The Regional Centre for Sanitation (RCS) hosted a regional conference in Sri Lanka to facilitate a knowledge sharing platform on Sustainable Sanitation Solutions. It was co-organized by the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), the Freshwater Action Network South Asia (FANSA) and the Centre for Policy Research (CPR). The RCS invited professionals and researchers from the South Asian Countries to share their experiences and best practices at a three-day conference held from 21st to 23rd February 2019. Experts and practitioners from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Maldives enriched the conference by sharing their solutions and best practices which strengthen the knowledge and practice towards addressing the current and foreseeable challenges to achieve sustainable sanitation. Participants from India included Shubhagato Dasgupta, Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research; Anil Mehta, Principal, VB Polytechnic, Udaipur; Arun Vyas, Additional Chief Engineer, Udaipur Municipal Corporation; Tanvi Tomar, Research Associate, Centre for Policy Research.
The conference had four thematic sessions. The first session held on the first day focused on ‘Improving Sectoral Governance through Policy and Program Monitoring, Reporting and Accountability Instruments’. Speakers from Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan threw light on the importance of aligning the policies to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and improving tracking mechanisms and accountability mechanisms required at all levels for better ownership. They further elaborated on integrating the policies to the practice through awareness and sensitisation programmes, the need for aligning the scalable solutions with government programmes and also the desired coordination and collaboration between implementing agencies. A total of eight speakers presented in the first session.
The second day covered the second and third thematic sessions followed by two panel discussions towards the end of each session. The second session was on ‘Scalable Faecal Sludge and Septage Management Solutions’ and covered pilot projects being implemented in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India. The presenters spoke about circular economy model, treatment of waste water, Faecal Sludge Treatment Plants (FSTPs), operations & maintenance (O&M) and capacity building needed to establish the FSTPs and business models of FSM (Faecal Sludge Management). Following this, the panel discussion revolved around best practice documentation and finding shareable models on reaching the poor, sanitation worker safety etc. along with RSC’s role as a sharing learning platform. The third session titled ‘Environmentally Sustainable and Climate Resilient Sanitation Solutions’, enabled the presenters to share views on increasing awareness on the need for climate resilient sanitation solutions and innovations such as solar bio energy using waste water and waste, GroSan toilets and climate change resilient waste water treatment.
The fourth session on the third day titled ‘Building Blocks for Achieving Inclusive and Equitable Sanitation’ focused on an inclusive approach to ensure sanitation for children in government schools and engaging them as ambassadors of sanitation. It also threw light on an integrated approach at the national level in Sri Lanka, addressing the issues of child faeces disposal and sanitation enterprise to respond to the sanitation needs of the urban poor.