ISLAMABAD: The Ministers of the SAARC Countries has Signed Delhi Declaration on conclusion of the Third South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN-III) concluded with a call for according national priority to Sanitation. The Delhi Declaration was signed by the Ministers of from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Federal Minister for Environment Mr. Hameed Ullah Jan Afridi led the Pakistan delegation on the conference.
“The declaration recognizes that access to sanitation and safe drinking water as a basic right, and accords national priority to sanitation It confirms commitment to achieving National and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on Sanitation in a time-bound manner in all participating countries of South Asia. It also asserts that achieving total and sustainable sanitation in all rural and urban communities in the member countries is not only possible but also is a cherished goal reiterated in SACOSAN-I at Dhaka (2003) and SACOSAN-II at Islamabad (2006).
“The declaration reiterates member’s commitment to the following key principles and specific actions that need to be implemented at household, local, sub-national and national levels to accelerate performance and rapidly achieve sanitation goals:
“Ensuring that the present and future generations enjoy a healthy environment, with clean air, soil and fresh water resources; Achieving sanitation for all will be an inclusive process, involving all stakeholders at all stages, especially local governments, community and grassroots groups; Sanitation will not be considered merely an infrastructure or financing challenge, but one that requires effective policy, institutional and fiscal incentives to change behavior, working in partnership with religious leaders, communities, institutions (e.g. schools etc.), local governments and service providers; and strengthening their capacities and accountability in mobilizing, implementation and monitoring; Promote thinking of sanitation as the full cycle of proper arrangements, safe conveyance and sanitary disposal/re-use of liquid and solid wastes (including solutions that do not adversely impact the quality of land and water resources), and associated hygiene behavior; A range of sanitation provision and service options will be available to choose from.
Basic access to sanitation facilities will be ensured to all by reducing disparities through appropriate budgetary policies, with active participation, contribution, decision-making and ownership by communities; Incentives and support will be provided for the poor and people in vulnerable areas; The needs and concerns of women and most vulnerable (e.g. infants, children especially girl-children, the differently-abled, the elderly) will be addressed as a priority.
Innovative mechanisms e.g. micro-finance by Self Help Groups, will be effectively promoted; Socially and economically disadvantaged households will be mobilized to form groups; and supported to access sanitation and other development programs; The special sanitation needs of women (e.g. menstrual hygiene management) will be integrated in planning, implementation, monitoring and measurement of program outcomes.
The key role of women in managing sanitation and hygiene in community settings will be enhanced; Greater thrust will be placed on promoting adequate sanitation in schools e.g. separate facilities for boys and girls, supported by safe drinking water and with adequate child-friendly facilities. Hygiene education will be incorporated into the school curricula.
To promote good hygiene behavior and upkeep of facilities; Collaboration between countries will be strengthened to develop capacities, sharing of best practices, and to promote mechanisms for independent monitoring; Behavior Change Communication and information sharing will be effectively utilized for creating demand for clean and healthy environment, and for promoting good hygiene behavior; in partnership with Media and using Information and Communication Technologies; Sanitation and hygiene needs to be integrated into health, education and other related policies, and regulations effectively enforced; Technologies (e.g. which require less water and/or no water) and the practice of “reuse and recycle” of human wastes, and solid and liquid wastes (including conversion into energy), will be promoted; Collaborations with the private sector (including toilet associations.
The groups of sanitary goods and service-providers) will be strengthened in developing sanitation standards, technologies and products that are appropriate, affordable, ecologically-friendly and easily accessible; For urban areas, an integrated city-wide approach will be adopted to ensure the safe management (including treatment and disposal) of human wastes, and all other solid and liquid wastes (including medical, industrial and commercial wastes, etc.);The urban poor, especially those in slum settlements, will be facilitated and supported to obtain access to safe sanitation as a part of the integrated city-wide sanitation plans; and The critical role of personnel involved in sanitation work will be recognized, and measures taken to raise their dignity.
“The member countries have committed to achieve the national goals and the Millennium Development Goals on Sanitation in a time-bound manner during the ongoing International Year of Sanitation 2008 and took a resolve for Continuing the advocacy and awareness to sustain the momentum given to sanitation explicitly at the regional, national, sub-national and local levels, in policy, budgetary allocation, human resources, and implementation.
They took vow for strengthening community efforts and developing capacities of Local Governments, non-governmental organizations, youth and community groups to work in partnership for sustainable sanitation solutions. The action taking include to Ensure occupational dignity, health, safety and improve the profile and working conditions of personnel involved in sanitation work and also to prioritize sanitation as a development intervention for health, dignity and security of all members of communities especially infants, girl-children, women, the elderly and differently-abled.
Accordingly, efforts will be made for mainstream sanitation across sectors, ministries/departments, institutions, domains (private, household, schools, community, public), and socio-political persuasions, so that sanitation is everybody’s concern and prioritized in their respective programs (e.g. railways or tourism agencies promoting access to sanitation facilities as a part of their programs).
They will also develop and implement approaches, methodologies, technologies and systems for emergencies, and disaster situations, and for areas, with special characteristics/ terrains or groups suffering temporary displacement. In addition work to advocate globally the recognition of climate change impacts on sanitation provision in South Asia, and develop and implement strategies and technologies that adapt to and mitigate impact and will enable flexibility and variety in options and practical solutions to suit local conditions, preferences, and resources.
“An inter-country Working Group, led by country focal points, will meet periodically to promote research and development, collaborations, exchanges of innovations, experiences and expertise; networks among intra-country groups and agencies will be created for sharing of knowledge and the Indicative “South Asia Roadmap for Achieving Sanitation Goals” will be consulted by the participant countries to develop their national Action Plans for implementation over the 2009-2011 period.
“The declaration while expressing its gratitude towards the Government of India and its people for the warm hospitality expressed hope that momentum gained by the three SACOSANs will be further continued by the hosting of the Fourth SACOSAN in Sri Lanka in 2010, and the fifth SACOSAN in Nepal in 2012.-SANA