National Budget 2016-17; Minimising Urban-Rural disparity is the main challenge for WASH sector

14 Jun 2016

The proposed national budget for 2016-17 has seen a slight rise in allocation for water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector, however, the challenge remains in minimising urban-rural disparity. Per capita allocation in urban area is Tk 1,121 against Tk 55 for the rural. A massive 86% of the WASH allocation has been earmarked for big cities.

Good news is a project amounting Tk 500 crore has been proposed for hard-to-reach areas, however, it is yet to be funded. Although three new special projects for remote and disadvantaged communities and arsenic-prone areas has been proposed but no allocation has been made. Moreover, no allocation is kept in the proposed budget for cyclone-prone coastal areas, even though government project is there.

On Tuesday, 14 June 2016 in a press conference held at Dhaka Reporters Unity, representatives of various development agencies, donor agencies and network organisations’ working in WASH sector, jointly called for action to minimise the growing urban-rural disparity in WASH allocation citing the national budget analysis done for the sector. They demanded for more allocation in Remote and disadvantaged chars, haors, coast, Chittagong Hill Tracts as well as rural settings to reduce the gap.

In the conference the speakers urged for considering vulnerable and marginalised people including rural poors, urban slum-dwellers, natural disaster victims and arsenic-affected communities while designing and allocating WASH projects. They plead for allocating budget for these special projects and demanded implementation of the same immediately.

The representatives from the WASH sectors urged for specific long-term WASH projects in line with government’s sector development plan to attain SDG. Need for a separate budget line for WASH to better track the allocation and implementation countrywide has also been proposed.Dr Md Khairul Islam on behalf of the civil society members summarised key recommendations of budget analysis.

WaterAid Bangladesh, HDRC, UNICEF, WSSCC-B, FANSA-BD, BWA, BAWIN, EWP and NGO Forum for Public Health jointly organised the press conference.