“ Sanitation enhances quality of life” - Establishment of Regional SACOSAN secretariat in Colombo, Sri Lanka

The SACOSAN is a biennial conference held in the SAARC region to accelerate the progress towards achieving sanitation as a social service priority. South Asia has the largest population without adequate sanitation.  SACOSAN represents a collaboration of eight South Asian countries in the region. Sri Lanka had its turn to host the conference in 2011. 

The objective of South Asian conference on Sanitation has been accelerate the progress in Sanitation and hygiene promotion in South Asia and thereby, to enhance the quality of people lives.

The regional SACOSAN secretariat has been ceremonially opened by Hon. Minister of City Planning & water Supply on 30th of January 2017 at Colombo. This is to fulfill the commitment made in the Dhaka Declaration signed At the SACOSAN VI ministerial Meeting on establishment of Regional SACOSAN  Secretariate.

  The idea of a Regional Center for Sanitation was first mooted by the Sri Lankan delegation who attended SACOSAN V held in Kathmandu in 2013. SACOSAN member countries welcomed Sri Lanka’s offer to host the center  and it was proposed and accepted by the regional countries.

Establishment of the Regional Center for Sanitation  was  confirmed by the ministerial declaration at the SACOSAN VI held in Dhaka Bangladesh January 2016 and a commitment was made as follows; 

The mechanism conceived for attending to continuity and monitoring between SACOSANS was as we know, an Inter Country Working Group (ICWG) comprised particularly of country focal points(CFPs), nominated by each country and  the international supporting agencies.

SAARC was however not able to host the Secretariat due to institutional constraints, but it supported the concept of one of the countries in South Asia hosting it. The Framework for Sanitation and the critical supports necessary was presented at SACOSAN V in Kathmandu during the briefing made to the relevant Ministers. Pursuant on the discussion which followed, the Hon. Minister for Sri Lanka offered to host the Secretariat which was duly accepted.

The outcome of the Knowledge Management session of SACOSAN V in Kathmandu further stressed the need in addition for knowledge management and information exchange. The concept of expanding the Secretariat to a Regional Centre received acceptance. 



 “We welcome the offer of Sri Lanka to host the SACOSAN Secretariat and act as a resource, knowledge and learning centre on sanitation and hygiene facilitating coordination, regional and cross regional exchange and sharing, with other regional sanitation meetings while also Contributing to research and capacity development in South Asia”

At SACOSAN  VI in Dhaka, Bangladesh the concept was again endorsed under commitment thus:  The regional support centre will help make progress on the Framework for Sanitation developed by SAARC and promote continual learning and sharing of experiences and innovations between and within countries including:

  1. A functional and dynamic Centre for Sanitation for South Asia and a Secretariat for the ICWG;
  2. An ICWG with an expanded role to enhance knowledge exchange and learning between meetings;
  • Relevant research and development;
  1. Appropriate use of information technology including the traditional and new forms of media

The functions of Regional Centre of SACOSAN are as follows:

  1. The Secretariat is required to interact with the Country Focal Persons (CFP) continuously between two SACOSANs with the expanded role of the ICWG as stipulated under the ICWG TOR.
  2. Gather information through the Country Focal Persons(CFP) regarding their respective performance and progress on commitments to SACOSAN Declarations
  3. Act as the Knowledge Management and Networking (KMN) center for SACOSAN in sharing information on new development, research findings and opportunities for capacity development in sanitation and hygiene.
  4. Provide technical assistance to the member countries through mobilizing resources and expertise in achieving goals and setting up of a mechanism for monitoring targets.
  5. Monitor through CFPs new initiatives and innovative approaches adopted by regional countries as well as globally to compile learning material related to sanitation and hygiene and  share among member countries and facilitate knowledge management  
  6. Facilitating coordination, regional and cross regional exchange and sharing, with other regional sanitation meetings while also contributing to research and capacity development in South Asia in the sanitation sector. Promote and commission research trough mobilizing resources from international partners and facilitate presentations at each conference.
  7. Synthesis county papers of SACOSANs and prepare monitoring framework for facilitation GLASS, JMP, Traffic Light and support other regional snapshots and share with CFPs. Share information on the MDG goals achievement by 2015 and country level action to adopt SDGs and in particular goal no 6 .
  8. Interact and share information through CFP on country level institutional arrangement set up for achieving SDG goals and target 6.2 in the provision of safely managed sanitation.
  9. Compile success stories of urban, rural and school sanitation and share with the regional partners and publish in websites.
  10. Update information regularly on the RSC website and maintain list of persons to be engaged in dialogue and expertise required on reviewing and monitoring.
  11. Appropriate use of information technology for regular/periodical interaction through webinars and calls with CFPs on implementation of the mandate of the RSC, in order to enhance knowledge through research and exchange information.
  12. Communicate with SAARC Secretariat through proper channels on to update on the political will and mobilizing political attention.

As a result of involvement and efforts made by the Honorable Minister Rauff Hakeem, Ministerial officials and officials of the National Water Supply and Drainage Board,  the regional SACOSAN secretariat has been ceremonially opened by Hon. Minister of City Planning & Water Supply on 30th of January 2017 at Colombo with the participation of stakeholders, Government officials and participants from NGOs,  INGO too. This is to fulfill the commitment made in the Dhaka Declaration signed at the SACOSAN VI ministerial meeting on establishment of Regional SACOSAN  Secretariate.

Mr. Nimal Hettiarachchi, Secretary of the Ministry of the City Planning and Water Supply addressed the welcome speech. He mentioned about the history of the establishment of the Regional Centre of SACOSAN Secretariat, commitments of the Ministry to establish the centre and the secretariat will be served as a permanent unit to maintain continuity among succeeding SACOSANs and welcome all the participants who  attended  the opening ceremony.


After, General manager of the NWSDB and the focal person of the SACOSAN of Sri Lanka    Mr. Kumararathne explained about the current sanitation status of Sri Lanka and explain about the objectives of establishment of  the  SACOSAN Secretariat. Further, he mentioned that the  regional Centre for sanitation will facilitate the continuous interactions among the inter country Working groups and communication and monitoring of commitments made at each conference.

Mr. Ananda Jayaweera Technical Advisor of SACOSAN explained about the Road Map and  Action Framework for the regional centre of SACOSAN.

After Hon. Rauff Hakkem launch the website of the SACOSAN Secretariate to create the networking with SAARC region on sanitation. We can access to to check all SACOSAN declarations and relevant documents, new trends of sanitation, sanitation coverage of SAARC countries are on display on the website.

Honourable Rauff Hakkem Minister of City Planning and Water supply  discussed about the attempts made by the Sri Lankan Government on the establishment of Regional Centre for SACOSAN  secretariat. Further, Honorable Minister mentioned that the Secretariat will act as a resource, knowledge and learning centre on sanitation,  coordination on hygiene facilitating, regional and cross regional exchange and sharing with other regional countries,  contributing to research and capacity development in South Asia.  Honourable Minister stated that “The Ministry of Water Supply and City Planning will support the centre and provide all assistance needed in mobilizing resources and expertise from both local and external sources”.

Then Mr. A.H. Gunapala Assistant General Manager, National water Supply & Drainage Board and Head of the Regional Centre of SACOSAN Secretariate addressed the vote of thanks. He has conveyed his gratitude to all who have contributed in helping to establish the Regional Centre for SACOSAN Secretariat. He said that regional secretariat for SACOSAN will continue its activities with the support of stakeholders successfully and with sustainable outcomes, achievements

However, inauguration of regional centre for SACOSAN in Sri Lanka is pride to our country and the contribution for the Sanitation from the regional centre of SACOSAN is valuable for South Asian Region.

The RSC is to Promote Networking & Knowledge Managemnt for SACOSAN Movement Among SAARC Countries  


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