SANITATION FOR ALL; ALL FOR SANITATION! : SOUTH ASIAN CONFERENCE ON SANITATION

Islamabad: Ms Mariyam Aurangzeb, Member National Assembly and convener of the MDGs Task Group of National Assembly led the group of 50 representatives from Climate Change Division, provincial governments, national and international development partners, UN agencies, civil society, academia and private sector and represented Pakistan at 5th South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN), hosted by Government of Nepal in Kathmandu according to a message received from Nepal.

Secretary Raja Hasan Abbas and Director General Climate Change Division, Mr. Irfan Tariq played a key role in highlighting the Water and Sanitation Progress across Pakistan during the conference. Senior Officials from all the Provinces were present at the conference too.

Ms. Aurangzeb at the final declaration ceremony hosted by Mr. Khila Raj Regmi, the Chairman of Council of Ministers Government of Nepal conveyed the appreciation of Honourable Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, who also holds portfolio of Climate Change which is focal for SACOSAN in Pakistan for successfully hosting SACOSAN V and providing an invaluable opportunity to share experiences and learn from the leaders in the field.

SACOSAN is a government led biennial convention held on a rotational basis in each SAARC country provides a platform for interaction on sanitation. SACOSANs are intended to develop a Regional agenda on sanitation, enabling learning from the past experiences and setting actions for the future.

The objectives of such conferences are to accelerate the progress in sanitation and hygiene promotion in South Asia and to enhance quality of people’s life. The SACOSAN process is instrumental to generate political wills towards better sanitation in the region.

South Asian countries namely; Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the participating countries. The first conference was held in Bangladesh in 2003, the second in Pakistan in 2006, the third in India in 2008 and the fourth in Sri Lanka in 2011.

Ms. Aurangzeb explained the audience that how after the 18th amendment policy formulation and social sector programmes implementation has been completely devolved to each of our provinces. The devolution process empowers the provinces to prioritize their needs and accords them the necessary flexibility in allocating resources for drinking water, sanitation, education, health etc. National Sanitation Policy developed in 2006 served as key driver for building the scaling up of the sanitation through Pakistan Approach to Total Sanitation.

Presently, nearly all provinces developed their sanitation frameworks and policies and have started to mobilize resources for augmenting the up scaling of sanitation.

Ms Aurangzeb further highlighted the development of new strategic vision 2025 that will provide a broader framework for development in Pakistan. The delegates from Pakistan reassured to advocate the inclusion of Sanitation and Hygiene as key priority in new strategic vision 2025 with emphasis on inter sectoral collaboration in addition to dedicated reporting of sanitation under national and provincial Medium Term Development Frameworks.

Ms Aurangzeb elaborated that with only two years left in MDGs, Government of Pakistan strengthens its commitment to improve its performance for MDGs targets by constituting a task force on MDGs at the parliament under the leadership of Honourable speaker National Assembly, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to have regular oversight on the performance of MDGs till 2015 and setting up priorities for Post MDG sustainable agenda. Ms. Aurangzeb also told the audience that Pakistan has recently launched MDG acceleration framework (MAF) for education which gives due emphasis on school WASH facilities.

Ms. Aurangzeb also in her speech assured that there is realization within the delegates to develop a national campaign for behavioural change in social norms for improved sanitation with due emphasis on community mobilization. Presently, there is potential for developing greater political commitments through engagement and sensitization of elected representatives and policy makers at national and provincial levels.

Capitalizing on her extensive experience in the development world for almost a decade Ms. Aurangzeb highlighted that there is paucity of data and information for reliable decision-making, so the delegates demand for development of a result oriented management information system to feed into policy formulation and monitoring of the sector.

Ms. Aurangzeb stressed upon the civil society, bilateral and multilateral partners, media and private sector for supporting a unified national agenda for integrated sanitation and hygiene approach through improved coordination at the national and provincial levels in close collaboration with social sector.

There is now need for developing sector development plan for WASH at the provincial levels in line with national agenda. There should be a specific focus on polio and stunting in health, WASH facilities in education, and informal settlements in urban development. We renew our commitment to mitigate the measures for environmental degradation and developing climate change resilient policies and programs especially for WASH.

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