Launching Keeping your promises on sanitation

WaterAid staff from across South Asia joined with civil society to launch an exciting new campaign to raise the political profile of sanitation.


21 Mar 2013 | International

WaterAid has united with organisations and communities from across South Asia in a campaign calling on governments to keep their promises to improve access to sanitation.

Politicians and civil society members from across six South Asian countries gathered to launch the Keeping your promises on sanitation campaign in Kathmandu Nepal. The launch event coincided with simultaneous events in Bangladesh, Pakistan and India.

Parliamentarians attending the launch issued a joint parliamentary statement to set out a call for action by South Asian governments to achieve total access to sanitation in the region. As well as increased investment in the sector, parliamentarians called for better targeting by both national governments and donors of existing resources towards poor and marginalised groups. They also asked that South Asian governments ensure that sanitation is prioritised in the post-2015 positions of South Asian governments.

The launch also included a citizens’ charter setting out the steps that are needed to address the sanitation crisis in South Asia that results in over 300,000 preventable child deaths every year. The charter calls on governments to recognise sanitation as a human right and ensure that this right is realised by allocating resources, targeting the most marginalised and hard to reach populations and monitoring and reporting on progress.

Girish Menon, Director of International Programmes at WaterAid, said: "Sanitation in South Asia is at crisis point and it requires urgent action. Despite no shortage of high-level political commitments, the overall progress of sanitation, particularly reaching poor and vulnerable communities, is unsatisfactory.

"Through the launch of a regional sanitation campaign, the campaign partners highlight the fact that water and sanitation are the building blocks out of poverty, underlying all areas of development, to encourage governments to take immediate action."

Across the region, one billion people have nowhere safe to go to the toilet with 700 million people practising open defecation. Diarrhoea caused by a lack of access to safe water and sanitation is the second leading disease cause of under-five deaths in the region, claiming the lives of 300,000 children every year.

The campaign calls on South Asian governments to ensure the right to sanitation and water is realised across the region by:

  • Producing clear budget lines specifically for sanitation and hygiene
  • Increasing budget allocation for the provision of sustainable sanitation services by 5% annually
  • Allocating 20% of the sanitation budget for poor, marginalised and hard to reach communities to ensure equitable distribution
  • Recommending clear and strong sanitation targets in the follow up to the Millennium Development Goals

As well as having a significant impact on health, dignity, education, and livelihoods, investing in sanitation makes economical sense, with every £1 spent on water and sanitation returning an average of £4 in increased productivity.

Find out more:
- Read more about WaterAid’s involvement in the campaign >
- For all media enquiries relating to the WaterAid’s participation in the campaign, please contact the WaterAid Media team on