Water, sanitation, hygiene needs more equitable allocations

‘Water, sanitation, hygiene needs more equitable allocations’

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Dhaka, June 24 – More equitable budget allocation for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sectors are needed in the proposed national budget for 2018-19 to achieve the sustainable development goal-6 (SDG-6), according to experts. Speakers have said, against the substantial growth of GDP and the national budget over the last seven years (2011-12 to 2017-18), relative growth in WASH allocation is disproportionately low, with the LGD WASH allocation increasing by only Taka 5.47 billion compared to FY17-18, which appears to be insignificant in comparison to population and urbanization growth for the last one year.
So, spatial inequities in WASH allocations have to be addressed as a priority to realise Goal 6, with special emphasis on rural and lagging behind regions, they said.
The demands were aired at a joint press conference organised by WaterAid Bangladesh, UNICEF, PPRC, FANSA, WSSCC, B, FSM Network, Sanitation and Water for All, and WASH Alliance held at National Press Club yesterday.
According to an analysis by Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC), supported by WaterAid and UNICEF, Government of Bangladesh has shown firm commitment to WASH, as evident in the long-term trend in WASH allocation.
Moreover, the analysis shows geographical inequality in WASH budgeting, with cities and towns receiving most of the funding at the expense of rural and chars areas, despite acute needs, the speakers observed.
According to speakers, though overall WASH allocation (LGD) provisionally show around 10% increase over FY2018-19, rural-urban inequity in WASH allocation has widened, with 90.9% of the allocation going to urban areas, and only 9.1% to rural.
Former caretaker government adviser Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman also stated that WASH allocation and expenditure trends show consistent under-utilisation of allocation, indicating a need for improved capacity and monitoring of expenditure.
He also advised the government to increase allocation in the national budget for meeting WASH needs in rural, hard-to-reach areas (char, haor, etc), and small and medium towns as recommended in the 7FYP and SDP of LGD.
He also urged the government to have created a separate budget code for WASH and to give special attention to high priority component in WASH budget for implementation of 7FYP and attaining SDG 6 goals.
They also placed six-point recommendations to the government to address the problems. The recommendations are: spatial inequities in WASH allocations have to be addressed as a priority to realise Goal 6, with special emphasis on rural and lagging behind regions, faecal sludge management and hygiene need to be funded adequately, there is a need to allocate funds for awareness programme on FSM and hygiene, to be undertaken in partnership with Paurashavas/city corporations and community/civic groups, strong monitoring, supervision and coordination of WASH services in line with the SDG 6 indicators is needed, public Money and Budget Management Act, 2009 mandates Ministry of Finance to make an economic code-wise quarterly submission to the Parliament on progress of all projects. This provision needs to be activated and sector Development Plan (SDP) for Water Supply and Sanitation Sector (2011-2025) remains largely on paper. Immediate and proper actions are needed to implement the plan within its timeframe.
Among others, WaterAid Bangladesh advocacy and communication manager Faisal Abbas, Fresh Wash Action Network South Asia’s Yakub Hossain and Networking Sangstha’s Alok Majumder also spoke on the occasion. – Staff Reporter

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