Over 40 Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) partners from the South Asian region, including government, civil society and supporting agencies, met in Dhaka on 10 January 2016, ahead of the 6th South Asian conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN).
After reviewing the new SWA strategy, partners discussed the added value of the partnership in their respective countries, as well as ways to increase engagement in the region and the preparation to the upcoming High Level Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Sanitation and Water in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 15-16 March 2016.
All countries who are currently members (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan) shared with other partners that SWA, and in particular the preparation to past High Level Meetings, has had three types of impact on their country processes:
- It had raised the profile of the WASH sector, especially sanitation, among Ministers.
- It had leveraged financial resources, either through increased domestic allocations or through increased attention from donors.
- It had strenghtened the ongoing relationship with their Ministry of Finance.
- It had strengthened coordination among ministries and with stakeholders.
Countries who are not yet SWA members, such as Maldives, Bhutan, and India, asked for their Ministers to be invited to the High Level Meeting in March and committed to discuss about SWA with their Ministers present at SACOSAN.
To prepare for the High Level Meeting in Addis Ababa, countries plan to meet with their Ministers back home, and to engage stakeholders in preparing both advocacy activities and briefing/supporting materials for their Ministers.
Representatives from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, UNICEF Bangladesh, and WSSCC closed the meeting. They welcomed the new level of ambition of SWA, especially its intention to position itself as the review mechanism of the WASH-related SDGs. They also welcomed its increased focus both on government leadership and on alignment with regional platforms.