In today’s world, Bangladesh suffers from a lack of drinking water.In 2010, only 56 percent of the population was estimated to have access to adequate sanitation facilities, according to research.However, a new approach to improving sanitation coverage in rural areas, known as the community-led total sanitation concept, was introduced in Bangladesh and is credited with significantly increasing sanitation coverage. Sanitation refers to public health conditions that include safe drinking water and proper treatment and disposal of human excreta and sewage.
Water supply and sanitation
Bangladesh, despite its abundant water resources, suffers from a variety of water contaminations, the majority of which are caused by pollutants, bacteria, and pesticides. According to UNICEF, 38.3 percent of Bangladeshis drink contaminated water from bacterial sources.
Estimates of access to an improved source of water supply are greatly influenced by the presence of arsenic in groundwater, which is estimated to affect 27% of all wells and is subtracted from figures obtained solely by measuring access to infrastructure. According to the Demographic and Health Survey of 2004, 99 percent of the urban population and 97 percent of the rural population actually had access to an improved source of water supply, which is an unusually high level of access for a low-income country.In urban areas, access is broken down as follows:
l 23% piped inside dwelling
l 8% piped outside dwelling
l 68% tubewells
In rural areas the breakdown is:
l Less than 0.6% piped inside and outside dwelling
l 96% tubewells
l 1% dug wells
l More than 2% ponds, lakes and rivers
Although rainwater harvesting is practiced in Bangladesh, it was not included in the survey. The Joint Monitoring Program’s official figures, taking arsenic into account, are as follows:
To achieve the sector goal, the water supply and sanitation strategy proposes a set of seventeen strategies that have been developed in accordance with the guiding principles. According to the National Strategy for Water Supply and Sanitation-2014, the strategies are broadly classified into three themes:
a) WASH Interventions- expanding coverage and improving the quality of WASH interventions;
b) Emerging Challenges- addressing emerging sector challenges; and
c) Sector Governance- strengthening sector governance.
There are significant challenges to implementing the strategy in a coordinated manner. Providing universal access to safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene is a major challenge for Bangladesh that will necessitate a multifaceted approach.
National Strategic Plan
To provide a consistent strategic guideline to sector stakeholders, including government institutions, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations, in order to achieve the sector goal. The Water Supply and Sanitation Strategy will be implemented over a five-year period beginning in 2014. The Strategy’s progress will be evaluated on an annual basis, and it will be updated and revised every five years.
Principles to Follow
The Strategy is founded on the guiding principles listed below.
l Consider water supply and sanitation to be human rights.
l Think of water as a public good with both economic and social value.
l Ensure the security of drinking water through integrated water resource management.
l Integrate water supply, sanitation, and hygiene components into all WASH development programs.
l Adopt a participatory, demand-driven, and inclusive approach to WASH service delivery programs at all stages.
l Recognize the significance of gender in all WASH activities.
l Utilize the potential resources contained in solid and liquid wastes.
l Encourage technological and social innovations.
l Encourage transparency and accountability throughout the service delivery process.
l Take a step-by-step approach to improving quality and service levels.
l Encourage increased private-sector participation.
Sanitation in Cities
Because of its high cost, as well as the potential for epidemic and economic loss, urban sanitation merits special attention and a well-defined government policy. The institutional (as well as technical) issues involved in improving sanitation are more difficult to address than those involved in improving water supply. There is a need not only to address supply inefficiencies, such as with water, but also to promote demand.Sanitation is not so well-suited to utility supply as water and the range of institutions which must be involved for a satisfactory outcome is also larger. In informal squatter settlements, among other issues, a lack of land tenure creates formidable challenges for long-term service provision. Other experience suggests that a demand-oriented planning approach, which includes matching supply and demand in a potentially sustainable set of institutional, technical, and financial choices, be considered.
Sanitation Status (Urban/Rural):
In Bangladesh, there is almost no disparity between rural and urban areas in terms of access to improved drinking water services (rural – 98.2 percent and urban – 99.6 percent), but there is a small disparity in terms of wealth quantile index (poorest 94.4 percent and richest 99.9 percent). However, there are some disparities in access to improved sanitation (Rural – 82.9 percent and Urban – 90.5 percent; poorest 67.1 percent and richest 96.5 percent), and the presence of hand washing facilities with soap and water (Rural – 71.4 percent and Urban – 87 percent).
It should be noted that access in urban areas is not uniform: in urban slums, urban dwellers with no education were at the highest risk of drinking water source contamination with faecal matter and a lack of improved sanitation facilities. Disparities in financial resources are also observed between urban and rural areas.
Water supply funds are spent in urban areas up to 80% of the time and in rural areas 20% of the time. A similar situation can be found in the sanitation sub-sector. Only 22% of total sanitation funds have been spent in rural areas, with the remaining 80% spent in urban areas (GLAAS 2019). The government’s support for WASH assistance to low-income communities in cities is either non-existent or extremely limited.
Safe drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are critical to raising people’s living standards. WASH-enabled improvements in standards include, among other things, improved physical health, environmental protection, improved educational outcomes, time savings, assurance of lives lived with dignity, and equal treatment for men and women.Poor and vulnerable people have less access to improved WASH services and exhibit poorer associated behaviors. As a result, improved WASH is critical to reducing poverty, promoting equality, and promoting socioeconomic development. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015 included targets for drinking water and sanitation.
The author of this article is Associate Editor of ‘The Environment Review’