Hyderabad: National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj (NIRDPR) is hosting the UNICEF WASH (Water, Hygiene and Sanitation) Conclave for Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka from 18th to 20th December 2019.
The 6th WASH Conclave will see development partners from the three States participate for knowledge exchange and action on WASH-related issues. This Conclave is being jointly organized in collaboration with the three state governments and NIRDPR.
The theme of this year’s Conclave is ‘Celebrating Success’ and will focus on rural WASH interventions and its contribution to relevant Sustainable Development Goals. The Conclave will provide the opportunity to reflect on ODF+ (Open defecation free) strategy, 10-year sanitation strategy and the Jal Shakti Mission guidelines released by Government of India and agree on broad actions to realize its objectives.
Delivering the Inaugural Address, Her Excellency Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan, Hon’ble Governor of Telangana, said, “I am here more as a medical doctor than as Governor of Telengana because the theme of this Conclave is more to do with ‘health’ – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. As a gynecologist, I have witnessed in hospitals women suffering because of poor hygiene habits, and children dying due to diarrheal deaths, which are very much preventable. The commitment the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi demonstrated on sanitation percolated down at every level of administration, and so today we celebrate the success together we have made the country achieve.”
Further, Dr. Tamilisai Soundararajan added, “I appreciate all the District Collectors, and the Mission teams for your commitment towards this mission. Menstrual hygiene among adolescent girls is another issue we need to pay attention to, as part of ODF + in the years to come. This is a moment of celebration, as well as a moment to commit ourselves towards achieving the larger goal of Clean India.”
As far as sanitation is concerned, India has already achieved SD Goal-6 (Sustainable Development Goals of the UN), which is almost 10 years ahead of what the UN-SDGs slated for all the nations to strive and achieve. In sanitation front, India has become a storehouse of strategies for other developing countries to learn from.
Speaking on the occasion, Ms. Meital Rusdia, Head, UNICEF, Hyderabad Field Office, said, “This celebration today, and the excellence achieved in WASH sector have become possible because of the commitment the State and District Administration showed in achieving ODF. Every village level motivator, Community leader, SHG women – everyone deserve to celebrate this moment.”
Further, Ms. Meital Rusdia said, “WASH is paramount for children to achieve their full potential. This year is a globally important year for child rights as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC). In India I find there is a strong political will, which is perceptible from the increasing fund allocation for WASH sector. With the commitment of the staff in Panchayats and Rural Development Department, and the field level functionaries we shall move towards the next milestones in enabling WASH services available to every child.”
WASH partners, officials and experts from Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are participating in this event along with officials from UNICEF Hyderabad Field Office, Meital Rusdia, and Senior Government representatives from the three States.
Addressing the Conclave, Dr. W.R. Reddy IAS, Director General, NIRDPR, said, “The Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has dispelled the misgivings and hesitations people had about sanitation, and brought dignity by display his commitment and action towards sanitation, and sanitation workers. Celebrations, awards and appreciations offer renewed motivation to work, and help reach greater heights in the years to come. When we celebrate we need to make not of the gaps in our ODF story, and construe such gaps not as failures, but as areas that require focus and innovative ways of addressing in the days to come.”
Further, Dr. Reddy added, “The idea of providing piped water supply to every household in India is an ambitious mission. We need to also simultaneously work on source sustainability and water conservation issues such as rain water harvesting, and wastewater recycling, among others. Children can be best ambassadors of any such mission. Every school must be taken up as a demo-plot for children to learn water conservation, rainwater harvesting, wastewater recycling etc. Any grassroots level plan we make must be weaved into a comprehensive Gram Panchayat Development Plan so that it gains community sanction, and therefore, gets official recognition.”
Mr Soujay Majumdhar from UNICEF Delhi said, “In the past 60 months, nearly 400 households have got access to toilet facilities under Swachh Bharat Mission-G. But, there are still people who are sick, or physically challenged and so on, not able to use toilet facilities. Their number might be small, yet we need to address such issues also for ODF to become complete reality”.
The new Department of Water and Sanitation (under the Jal Shakthi Ministry) has come out with a 10-year National Rural Sanitation Strategy 2019-29, which will be disseminated through this conclave. An important element of the National Rural Sanitation Strategy is ODF sustainability, besides Solid and Liquid Waste Management in rural areas, and ensuring tap water to every household through Jal Jeevan Mission.
The action points on these agenda points shall emerge as Conclave Commitments at the end of the three-day conclave at NIRDPR, Hyderabad. WASH Conclave is an annual event of UNICEF Hyderabad Office to bring all the stakeholders in WASH sector on one platform for mutual sharing and learning.
The conclave will be attended by senior officials from the Jal Sakthi Ministry, senior officers from the State and district levels. Head of the Departments from Education, Health, Women and Child Welfare, Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, Swachh Bharat Mission shall participate and discuss latest developments in the WASH in their respective districts/states. Select District Collectors, CEOs from these three states will join for panel discussions and share good practices in WASH sector, and the challenges faced. Champions of WASH sector representing different levels from different states have been invited to share success stories.
WASH is the collective term for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene. Due to their interdependent nature, these three core issues are grouped together to represent a growing sector. While each a separate field of work, each is dependent on the presence of the other. UNICEF’s work in water focuses on the ability for children to access safe water, the quality of the water they can access and the journey they must take to collect it.