According to 2017 SDG Financing Strategy of General Economic Division, Bangladesh will require additional USD 11.80 billion to achieve water and sanitation targets of the Sustainable Development Goals- out of which USD 9.34 billion is required for SDG 6.1 and SDG 6.2. About half of the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector budget allocation for SDG6 comes from public-sector funds, with the private sector contributing 30% and development assistance making up the balance (20%). Government has also expanded the annual development programme budget allocations to the sector from USD 563 million in the fiscal year 2017-18 to USD 641 million in 2018-19 of its Annual Development Budget. (GLAAS 2018/2019).
The strategy to reduce the fiscal deficit is to increase government allocations, coupled with resource mobilization towards increased domestic private markets and commercial resources and efficient utilization of allocations. To bolster this strategy, Bangladesh has made exemplary efforts to make the preparatory process for the upcoming Finance Ministers’ Meeting (FMM) more inclusive and collaborative- showing SWA’s unique positioning and impact in the sector.
The FMM preparatory process is led and coordinated by the Ministry of Local Governance, Rural Development and Cooperatives (MoLGRD&C). Other sector actors like UNICEF, Development Organisation of the Rural Poo (DORP), Water.org, WSSCC, WaterAid, Village Education Resource Center (VERC) and other Civil Society Organizations are also playing a key supporting role in the preparatory process. SWA Regional Advisor for Asia and Pacific, Siddhartha Das visited Bangladesh to support this multi-stakeholder process. The preparatory process has been initiated with a series of well-planned dialogues in Dhaka:
1. Multi-stakeholder technical dialogue organized to finalize the country paper which analyses the sector preparedness to meet the demands of the WASH sector, with special focus on the financial situation. SWA Government focal point Zahirul Islam, Additional Secretary, MoLGRD&C and Dara Johnston, Bangladesh UNICEF WASH Chief led on this process. With inputs from diverse stakeholders, the SWA government commitments were also finalised.
2. Ministerial Briefing organised for the sector minister, Honourable Tajul Islam, Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives. Presentations were made on the importance of SWA framework and upcoming Finance Ministers’ Meeting. The Honourable Minister was also invited to attend the FMM which he immediately agreed along with presenting case studies on sector financing during SWA special event. The minister reiterated the commitment of the Bangladesh government towards SDGs and cited the recent allocation of USD 1 Billion for Water Supply and USD 0.5 Billion for sanitation. In total, the government is investing USD 3 Billion in WASH sector. The delegation present at this briefing also requested the minister to advocate for a separate budget line item for WASH within the overall government set up.
3. Civil Society and multi-stakeholder dialogue: The civil society meeting held on 25th February was chaired by the Additional Secretary, Zahirul Islam and was also attended by Saifur Rahman, Chief Engineer, Department of Public Health and Engineering (DPHE). All the organizations reexamined their commitments based on the inputs from the Ministerial briefing a day before. UNICEF, WaterAid, Water.org, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research Bangladesh (ICDDRB), 25 Civil Society Organizations and four media agencies actively participated during the brainstorming. The meeting was moderated by a renowned journalist, Shyamal Dutta from Bhorer Kagoj.
Moreover, this dialogue helped in amplifying the marginalized voices. One of the transgender participants raised concerns over the lack of sanitation facilities for them. The unsatisfactory WASH facilities in brothels was also highlighted.
It was decided that all the 65,000 Government primary schools in Bangladesh will be equipped with separate disability-friendly toilets for boys and girls.
4. Media Advocacy: To boost overall advocacy, media agencies were involved from the start for this preparatory process and has helped highlight the key achievements and bottlenecks within the sector and how Finance Ministers’ meeting could be leveraged to bring attention to the issue.
Government leadership is key to catalyze any multi-stakeholder process- newly appointment SWA focal point, Zahirul Islam has shown exemplary leadership and proactiveness which has helped in the mobilization of other stakeholders. It has been reliably learnt that due to the strong leadership and SWA efforts, it has been the first time that multi-stakeholder dialogues are as diverse as these are coming together into one platform and discussing ways to achieve the SDG targets. The willingness and efforts shown to align the national processes to SWA framework has been very encouraging. The proactiveness of the SWA Steering Committee member from Civil Society, Zobair Hasan also played a significant role in the overall mobilization and advocacy with government. UNICEF has also been proactively involved in the discussions. This is a classic example of the entire multi stakeholder machinery moving in one direction.
Lack of sanitation, safe water poses challenges in attaining SDG- The Financial Express
DWASA's poor steps to improve water quality- The New Nation
Civil Society, Multi Stakeholder dialogue held- Daily Asian Age