PR Islamabad - The three day convention on Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) concluded in Islamabad on Monday, with a set a recommendations to be presented to the Prime Minister’s office to be added to the National Cleanliness Programme being launched this week.

 The convention, which was held as part of the International Health Expo at the Pak-China Friendship Center was attended by eminent experts, officials from public and private sectors, representatives of civil society, researchers and students working to find solutions for Pakistan’s abysmal WASH conditions.    

 Speaking at the conventions, Mr. Magnus Wolfe Murray, Advisor on WASH & Shelter Department of DFID-UK said that the government and partners should focus their attention towards the rural areas where a large portion of the population is living in the most troubling WASH situations. He stressed on evidence based programming about WASH and discussed the need for formulating strategies to achieve the targets.

 “We have to be real about the issues of sanitation, knowing what will work and what wont,” said Mr. Magnus Wolfe Murray. “We need to address the issues like fecal sludge going into river streams by looking look at policies of other countries like the United Kingdom which have curtailed the problem through decades of work on policies and reforms.”

 Pakistan ranks amongst the worst countries with regards to its water and sanitation facilities. Poor Water Hygiene and Sanitation conditions are a leading cause for diseases which cost the country 112 billion rupees annually. Pakistan ranks at number 2 in child mortality rate due to lack of proper sanitation facilities with 53 per cent children dying every year due to water borne disease. Meanwhile, 43.7 per cent children in the country are underweight, which would result in a generation of stunted population.

 Former CEO of Urban Unit Punjab Dr. Nasir Javed briefed the participants about the overall scenario of sanitation conditions of Pakistan and presented data from the last PSLM and MICS surveys. He also discussed major challenges faced by the people of Pakistan and suggested appropriate measures to improve the situation.

 He said that the coordination between all provinces is very vital. A strong well integrated coordination mechanism needs to be established and efforts need to be carried out towards ensuring that no one is left behind when working towards meeting the SDG targets successfully.

 Project Manager SDG Unit Punjab Mr. Shahzad Khalil, talked about the SDG baseline on sanitation and its localization by sharing examples from his province. Mr. Sajid Zaman, Programme Manager, AWF consultant elaborated on the National and Provincial Sanitation Policies and the different components involved as part of Sanitation Policy including legislation, implementation, independent regulations and sector coordination. Amaar Orkazai, WASH Specialist, UNICEF Sindh, who was the Moderator of session shared situation about WASH polices and sector coordination in Sindh Province.

 Experts deliberated that a large amount of waste water is seeping into the underground sources of fresh water, compromising the water quality in the ground and at surface.

 The participants of session stressed on strengthening sector coordination to enable collaboration and partnership as well as to address challenges associated with implementation of policies made at the national, provincial and district level.

 Mr. Jawed Ali Khan, from UN Habitat also shared his experiences about the work he has done with he government and the UN in formulating policies to help the country in achieving its Sustainable Development Goals for water and sanitation.

 The Ms Tanya Khan from the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council appreciated the input of all experts and acknowledged their valuable active participation in the sessions.

 Topics touched at Day 3 of WASH Convention include SDGs, Pakistan’s policies on sanitation, implementation of sanitation policies in Pakistan, overview and analysis of case studies, coordination at National and Provincial level, WASH in emergencies and the role of development partners in overcoming WASH related challenges.

 Experts suggested a National Sanitation Portal be formed to present the revised policy framework with complete system design, a well-defined institutional mechanism, where all data can be submitted for the management to under-take effective measures and achieve the required targets.