Local Governments need to increase WASH budget at least tenfold

  Binod Dhaulagiri/Sunsari  1254 पटक हेरिएको

Sunsari : Five Local Governments (LGs) have unveiled Palika level Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Plan (WASH Plan) this week at Sunsari District. Barju Rural Municipality (RM), Gadhi RM, Duhabi Municipality (Mun), Ramdhuni and Barahakshetra Mun have unveiled WASH Plan, and expressed commitment to implement the plan effectively for eight years.

The LGs have prepared WASH Plan in technical and financial partnership with WASH SDG Project/Plan International Nepal and Community for Social Development Centre (CSDC) Sunsari. Om Sai Technical Institute (OSTI) Biratnagar and CSDS Lalitpur have prepared the WASH plan as the service providing organization using NWASH application.

Imbalance between commitment and budget

The WASH Plans show huge gap between allocated budget, available resources in the LGs and required budget for achieving the goal set by the plans. Let’s see the budget allocation pattern of Gadhi RM for last four years:

Mr Aash Narayan Chaudhary, Chairperson of Gadhi RM, expressed commitment to implement the plan and meet the goal in the given time during WASH Plan unveiling ceremony He further elaborated that LG is increasing the WASH budget for it.

While analyzing the RM budget, only 0.30% budget had been allocated for WASH three years ago; and it has been increased to 0.70% of total development budget in the next year. It has reached 1.32% and 1.43% on last and this year respectively.

RM Chairperson, Vice Chairperson and Chief Administrative Officer of Gadhi RM unveiling the WASH Plan

“We also have played vital role on lobbying in LGs for increasing the WASH budget in their annual plan and program”, says Mr Hari Budhathoki, Project Coordinator of WASH SDG Project facilitated by CSDC Sunsari in support of Plan International Nepal. “We are trying our best to reach incorporate the WASH activities from ward level as well”, he adds.

Status of rests LGs is also the same. The recently unveiled WASH Plans show that multifold budget is required for meeting the target, which is not possible from the internal budget of the LGs. They need to depend upon Provincial Government (PG), Federal Government (FG) and Development Partners (DPs). Let’s see the required budget for five LGs to achieve the WASH target:

Out of above mentioned five LGs, it is easier for Barahakshetra Mun only to meet the WASH target. only 47 crore budget is required for Barahakshetra, because of the existing good water supply and sanitation management system. “We shall try our best to meet the target through our own budget”, Mr Ramesh Karki, Mayor of Barahakshetra Mun says, “If not possible, we shall extend our hands to PG, FG and DPs.”

Increased Dependency of LGs

All the LGs, except Barahakshetra Mun, seem dependent upon PG, FG and DPs for resource management to implement the WASH Plan. “We don’t have capacity to manage the huge resource required for WASH Plan implementation”, says Jibachchha Kumar Roy, Chairperson of Barju RM, “We have prepared WASH Plan as guided by the federal government; and are hopeful towards DPs and government on resource management as well”.

RM level discussion meeting organized at Gadhi RM of Sunsari

Total development budget of Gadhi RM for this year is only NRs 45,46,67,000 while it needs NRs 4,03,87,61,719.00 to implement the WASH plan for meeting WASH SDG targets. “Total development budget of 8 years is also not enough to meet the WASH target’, says Mr Trilochan Neupane, Chief Administrative Officer of Gadhi RM, “And we are not in so comfortable position to increase the WASH budget only”.

Livelihood enhancement, assurance of constitutional rights, and basic infrastructure facility are also the areas of key importance for the LGs.

Mr Bed Narayan Gachhadar, Mayor of Duhabi Mun, seems a bit more hopeful on external support to implement the WASH plan. “Recently WASH act has been enacted by the federal government; and WASH issues are being raised in various national and international forums in the last years”, says Gachhadar, “Global fund, donor’s fund and government fund also can be mobilized for it”.

Decreasing support of DPs

External support for WASH promotion in Province 1 is in decreasing order. Large number of DPs were supporting through various channels for WASH promotion before COVID pandemic in the province. Plan International Nepal, Water Aid, GSF Program/UN-Habitat, Karuna Foundation and Gorkha Welfare Trust (TWT) were the key supporting agencies for WASH promotion in the province. UNICEF, IOM, UNDP, WFP also supported for WASH promotion during the COVID pandemic.

Representative of WASH SDG Project handing over the support materials to the representative of Barahakshetra Municipality

“Plan International Nepal and GWT are continuing their support; but range and volume of the support has been decreased”, says Mr Hari Budhathoki, Project Coordinator of WASH SDG Project. Meantime, field office of Plan International Nepal also has been shifted to Janakpur (Madhesh Province) recently from Province 1. Similarly, TWT also has extended its program to other provinces. GSF Program has been phased-out and UNICEF has not continued its support after COVID pandemic.

Informal discussions are being made in the provincial WASH Cluster to request DPs for extending their support to the province; but the discussions have not come to a concrete shape due to rearrangement of the provincial ministries, frequent change of the provincial governments and recent elections. “We need to organize a formal meeting of the provincial WASH cluster, and make formal request through the provincial government channel to federal government for resource management either through the government or the development partners”, says Mr Ramesh Prasad Poudel, WASH Division Chief of the Provincial Ministry of Water Supply, Irrigation and Energy.

DPs’ emphasis on system strengthening

Development partners are paying their attention on system establishment and strengthening rather than the supportive patchworks. WASH SDG Project supported by Plan International Nepal is providing support on WASH behavior change, small scale material and financial support; and system strengthening. Key emphasis is on system establishment and strengthening through preparation of necessary laws, policies and guidelines like WASH plan, monitoring guideline, water safety plan; and lobbying and advocacy as well.

“We have supported for establishment and functionality of WASH units, along with establishment and functionality of information management”, says Budhathoki, “It aids for mainstreaming the WASH sector in the local level”.

LG level WASH Unit established in Barahakshetra Municipality

A provincial monitoring team of Prvoince 1 has visited some LGs this week. “All the LGs have been found positive for WASH promotion; but an intensive effort is yet to be made for result-oriented intervention”, says Ms Shanti Mishra, representative of Federal Water Supply Project Implementation Office, Biratnagar, “Plan International Nepal’s support also has been found intended towards system establishment and strengthening”.

WASH SDG Project’s strategy of gender and inclusion also has been reflected in the WASH plan as well. “Women’s involvement in household level WASH activities, community level activities, institutional level and leadership level is assessed through Gender WASH Monitoring Tools (GWMT), and findings have been reflected in the plan”, says Mr Budhathoki, “Status of inclusion, Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM), institutional and community WASH also has been reflected in WASH plan through qualitative data generation and analysis techniques”.

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