PM to inaugurate South Asian Conference on Sanitation tomorrow

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New Delhi, Nov 17 (UNI) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would inaugurate the third South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN-III) tomorrow to deliberate on sanitation and its impact on development.

The day-long conference organised by the Ministry of Rural Development would be on the theme 'Sanitation for Dignity and Health". Under it issues like Sanitation and Sustainability, Sanitation and Development, Sanitation Beyond Toilets and Institutions and Partnerships for Sanitation will be discussed at length.

Country heads and delegations from South Asian Region and other countries would participate in the conference along with members of different UN/International Agencies/ networks, International and National NGOs, State officials, members of Panchayati Raj Institutions, local organisations, self help groups, women groups, community based organisations.

Issues related with sustainable sanitation, making it people-centric, addressing gender issues, sanitation for nomadic and landless communities, economic gains of good sanitation, aspects of emergency situations, legal aspects relating to clean environment are likely to be discussed at the conference.

The objective of the conference is to accelerate the progress of sanitation and hygiene in South Asia and to enhance peoples' quality of life in fulfillment of the Millennium Development Goals and the commitments made in the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

Till date two conferences (SACOSANs) have been held at Bangladesh (2003) and Pakistan (2006) respectively.

Of the estimated 2.4 billion people who have no access to sanitation facilities, 600 million are thought to be in South Asia.

According to the 2001 Census data, only 21.9 per cent of the rural population in India had access to latrines. Inadequate sanitation has been a major cause for many diseases in developing countries such as India.

Low awareness of the potential health and economic benefits of better sanitation and hygiene practices, perception of high costs of having a household toilet, the perceived convenience of open defecation and inadequate involvement of local self-governments and communities have kept the sanitation status low.

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