Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

FANSA Convenor highlights CSO calls in opening SACOSAN session

FANSA Convenor Ramisetty Murali spoke in the opening session of SACOSAN V highlighting civil society calls on decision makers to take urgent action and address the sanitation crisis in the region.

Speech given by Ramisetty Murali, Regional Convenor, Freshwater Action Network South Asia (FANSA) in the opening session of SACOSAN V on 22nd October 2013


Honorable Chair, eminent personalities of WASH sector on the dais and distinguished delegates at this 5th SACOSAN in Kathmandu,


At the outset I feel very honored to have this opportunity to put-forth CSO views and expectations from the SACOSAN V. I consider this opportunity as a token of recognition to the valuable contribution made by the civil society in addressing the immense challenges of achieving  'sanitation for all' and also our significant role in strengthening the SACOAN process.

In this context I would like to pay homage to Ms. Perween Rehman who had fearlessly fought to bring services like water and sanitation for the poorest neighborhoods in Orangi, Pakistan and she was assassinated on 13th March this year, by the armed assailants in Karachi. Her legacy lives on and cannot be silenced.

The cross cutting implications of sanitation to health, survival and education of our children, poverty reduction, livelihoods, dignity, so on so forth is quite well known to the people in this room, and during the course of this conference, lot more compelling new evidence and insights would be added to all our understanding.

It is quite encouraging to note from the country papers posted on the SACOSAN V website, that many countries have made progress on reaching the sanitation services to the people and the budgets have been increased for the cause of sanitation development. The independent assessment done by CSOs and the consolidated Traffic Lights Paper produced also confirms this progress. Despite all this good work, open defecation continues to be a huge challenge in our region. Over a billion people still don’t have access to basic sanitation and around 700 million practice open defecation. Diarrhoea caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene is the second biggest killer of children under five.

We simply must, one and all, be determined and committed to achieve access to improved toilets for all and sustainable management of human waste. That is what our region needs. That is what our citizen – especially the poor need urgently. And that is what is imperative to safeguard the lives of our future generations.

On behalf of civil society and the Right to sanitation campaign in South Asia, I would like to appeal to the decision makers at this 5th SACOSAN to prioritize and commit to the following actions;

  1. Despite the enhanced political will, commitments and investments made, the progress on sanitation is too slow. This needs an honest reflection on what has worked and what has not. This also calls for stronger measures of transparency, accountability and capacity building.
  2. Adhering to the commitments made in SACOSAN III and IV and the UN General Assembly resolution, recognise sanitation as a legally enforceable right fundamental for human health, dignity, empowerment and development.
  3. Spend at least 1% of the National Budgets to achieve universal access to sanitation and hygiene services and an adequate proportion of this should be spent on operation and maintenance of existing infrastructure.
  4. Improve standards of sanitation services to make them usable and accessible for the entire population, with a special emphasis on the poorest, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, children and older people. Separate sanitation investment plans should be implemented to bridge the service gaps in the hard to reach areas and the neighbourhoods of the poor in urban areas.
  5. Establish a participatory and transparent multi-stakeholder monitoring mechanism for annual reporting against clear indicators. It is most important that the SACOSAN V commitments are accompanied by a set of SMART indicators that help us clearly measure the progress achieved.
  6. Ensure that disposal and management of human waste is carried out in strict conformity to the principles of protecting human rights, health and environmental sustainability.
  7. We appeal to donors to prioritise and considerably increase financial allocations to promote hygiene and sanitation in the region, focusing on the poorest and vulnerable population and overall capacity building in the sector.
  8. Position right to sanitation and hygiene for all at all times in the development of the post-2015 framework and SAARC agenda and advocate for a separate goal to achieve ‘universal access to adequate and safe sanitation and hygiene services'.

We, as civil society organizations, reaffirm our commitment to join hands with the national governments to accelerate sanitation progress in the region, particularly reaching the services to the poor and marginalised. We also commit to report our progress in the future SACOSANs.

Wishing a great success for the SACOSAN V.

Thanks to the Chair for the opportunity.