The East Asia Ministerial Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene 2007 (EASAN 2007) brought together leaders of fifteen nations to discuss options for accelerated national action to achieve and exceed sanitation targets of the Millennium Development Goals in East Asia, in which almost one billion people still lack access to basic sanitation facilities.
Atty. Belma A. Cabilao, Congresswoman, Philippines:
“The Philippine participation in EASAN would lead to improvement of water and sanitation projects in the Philippines. I will encourage my colleagues in Congress to give this top priority.”
A declaration adopted by consensus of 135 participants at the end of the first-ever East Asia Ministerial Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene contains a series of commitments aimed at broad-based, equitable, and sustainable progress – moves that would reverse years of under-investment in and low prioritization of sanitation and hygiene. Participants from 15 countries, among them East Asia’s least developed, pledged to take the necessary steps to meet the MDG target for sanitation in their respective countries. They vowed to increase the level of investment in sanitation and hygiene promotion to benefit, in particular, the poor and marginalized who face the worst conditions and the most limited access to adequate facilities.
The Conference Outcomes were reported to the Asia Pacific Water Summit, a meeting of heads of state of 49 countries.
If the MDG on sanitation is to be achieved, almost 400 million people in the region will need to gain access to improved sanitation facilities, according to the 2006 Human Development Report. “Clean water and sanitation are among the most powerful preventative medicines for reducing child mortality. They are to diarrhea what immunization is to killer diseases such as measles or polio: a mechanism for reducing risk and averting death. In addition to saving lives, upstream investments in water and sanitation make economic sense because they would reduce the downstream costs facing health systems. Universal access to even the most basic water and sanitation facilities would reduce the financial burden on health systems in developing countries by about $1.6 billion annually….”
Lu Lay Sreng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Rural Development, Cambodia:
“EASAN provides us, Cambodia and the region, with a necessary platform to make progress on sanitation as a common good for everybody.”
EASAN 2007 aimed to:
Generate commitments from governments and partners to increase investment in improved sanitation and hygiene;
Agree on a joint declaration to implement effective national policies, programs and partnerships for sanitation and hygiene; and
Explore options for establishing a regional process on sanitation and hygiene to maintain focus and attention on this vital issue.
The focus countries for the conference are: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Mongolia, Timor-Leste, the Philippines and Vietnam. Other participating countries are: Brunei Darussalam, Japan, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand. About 180 representatives will be drawn from participating countries. National delegations led by ministerial representatives and including leading decision makers will come together with government, civil and private sector participants that have hands-on experience implementing sanitation and hygiene programs on the ground.
Co-organized by WSP, Unicef and WHO, EASAN 2007 is supported by the Australian Government’s Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID), the Government of Sweden’s Swedish International Development Assistance (SIDA), Asian Development Bank (ADB), USAID Eco-Asia Program and other donors. EASAN is Working in Partnership with: UNSGAB (UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation), UNESCAP (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), WSSCC (Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council), and IWA (International Water Association).