Say participants in a conference
Ensuring the effectiveness of development funds spent by the government was crucial to achieve the sustainable development goals, said speakers at a conference on Wednesday.
They also said social efforts were needed to bring the grassroots participants alongside the civil society to strengthen the inclusiveness of the SDG programs.
The remarks came at a conference jointly organized by the country’s leading think-tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) and Oxfam in Bangladesh on ‘Democratic Governance and Development: Role of Grassroots Citizens Organizations’ at ICCB Center in the capital.
“There are lots of studies and conferences happening that created the initial base of SGDs but the important thing is to ensure that the money spent in the development is actually improving the living standard of the people,” CPD Chairman Professor Rehman Sobhan said while talking in the closing session of the daylong conference.
“If the government claims that there is money shortage we need to look into that too. And we also need to see if the government is spending little money on SDGs to show off rather taking it as priority,” he said.
Rehman said as the base was ready and bridge between civil society and roots level workers was built, now it was time to go for more depth to figure out the results.
Echoing Rehman, parliament member Saber Hossain Chowdhury said the development was not to be done by the government alone.
“We need to ensure that people are getting results of the development projects. In the budget we say that government will build another 1,000-bed hospital. That is a quantity measurement. But conference like this helps us to understand the qualitative impact. I would place the recommendations of the conference to the parliament,” he said.
He said that as the government national budget doubled in last few years, funding should not be a challenge like before.
Stressing inclusive sustainable development, CPD Executive Director Fahmida Khatun said if the economic policies failed to connect to the people's welfare, the development would not sustain.
“If development is not reflected through people’s welfare then it is not proper development. We need to be more inclusive in development so that only a handful of people don’t get the benefit of the development,” she said.
Oxfam in Bangladesh Country Director Dipankar Datta said that in last several years the country created an environ that empowered women largely.
“And that is very important for us as women empowerment is very crucial for development in a country like ours,” he said.
EU Ambassador to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink said the progress of the county was evident. “I visited Bangladesh 25 years back as a project director. Now when I came back, the development is tremendous. The EU will continue its support for Bangladesh,” she assured.
Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of CPD, said the project-based development system should be changed.
“We really need to promise to take these on a priority basis just not as project to project basis,” he said.
In the conference, result of a social audit was launched that highlighted some key problem areas of the SDG implementation.
The audit was conducted in 13 districts of the country to figure out the use and management of public resources by local authorities, local government or other stakeholders.
It collected information in their working areas on five issues — education, health, safe water, agriculture, and vulnerable group development (VGD).
The audit finding show that there is lack of teachers in the schools, especially subject specific teachers, in almost 43-68 per cent schools, classrooms are overcrowded and separate latrine facilities for girls are not available in approximately 52-57 per cent schools.
There are weaknesses in the school management system. Almost 71 per cent respondents stated that teachers encourage students for private tuition.
In health sector, around 34% of the respondents of a survey in Sandwip said that they were not getting the medicines in time. 60% of the beneficiaries surveyed in Barguna said that they were not getting the necessary medicines from community clinics. Around 60% of the beneficiaries surveyed in Bargunasaid that they paid Tk5-50 for medicines which were free.
Safe water services are not sufficient in Pirojpur; the sources of safe water in the area are deep tube-wells, shallow tube-wells and rain water which is 10-15% of the demand. Although safe water services are supposed to be free of cost, at times it requires financial cost to avail the services; almost 13% recipients said that they spent Tk600-1000 monthly to avail the services, the audit findings show.