Zarif Mahmud: This time 9 officers want to go abroad to get an idea about latrine management. This project is to bring low income people under sanitation. Only half a crore taka has been spent on foreign travel. They want to go abroad twice to participate in international workshops and seminars under the project. There is no mention of which country to go to. However, the Planning Commission does not agree with many aspects of the project development proposal.
This is the proposal of the officials under the project ‘Wash Sector Strengthening and Sanitation Market System Development Project in Bangladesh’. The main objective of the project is to improve the quality of life of about 54 lakh people of 12 lakh households in the country through the concept of sanitation, maintenance, good health, sanitation facilities and system strengthening.
It is learned that a total of 9 officers want to travel abroad in two phases. The total expenditure in this sector will be Tk 50.20 lakh. The total cost of the project has been shown in 6 sectors. The DPP of the project shows in Sector 35 that five people will take part in the ‘Knowledge Sharing Dissemination through Participation of International Workshops and Seminars’. The total expenditure in this sector will be Tk 26.79 lakh. Expenditure for each is Tk 5.56 lakh.
Besides, the sector number 57 of project expenditure is also the same. Four more officials will go to take part in international seminars and workshops. The total cost has been estimated at Tk 22.31 lakh. The cost for each officer here will be Tk 5.56 lakh. However, the DPP of the project (development project proposal) did not specify which country the officials would visit.
Tk 1.262 crore has been allocated for five firms for promotion in the project. Apart from Tk 4.16 crore in the training sector, Tk 57 lakh has been shown in the behavioral messaging sector.
Numeri Zaman, joint secretary (policy support branch) of the local government department, told that the project would bring low-income people under sanitation facilities. Besides, work will be done on sanitation policy. At one time many people in the country used to leave their excrement in the open. But now the sanitation has improved a lot. Bangladesh has become a developing country. So, work will be done at the policy level on how to further improve sanitation.
He said in the context of officials traveling abroad in two stages to get the idea of sanitation, it has not yet reached the final stage. Everything is at an early stage. But the same thing should not be in two places.
The project proposal has already been sent to the Physical Infrastructure Department of the Planning Commission by the Local Government Department. The total proposed expenditure is Tk 135.91 crore. The Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC) will provide a grant of Tk 110.42 crore. The rest of the money will be paid from the public sector. The project will be implemented by the Local Government Department for a period of five years after approval. Tk 28 crore has been allocated for construction of 80,000 latrines.
Besides, most of the sectors are mainly related to foreign travel, training, mentors and vehicle purchase.
The project to be in 35 districts
Netrokona, Sherpur, Kishoreganj, Meherpur, Kushtia, Satkhira, Chapainawabganj, Naogaon, Joypurhat, Thakurgaon, Kurigram, Dinajpur, Gaibandha, Chandpur, Rangamati, Khagrachhari, Cox’s Bazar, Bhola, Pirojpur, Gorajpur, Barganj Has been mentioned.
Besides, it will be implemented in Jamalpur, Narail, Jessore, Jhenaidah, Sirajganj, Lalmonirhat, Comilla, Patuakhali, Narsingdi and Gazipur. The main activity of the project is to install latrines in 60,000 low-income families. Providing sustainable sanitation services in 30 organizations.
The Planning Commission has expressed some views on the proposed project. According to the commission, 10 manpower has been proposed for the project. The Finance Department has not made any recommendation in this regard. It needs to be discussed. Out of the visible work of the project, a total of Tk 26 crore has been proposed as an incentive. The commission has raised questions about what kind of latrines will be constructed under this sector at a cost of Tk 4,000.
In order to make the sanitation system sustainable at the household level, the construction of brick latrines is currently being considered in various projects.
According to the Planning Commission, out of the total project cost, it has been proposed to spend Tk 94.44 crore in the service sector, which is about 60 per cent of the total project cost. In this case, the commission has raised questions about the reasonableness of spending the lion’s share of the project’s money in the consultancy sector, including what benefits the people and the beneficiaries will get.
Resources have been earmarked for the purchase of three jeeps under the project. The rationale for buying three Jeep cars for this technical project has also been questioned.
In this regard, Planning Minister MA Mannan told that training has been taken in sanitation work before. That experience can be put to good use. I will say one thing, people’s money should not be wasted in any way. That’s how we approve projects. I will not give approval if anyone wants. We also have our own body for project monitoring and approval.
The local government department said that the project is being taken up for various reasons. Bangladesh has achieved significant economic growth in the last one decade. It is in the process of being upgraded to the status of a middle-income country by 2026. Open defecation in Bangladesh has decreased at a significant rate. However, about four crore rural people are still not getting proper sanitation facilities.
The Government of Bangladesh is working to increase sanitation facilities for the underprivileged and other marginalized groups outside the scope of hygiene. In addition to increasing the basic sanitation facilities, Bangladesh is determined to meet the challenge of achieving safe sanitation facilities. This will enable safe and hygienic treatment or proper removal of excreta.
Bangladesh successfully implemented a pilot project called ‘Sector Policy and Sanitation Market Development (SANMARKS) from 2015 to 2019 through the Swiss Agency for Development and Co-operation (SDC) with the support of the Swiss government. Based on the success of this project, SDC and the Government of Bangladesh have agreed to implement the project.
In addition to the Policy Support Branch of the Local Government Department, Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE), Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF), Bangabandhu Poverty Alleviation and Rural Development Academy (BAPARD), Bangabandhu Poverty Alleviation and Rural Development Academy (PARD) Will implement the project.
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