- Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka achieved MDG sanitation target
- Eighth sanitation conference will be held in India in 2020
ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan on Friday said that the South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN) will help the governments of the member states to develop an effective approach and practical measures to address the emerging challenges of sanitation in the region.
Addressing the concluding ceremony of the seventh international conference, he said that collective commitments have enabled this region to make great progress towards reducing the gap in the provision of sanitation, hygiene and water services to the people over past 15 years.
He said that good sanitation was crucial for people’s health and financial prosperity and countries economic growth, a lot has been achieved during MDGs era by the South Asian countries with Pakistan, the Maldives and Sri Lanka achieving MDG sanitation target, however, still 500 million people in South Asian countries defecate in open.
He said that the rate of open defecation remains higher than those of other poorer countries and region in the world. He said that the diseases spread by poor sanitation kill hundreds of South Asian children each year and stunt the physical and cognitive development of those who survive. This situation needs collective efforts by the regional countries, he said.
The minister said that the people grapple with several development priorities in were source constrained environment. He said that the government of Pakistan was fully aware of the fact that there was probably no greater basic human need and fundamental right than access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
Since the launch of the millennium development for sanitation sector, the government’s commitment for sanitation has enabled the country to make good progress in increasing the rate of improved sanitation from 24% to 64%. While sustaining the progress for improved water further, Pakistan also reduced the worrisome rate of open defection from 49% to 13% in the last 15 years.
Mushahidullah said that considering the importance of the water and sanitation, the government recognised sanitation and water as key priority areas under Vision 2025 strategy. In September 2015, the world adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were formally launched in October 2015 by the Ministry of Planning, Development, and Reforms.
In February 2016, Pakistan becomes the first country in the world whose National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution adopting the SDGs Agenda as Pakistan’s development agenda which can be termed as the Pakistan Development Goals (PDGs). He said that these were steps taken by the government to fast-track movement towards the achievement of universal coverage for sanitation and water.
“I am quite sure all the countries in this region have already taken such initiatives to tackle with grave issue of sanitation and water that has marked impact on health of people living in this region,” the minister said and stressed on the need to work collectively and establish collaboration to improve water and sanitation condition which accommodates almost 50% of the world population.
GREEN CRICKET SERIES: Mushahidullah proposed to all the member country delegates to take an initiative to held green cricket series to spread public awareness among masses and to promote sports. He congratulated all the member countries for making SACOSAN as a true regional forum for sharing knowledge and learning from each other’s experience.
“We have learned a lot from side events, technical sessions and this region has witnessed positive changes,” said Ghulam Qadir from Afghanistan. Kinlay Dorjee from Bhutan said that his country was committed towards effective implementation of the Islamabad declaration. “We will try our level best to provide water, sanitation and hygiene.”
Sri Lankan Minister for City Planning and Water Supply Abdul Rauff Hibathul Hakeem said that they achieved the Millennium Development Goals related to sanitation before time. “It is a matter of pride that we have taken into consideration the vulnerabilities of marginalised communities,” he said.
Maldivian Minister for Environment and Energy Abdul Mateem Mohammad said that the discussions focused on achieving targets with leaving no one behind. India’s Economic Adviser for Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation Samir Kumar said that they learned a lot from SACOSAN as they were at 39% at start and now reached at 80% in behaviour change. He announced that eighth South Asian Conference on Sanitation will be held in India in 2020.