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18/02/2014 - Members of the Inter-Country Working Group (ICWG) on sanitation in South Asia recently met in Kathmandu, Nepal from 11 to 13 February 2014, to review the progress being made on the actions from the declarations that were made at the fifth South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN).
At the meeting, they reviewed the progress and status of implementation of the SACOSAN commitments. They also provided guidelines for the next SACOSAN based on lessons from SACOSAN V, which was held in Kathmandu, Nepal. The next SACOSAN meeting will be held in Bangladesh in 2015. The ICWG, membership consists of the country focal points for sanitation in the South Asian region, representatives of sector development partners such as the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and civil society.
The ICWG guides the SACOSAN process and conference and the specific tasks of the Group are to promote research and development, exchanges, experiences and expertise, organise SACOSANs and to facilitate participation. The team also works to bring sanitation under national and regional agenda and to explore the concept of identifying and recognising outstanding services to sanitation.
This year’s meeting included a session on “Sharing Across the SANs”, which provided the participants with an opportunity to develop links with other SANs and relevant networks. It is in this regard that focal points from AfricaSAN and East Asia SAN (EaSAN) were in attendance. Representatives from LatinoSAN sent a comprehensive overview to be shared with the participants. Also in attendance was Archana Patkar the Programme Manager for Networking and Knowledge Management at WSSCC.
According to Kichime Bawa Gotau, Sanitation Officer at the African Ministers' Council on Water (AMCOW) and a representative AfricaSAN, the meeting provided the participants with an opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other.
“For AfricaSAN, I think we can learn from the way the governments in South Asia have taken the lead in the planning and organisation of SACOSAN including the technical sessions. I think this works well here and we would like to see this also happening in AfricaSAN”, he added. The next AfricaSAN meeting is set to be held in Dakar, Senegal from 18 to 20 October 2014.
Speaking at the end of the meeting, Joselito Riego de Dios, a representative from EaSAN was keen to stress that the meeting provided opportunities for shared learning and experiences. “What struck me most is in our discussions is the extent to which SACOSAN member countries are involved in the organisation of the technical sessions. The ICWG members are very effective in carrying out their functions and in responding to the organisation of the conference”, said Riego de Dios.
He went on to highlight the presence of a permanent secretariat for AfricaSAN as being crucial to the ability of the members in Africa to monitor the commitments of the countries in the region. “I believe there are lots of good points from the two other SANs that we can adopt in EaSAN”, he added.
WSSCC participates actively in the SACOSAN processes and has often worked with the ICWG and leaders in the region to facilitate the participation of civil society organisations at SACOSAN and to push for their concerns to be included in the SACOSAN declarations.