At the first Pakistan Conference on Sanitation (PACOSAN) on May 28–29, 2009 in Islamabad, Federal Minister for Environment Mr. Hameedullah Jan Afridi proposed a new sanitation target – to achieve total sanitation coverage by 2015. The new ambitious target is 10 years ahead of the earlier schedule set in the National Sanitation Policy in 2006. .
By organizing PACOSAN, a minister-level national conference on sanitation, the government of Pakistan took an important step to follow up on the South Asia Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN) conferences and to mobilize in-country stakeholders. Pakistan is the first country in South Asia to hold such a national conference, thus building momentum at the country level. WSP, UNICEF, Water Aid, Plan Pakistan, USAID and UN-Habitat all participated in the conference, which was a nationally-driven initiative.
Sanitation Policy Rollout Plan
PACOSAN brought together nearly 300 stakeholders across the country to discuss the current state of sanitation and plan for the future, with practical and measurable actions and targets, within the promised timeframe.
Mr. Jawed Ali Khan, Director General at the Ministry of Environment, presented the federal government’s comprehensive rollout plan for the National Sanitation Policy at the conference. Included in the plan is a reward system aimed at providing incentives to local communities to improve their sanitation practices. Mr. Khan said that the Federal Government is ready to share 80 percent of the reward amount as “performance grants” with the Provinces on achieving sanitation outcomes, such as union councils rewarding areas that become free of open defecation and litter, and that ensures safe disposal of sewage. The cleanest union council could get a reward as well.
Developing Provincial Sanitation Policies
While the federal government provides policy guidance for sanitation, implementation takes place at provincial and local levels. All four provinces have been developing policies, strategies, and plans to prioritize sanitation and to provide strategic direction to achieve total and sustainable sanitation in all rural and urban communities. The province of Balochistan has already adopted its provincial sanitation policy. Meanwhile the other provinces briefed the conference on their progress.
The PACOSAN conference provided an opportunity for provinces to provide updates on progress on these initiatives and to share experiences and good practices.