APP10-13 ISLAMABAD: April 13 - Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan addressing during the closing session of 7th SACOSAN South Asian Conference on Sanitation. APP photo by Saeed-ul-Mulk

ISLAMABAD, Apr 13 (APP):Minister of Climate Change Mushahidullah Khan Friday said, SACOSAN will help the member country governments to develop effective approach and practical measures to address the emerging challenges of sanitation in South Asia.
While addressing the concluding ceremony of 7th International 3-day Conference SACOSAN scheduled from April 11 -13, minister said, our collective commitments have enabled this region to make great progress towards reducing the gap in provision of sanitation, hygiene and water services to the people of this region over past 15 years.
Minister said, Good sanitation is crucial for people’s health and financial prosperity and countries economic growth, a lot has been achieved during MDGs era by the south Asian countries with Pakistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka achieving MDG sanitation target, however still 500 million people in south Asian countries defecate in open.
He informed that, the rate of open defecation remains higher than those of other poorer countries and region in the world, widespread open defection in South Asia in public health emergency, causing profound negative impact on the productivity of the future workforce.
The diseases spread by poor sanitation kill hundreds of south Asian children each year and stunt the physical and cognitive development of those who survive; this situation needs collective efforts by the regional countries. People grapples with several development priorities in are source constrained environment, he added.
He said, Government of Pakistan is fully aware of the fact that there is probably no greater basic human need and fundamental right than access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.
Since the launch of the Millennium Development for sanitation sector Government of Pakistan commitment for sanitation has enabled the country to make good progress in increasing the rate of improved sanitation from 24% tom 64%.
While sustaining the progress for improved water further, Pakistan also reduced worrisome rate of open defection from 49% to 13% in the last fifteen years.
Minister said, considering the importance of the Water and sanitation, the Government of Pakistan recognized sanitation and water as key priority areas under our vision 2025 strategy. In September 2015, the world adopted the sustainable Development goals (SDGs).
The SDGs were formally launched in October 2015 by the Ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms and in February2016 , Pakistan become the first country in the world whose National Assembly passed a unanimous resolution adopting the SDGs Agenda as Pakistan’s development agenda which can be termed as Pakistan Development Goals(PDGs).
These are steps taken by Government of Pakistan to fast track movement towards achievement of universal coverage for sanitation and water. I am quite sure all the countries in this region have already taken such initiatives to tackle with grave issue of sanitation and water that has marked impact on health of people living in this region.
Minister stressed on the need to work collectively and establish collaboration to improve water and sanitation condition of the region which accommodates almost 50 % of world population.
Minister proposed to all the member country delegates to take an initiative to held Green cricket series to spread public awareness among masses and to promote sports.
Minister congratulated all the member countries of region for making SACOSAN as a true regional forum for sharing knowledge and learning from each others experience.
Ghulam Qadir, Focal Point of SACOSAN of Afghanistan said, We have learned a lot from side events, technical sessions and this Region has witnessed positive changes.
Kinlay Dorjee, Mayor Kingdom of Bhutan said Bhutan is committed towards effective implementation of Islamabad declaration. We will try our level best to provide water, sanitation and hygiene.
Abdul Rauff Hibathul Hakeem,Minister for Ministry of City Planning and Water Supply, Government of Srilanka. We achieved our Millennium Development Goals related to sanitation before time It is matter of pride that we have taken into consideration the vulnerabilities of marginalized communities.
Abdual Mateem Mohammad Minister for Ministry of Environment and Energy Republic of Maldives said Discussions focused on achieving targets with leaving no one behind.

Economic Advisor, Ministry of drinking water and sanitation India, Samir Kumar said We learned a lot from SACOSAN as we e were at 39% at start and now reached at 80% in behaviour change.
He announced that 8th South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN) will be held in India in 2020.