Speakers on Sunday urged the government to increase budgetary allocation for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector to achieve the SDG 6 goal, said a statement.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and implementation of the 7th Five Year Plan will be difficult to achieve without ensuring clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene for all, they also said.
The recommendations were made at a joint press conference held at National Press Club in the capital organised by WaterAid, UNICEF, PPRC, FANSA, WSSCC,B, FSM Network, Sanitation and Water for All, and WASH Alliance.
The experts said with analysis that geographical inequality has been increased in WASH budgeting, with cities and towns receiving most of the funding at the expense of rural and char areas, despite acute needs. Though the 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.
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. However, 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 FY2017-18, which appears to be insignificant in comparison to population and urbanisation growth for the last one year.
Economist Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman said, “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 national budget for meeting WASH needs in rural, hard-to-reach areas (char, haor,), and small and medium towns as recommended in the 7th Five Year Plan and Sector Development Plan of LGD.
The WASH sector networks jointly put six recommendations to implement by the government. Some of those points 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 (FSM) and hygiene need to be funded adequately.