The water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector needs an equitable allocation in the upcoming budget to ensure progress of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) otherwise challenges will surface, development activists said yesterday.
According to them, the financing gap for meeting the SDG 6 indicators and targets was the major challenge. Under the SDG 6, the United Nations aims to ensure access to water and sanitation for all by 2030.
“The WASH sector needs to be prioritised in the next budgets to fill the financing gap,” said Hossain Zillur Rahman, a former caretaker government adviser and chairman of the Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC).
He was addressing a press conference jointly organised by WaterAid, Unicef, the PPRC, Freshwater Action Network South Asia, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council-Bangladesh, FSM Network, Sanitation and Water for All, and WASH Alliance at National Press Club.
Referring to an analysis by the PPRC, Rahman said the government has made commendable progress on WASH financing, with allocations having risen to Tk 6,849 crore in fiscal 2018-19 from Tk 4,381 crore in fiscal 2010-11.
He said 44 percent of people in Bangladesh however still have no access to safe water and sanitation facilities.
Moreover, the relative growth in WASH allocation over the last eight years is only 56.31 percent - a disproportionately low figure compared to the much bigger growth of gross domestic product, annual development programme and national budget, he said.
According to Rahman, the SDGs financing strategy prepared by general economic division puts the estimate of additional costs for achieving SDG 6 from 2017 to 2030 at Tk 1,107 billion.
Moustapha Niang, wash specialist of Unicef, said achieving safely managed water and sanitation for all was a huge challenge for Bangladesh, one that would require much greater attention towards financing.
“The financing gap is a big challenge in achieving SDG 6 and tracking the new services levels and definition introduced by SDGs,” he said.
He emphasised on private sector involvement in achieving the SDG 6 as it was really tough for the government to meet the financing gap.