For the last few weeks, I was keenly interested to learn about the Global WASH scenario and its position, particularly what would be the impact after COVID19. The global community has embarked on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where SDG6 clearly articulates the safely managed water services and safely managed sanitation services respectively securing sustainable water for all. The United Nations launched recently a framework to speed up progress on water and sanitation last July 2020. And it is evident that the consequences of COVID-19 will aggravate the chronic underinvestment already prevailed in water and sanitation services in the coming days. Such ‘SDG6 Global Acceleration Framework is a contribution to the Decade of Action to deliver the SDGs by 2030’ as it was declared during the launch. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres clearly stated that the water and sanitation crisis demands a holistic, systemic and multilateral response. And multilateral response requires a lot collaboration with the inter and intra sector.
But what is happening in the developing world is clearly volatile at this stage. The understanding of a collaborative approach to SDGs is still a long way from fruition for many developing countries like Bangladesh. There is strong political will be ingrained in the government at present to reach SDGs but the efforts of unfolding the whole concept of SDGs in collaboration with sector actors are still considered as boos.
Let me try to unfold the concept of ‘in collaboration with’ in a real problem we faced in our life.
Often, the concept of collaboration showcases an illuminous light at the dark corner. Here, we all know that a street at the dark corner is always the abode of unknown ghosts (!) and we try to illuminate the street with a bright light so that people can access it without any anxiety. When the respective city authority gives the provision of light in that street, it provides some sense of security; even then, most people still opt to avoid that street because of past feelings of disconcerting which creates an “anxious model” in their mind. To accelerate the result, it is always important to facilitate the participation of people; sensitize them to break down the anxious models. Without this approach, it looks like everyone does their responsibility at the end but the ultimate result did not reach the beneficiaries, the people.
There are a number of such examples lied in the rim of such concept of ‘in collaboration with’ when we all are working to reach SDG6.
Why don’t we get clean water after opening the tap inside the house where clean water is provided to our household connections by service provider? It is also peoples’ responsibility to clean their own reserve tank and overhead tanks twice a year. The water service provider needs to launch a campaign in collaboration with the people to ensure good service and also to highlight individual responsibilities.
Often supply water is not clean in many areas of the city. The water service provider must discuss the reality and their continuous striving efforts and challenges to solve the problem in collaboration with the local people. I am confident that there will be a balance between demand and supply at the end of such collaboration.
Why don’t we know where does our poop go? There are some services by the city authority for fecal sludge management (FSM) but even then people have open drain connections with their septic tanks. If the FSM service is managed in collaboration with the people as we do not have network sewerage connections properly, the city dwellers will get a much cleaner city at the end.
Why don’t we consider the health and safety of the sanitation workers in our work? Sanitation workers are in deep risk during the COVID-19 situation of the country but why don’t we develop the response plan in collaboration with them to ensure the safety and security of their lives?
We really do not want the concept in collaboration to fade away in the darkest corners of oblivion.
We need to bridge in between the silos of responsibility in collaboration with….Who?
[All the opinion are the sole responsibility of the author and do not link with any organization]