East Asian Leaders Vow to Ramp Up Investments in Sanitation and Hygiene

A declaration adopted by consensus by 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 Declaration commits its backers to include women, children and poor families in the planning and roll out of sanitation programs, stressing that the role of individuals, and particularly women, is crucial to realizing sanitation and hygiene objectives.  It also commits ministers and decision-makers to strive to ensure that schools, places of learning and health care facilities are equipped with sanitation facilities.  


A Toilet in Every Home: Sanitation Advocacy in Cambodia - Ministry of Rural Development, Cambodia

Reassessing and Triggering Rural Sanitation in Indonesia - Wan Alkadri, Ministry of Health, Indonesia

Sustainable Urban Sanitation Planning - Dr. Darren Saywell, International Water Association

Investing in Sanitation and Hygiene for Children in East Asia - Anupama Rao, Unicef

Decentralized Wastewater Management Solutions for Dense Peri-Urban Areas in Vietnam - Viet-Anh Nguyen, CEETIA

Piloting of a Market-Based Approach to Rural Sanitation in Vietnam - EASAN Vietnam Task Force

Safeguarding Economic Progress in East Asia Through Sanitation - Jamal Saghir, The World Bank

Atty. Belma A. Cabilao, a congresswoman from the Philippines, said she has high hopes that 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.”   Governments have a “crucial” role to play in setting policy and steering public investments, the Declaration states. It commits countries to provide “strong leadership” through ministries responsible for finance and planning to create the necessary environment for effective national sanitation and hygiene programs.  

Lu Lay Sreng, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Rural Development, Cambodia, said, “EASAN provides us, Cambodia and the region, with a necessary platform to make progress on sanitation as a common good for everybody.”   The Declaration acknowledges that sanitation and hygiene are “fundamental to achievement of many other MDGs” and are necessary for the health, well-being, dignity and safety of the population. Conversely, it recognizes the heavy burden of death and disease linked to a lack of sanitation. An infusion of funding in sanitation would not only translate into direct health benefits, but have “significant” economic benefits, it states.   Ponmek Dalaloy, Minister of Health, Lao PDR, said that “For Lao PDR, EASAN will pave the way for a partnership in sanitation.”  

The two-day conference brought more than 135 delegates together in Beppu City, Japan, including ministers and senior government officials. The Conference outcomes are being reported to the Asia Pacific Water Summit, a meeting of heads of state of 49 countries.  

* Focus countries are Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Mongolia, Timor-Leste, Philippines and Vietnam.Other participating countries are Brunei Darussalam, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Rep. of Korea and Thailand.  


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