Staff Reporter :: In 2015, the government issued a circular on ‘Improving Toilet and Sanitation System in Secondary and Higher Secondary Schools, Madrasas, Technical Educational Institutions’, which needs to be reviewed and updated in line with SDG. There are 11 directives in the circular, but no specific direction to find possible budget source or accountability and monitoring mechanism to implement the circular. There is no set date or timeline for achieving those targets either.
Representatives of the NGO networks made the demand at a web consultation meeting arranged by non-government development organization DORP on Sunday (August 9th) morning. Speakers said that drinking water and sanitation are very important for good health. But this sector is largely neglected in government policy. They said, “The government needs to pay more attention to the health sector keeping in mind the time of Corona and flood crisis.” Budget allocation need to be increased.
Former Governor of Bangladesh Bank Dr. Atiur Rahman chaired the event. Director-research of DORP and SWA CSO Steering Committee member –South Asia, Md. Zobair Hasan moderated the event where Alamgir Hossen, Deputy Director, BBS and Focal-SDG cell, WaterAid Bangladesh representatives Shariful Alam and Abdullah Al Mueed, PKSF representative Mr.Tareq Salauddin, Executive Director of VERC and BAWIN member Yaqub Hossain, Bangladesh Wash Alliance Country Coordinator and BAWIN member Alok Kumar Majumder, BAWIN Member and WaterAid representative Ranjan Ghosh, SWA member Riyadh Imam Mahmud, FANSA member Joseph Haldar, journalist Kamrunnahar, Helvitas Swiss Inter-cooperation project manager Ashish Barua, WSUP-Bangladesh Country Program Manager Abdus Shah Shahidul Islam, Member Secretary of Barguna Water Management Citizens Committee Md. Ashraf Uddin, Director of Bhola Children Disable Children School Zakirul Haque, AHM Faisal of United News 24.com and others were present.
Dr. Atiur Rahman in his speech said, ‘Bangladesh needs a lot of information research on sanitation. We need to build an extensive dashboard to update the overall WASH facility situation in the country. This will give an accurate picture of the sanitation system in the country and help us to take immediate action where needed. Alamgir Hossain said, ‘If awareness about sanitation can be started at school level, it will also have an impact on family life. And it’s not just done to have a toilet, but need to be kept properly managed and usable. In his presentation, he portrayed a clear data of school WASH sector in the country and addressed some integrity related issues among different government departments that needs to be in focus to improve the overall scenario.
Mr. Riyadh Imam Mahmoud said, “Wash and MHM in schools need to have clear government guidelines as vital services for students. With the current reporting system of the education department, the government need to revise these circulars as WASH and MHM reports are essential.
Mrs. Kamrunnahar said, ‘If our drinking water and toilets are not good, our health will not be good. The teachers are not completely accountable to keep toilets and other WASH facilities for the students. There is a huge integrity gap in this sector. So policy maker should take necessary steps by issuing different guidelines and circulars to ensure strengthening the accountability mechanism.
Dr. Shariful Alam said, ‘The country’s sanitation management is in a very fragile state. In the rural areas, scenario is worse. All the stakeholders need to act together to improve this situation. And without government monitoring, this can not be achieved.
Abdullah Al Mueed said, ‘Circulars should not be written on paper only, they should be implemented. The school committee and parents need to be involved to ensure good sanitation for the students.
The news portal unitednews24.com was a co-host to this consultation meeting.