By David Trouba, Programme Manager – Advocacy and Communications, WSSCC
On 25-26 June, WSSCC organized a two-day National Learning Event on Sanitation and Hygiene in Islamabad, Pakistan, in collaboration with a variety of WASH partners in the country. The representatives of all four provinces of Pakistan including Punjab, AJK, FATA and Gilgit Bultistan, attended, together with implementing organizations, multilateral/unilateral agencies and government officials.
Field staff working at the grassroots level shared their experiences and success stories regarding sensitizing communities as well as duty-holding officials about sanitation and hygiene. The speakers highlighted the current open defecation situation in their respective urban and rural areas and also pointed out the issues being confronted by the population. They elaborated WSSCC’s ongoing efforts to enhance learning and sharing between the wider WASH sector at the national, regional and global levels to boost implementation, innovation and advocacy.
The event provided an opportunity for detailed exchange and learning on scaling up and sustaining improved sanitation and hygiene. It brought together experiences of the WASH partners and discussed the potential for wider application and replication. During interactive sessions, the sector partners explored how their programmes leverage and support locally based structures to transform sanitation and hygiene behavior at scale, and ensure equity throughout their work.
Mr. Najeeb Aslam, Director of the Local Government and Community Development Department for the Government of Punjab, spoke about the activities being carried out by the Provincial Government to improve sanitation and hygiene in the province of some 100 million people – more than all but 11 countries in the world.
He also described Training of Trainers initiatives that are leading to the scaling up of the Pakistan Approach to Total Sanitation (PATS). Around 120 Master Trainers were trained to supervise the capacity building of community-based organizations about the observance of hygiene principles.
Aslam also discussed a disease surveillance programme started in the province under the directives of Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif to overcome eight viral diseases.
The Learning Event was inaugurated with a video message from the President of Pakistan about the importance of ending open defecation, practiced by some 25 million people in Punjab Province alone and Mr. Irfan Saeed Alrai of UNICEF, which has been a strong partner in Pakistan on PATS gave a presentation about behavior change approaches in Pakistan and their links to sustainability and equality.
WSSCC’s National Coordinator, Tanya Khan coordinated and arranged the Learning Event. She also moderated a brainstorming panel about the formulation of strategies and approaches for reaching scale.
The Provincial Representatives presented Provincial roadmaps for Pakistan (which desires to be Open Defecation Free by 2018), investment plans and District WASH plans. One representative noted that providing enabling environments for improving hygienic conditions in the province, is a critical need. She also highlighted civil society and government roles, respectively, to overcome health and sanitation challenges.
NGOs and INGOs serve mainly as technical advisors and service delivery mechanisms, particularly in the rural areas, while the Government has an overall duty to ensure access to safely managed water and sanitation.
Dr. Tahir Noor, Director General of the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), talked about efforts of BISP for poverty reduction and social issues. The BSIP has the country’s largest database of statistics on the nation’s poorest people – statistics which could be helpful for the WASH sector in its efforts to target programming to the most marginalized peoples.
The two-day event precedes a Thursday, July 28 meeting which will enable Pakistani WASH stakeholders to provide input into WSSCC’s 2017-2020 strategy.
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