“CSOs’ role in SACOSAN and their commitment to improve WASH issue in South Asia” by Mahjabeen Khan -FANSA-PAK/SCOPE

“CSOs’ role in SACOSAN and their commitment to improve WASH issue in South Asia”

The 4th South Asia Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN) took place in Colombo with the theme ‘Sanitation Enhances Quality of Life”. The conference was attended by all the representatives of South Asian countries to discuss situation of water and sanitation issues and challenges in their respective countries to come up with the strategies to cope up.

Beside this meeting, a meeting was also held among representatives of CSOs from Nepal, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Bhutan, who  gathered in to exchange experiences and play their role as a watchdogs for the betterment of sanitation. They also highlighted the demands of people from the governments of South Asian Countries.

The two days consultation meeting was held in Sr lanka under the theme of “Grassroots Voices for Safe and Sustainable Sanitation in South Asia”.  The consultation meeting was jointly organized by Fresh Water Action Network South Asia (FANSA), WaterAid and Water Supply Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC).

After first CSOs meeting in Delhi in 2008, CSOs delectation was highly appreciated by the government representatives and included all important points in official declaration, which was success of all CSOs and their collation partners.

The Delhi Declaration 2008 set out clear commitments and milestones for tackling the crisis. It also recognised that access to safe sanitation and drinking water is a basic right and in particular national priority to sanitation is imperative. This affirmed the commitment to achieve millennium development goals on sanitation by 2015.

After this meeting the ministry of water and sanitation of Sirlanka gave space to the FANSA, Wateraid and WSSCC into inter country working group (ICWG) for SACOSAN-4.

This was the real success of all the coalition partners to get chance to raise voice at grass root and ministerial level. However, we had never forgotten the key role of CEJ Director of Mr. Hementa who had developed linkages’ with the government and included peoples spokes person in dialogue process.

All four countries were fully involved to make second event of pre-SACOSAN successful. All countries had organized many consultation meeting in their respective countries and gave their comments on SACOSAN traffic light and on CSOs traffic light paper. Many consultation meetings were held in Nepal, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh and spotlighted people’s perspectives on sanitation issues.

In second consultation meeting CSOs members strongly urged for a time-bound action plan for delivering the previous SACOSAN commitments made in Dhaka, Islamabad and Delhi.

They urged the government to work progressively and realise the ‘right to sanitation’ in  programmes and projects and eventually in legislation in their country policy.

The key commitments of SACOSAN-IV, which reflect the ‘asks’ from the CSO statement was;

  • Working towards progressive realization of the Right to Water and Sanitation and to eventually bring it into legislation (although the coalition had advocated for omitting the term ‘eventual’ as it weakens the governments’ commitments to move on this issue without delay);
  • Time bound plans and allocation of resources to deliver on previous SACOSAN commitments;
  • Delivering context specific equitable and inclusive sanitation and hygiene programmes; and
  • Developing strong monitoring and accountability mechanisms and adoption of “participation, inclusion and social accountability” mechanisms at all stages of sanitation and hygiene programming, particularly for programmes concerning the marginalized and vulnerable sections of our societies.

Now the responsibility lies over the shoulders of all the CSOs to disseminate people’s demand and government’s commitment among CSOs, community leaders, local bodies of Governance, Bureaucrats and media.

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