flood Plan Coordination Organization (FPCO) was established under the Ministry of Water Resources to coordinate the activities of FAP. The FPCO drew together the findings of the various studies under FAP which led to the preparation of Bangladesh Water and Flood Management Strategy (BWFMS) which was approved by the government in 1995. BWFMS recommended formulating a National Water Policy to address these issues and to prepare a comprehensive National Water Management Plan (NWMP) under WARPO.
FPCO was merged with WARPO in January 1996; the National Water Policy (NWPo) was , published in January 1999. The National Water Policy gave a much clear role for WARPO as an apex planning body in the water sector. The Policy placed WARPO to act as a secretariat to the Executive Committee to the National Water Resources Council; Preparing the National Water Management Plan, updating of National Water Resources Database; review and â€˜clearâ€™ project proposals and provide technical support to Planning commission, monitor and evaluation of NWMP implementation and also the state of water resources, provide administrative, policy and strategic advice to the ECNWRC etc.