At least 51 million people continue to defecate in the open in Pakistan, and the cost of diarrhoea and typhoid equals 1.8 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, according to the Director General of the Environment, Javed Ali Khan, at the first national conference on sanitation, or PACOSAN, held in Islamabad on 28-29 May 2009. It took stock of provincial strategies, action plans and actual implementation of the National Sanitation Policy approved by Federal Cabinet in 2006.
In his keynote address, Arif Hasan urged a shift from projects to large-scale sanitation programmes. Media campaigns and informed public demand are essential for translating policy commitments into action, he said. Revitalizing provincial institutions, an inclusive approach, transparent rules for developers, appropriate training materials and effective extension are the other key elements, he added. Officials from the provinces and federal territories reported on the status of sanitation plans. Adopting a community-led approach, Union Council Samaro in Sindh province has already achieved total sanitation which, it was reported, has been verified by a six-month long independent monitoring process.
The Environment Minister, Hameedullah Jan Afridi, called for a commitment to achieve total sanitation nation-wide by 2015. Ayub Qutub, WSSCC’s National Coordinator for Pakistan, said that the target was achievable through ownership by Union Councils (UC), the immediate tier of local government.
“At a rate of just one household per day converted to sanitary practices, the 7,000 UCs across the country could achieve the total sanitation objective over the next 2,000 days till 2015,” Mr. Outub said. The delegates, comprising federal, provincial and local government officials, and civil society representatives, along with resource persons from South Asia, deliberated on the elements of a national sanitation action plan. In his concluding remarks, Secretary for the Environment Kamran Lashari asked for clear thinking on how to build community pride in a clean environment.
PACOSAN sponsors were the Ministry of Environment, Water and Sanitation Program-South Asia (WSP), Rural Support Programs Network (RSPN), UNICEF, Plan-Pakistan, WaterAid, and USAID. For more information, contact Mr. Qutub at email@example.com .
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