Remarks by Ms. Shanchita Haque, Minister, Permanent Mission of Bangladesh to the UN at the Meeting on Water on Accelerating Implementation of SDG 6 to respond to the COVID 19 Pandemic on 30 April 2020

Mr. Chair,

I deeply appreciate all the panelists/speakers before me for their reflections and deliberations.

In Bangladesh, water and sanitation is at the centre of our development strategies. Close to 90% of the people have now access to safe water. Open defecation has come down considerably to below 1% now. For the better water resources management, our Government has taken the ground-breaking initiative namely “Bangladesh Delta Plan 2100” with the support of 12 development partners.

However, the COVID has reminded us that we all need to do a lot more on WASH to ensure health security.

In the interest of time, I will make a few brief points:

First, many countries are fearing a food crisis in the aftermath of the COVID 19 pandemic. Policy intervention at the national level as well as international cooperation would be needed to ensure availability and sustainable management of water so that our agriculture sector can overcome the setbacks created by the pandemic.

Second, I want to refer to the Making Every Drop Counts Report by the High-Level Panel on Water that made some concrete recommendations to accelerate SDG 6 and which are relevant for WASH. The Group of Friends of Water has to work more vigorously to get the Recommendations of the Panel accepted by the membership of the UN.

Third, COVID 19 is a stark reminder for us that we can no longer afford to be indifferent to the rights of the people to water and sanitation. The finding of a recent UN report that some 3 billion people are without basic handwashing facilities at home speaks a lot of our inaction.

I will conclude by highlighting one small but significant innovation that could remove a barrier to hand washing and hygienic practice due to the high cost of soap. Bangladeshi scientists invented a soapy water solution- a simple mixture of 30g of powdered detergent in any 1.5L recyclable bottle. This solution has been proved to be just as effective as washing with soap and water or sanitizer yet much less expensive. This and such other effective yet low-cost innovations of hygienic practice should be promoted globally to accelerate the implementation of SDG-6.

I thank you.