Asia: accelerated and sustainable progress in sanitation and hygiene is within our reach, hygiene experts say

Accelerated and sustainable progress in sanitation and hygiene is within reach in Asia, as long as we aim at district-wide coverage and build a broad alliance under leadership of local governments. This is the main conclusion of sanitation and hygiene experts from five countries (Nepal, Bhutan, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia) participating in a workshop for governance on water, sanitation and hygiene organized by the Nepal government together with SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre from 13 to 17 September 2011.

Regional sharing and learning from experiences is an important aspect of the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All programme being implemented in 17 districts across Nepal, Bhutan, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, implemented by local government partners and assisted by SNV and IRC since 2008. Last year, this programme was intensified with co-funding from the AusAID Civil Society WASH Fund and recently with support from DFID in Vietnam. The aim is to contribute to giving two million rural people access to improved hygiene and sanitation facilities by the end of 2015.

The multiple-donor programme addresses one of the biggest challenges in rural sanitation: its low priority in local government and in particular in resource allocation. Dialogue among sector stakeholders and joint target setting for district-wide rural sanitation coverage has helped to overcome this to a greater extent, and even to create drive and leadership for sanitation. Also, district sanitation plans have been made and joint monitoring has helped to create a common understanding and buy-in from different stakeholders to prioritize sanitation.Specific attention is given to how to support the most vulnerable groups in society, reviewing current poverty ranking and subsidy practices. Women and socially excluded groups have been supported to put forward their opinions about sanitation at community and district level.

The Mid-western region of Nepal is an example when it comes to leadership and rapid progress in rural sanitation. The Regional Monitoring and Supervision Office, Surkhet (RMSO)/ Department of Water Supply and Sewerage (DWSS) has successfully brought local stakeholders together, promoted leadership for sanitation at all levels (district, Village Development Committee (VDC), community) and ensured district sanitation plans in all 15 districts. The number of villages that are declared open defecation free has increased from five in 2010 to 40 in the past 12 months in Mid-western region. The sanitary quality of toilets increased from 25% to 75% of the households in 21 districts in the mid-western region.”Now I am glad that district and village development committees are taking the lead in the district sanitation programme and there is a joint movement,” says Prem Krishna Shrestha, former Senior Divisional Engineer in Surkhet district in mid-western Nepal. “We were surely going to miss the MDG and national targets of universal sanitation coverage by 2017 if we had taken the same pace as before.”

Read more about the Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All (SSH4A) programme at /www.irc.nl/page/57188

Source: MPPW/SNV/IRC, 19 Sep 2011

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