IYS 2008

Creating an open defecation-free society
Sanitation and hygiene are crucial for the survival, development and social growth of human population as well as the unhindered improvement of economic and health indicators of any country. However, even today, billions of people around the world remain devoid of improved sanitation facilities and millions lose their lives from exposure to uncollected and untreated waste each year. Fakhra Hassan reports.
ine out of 10 people in Pakistan do not have access to domestic toilets. Seventy-three million of such people reside in rural areas while 17 million in the urban areas do not have any toilets to go to. Obviously, the contaminated untreated and uncollected solid and liquid wastes are exposing people to serious health risks leading to ailments such as diarrhoea, malaria and cholera. In Pakistan, total annual expenditure on diarrhoea alone is estimated at PKR 55 billion-PKR 84 billion ($873 million-$1.3 billion). “The issue of sanitation was highlighted at the UN through countrywide consultation and prevention strategies were discussed at a London meeting in 2002,” said Jawed Ali Khan, Director General for the MoE. He was speaking at the launch ceremony of the International Year of Sanitation (IYS) held in Islamabad on 4 March. “Since then, we have been working with provincial governments, tehsils and union councils to develop a national policy on sanitation,” he adds. The national policy was completed in 2006 and is currently being implemented at the grassroots, said Khan. The UN says uncollected and untreated waste of more than 2.6 billion people pose a global health crisis. At present, 980 million children live without proper sanitation. Every 20 seconds on average, a child dies as a direct result which


From left: Pakisan’s caretaker Minister of Environment Wajid Hussain Bokhari, Secretary Environment , Chief Executive Officer, Rural Support Programme Network Shandana Khan, Country Team Leader World Bank Farhan Sami amounts to 1.5 million preventable child deaths a year. More than 200 million tonnes of human waste goes uncollected and untreated around the world in parts of both developing and the developed countries, and 77 per cent of the 2.6 billion under health risks reside in the rural areas. “Sanitation is everyone’s business,” said Farhan Sami, Country Team Leader for the World Bank in Pakistan. “Funding is not a problem, understanding is. Every citizen has a role to play in achieving the collective information goal and sensitisation should reach out to all the stakeholders,” he adds. He urged the involvement of non-sector institutions in resolving sanitation issues. At present, with the exception of a few big cities, sewerage is almost non-existent in Pakistan. Nearly 45 per cent of all households do not have access to latrines, 51 per cent of all households are not connected to any form of drainage which includes open drains. The education infrastructure faces a bigger challenge as 48 per cent of the schools have no toilet facility due to bad quality of construction and public impact of individual behaviour, according to a UNICEF report. “To achieve poverty eradication and education in schools without sanitation is extremely difficult,“ said Andrew Parker, Chief of Water, Environment and Sanitation at UNICEF Pakistan. “I would like you to think what it would be like to be in a school without toilets and the need to go

to the toilet,” Parker says. Parker also added if there are no facilities for girls that are gender sensitive and culturally appropriate, then girls tend to shy away from schools and drop out. Similarly, teacher attendance at school is highly challenging without sanitation facilities in schools, especially for female teachers. “Sanitation is a good economic investment. For every dollar (PKR 63) spent improving sanitation and hygiene, $3-$34 (PKR 189 – PKR 2,142) is saved in health, education, social and economic development,” Parker said. Several community-based campaigns in the rural areas were highlighted at the launch of IYS which includes the complete elimination of open defecation in the rural areas. “This is just the beginning, there are big challenges ahead,” said Shandana Khan, Chief Executive Officer of the Rural Support Programme Network (RSPN). ”Having worked at the fieldlevel and having worked with the community, it is at least very clear to the rural support programme that partnerships between gov-

“Since 2002, we have been working with provincial governments, tehsils and union councils to develop a national policy on sanitation that is now being implemented” - Jawed Ali Khan, Director General, Ministry of Environment, Pakistan.

“I would like you to think what it would be like to be in a school without toilets and the need to go to the toilet,” Andrew Parker, Chief of Water, Environment and Sanitation at UNICEF Pakistan.
ernment and the NGOs, particularly for behaviour change should be encouraged within the community.” The MoE is taking steps to promote excellence in the delivery of sanitary outcomes in tehsils and towns across Pakistan. In addition to the complete eradication of open defecation, tehsil or town that has received 100 per cent sanitation status would become eligible for grants and rewards. At present, several union councils are in the process of becoming defecation-free according to an RSPN report. “These are just small pilots. The real commitments for us would be to join hands for the MoE to give a commitment to the large-scale implementation of this approach,” said Khan. N

Why Sanitation?
Millennium Development Goals • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger • Achieve universal primary education • Promote gender equality and empower women • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases • To halve, by 2015, the proportion of people without sustainable access to sanitation
Source: UNICEF

IYS Plan
• • • • • • Public awareness research News media outreach through story campaigns and television public service announcements Information booklets, brochures and fact sheets Support to regional, national and local initiatives School curricula modules Political, corporate, academic, religious and celebrity advocates and ambassadors

Source: UNICEF

18 | NGO World | February 2008

February 2008 | NGO World | 19

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