September 23, 2023, 8:44 pm

Mohammad Al Amin

2023-06-01 23:08:32 BdST

More budgetary allocation needed for safe water, sanitation: Experts

The country needs an adequate amount of allocation in its national budget to ensure water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said experts.

At the same time, a separate administrative structure was also needed with separate budgetary allocation to ensure the fresh water and proper sanitation and hygiene for the people, they suggested.

“Budgetary allocation should be increased for the WASH sector for our country for ensuring proper share of water, sanitation and hygiene which is very much important for public health and for productivity,” Prof. Dr. Mohammed Shadrul Alam, general secretary of Bangladesh Health Economist Forum, said.

The expert further said sanitation and hygiene data showed that the people having access to “safely managed drinking water” stood at 59 percent while the people having access to “safely managed sanitation” was 39 percent only.

“This is a poor situation in attaining the SDGs and to save public health.”

Mohammad Zobair Hasan, Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) CSO Steering Committee representative - South Asia, said the current budgetary allocation for the Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) was a fragmented allocation.

He said the budgetary allocation for the sector was allocated through different ministries and departments of the government.

“That’s why it is difficult to get expected benefits from such fragmented budgetary allocation.”

Hasan said an independent administrative body was needed to ensure safely managed drinking water, sanitation and hygiene as a separate administrative body could make proper planning and implementation of the budgetary    allocation for the sector and help achieve SDGs.

Mohammad Zobair Hasan, also Deputy Executive Director of Development Organsiation of the Rural Poor (DORP) which works for WASH sector, further said investing in the country’s WASH sector and the budgetary allocation to ensure safely managed water, sanitation and hygiene should be considered per capita basis to ensure proper implementation of the budgetary allocation. 

“Around Tk 11,000 crore were allocated for the WASH in the fiscal year 2022-23 through various ministries and departments which was not enough to meet the demand,” he added.

The experts said 41 percent of the population of Bangladesh still lacked access to safe water, while 61 percent of the population had no access to safe sanitation facilities.

Sources said the existing budgeting system of WASH was fragmented through different ministries and institutions, divisions as well as departments.

At least four more ministries are involved or linked with WASH policy, budget and its related implementation and working in association with local government, rural development and cooperatives (LGRDC), SDG 6 underlined the need to increase people’s participation in ensuring universal access to water and sanitation.

According to the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) 2022 of Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), 19.34 percent of the households use supply water as a main source of drinking water, 76.81 percent of the households use tube-well as a main source of drinking water and 3.85 percent of the households use other sources of water, such as, ponds, rivers, canals, wells as a main source of drinking water.

On the other hand, 92.32 percent of the households report that they have access to improved toilet facilities, 6.99 percent of the households report that they have access to unimproved toilet facilities and 0.69 percent of the households openly defecate and they do not have any toilet facilities in the country.

Recommending increasing the allocation to the WASH sector in the national budget, the experts said it would be difficult to achieve the SDGs by 2030 if the allocation to the WASH sector was not increased.

Various non-government organisations (NGOs) of the country working for the WASH sector already demanded increased budget allocation in this sector.

Presenting the keynote paper in a recent programme in Dhaka, Power and Participation Research Center (PPRC) Chairman Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman suggested an increased budget allocation and increased capacity of policy support, funding and implementation agencies, especially for the WASH sector.

Mentioning that the government aimed to make safe water availability and sanitation hundred percent by 2030, he said the process would need a monitoring agency to monitor allocations.

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