Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services need more equitable fund allocation in the proposed national budget for 2018-19 fiscal year for achieving the SDGs, speakers at a press conference said yesterday.
Without ensuring clean water, improved sanitation and hygiene for all, implementation of the 7th Five-Year Plan will also be difficult, they also said.
WaterAid, Unicef, PPRC, FNSA, WSSCC, B, FSM Network, Sanitation and Water for All and WASH alliance jointly organised the press conference at Jaitya Press Club.
Even though the overall allocation for WASH services under the Local Government Division (LGD) shows around a 10 percent increase during 2018-2019 fiscal year, inequality in WASH allocation between rural and urban areas has widened -- with 90.9 percent of the allocation going to urban areas, the speakers said.
Bangladesh government's firm commitment towards WASH services is evident in its allocations over the years, according to an analysis conducted by Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) and supported by WaterAid and Unicef.
However, compared to the substantial growth of GDP and the national budget over the last seven fiscal years, from 2011-12 to 2017-18, relative growth in allocation for WASH services is disproportionately low, the speakers said.
Considering the significant population and urbanisation growth in last one year, only Tk 547 crore increase in LGD WASH allocation for 2017-18 fiscal appears to be quite insignificant, they said.
Eminent economist Dr Hossain Zillur Rahman said regional discrimination has increased over the last three years and if the trend continues, it will not be possible to achieve the goals of SDG 6.
He urged the government to increase allocation in the national budget for meeting WASH services in rural and remote areas such as chars and haors as well as in small and medium towns, as recommended in the 7th Five-Year Plan and the Sector Development Plan of the LGD.
Zillur also stressed the need for creating a budget code for WASH services highlighting priority components of WASH.