How far are we from achieving SDG 6 in Bangladesh?
In recent years, Bangladesh has made significant progress towards improving its water and sanitation infrastructure and services. However, is it enough to ensure the country’s dream to achieve universal access to the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all (SDG 6) by 2030?
Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) aims to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. This goal is particularly important in Bangladesh, a country that is facing significant challenges in meeting the water and sanitation needs of its population.
Bangladesh is a country with a population of over 160 million people, making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. The country is also located in a region that is prone to natural disasters such as floods and cyclones. This further exacerbates the challenges of providing access to safe water and sanitation.
Bangladesh is making steady progress towards achieving the goal of providing clean and safe drinking water for all its citizens. The country is making impressive strides towards improved access to water and sanitation services, but there are still significant gaps in achieving universal coverage.
Despite all these, the good news is that Bangladesh has made significant progress towards achieving SDG 6. In recent years, the country has implemented a number of initiatives to improve water and sanitation infrastructure and services. Currently, about 48% of the population uses drinking water supplies that are safely managed. The percentage is 48.8% in rural areas and 44.7% in urban areas.
This significant progress is attributed to the government's commitment to improving access to water, sanitation, and hygiene, especially in rural areas. Additionally, 84.6% of the populace utilises a sanitation service that is safely handled, which is 82.9 per cent in rural areas and 90.6% in urban areas. Moreover, 87% of people in urban areas and 71.4% of people in rural regions utilize a hand-washing station with soap and water, or nearly three-fourths of the population.
However, the government still has a long way to go to achieve SDG 6, as 15.4% of people are still without access to safely managed drinking water and sanitation services. Overall, this is a significant achievement, and it shows that the country is on track to achieve the SDG 6 target of universal access to safe water by 2030.
Bangladesh has increased investment in water and sanitation infrastructure and services, particularly in rural areas. This investment has led to the construction of new water supply systems, sanitation facilities and waste management systems. Bangladesh has also implemented a number of sanitation initiatives, including the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) program, which aims to eliminate open defecation by promoting the use of latrines. As a result of these initiatives, the percentage of the population with access to improved sanitation increased from 34% in 1990 to 68% in 2017.
Bangladesh has implemented a number of waste management initiatives, including the installation of waste management facilities and the promotion of waste segregation and recycling. These initiatives have helped to reduce the amount of waste that is disposed of in open dumps and water bodies, improving the overall environmental health of the country.
Despite these positive developments, there is still a long way to go in achieving universal access to water and sanitation in Bangladesh. Challenges such as limited resources, climate change and urbanisation continue to pose significant challenges to the country's efforts to achieve SDG 6. Moreover, the lack of effective public awareness and education initiatives has led to a general disregard for the environment among many citizens.
Governments, international organizations, and development partners should increase investment in water and sanitation infrastructure, especially in rural areas and low-income communities, in order to achieve the clean water and sanitation goal (SDG 6). This can be done through funding for the construction of new water supply systems, sanitation facilities and waste management systems.
In addition, groundwater is primarily used as a source of water. In this situation, sustainable water use practices like water recycling, rainwater harvesting and water conservation can aid in ensuring that water resources are utilised effectively and efficiently. This can be achieved through awareness campaigns, education and policy interventions.
Governments should strengthen the institutional and regulatory frameworks for the water and sanitation sectors to ensure that resources are allocated effectively and service delivery is improved. This includes the development of appropriate policies, regulations and institutional arrangements as well as the strengthening of monitoring and evaluation systems.
Climate change and natural disasters can have significant impacts on the availability and quality of water resources. Governments and communities should work together to build resilience against the effects of climate change and natural disasters by implementing measures such as flood protection, drought management and disaster risk reduction.
Community participation is essential for the success of water and sanitation initiatives. Communities should be involved in decision-making processes and encouraged to take ownership of water and sanitation infrastructures. This can be achieved through the promotion of community-led initiatives, such as the Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) program.
The private sector can play an important role in the provision of water and sanitation services. Governments and international organisations should work with the private sector to promote innovation, technology transfer and investment in the water and sanitation sectors.
In conclusion, SDG 6 is an essential goal for Bangladesh, a country that has made significant progress in recent years towards improving water and sanitation infrastructure and services. However, more needs to be done to ensure that the country achieves universal access to safe water and sanitation by 2030.
In this aspect, achieving SDG 6 requires a multi-faceted approach that involves the participation of a range of stakeholders. It is essential to increase investment in water and sanitation infrastructure, promote sustainable water use, strengthen institutional and regulatory frameworks, address climate change and natural disasters, promote community participation and collaborate with the private sector. By working together, we can achieve SDG 6 and ensure that everyone has access to safe water and sanitation.
Imran Hossain graduated from the Department of Political Science, University of Rajshahi and is currently working on water governance.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of The Business Standard.