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A billion people in South Asia still lack basic sanitation

2nd South Asian Conference on Sanitation in Islamabad reviews progress and issues in the region

The 2nd South Asian Conference on Sanitation was held on 20-21 September, 2006, in Pakistan. Delegates from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka participated. A 10-member delegation from India was led by the Minister of State, Smt. Suryakanta Patil.
 
The goal of the conference was to accelerate the sanitation and hygiene work in South Asia in order to enhance quality of life of the people at large in fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals and the commitments made in the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

In South Asia nearly a billion people still lack basic sanitation.  Rapid urbanisation means that the number of people in cities without adequate toilets has increased from 134 million in 1990 to 153 million in 2004, yet the urban coverage is still double that of more rural areas.
Addressing the conference, UNICEF’s Regional Director for South Asia, Cecilia Lotse, said the region had high numbers of children who were malnourished and at risk from diseases caused by bad hygiene and, in particular, from lack of regular hand washing with  soap and clean water.

“Since the first SACOSAN in 2003, around one hundred million additional people now have toilets, but that still leaves more than nine hundred and twenty million without.  We also know that more girls will go to schools that provide separate and private facilities,” Ms. Lotse added.

The objectives of the conference were:

  •  To review the progress made in implementation of the Dhaka Declaration of the 1st South Asian Conference on Sanitation held on 21-23 October, 2003 in Dhaka.        

  •  To reiterate political commitment in each country of the region for furthering the sanitation agenda.
  •  To facilitate development of country specific as well as regional frameworks for sanitation.
  •  To share experiences and lessons learnt in sanitation and hygiene promotion.
  •  To increase outreach of sanitation agenda in the region.
  • A country paper titled ‘A Movement Towards Total Sanitation in India’ was also presented at the conference.

    At the end of the two-day meeting,  the “Islamabad Declaration” was issued re-affirming the participating countries’ commitment to achieve the targets of basic sanitation in pursuance of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

    On Thursday, 28 September, UNICEF launched the “Progress for Children: a Report Card on Water and Sanitation.”  The report details the impressive progress made to date in expanding access to safe water and basic sanitation, but also makes clear that there is still a long way to go.

    India will host the SACOSAN -3 in the year 2008.

     

     

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