Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Translating the spirit of SACOSAN V into action

FANSA Communication Coordinator Prakash Amatya interviews FANSA Convenor Ramisetty Murali on his reflections of SACOSAN V.

“Governments need to make a sincere and whole hearted efforts to translate the spirit of SACOSAN V commitments into action
R. Murali, , FANSA Convenor

Are you satisfied with the final outcome of SACOSAN V process?
The overall process of SACOSAN V, particularly the active participation of the civil society and all other stakeholders, was very good. However, although the Human Right to sanitation is reiterated, we expected Governments to commit to time bound plans and a road map for the realization of this right to people of South Asia. We want the right to be integrated into plans to really ensure people who are subjected to injustice, inequity and negligence are reached.

How has equity and inclusion been addressed?
The declaration has emphasised the importance of ensuring services reach the poor and most marginalized communities and has put more emphasis on making sanitation services inclusive, particularly for the disabled.

How did you replace the overall process of SACOSAN V?
The overall process of SACOSAN V has been very good and countries have shown good leadership. The eight thematic sessions were lead by the eight different member countries which was a good aspect as it helps to ensure ownership of the session outcomes by governments. Also the government of Nepal demonstrated good leadership by managing this event very well and taking care of everything from the pre-consultation of SACOSAN to the final day of the conference and the hospitality is very much commendable. The active participation by the President, the Vice President and the Prime Minister of Nepal has also demonstrated a good level of political commitment in Nepal to the issue of sanitation.

How was the participation of CSOs and grassroots representation?
The participation of CSOs and grassroots community members was another good aspect of SACOSAN V. In the special plenary session to hear the voices of community leaders, each speaker from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka recounted the hardship, pain and agony confronted by their fellow community members which were real eye opening revelations about reality of the impact of the sanitation crisis on people’s lives.  

The participation of the CSOs was also very good, we tried our best to sensitize the decision makers particularly on issues facing the poorest and marginalized communities. We made some impact but are not fully satisfied with the final output asI have already mentioned. However, since this is a process, if the things have not gone exactly as we expected, we just need to continue working on it.

Have recommendations of side events been reflected in the Kathmandu declaration?
The side events were another good aspect of SACOSAN V along with the thematic sessions. Recommendations from these sessions have indeed been reflected in the declaration. The SACOSAN V designed a brilliant program that accommodated the wide spectrum of the people and their perceptions from a range of sanitation sub sectors.

Has SACOSAN V reflected the spirit of the regional campaign for sanitation?
There have been some good commitments in SACOSAN V in terms of equity and inclusion, reflecting our demands in the regional campaign for sanitation. The campaign would probably be more effective in exerting pressure on political leadership if it were more of a mass movement rather than merely an initiative of a few CSOs, NGOs and INGOs. Large scale mobilization would make governments be compelled to commit to the right to sanitation.

What is not addressed in the commitments?
A lack of quantitative commitments (numbers, percentages) for reaching the unreached is a gap in final outcome of the SACOSAN V.  Some have proposed it for the agenda of Inter Country Working Group (ICWG) who will determine the figures. But having the numbers in the commitments itself would have been a strong and bold decision

What do you expect going forward from SACOSAN V?
I look forward to the delivery of the commitments from SACOSAN V that’s the real job to be done. The Inter-country Working Group (ICWG) should take the spirit of the commitments into account and develop a necessary framework so that sanitation services are prioritized for the unreached to make a tangible difference in quality of their lives.

What are your immediate plans post SACOSAN V?
The declaration of SACOSAN V will be translated in the languages of the people and take it to the people informing them about the commitments made here. This will make them aware what to demand and seek delivery of the commitments made here in SACOSAN V.