Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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Dhaka Tribune

INTERVIEW

Prioritizing marginalized communities: Urgent need in ‘WASH’ budget allocation

In an exclusive interview with Dhaka Tribune’s Tanveer Mohiuddin, the Deputy Executive Director (DED) of Development Organisation of the Rural poor (DORP) Mohammad Zobair Hasan delves into the intricacies of water, sanitation and hygiene (Wash) budget allocation and the strategies needed to overcome existing challenges

 

Update : 15 Apr 2024, 01:01 PM

Can you elaborate on the recent trends you've observed in the budget allocation for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) at the local government level in Bangladesh, and what factors have contributed to these changes?

 

Despite being the responsibility of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (LGRDC), the WASH budget is fragmented across various ministries. The lion's share of the budget is allocated through departments of the Local Government Division (LGD). However, there hasn't been a significant change in budgeting, and a per capita-based allocation is needed to meet SDG-6 targets. Implementation of existing plans and bottom-up budgeting could bring about a significant change in the current WASH budget system.

 

How effective are civic monitoring and intervention projects like PaniiJibon and Evolve in influencing WASH budget allocations in coastal district Union Parishads (UPs)?

 

Projects like PaniiJibon and EVOLVE are instrumental in empowering communities to monitor WASH budgets, ensuring transparency and accountability. By providing a platform for citizen engagement, these projects influence Union and Upazila priorities, particularly in vulnerable coastal districts.

 

Your research suggests a rise in per capita expenditure in the WASH sector. Could you elaborate on how this increase impacts access to WASH facilities, especially in rural areas?

 

While there's been a slight increase in per capita allocation, challenges remain. Increased expenditure needs to be targeted towards interventions in rural areas to improve access to facilities like toilets and clean water sources. Proper planning is crucial for effective utilization of these resources.

 

What challenges have you encountered in ensuring adequate budget allocations for climate-sensitive WASH projects, and what strategies do you propose to address these challenges?

 

Securing budgets for climate-sensitive WASH projects is challenging. Strong data on the link between climate change and WASH needs is essential to convince policymakers to allocate resources for resilient solutions.

 

You mentioned the importance of engaging citizens' groups and NGOs in local budget monitoring. Could you provide examples of successful citizen engagement initiatives that have led to improved WASH outcomes?

 

Initiatives like community monitoring in Morolgonj, Khulna, and advocacy efforts in Bhola have resulted in fairer resource allocation and improved access to sanitation facilities in underserved areas. Collaborative efforts by NGOs and citizen groups have been effective in influencing policy changes.

 

Institutionalization requires collaboration among government, NGOs, and the media. Government frameworks for citizen participation, NGO support for training, and media awareness campaigns are crucial for institutionalizing civic monitoring.

 

In your opinion, what are the key areas where increased budget allocations for WASH are urgently needed to address the needs of marginalized communities?

 

Marginalized communities, particularly those residing in slums, remote areas, and coastal regions, often face the greatest barriers to accessing WASH facilities. It's crucial to prioritize these areas in budget allocation to bridge the gap and guarantee universal access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene.

 

The theme of "No One Left Behind" in the SDGs underscores the need for specific attention to these communities.

 

In more challenging regions like the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), the rugged terrain poses unique challenges for water supply and sanitation. Therefore, increased budgetary focus is imperative to ensure that these communities are not overlooked in achieving WASH objectives.

 

Looking ahead, what are your recommendations for policymakers and stakeholders to ensure sustained budgetary support for WASH initiatives?

 

Prioritizing WASH improvement, addressing climate change concerns in budgeting, and continued support from stakeholders is essential for sustained progress towards a healthier Bangladesh.

 

 

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