Freshwater Action Network
– grassroots influencing on water and sanitation

Ensure universal access to improved toilets and end open defecation in South Asia by 2020

Press release: 21 October 2013


Grassroots activists call on South Asian governments to end the sanitation crisis, starting with those most in need
As the fifth South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN V, 22-24 October 2013) kicks off in Kathmandu, Nepal, leading civil society groups called on their governments to recognize the urgency of the South Asian sanitation crisis and set robust plans to achieve universal access to improved sanitation toilets and ending open defecation by 2020. In turn, civil society groups are committing to actively support South Asian governments to intensify efforts for ending the sanitation crisis in the region.

400 delegates and speakers, including renowned experts and practitioners from the eight SAARC countries are attending this ministerial conference where civil society representatives and community leaders will share the views of thousands of people living with the reality of unsafe sanitation and calling governments to deliver on commitments made during SACOSAN IV in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in 2011.


In addition, they call for:

  • In line with the spirit of the UN General Assembly resolution and SACOSAN IV commitments, to recognize access to sanitation as a legally enforceable right;
  • South Asian governments to establish robust plans with adequate public funding to achieve universal access to improved toilets facilities and end open defecation by 2020. These time bound plans must be accompanied by comprehensive monitoring and evaluation plans;
  • A sub-plan approach should be adopted by respective governments to ensure access to improved toilets for the poor and marginalized communities;
  • Service providers to ensure toilets are accessible to everyone including people living with disabilities.

All school infrastructure development plans and designs, budgets for operation and maintenance, reporting and monitoring systems should integrate uneven progress on previous SACOSAN commitments. Despite high level commitments made during SACOSAN IV, there are still a billion people living without access to adequate toilets in South Asia.

Progress on sanitation is not reaching the poorest - Not only are current rates of progress on sanitation and hygiene too low in South Asia, much of the progress is not reaching the poorest. The current set of MDGs focus on average progress measured at country and global levels. These averages hide different inequalities, such as a rural - urban divide, exclusion of people living with disabilities and other marginalized groups.

Holistic plans are needed to tackle increasing urbanisation. Each country is facing the challenge of increasing urbanisation and must develop integrated plans that include the necessary policies, resourcing, technology and education. Here again, governments must ensure that these plans cater to the needs of the poorest and most marginalised. In addition, these plans must focus on sustainable management of human excreta and solid waste.

FAN South Asia Convenor Ramisetty Murali says, “it is high time that the governments of South Asia make an honest effort to implement past SACOSAN commitments to save the lives of millions of children dying from sanitation and hygiene related diseases and to improve the quality of life and livelihoods of the poor and most marginalised.”

Notes to editors:
For all media enquiries, please email or call Ramisetty Murali on +977 9851097910 or

email Yakub Hossain or email / call Lajana Manandhar on +977 9851035594

Thematic focus session - Urban sanitation: Wednesday 23 October 9:00 – 12:00 Yak & Yeti
Reaching the unreached: Wednesday 23 October 13:00 – 16:30 Yak & Yeti
Side event - Is integrity an issue for better sanitation services? Wednesday 23 October 17:00 -18:00 Yak & Yeti
Panel discussion with grassroots community leaders Thursday 24 October 10:00-11:30 Yak & Yeti

Copies of statement of SACOSAN V Consultation Meeting of CSOs, Traffic Lights discussion paper and FANSA’s regional reports on equity inclusion and urban sanitation are available online

Commitments between SACOSAN meetings are tracked at
For the latest news from SACOSAN, please visit: and like our face book page at

FAN South Asia (FANSA) is a regional network of small and medium sized civil society organisations. FANSA aims to strengthen the engagement of CSOs in policy-making and development initiatives to achieve the international targets on water and sanitation, improve regional cooperation between CSOs of differing perspectives, priorities and skills to increase the number of NGOs to advocate and communicate clearly on water policy issues and the broader agenda.