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The SACOSAN Advocacy for Integrity in Sanitation

This blog entry was written by Binayak Das. Binayak  is the research & knowledge coordinator at WIN and is also the focal point for South Asia. He has many years of experience working in the water and development sector.

The South Asian Conference on Sanitation, popularly known as SACOSAN is a bi-annual powerful intergovernmental platform/conference trying to improve sanitation services in South Asia. The platform covers numerous issues related to sanitation governance, management and technology. Progress are highlighted, new products are proudly displayed, there is an array of exhibition halls, plenary sessions and intense discussions, and resolutions to improve the toilet plight of South Asia’s 1.5 billion people of which more than 60 % don’t have adequate sanitation access. Topics covered in SACOSAN range from SMART implementation ideas to the demand for more investment to the need for behavioral changes to the usage of dry and eco toilets. All these elements are definitely required and go a long way to improve sanitation services. And progress has been made, efforts are multiplied and results can be seen, but the scale of the problem requires catching other dimensions by the horn apart from those addressed now.

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La gestión comunitaria del agua y el saneamiento en América Latina y el Caribe

Rolando Marín es el Presidente de la Confederación Latinoamericana de Organizaciones Comunitarias. de Servicios de Agua y Saneamiento (CLOCSAS) y Presidente, Comité Directivo de COFORSA, Comisión para el Fortalecimiento del Sector Acueductos Comunales (Costa Rica). La CLOCSAS organiza un seminario sobre el fortalecimiento de la gestión comunitaria del agua a la Semana Mundial del Agua de Estocolmo el día 4 septiembre a las 9:00.

En América Latina y el Caribe (LAC), aún hoy existen 35 millones de personas sin acceso a agua de calidad y 107 millones adolecen de servicios de saneamiento. Esto es paradójico cuando conocemos que nuestro continente es el que cuenta con mayor disponibilidad de agua por habitante en el planeta. Por tanto, el mayor problema de los servicios de agua en LAC no es tanto la escases del recurso, sino más bien un problema de gestión que involucra debilidades institucionales, falta de integridad y de buena gobernanza, malas prácticas e inequidad en cuanto al acceso a recursos y conocimientos.

Frente a esta situación, la respuesta muchas veces ha venido de las mismas comunidades, en la forma de Organizaciones Comunitarias de Servicios de Agua y Saneamiento (OCSAS)[1], de las cuales existen más de 80.000 en toda la región, brindando sus servicios a más de 70 millones de latinoamericanos. En los países de la región, estas OCSAS atienden ya desde un 8% hasta un 40% de la población total, siendo entidades vitales para la salud, el desarrollo y la calidad de vida en nuestras comunidades. Si se les fortalece apropiadamente, las OCSAS tienen la capacidad contribuir a cerrar la brecha de acceso al agua en LAC, atendiendo a 18 millones de personas más, sobre todo en el ámbito rural.

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School toilets and integrity: assessing this WASH problem

This blog entry was written by Binayak Das, Knowledge and Research Coordinator, as well as regional coordinator for South Asia, at WIN.

School going kids in many countries are deprived of basic sanitation and hygiene facilities despite funds and projects innumerable. This can happen as funds for building toilets gets siphoned off; or if a toilet is built, maintenance funds go missing leaving the toilets unusable by students. UNICEF estimates that more than half of world’s schools lack clean toilets, drinking water and hygiene lessons for all school children. The lack of school sanitation is a telling factor that impacts students, especially girls and their completion of school education. This is a common situation in many countries including India. Official figures seem to project success while in reality, the case is otherwise. Take the example of Andhra Pradesh, a state in southern India which has a total of 96,277 schools; and it is reported that 89% of the schools have a toilet facility according to the District Information System for Education statistics from 2010. This number however does not indicate if the facilities are benefiting the students. Data from the state education department states that only 26% of the facilities are functional and about 28% of the schools only have a functional toilet for girls. Toilets are lying idle because of various reasons – shoddy or incomplete construction, lack of water facility, non-availability of toilet cleaning and hand washing ingredients, and unclean toilets. Accountability and transparency is missing from this process. All these reasons point towards the lack of integrity in construction, operation and maintenance process of the toilets and this runs contrary to the standards and norms as per the Right to Education Act that schools need to fulfill.

School children in India - photo credit Binayak Das

School children in India – photo credit Binayak Das

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