Written by Thusitha de Silva

From December 4th to 6th, 2023, the Global Water & Sanitation Center (GWSC) at Asian Institute of Technology hosted a pivotal event: the “Strengthening of Public Data Systems for Sanitation in Bangladesh (SPDSSB) Workshop”. This marked a significant stride in the SPDSSB program initiated by the Local Government Division, with a focused vision on developing a centralized and efficient ‘Sanitation Data Command Center (SDCC)’. The event saw the participation of esteemed guests including Mr. Md. Akhter Hossain, Principal Coordinator, SDG Affairs, Prime Minister’s Office, Bangladesh, Mr. Md. Emadadul Hoq Chowdhary of the Local Government Division, Dr. Md. Anwar Ullah from the Statistics and Informatics Division, and Ms. Neelima Thota from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) each playing a vital role in shaping the workshop’s direction and aligning it with national goals. Their presence underscored the government’s commitment to this crucial initiative.

Key Guests primed and ready for the Workshop

The workshop featured a series of sessions involving numerous organizations, including Aspire to Innovate (a2i), Innovative Solution Private Limited (ISPL), Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE), Statistics and Informatics Division (SID), Streams Tech Limited, SNV Bangladesh, Tiller, ITN-BUET, Athena Infonomics, CWAS, and eGov Foundation, India. These organizations contributed to discussions on past achievements, strategic planning for future initiatives, and the development of sub-national data systems. A central agenda item was the creation of a robust data governance framework for the SDCC, with the Global Water & Sanitation Center coordinating these efforts and Miro facilitating interactive collaboration.

Ms. Sichu Shrestha utilising Miro to effectively presenting the group work session

The participants, through the use of Miro, engaged deeply in identifying challenges and advancements in municipal sanitation management. Discussions centered around urban development, sanitation in diverse cities, and the potential of both city-led and national approaches. A critical focus was placed on assessing cities’ digital service maturity, resources, and sanitation value chain completeness. The group emphasized the need for a common set of reporting indicators and integrating systems with potential revenue streams to ensure scalability.

Mr. Md. Akhter Hossain, put it eloquently, “This workshop is crucial towards realizing SDG 6.2 for safely management water and sanitation. Through this workshop, we will be able to set up a Sanitation Data Command Center which will later be used to report to SDG Tracker.”
Key achievements included advancements in the Integrated Municipality/City Information System (IMIS/ICIS), reflecting on the first phase of the SPDSSB, and the development of a Data Governance Framework. Discussions on the National Sanitation Dashboard (NSD) highlighted its role in aligning sanitation efforts with the Smart Bangladesh 2041 vision. The outcomes of the SPDSSB Workshop are poised to significantly transform sanitation data management in Bangladesh. This event not only united key players across various sectors but also cultivated a spirit of cooperation, essential for tackling complex challenges in public data systems. The innovative approaches and collaborative strategies developed here are expected to serve as models for future initiatives, driving effective and sustainable improvements in sanitation data systems. This could lead to enhanced decision-making, more effective policy implementation, and ultimately, achieving SDG 6.2 and realizing the vision of Smart Bangladesh 2041.

Prof. Thammarat Koottatep gifting Climate-Smart WASH Technology catalogue with modelling to the Key attendees