The Third South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN)
November 16-21 2008, Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi, India

The Delhi Declaration

We, the Heads of Delegations from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, participating in the Third South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN-III), in New Delhi from November 16 to 21 2008, attended by Ministers, elected representatives, government officials, professionals, academia, civil society, non-government and community organizations, development partners and the private sector:

1. Recognise that access to sanitation and safe drinking water is a basic right, and according national priority to sanitation is imperative.

2. Confirm our commitment to achieving National and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on Sanitation in a time-bound manner in all participating countries of South Asia.

3. Assert that achieving total and sustainable sanitation in all rural and urban communities in our countries is not only possible but also is our cherished goal reiterated in SACOSAN-I at Dhaka (2003) and SACOSAN-II at Islamabad (2006)

4. We draw attention and reiterate our commitment to the following key principles and specific actions that need to be implemented at household, local, sub-national and national levels to accelerate performance and rapidly achieve our sanitation goals:

a. Ensuring that the present and future generations enjoy a healthy environment, with clean air, soil and fresh water resources;

b. Achieving sanitation for all will be an inclusive process, involving all stakeholders at all stages, especially local governments, community and grassroots groups;

c. Sanitation will not be considered merely an infrastructure or financing challenge, but one that requires effective policy,institutional and fiscal incentives to change behaviour, working in partnership with religious leaders, communities, institutions (e.g. schools etc.), local governments and service providers; and strengthening their capacities and accountability in mobilizing, implementation and monitoring;

d. Promote thinking of sanitation as the full cycle of proper arrangements, safe conveyance and sanitary disposal/re-use of liquid and solid wastes (including solutions that do not adversely impact the quality of land and water resources), and associated hygiene behaviour;

e. A range of sanitation provision and service options will be available to choose from. Basic access to sanitation facilities will be ensured to all by reducing disparities through appropriate budgetary policies, with active participation, contribution, decision-making and ownership by communities;

f. Incentives and support will be provided for the poor and people in vulnerable areas;

g. The needs and concerns of women and most vulnerable (e.g. infants, children especially girl-children, the differently-abled, the elderly) will be addressed as a priority. Innovative mechanisms e.g. micro-finance by Self Help Groups, will be effectively promoted;

h. Socially and economically disadvantaged households will be mobilized to form groups; and supported to access sanitation and other development programs;

i. The special sanitation needs of women (e.g. menstrual hygiene management) will be integrated in planning, implementation, monitoring and measurement of program outcomes. The key role of women in managing sanitation and hygiene in community settings will be enhanced;

j. Greater thrust will be placed on promoting adequate sanitation in schools e.g. separate facilities for boys and girls, supported by safe drinking water and with adequate child-friendly facilities. Hygiene education will be incorporated into the school curricula to promote good hygiene behaviour and upkeep of facilities;

k. Collaboration between countries will be strengthened to develop capacities, sharing of best practices, and to promote mechanisms for independent monitoring;

l. Behaviour Change Communication and information sharing will be effectively utilized for creating demand for clean and healthy environment, and for promoting good hygiene behaviour; in partnership with Media and using Information and Communication Technologies;

m. Sanitation and hygiene needs to be integrated into health, education and other related policies, and regulations effectively enforced;

n. Technologies (e.g. which require less water and/or no water) and the practice of “reuse and recycle” of human wastes, and solid and liquid wastes (including conversion into energy), will be promoted;

o. Collaborations with the private sector (including toilet associations and groups of sanitary goods and service-providers) will be strengthened in developing sanitation standards, technologies and products that are appropriate, affordable, ecologically-friendly and easily accessible;

p. For urban areas, an integrated city-wide approach will be adopted to ensure the safe management (including treatment and disposal) of human wastes, and all other solid and liquid wastes (including medical, industrial and commercial wastes, etc.);

q. The urban poor, especially those in slum settlements, will be facilitated and supported to obtain access to safe sanitation as a part of the integrated city-wide sanitation plans; and

r. The critical role of personnel involved in sanitation work will be recognized, and measures taken to raise their dignity.

Actions and Commitments

In this International Year of Sanitation 2008, we commit ourselves to achieving our national goals and the Millennium Development Goals on Sanitation in a time-bound manner, and shall take the following actions:

1. Continue advocacy and awareness to sustain the momentum given to sanitation explicitly at the regional, national, sub-national and local levels, in policy, budgetary allocation, human resources, and implementation;

2. Strengthen community efforts and developing capacities of Local Governments, non-governmental organizations, youth and community groups to work in partnership for sustainable sanitation solutions;

3. Ensure occupational dignity, health, safety and improve the profile and working conditions of personnel involved in sanitation work;
4. Prioritise sanitation as a development intervention for health, dignity and security of all members of communities especially infants, girl-children, women, the elderly and differently-abled;

5. Mainstream sanitation across sectors, ministries/departments, institutions, domains (private, household, schools, community, public), and socio-political persuasions, so that sanitation is everybody’s concern and prioritised in their respective programs (e.g. railways or tourism agencies promoting access to sanitation facilities as a part of their programs);

6. Develop and implement approaches, methodologies, technologies and systems for emergencies, and disaster situations, and for areas, with special characteristics/ terrains or groups suffering temporary displacement;

7. Advocate globally the recognition of climate change impacts on sanitation provision in South Asia, and develop and implement strategies and technologies that adapt to and mitigate impacts;

8. Enable flexibility and variety in options and practical solutions to suit local conditions, preferences, and resources;

9. An inter-country Working Group, led by country focal points, will meet periodically to promote research and development, collaborations, exchanges of innovations, experiences and expertise; networks among intra-country groups and agencies will be created for sharing of knowledge; and

10. The Indicative “South Asia Roadmap for Achieving Sanitation Goals” (cf. Annex) may be consulted by the participant countries to develop their national Action Plans for implementation over the 2009-2011 period.

The momentum gained by the three SACOSANs will be further continued by the hosting of the Fourth SACOSAN in Sri Lanka in 2010, and the fifth SACOSAN in Nepal in 2012.
We are grateful to and thank the Government and people of India, for successfully hosting the Third South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN-III).


Mr. Ghulam Qader
Coordinator, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Department, Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development
Government of Afghanistan

Mr. Shaikh Khurshid Alam
Secretary, Local Government Division
Ministry of LG, RD & Cooperatives
Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

Dasho (Dr.) Gado Tshering
Secretary, Ministry of Health
Royal Government of Bhutan

Hon’ble Mr. Aslam Mohamed Shakir
Minister of State for Housing, Transport and Environment
Republic of Maldives

Hon’ble Mr. Bijay Kumar Gachhadar,
Minister, Ministry of Physical Planning and Works
Government of Nepal

Hon’ble Mr. Hameed Ullah Jan Afridi
Federal Minister for Environment, Ministry of Environment
Government of Pakistan

Hon’ble Mr. Wijesinghe Hettiachchi Mudiyanselage Athula Sarath Kumara Chief Minister, North–Western Province Government of Sri Lanka

Hon’ble Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh
Minister of Rural Development, Government of India

Annex: An Indicative South Asia Roadmap for Achieving Sanitation Goals
The Sanitation Crisis in South Asia
1. Every one of two South Asians is still forced the indignity of defecating in the open, or using other forms of unimproved sanitation.

2. There is a high disparity in access and use of sanitation facilities across socio-economic groups.

3. Considerable number of women, girl-children, urban and rural poor and other vulnerable groups especially suffer the indignity, inconvenience, loss of time and energy due to lack of proper sanitation.

4. Poor sanitation and hygiene kills a large number of South Asian children every day, and frequent diseases also cause widespread mal-nutrition amongst children, stunting their physical and mental growth.

5. Poor sanitation causes huge economic losses to households and nations, apart from imposing alarming health and environmental costs for communities.

The Goal

• Our national goals with timelines
• MDG -By 2015: reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe sanitation.

Indicative Roadmap

The Indicative Roadmap is a set of practical and measurable actions that focuses country efforts on achieving outcomes in a systematic manner. It lays out a checklist for policies, institutional arrangements, roles and responsibilities and implementation actions that help a country assess whether they have accorded the required priority, and have in place the elements that are needed to achieve the national goals and the MDG 2015 goals in a time-bound manner.

The Indicative Roadmap is based on lessons in South Asian countries in accelerating the access to safe and sustainable sanitation, and other global experiences and international commitments.

The Indicative Roadmap is for use by political leaders, governments, local governments, sector professionals, civil society organizations, community groups, external support agencies, service providers and other stakeholders to carry out situation analyses, for planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation at different levels (e.g. sub-national/provincial, district, city, local government, etc.) to assess the progress toward achieving the national goals and the MDGs in a time-bound manner.
Each participating country will formulate their own Country Sanitation Action Plan 2009-2011 (last column) and take steps to implement the SACOSAN-3 Actions and Commitments as a part of their national programming. The Roadmap will guide implementation of the Delhi Declaration and monitoring progress up to the next round of stock-taking proposed for SACOSAN-IV in Sri Lanka in 2010.

The Roadmap comprises five groups of milestones toward successful achievement of the national goals and the MDGs for sanitation and hygiene. Some action points are suggested to aid possible improvements. Every item with an “unsatisfactory” rating, needs to be addressed until it achieves a “satisfactory” rating.

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