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Pakistan making all-out efforts to improve access to safe sanitation: President Mamnoon Hussain

Islamabad, February 17, 2015 (PPI-OT): The President of Pakistan, Mamnoon Hussain, said on Tuesday that the present government is committed and making all-out efforts to bring safe sanitation and access to clean drinking water to the forefront of political discussions and striving to improve people’s access to them across the country in cooperation with the provincial governments.

However, he encourages all the stakeholders to join government’s efforts for improving the access to the safe sanitation. He express these views during his keynote inaugural address here at a two-day 2nd Pakistan Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN-II), which began here at a local hotel.

The SACOSAN-II has been organized by the Federal Climate Change Ministry in collaboration with key development partners, government ministers/departments and international, national organizations including the World Bank, UNICEF, Water Aid-UK and Plan International.

The conference aims to accelerate the progress of sanitation and hygiene in Pakistan by addressing the issues related to human health as consequence of climate change, demonstrating a national vision to reach everyone with sanitation services in Pakistan by 2025, build momentum and generate political will for investment in sanitation and hygiene sector, renew join commitment of all stakeholders to advance key policy reforms and implement scalable, equitable and sustainable sanitation and hygiene programmes.

The president highlighted that media, religious leaders, academia and corporate sector can play a vital part to boost the government’s efforts, because achieving universal access to safe sanitation and clean drinking water are critical for alleviating poverty, improving health indicators and accelerate economic growth.

He urged the foreign delegations and members of foreign development organization present during the conference’s inaugural session to persuade global community to have sympathetic attitude towards Pakistan instead of imposing travel sanctions on it on account of polio disease. The president admitted that polio has become a serious health problem in the country and government’s vaccination efforts are facing some difficulty in militancy-hit areas of Pakistan.

The President Mamnoon Hussain proposed to the Ministry of Climate Change and other stakeholders to approach rich people and business community to establish join public toilets in markets and other public places on experimental basis and expand the initiative if it yields feel-good and positive results.

During his address, the Federal Minister for Climate Change, Mr. Mushahid Ullah Khan, said that PACOSAN -II draws upon the commitments made in South Asia’s flagship inter-ministerial conference on sanitation (SACOSAN), which takes place in every two years committing to further accelerate sanitation and hygiene behaviour change in South Asia.

According to Joint Monitoring Programme 2014 update, an estimated 656 million people (38 %) still practice open defecation in South Asia where annual GDP growth is amongst the highest in the world. Around 60 per cent of the global population still practicing open defecation resides in South Asia. In Pakistan, 41 million people defecate in open, he said.

The minister said that “With 91 % using improved drinking water sources, Pakistan is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goal target related to water, but the country is lagging behind on sanitation targets. While the MDG target for access to improved sanitation facilities is 64 per cent, only 48 per cent of the population has access to improved sanitation.

The situation in urban areas is a little bit better, where 74 percent of the population use an improved sanitation facility, as opposed to only 34 percent of the population in rural areas. Encouragingly, 77 per cent of the population has access to some form of sanitation facility, if figures for ‘improved’, ‘shared’ and ‘unimproved’ are included. Pakistan has made huge progress in reducing open defecation rates from 52 per cent in 1990 to 23 per cent in 2012.”

He recalled that National Sanitation Policy was approved in 2006 followed by National Drinking Water Policy. The policies and strategies have also been formulated in all provinces and regions. However, the implement the National Sanitation Policy, Pakistan Approach to Total Sanitation (PATS) was also developed. Consisting with the road map for Prime Minister’s programme for sustainable development.

He stressed that to manage the process at district level, we need clear guidelines for the development of District Sanitation Plans to identify priorities which will include hard choices between: hardware and software; urban and rural etc.

A reinvigorated provincial One Sanitation Plan should be chalked out consistent with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 4th South Asia Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN-V) declaration and country priorities identifying key directions that will guide Govt and development Partners to further increase ODF coverage and enhance access to improved sanitation, to reach out targets set by the national government and coherent with SDGs.

Besides, there is a need for Hygiene and Sanitation Task Forces at the provincial levels or upgrade WASH Coordination Committee at all levels – maximising stakeholder participation and collaboration, he added. Member of National Assembly, Ms. Marriyum Aurangzeb, Convener of the Parliamentary Taskfo0rce on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), also spoke at the event.

“Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) sector holds a great significance in country Sustainable Development Visions 2025 and there is serious need for putting all the data about sanitation and water coverage into policy for improving the WASH sector related problems being faced by the people.

She said that the federal government is seriously committed to build up capacities of the provinces in the post 18th amendment scenario for effective implementation of the WASH sector related policies including national sanitation policy and national drinking water policy.

Mr. Aurangzeb told the participants that parliamentary task force on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has already been constituted and is first such taskforce in the world. SDGs will replace MDGs this year. Earlier, the Secretary of the Climate Change Minister, Mr. Arif Ahmad Khan, delivered his welcome address. He said that the Ministry is the custodian of the National Policy of Sanitation, National Policy of Drinking Water and Pakistan Approach to Total Sanitation (PATS).

The National Policy of Sanitation was developed in 2006 with extensive consultation among the sector partners, Federal and Provincial Government Institutions, he recalled and added that the policy envisions creation of an open defecation free environment with safe disposal of liquid and solid waste and the promotion of health and hygiene practices in the country.

The National Sanitation Policy of Pakistan also provides broad guidelines and support to Federal Government, Provincial Governments, Federally Administrated Territories, the Local Governments and development authorities, to enhance the sanitation coverage in the country through formulation of their sanitation strategies, action plans, programmes and projects, the secretary told the conference.

The Secretary Arif Ahmad Khan pointed out, “The country’s population is expected to grow to about 221 million by the year 2025. Diseases related to inadequate sanitation and unsafe water supplies are the largest single cause of high morbidity and mortality rates. Although with the efforts of the Government and sector partners the coverage for sanitation has improved in recent years but still 43 million people are living without a toilet. This indeed is a matter of concern.”

Among others, who spoke at the event, included representatives from the World Bank, UNICEF, Water Aid-UK, Muslim Aid International and Plan International.

For more information, contact:
Muhammad Saleem
Deputy Director
Media and Communication
Ministry of Climate Change
Government of Pakistan
LG and RD Complex, G-5/2, ISLAMABAD
Ph: 051-9245565
E-mail: moccpakistan@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.mocc.gov.pk/

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