Allocation for water, sanitation declines: research

Coastal belt, remote areas relegated

Staff Correspondent

The allocation in the national budget for the water, sanitation and hygiene sector steadily declined in last five years, economists and experts said Wednesday.
The coastal areas received disproportionately low allocation which was only one-fifth of the allocation for urban areas, they told a news conference in the city jointly organized by WaterAid Bangladesh and Human Development Research Centre.
Research findings presented by HDRC chief advisor and economist Abul Barakat showed that the allocations made in the national budget in last five years for water, sanitation and hygiene had a strong urban bias.
Disadvantaged and hard-to-reach areas like chars, haors, the hill tracts and the coastal belt did not receive due attention from the policymakers, said Barakat.
These areas did not get their due share from the national WASH budget, said  Barakat
He called for making an equitable and inclusive WASH budget to make it fair and feasible.
Barakat said that the government slashed the national WASH allocation to 1.64 per cent in fiscal 2013-14 from 2.39 per cent in 2010-2011.
For the coming fiscal, out of 199 local government division projects proposed only 45 were in the area of water sanitation and hygiene, he said.
Barakat said that nominal reduction in the disparity between the urban and rural allocations in fiscal 2012-2013 failed to make the allocations equitable.
In the budget for the outgoing fiscal, the urban-rural allocation ratio was 84:16.
The coastal belt was given disproportionately low allocation of one –fifth of the urban allocation, he said.
Barakat said the government’s  investment in the coastal  by way of budgetary allocation was very low  despite deep salinity intrusion making pure drinking water scarce.
He said that the severe water and sanitation crisis faced by poor and marginal people in the coastal belt was bound to impede overall national development.
WaterAid Bangladesh country representative Hasin Jahan called for increasing the budgetary allocation for the coastal belt and other hard to reach areas in keeping with the declared National Strategy for Water and Sanitation.

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