ISLAMABAD: President Mamnoon Hussain Wednesday called for a comprehensive strategy based on sharing of experiences and a collective approach to address the issue of sanitation in South Asia with an objective to create a healthy and clean environment.
Addressing the inaugural session of South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN), the President said only those countries could rise to the top that had a healthy nation. Mamnoon said the member states hosted large populations that required quality sanitation, basic hygiene facilities, safe drinking water and cleanliness.
He said the issue could only be addressed if the members rise above their differences and shared their expertise in tackling the serious issue. The President said the member states faced almost a similar set of problems and the success stories could be emulated by others for ensuring a healthy society by adopting a coordinated approach.
He expressed the confidence that the conference would be able to meet the expectations and achieve the desired results. The President pointed that over the decades, Pakistan had made significant progress in health and sanitation in the country.
He recalled that in the ’90s, only around one-fourth households had access to proper sanitation facility, while now it had risen to over two-third homes. The President also noted the progress made by Sri Lanka and Maldives in this regard.
He said the South Asian countries needed to focus on provision of basic sanitation facilities to all its citizens and to all areas of the country. He said with commitment, sincerity and hard work, this objective could easily be achieved.
He was appreciative of the role of Minister for Climate Change, Mushahid Ullah Khan and particularly mentioned the setting up of the Islamabad Botanical Gardens. He said it would have a lasting impact, particularly on the next generations.
He said the government was committed to extend the sanitation services to each and every household in the country. In this regard, he called for coordinated efforts between the federal government and the provinces to address the issue of sanitation and challenges of climate change.
He said polluted waterways, smog, disposal of garbage dumps were serious issues that needed to be addressed on priority. He said the South Asian region was an attractive place for foreign investors and a pollution free environment would make it a more attractive place.
He said this had become all the more important for Pakistan where the China Pakistan Economic Corridor was rapidly taking shape. Earlier, Minister for Climate Change Mushahid Ullah Khan said 86 per cent of Pakistani population had access to toilets and numerous measures were afoot to extend their reach to the remaining population.
He said, overcoming the sanitation and poor hygiene was the most serious challenge confronting the South Asia. He said timely addressing of the issue would help reduce deaths and lead the people live a decent life, improve gender equality and health.
The 7th International three-day conference is held biennially on a rotational basis in each of the SACOSAN member country; Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. NNI