On October 1, 2023, a significant milestone was reached in Bangladesh’s quest for data-driven sanitation solutions. The Statistics and Informatics Division (SID) under the Ministry of Planning, in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and the Global Water & Sanitation Center (GWSC), hosted a groundbreaking workshop in Dhaka, titled “Identify the Areas of Partnership and Cooperation between BBS and BMGF.” This pivotal event centered around the imperative need for a robust data governance framework to standardize protocols and processes across the entire sanitation data value chain, spanning from data identification and collection to storage, analysis, distribution, and utilization.
The workshop convened various data partners involved in the flagship program of the Government of Bangladesh, the Foundation, and GWSC, “Strengthening of Public Data System for Sanitation in Bangladesh.” Through this workshop, the crucial role of the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) under the SID became evident, emphasizing the harmonization and standardization of sanitation data within the SPDSSB program. BBS shared its invaluable experience and expectations concerning key areas such as WASH, gender, climate change, and persons with disabilities.
The Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) and Aspire to Innovate (A2I), two pivotal government partners within the SPDSSB program, provided insights into the current sanitation status of Bangladesh and the progress made in sanitation data harmonization. They highlighted the engagement of a diverse array of data partners, including ITN-BUET, UNICEF, Athena Infonomic, Tiller, SNV, StreamsTech, and 22 other government agencies actively generating sanitation data at various national and sub-national levels.
Dr. Shahnaz Arefin, ndc, Secretary of SID, Ministry of Planning, presided as the Chief Guest of the workshop and lauded the collaborative effort. She expressed her commitment to fostering positive collaboration and cooperation to achieve a comprehensive development landscape. Dr. Arefin emphasized the importance of scaling initiatives both horizontally and vertically, encouraging partners to not only cooperate but also extend the impact of their endeavors.
Ms. Neelima Thota, Asia lead of the Foundation and the Guest of Honor at the workshop, reiterated the significance of data harmonization at the national and sub-national levels, emphasizing the standardization process. She stressed the need for intersectionality and synergy among cross-cutting issues such as gender, climate change, and PwD within the WASH sector and beyond. Additionally, Ms. Thota nominated the Bangladesh Resident Program Manager of GWSC as the focal person to facilitate and coordinate this new endeavor with BBS.
Mr. Md. Matiar Rahman, Director General of BBS and Chair of the workshop, commended the collaboration and expressed optimism about the broader partnership opportunities it could unlock.
The workshop concluded on a high note, with participants brimming with hope for a new journey towards strengthening the public data system for sanitation in Bangladesh. This transformative workshop marks a significant step toward realizing a data-empowered future for sanitation in the country.
Written by: Makfie Farah