Water resources management, equitable access and hygiene receive due attention.
The Government of Bangladesh has recently published its 8th Five Year Plan positioning water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) as a cross-cutting issue of different development initiatives. The plan, which was developed by the Planning Commission, was approved by the National Economic Council (NEC) and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on 29th December last year. It has become available online from 3rd of February.
The Five Year Plan (July 2020-June 2025) is a key document that illustrates the strategy and action plan of the country to achieve its development goals. It carries more importance as it illustrates the plan to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets. WASH sector players, especially the advocacy leaders, campaigned to the government for better positioning of WASH issues in the development agenda, which has been reflected in the 8th Five Year Plan. The plan prioritises the need to increase storage in the existing water retention bodies [Part 2. Chapter 4: Strategies for Agriculture and Water Resource Management].
Overall the Plan acknowledges the inequalities in WASH access and disproportionate impact on the poor, and the environmental hazards from unsafe disposal of faecal sludge as challenge areas to address. It considers context-specific WASH interventions in hard-to-reach areas and creating an enabling environment for WASH services as preferred strategies [Part 2. Sector 7. Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives].
In the Plan, WASH is one of the key focus areas for the multi-sectoral, multi-agency approach to improved nutrition, especially through handwashing and other hygiene practices. Additionally increasing access to basic facilities such as toilets and sanitary napkins for women and girls in the work place have been considered as a part of the poverty reduction, social protection and inclusion strategy. [Part 2. Sector 9: Housing and Community Amenities and Sector 10: Health, population and Nutrition].
Despite the need for more focus on WASH issues in the fight against COVID-19, the inclusion of WASH in the Plan is expected to provide a positive contribution towards achievement of SDG target 6.