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Reducing spatial inequality in WASH budget allocation needs priority in the upcoming National Budget 2023-24

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At a joint press conference held by WaterAid, PPRC, UNICEF, FANSA, BAWIN, FSM Network, Sanitation and Water for All, and End Water Poverty, WASH Alliance International and MHM Platform, speakers shared the need for allocation of funds for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) focusing on spatial inequalities in the upcoming national budget for the fiscal year 2023-24.

Eminent economist and Chairman PPRC – Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman at his keynote speech on behalf of WASH sector stakeholders highlighted, “spatial inequality and community engagement should get priority in ADP Allocation in the WASH sector for the upcoming fiscal year. He stressed focusing two key dimensions – the underserved areas, including chars, climate vulnerable areas, haors, and hilly regions, and the intra-urban inequities. Emphasizing on the importance of allocating funds for Fecal Sludge Management (FSM) in secondary towns and urbanized villages, is key with adopting a multi-agency policy approach to achieve the national targets of 100% Safe Drinking Water and 100% Safely Managed Sanitation – which is a SDG goals attainment mandate.”

Key Findings from the WASH Budget Analysis Study done by PPRC supported by WaterAid, indicated a long-term trend in WASH ADP allocation, with an upward trend but this proportionate increase over the preceding fiscal year is lower (5.44%) than the corresponding rate of increase in the overall ADP size (7.4%). Key findings of the HIES 2022 showed that 92.32% of population have access to improved toilet facilities and prevailing open defecation remains at only 0.69%. DPHE’s projects on WASH, DRR and Fecal Sludge and Waste Management (FSWM) to build resilience through disaster risk communication and community engagement process were commended thoroughly.

The press conference highlighted the persisting issue of intra-urban inequities in WASH allocation and proposed a more rational and equitable distribution of funds in the 2023-2024 ADP allocations. It also called for an increase in the ADP allocation for all four Water and Sewerage Authorities (WASAs) and urged policy-level resolutions for the remaining inequities among them. Addressing urban-rural inequities was also emphasized to achieve the National Priority Targets (NPT) in the WASH sector aligned with SDG 6. The conference further underscored the importance of prioritizing environment, climate change, and disaster-related initiatives in the WASH sector. It recommended scaling up successful projects on environmental sanitation, implementing more projects in climate vulnerable areas, and allocating funds for solid waste management and risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) on WASH in emergency situations.

During the press conference, Ms. Hasin Jahan, Country Director of WaterAid, said, “Although the allocation to the WASH sector has increased in the proposed budget over the past few years, it is inconsiderable compared to the need. In continuation of this, it is the need of the hour to increase the allocation of WASH for the people living in Haor, hilly, coastal, and char areas as the impacts of climate change have made the difficult task even more challenging to achieve the SDG targets regarding water and improved sanitation. Thus, it is not only about achieving coverage. In addition to allocating funds to ensure quality and safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene services, proper use of funds and technical skills in project implementation also play a crucial role.”

Concluding the press conference, the WASH sector networks jointly put forward the following recommendations for the FY2023-24 ADP Allocation for WASH sector:

  1. Hard-to-reach areas (chars, coast, climate vulnerable areas, haors and hilly regions), and intra-urban inequities require better attention.
  2. An increased FSM (Fecal Sludge Management) allocation to address the emerging WASH challenges in secondary towns, growth centers and urbanized villages in the next ADP budget is strongly recommended.
  3. Increased allocation including advocacy on hygiene sub-sector can be positive, but implementing this through the Health Ministry alone will not lead to the required results. A multi-agency policy approach should be adopted as a priority along with roll-out of Local Government Ministry’s – Hand Hygiene for All Roadmap is needed.
  4. To ensure higher policy prioritization on environment, climate change, and disaster hotspots in WASH sector, should receive more focus for better allocations in these areas in the ADP allocations.
  5. Projects and programmes on climate change, disaster resilience including risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) on WASH, SMOSS, FSM in Emergency should receive priority in the ADP allocations to combat the new challenges in these complex areas.

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