WASH allocation in upcoming National Budget 2020-2021

8 June 2020

At a joint press conference held by WaterAid, UNICEF, PPRC, FANSA-BD, WSSCC,B, FSM Network, Sanitation and Water for All, and WASH Alliance, speakers urged the government to allocate a significant amount of budget in National Budget 2020-2021 in WASH (water, sanitation, hygiene) sector to tackle COVID-19 and maintain progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that will otherwise be hindered. The online press conference was held virtually.

An analysis of PPRC reveals that the Government of Bangladesh has made commendable progress on WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) financing as the allocation has demonstrated an upward trend from the budget of 2007-2008 (BDT 25.63 billion) to 2019-2020 (BDT 106.87 billion) with an increase of 11.6%. During the FY2019-20, Sanitation has received the highest allocation, but hygiene was overlooked, while both need equal attention to fight the deadly pandemic COVID-19.

Moreover, the analysis also shows geographical inequality of WASH allocation remains significant, where cities and towns have received the highest percentage of the allocated funding than compared to rural, char, hilly, and coastal areas in previous years. These under-developed areas’ needs are higher than in urban regions and the upcoming budget must consider the acute needs of the marginalized pockets.

Dr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, Eminent Economist, Chairman, Power, and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) has also stated that the 2020-2021 budget must prioritise hygiene as a critical area in the light of COVID-19 threat and the complexities of SDG 6 attainment. It is time to shift gears and accelerate the WASH financing for pro-poor and marginalised communities to keep up with SDGs commitment.

Ms. Hasin Jahan, Country Director, WaterAid stated investment in nationwide hygiene promotion and behaviour change campaigns must get a priority in the National Budget 2020-2021 to prevent and control COVID-19.  

Other speakers have also stated that the allocation of the budget shouldn’t differ from urban infrastructure to rural areas as everyone around the nation are at risk of COVID-19. It is important to allocate more on handwashing devices installed in public places, which is crucial to promote good hygiene and avert COVID-19. 

The press conference jointly put forward the following recommendations for the National Budget 2020-2021:

  1. Prioritise hygiene as a vital tool of public health and epidemic preparedness, and invest in large-scale nationwide hygiene campaign and installation of public handwashing points with soap and water.

  2. Increase immediate investment in WASH, including hygiene and WASH in health care facilities, as a priority of COVID-19 prevention and response as well as to build resilience against future disease outbreaks, with a particular focus on hard-to-reach areas and other marginalised groups.

  3. Track actual expenditure of WASH allocation systematically to improve targeting and decision-making around WASH investment to cater the actual needs of citizens;

  4. Commit to financing the priorities set out in key planning documents, such as the Five Year Plan and Sector Development Plan, towards universal sustainable WASH services, prioritising the poorest and most marginalised

  5. Address the extreme disparities in access and affordability to clean water between highly subsidised urban customers and marginalised populations in the coast, slums, and other hard-to-reach areas through exploring solutions such as progressive tariffs.

  6. Invest in increasing technical capacity of implementing institutions to enable proper execution of national level policies and projects, particularly in lagging areas such as hygiene and faecal sludge management which are critical to public health

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