Equitable allocation for water, sanitation sector stressed

An analysis of government budget sees a declining trend of allocation in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) for last five years. The allocation in FY 2010-11 was 2.39 percent of the total budget that disappointingly came down to only 1.64 percent in FY 2013-14. In FY 2014-15 under the local government division, out of 199 projects, only 45 (22%) projects found to be proposed for water sanitation and hygiene sector.

3 D R U-1Although the ‘urban vs rural’ disparity in allocation has slightly been minimised in FY 2012-13 in comparison to previous years, it is not equitable yet. In FY 2014-15 the ratio is 84:16. However, the allocation in coastal areas is disproportionately low; only one-fifth of the urban allocation. Government investment in coastal areas is stuck at a very limited budgetary allocation despite incremental salinity infestation in drinking water. This results in severe water and sanitation crisis for poor and marginal people; and impedes overall national development as well.

On 11 June 2014, International NGO WaterAid and Human Development Research Centre (HDRC) jointly organised a post budget discussion demanding equitable allocation of WASH budget over geo-hydrological disparity. Eminent economist and Chief Advisor (Hon.) of HDRC, Prof Dr Abul Barkat presents research findings on allocation and utilisation of WASH budget in recent years.

Findings shows, WASH budget allocation in last five years was heavily urban biased. In contrast, disadvantaged and hard-to-reach areas like char, haor, hill-tracts and coastal belt have not received adequate attention from the policymakers. These pockets did not get proper share of the national WASH budget. To overcome this situation, Dr Barkat opined for “an equitable and inclusive WASH budget, feasible in terms of financial implication”.

Hasin Jahan, country representative (acting) of WaterAid Bangladesh emphasised on adequate and equitable budgetary allocation for implementing ‘National Strategy for Water and Sanitation Hard-to-Reach Areas of Bangladesh 2012’, especially for the coastal areas.