The government’s subsidy policy for sanitation needs to be more effective and more money should be allocated if Bangladesh is to meet is target of sanitation for all’ by 2013, experts say.
This is the conclusion of a study conducted among 21,121 households by the Human Development Research Centre (HDRC) with the support of WaterAid, UNICEF, and the Ministry of Local Government Division.
Economist Abul Barakat, who led the research team, said a Union Parishad, the lowest tier of the local government, receives Tk 145,000 [US$ 1,910] while a Pourashabha or municipality gets Tk 292,000 [US$ 3,840] a year in sanitation subsidy. “But the allocation is not properly utilised.”
Barakat attributed the ineffective use of the subsidy to an ‘unclear’ definition of the target groups, local government leaders’ lack of knowledge about the strategy and the fact that subsidy allocations were too low to purchase latrine materials.
Based on the study findings, Barakat said, the ‘eligibility’ criteria of getting government subsidised latrines should be fixed as poor families still cannot access sanitation.
He also mentioned that poor sanitation costs Bangladesh over Tk 295 billion (US$ 3.88 billion) a year which amounts to 6.3% of the total GDP,
The study stated that 17% of the subsidised latrines are not working.
In many upazilas, still, the subsidy went to the mosques and market places rather than to the households. “It’s because there is no clear definition of eligibility criteria.”
The findings also show, in rural areas 35 percent hard-core poor built latrines on their own while it is 37 percent in urban areas.
Some 24% of the households surveyed do not have any improved latrine in villages while the rate is 21 percent in urban areas.
Wateraid representative in Bangladesh Dr Md Khairul Islam said that the local government division needs to revise the current Tk 520 [US$ 7.10) subsidy for a latrine.
“It’s almost a third of the present market price,” he said, adding due to poor allocation local leaders sometimes refrain from providing latrines as they cannot buy a quality product with such ‘paltry’ amount.
The government started subsidising in the sanitation sector in 2004 aiming to ensure sanitation for all by 2010 but the target was later reset to 2013.
The study showed over the seven financial year (2004 to 2010) Tk 4 billion (US$ 5352.6 million0 was allocated through 42 projects.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the sanitary latrine coverage in Bangladesh was 51.5 percent in 2010.
Source: bdnews24.com, 15 Aug 2011