UN water report points at danger of inadequate budget for WASH

“Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink” – nobody prays that this fictional line ever come true in real life. Though in this century we come up with scientific solutions to the problems we face, but even in today’s world, hundreds of millions of people suffer from lack of clean drinking water, improved sanitation, better hygiene management. If we want to achieve goal 6 of SDG, i.e, to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all, and to eradicate open defecation by 2030, we need to work on it without delay. Recently in a report published by UN-Water, it is said that around 2.4 billion people are living without access to improved sanitation facilities, and nearly 700 million people are devoid of drinking-water from improved water sources.

In this report named Global Assessment and Analyses of Sanitation and Drinking Water report, also called the GLAAS report, the urgency for the need of investments in clean drinking water and proper sanitation is highlighted. A survey regarding this issue was done in 115 countries and territories, representing 4.5 billion people. Only around 15% of countries have the financial or human resources needed to implement their plans. The survey reveals that in many parts of the world, weak government systems and a lack of human resources and funding are endangering the access to safe water and sanitation, undermining efforts to ensure health for all. Out of the 115 countries surveyed, nineteen countries and one territory reported a funding gap of more than 60% between identified needs and available funding, which affects formulation of plans, implementation of policies and efficient monitoring of progress.

This situation in Bangladesh is also challenging. Though the country has made remarkable progress regarding WASH in recent years, much has yet to be done. A study by Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) shows that Bangladesh incurred an economic loss of around 300 billion BDT in 2010 due to inadequate sanitation, which is almost 6.3% of the GDP. A World Bank study on WASH Poverty Diagnostic found that over 40% of all improved water sources in Bangladesh, are contaminated with a bacterium which is a marker of fecal contamination and a cause of diarrheal diseases. Arsenic contamination in groundwater is also prevalent in Bangladesh. The divisions that are most affected by the arsenic crisis include Chittagong and Sylhet, including Max Foundation’s project area (read). Although most Bangladeshi people have access to a toilet, 40 percent of the population use shared, rudimentary sanitation facilities and only 28 percent have a hand washing station equipped with soap and water. Fecal contamination still infects water bodies. Bangladesh has still a long way to go to meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of providing universal access to clean water and sustainable sanitation by 2030.
The GLAAS findings thus highlight the gaps and vulnerabilities regarding WASH services and the need to further strengthen the systems to assure sustainable and effective WASH service delivery globally. Despite the efforts and progress noted so far, achieving SDG 6 will require dramatic changes by all the surveyed countries.

READ: GLAAS report, The Daily Star, World Bank

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