Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Myanmar launches its first WASH strategy and Investment Plan

Yangon, March 2017 - For the first time ever, Myanmar has a national strategy for rural water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and a corresponding investment plan. The strategy and investment plan were launched jointly by the Ministers of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation, Health and Sports, and Education.  An historical achievement, considering that the last sector analysis was conducted in 1993. 

©UNICEF Myanmar/2012/Myo Thame
A result of cooperation between three different departments within the three Ministries as well as other relevant ministries, and with the technical support from UNICEF and other partners., the strategy covers community water supply, sanitation and hygiene, WASH in schools, WASH in health care facilities and WASH in emergencies, for the period 2016 to 2030 “The strategy moves the WASH sector away from short term, time-bound projects to an approach which ensures continuous quality of service delivery to communities”, explains Bishnu Pokhrel, UNICEF WASH Chief.  “Importantly, the strategy also covers the provision of WASH services in the context of disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.”

In line with the WASH SDGs, the associated investment plan defines the costs of achieving and sustaining the objectives set out in the national strategy, which aims at 100% access to basic water and sanitation facilities by rural communities, schools, township hospitals and rural health centres by 2030.

Water, sanitation and hygiene are fundamental to child survival and development. However, in Myanmar, 29% of children (nearly 5 million) live in households that do not drink from improved water sources. In addition, 25% of children (over 4 million) live in households that do not use improved toilet facilities and 14% (2.34 million) live in households with no access to toilets.

The 2014 census also reveals significant geographic disparities in access to WASH facilities between urban and rural areas. While 74% of households nationwide have improved sanitation facilities, in rural areas this number decreases to just 67%, and 19% practice open defecation.  Nationwide 70% of households have access to an improved water source, whilst in rural areas the figure is only 62%. 

This Strategy and Investment Plan is based on the findings from the WASH Sector Situation analysis, which was conducted by the government in 2014,  21 years after the last WASH sector review. That 2014 analysis, developed with UNICEF technical support and the collaboration of several development partners, covered both rural and urban water and sanitation. The process of developing the Strategy and the Plan also involved wide consultation with over 1,000 stakeholders, from Union to community levels, including civil society leaders, national and international NGOs.

“Current levels of investment are insufficient to make a significant impact on access to improved WASH services in rural areas”, admits Bertrand Bainvel, UNICEF Representative to Myanmar.  “So, now it’s urgent and crucial that the Government, development partners and NGOs work together and invest more in the WASH sector to reduce under 5 mortality rates and improve the lives of children in Myanmar”. 

The strategy and plan will need to be transformed into action to meet the needs of schools, health facilities and the rural populations for improved water supply services, sanitation, and hygiene behaviour. The two documents are also intended to be used as a basis for developing annual and/or medium term plans and budgets for states and regions, as well as inform and complement other sector plans, namely health.  

WASH Strategy can be found here  and Investment Plan can be found here
For further information and to share comments, please contact: 
Bishnu Pokhrel, Chief, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, bpokhrel@unicef.org
Htet Htet Oo, Communication Officer, hoo@unicef.org 

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