21 billion USD for water supply

A lot of people are died in Bangladesh for water related disease. A new sector development plan for water supply and sanitation has proposed for an investment of $21 billion in next 15 years to ensure everybody’s access to safe drinking water and quality latrines in the country.

The 2011-2025 plan, developed by the Policy Support Unit of the Local Government Division, would soon be placed before the government for approval after the national level consultation of all stakeholders in the city on Monday, official sources said today.

LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Syed Ashraful Islam and Chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Local Government Ministry Advocate Mohammad Rahmat Ali are expected to join the meeting at Dhaka Sheraton Hotel, on the eve of the observation of the World Water Day in the country.

“We have developed the plan over two years of consultations from grassroots to regional levels to top levels,” said an official of the government on anonymity, adding the new plan encompasses provision for available services in hard-to-reach areas including Chittagong Hill Tracts, hygiene promotion and emerging challenges from climate change.

According to the plan, nearly 5.4 billion US dollars would be required in short term up to 2015, the year that coincides with the deadline for millennium development goals set by the United Nations.

More than half of the money would be channeled from the government’s own fund, while one-fourth of investment is expected from utility providers and the rest from private household and NGOs in short term.

Asked about any contradiction with government’s present target of 100 percent access to drinking water by 2011 and sanitation by 2013, the official said, the plan would not only ensure present target but also focuses on quality development, sustainability and standardization of water supply and sanitation sector in long term.

He said the pace of development of water supply and sanitation sector would be higher than the past under the new plan as it focuses on ‘easy and available access’ to quality services instead of ‘basic access’ only.

Studies reveal that safe drinking water was largely ensured in Bangladesh, especially in rural areas, in 1970s after hand pump tube-wells were installed to protect people from regular outbreaks of diarrhoea in the deltaic region. The success, however, has been mired by arsenic contamination ground water shallow aquifers.

The sanitation coverage, up to 2003, was only 33 percent with only one percent growth annually. The scenario has changed dramatically in last eight years as government claims that nearly 85 percent people now have somewhat access to low cost toilets.

The new plan also focuses on massive augmentation of surface water in both rural and urban areas. It says that capital Dhaka, which now depends on groundwater, could almost reduce its dependence on groundwater through harvesting of rainwater in a planned way.

“The water and sanitation sector is in disarray now,” said an NGO activist as he suggested developing a regulatory body- water regulatory commission–and necessary reforms in water acts in a decade for sustained development of the sector.

DHAKA, March 19 (BSS)

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