South Asia Sanitation Campaign Launched

KATHMANDU, Nepal— Thousands of citizens of Bangladesh, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka came together earlier this week [March 19] to launch a regional sanitation campaign for South Asia. The launch was held in the Nepali capital, Kathmandu, ahead of World Water Day celebrations in the city.

The campaign calls on all South Asian governments, as well as donor countries and citizens, to work together to tackle sanitation challenges in the region by increasing financing for the sector and targeting those resources towards poor and excluded groups to reduce the service gap.

“This is the first instance that all South Asian countries came together to create awareness on sanitation issues in the region,” a WaterAid official who participated in the campaign launch told the media. “It’s an historic day,” he added.

What is WASH?

The campaign is also calling on all South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation(SAARC) governments to work together to adopt and present to the UN General Assembly a common position that includes targets for achieving universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services by 2030, as part of the new post-2015 development framework.

During the two-day campaign launch, a citizens’ charter was adopted. A delegation led by members of parliament and civil society groups presented the charter to SAARC Secretary General Ahmed Saleem and eight SAARC directors, representing all member countries.

“Through the sanitation campaign, you are doing a great job. This is a noble cause and I am honoured to receive the citizens’ charter on behalf of SAARC,” Saleem said.

Speaking on the occasion, Lord Ian McColl, a member of the UK House of Lords, said: “We acknowledge the cause of the campaign and am very pleased to have come to Kathmandu to support this important movement. It was not long ago when our parliament was shut down temporarily due to the stench of sewage in the Thames River, then the government decided to build a proper infrastructure.”

Dignity March

A dignity march was organized in Kathmandu to signal the start of the sanitation campaign, with thousands in attendance to show solidarity with the one billion people in the region who do not have access to improved sanitation. They called for action to save the half-million children dying of diarrhoea and to prevent sexual assault against women who do not have access to safe sanitation facilities.

About 18 members of parliament from South Asia and the United Kingdom held three hours of deliberations on the initiative.

The parliamentarians adopted a common statement agreeing to work for increases in sanitation financing, and calling on their respective political parties to recognize the human right to sanitation and to commit to increasing the share of their development funding that goes toward sanitation projects.

The citizens’ charter called on the region’s governments to spend at least 1 percent of GDP to achieve universal access to sanitation and to make it easier to monitor this spending, by among other things including a separate line item for sanitation within national budgets.

The charter also called on donors to prioritize and considerably increase financial allocations to sanitation, focusing on the most off-track countries with low domestic resources

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Posted by on March 22, 2013. Filed under DEVELOPMENT,EARTH,Nepal,SOUTH-ASIA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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