By: Augustine N. Myers in Mumbai – A week-long Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene has officially opened in Mumbai, India, bringing together hundreds of sanitation and hygiene professionals from around the world.
The first global Forum which is organized by the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) is designed to place special attention on sanitation and hygiene.
WSSCC Executive Director, Jon Lane speaking Monday at the formal start of the conference taking place at the Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre and Hotel, described sanitation and hygiene as crucial development and health issues that are often over looked and have not got the needed attention.
According to Mr. Lane, there are many Meetings about water and sanitation, and that the topic of sanitation has been neglected in comparison to the topic of water.
He pointed out that the problems of sanitation around the world are so huge, thereby making it very important to come together as professionals comprising the Media, Local and International NGOs, Civil Society, Government Officials and others to talk specifically about sanitation and hygiene, and about how to achieve sanitation for everybody in the world.
Mr. Lane’s remarks were made Monday during the official opening of the Forum, and also at a Media Briefing involving three other personalities. They include Ms. Malini Shankar, Principal Secretary of the Water Supply and Sanitation Department of the Government of Maharashtra; Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak, Founder of the Sulabh International Services Organization; and Ms. Noma Neseni, Commissioner of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.
The four personalities during the Media Briefing, spoke of the importance of sanitation and hygiene, and called for new ways of addressing access to sanitation for all across the world.
The week-long Global Forum on Sanitation and Hygiene which is co-hosted by the Government of India and the Government of Maharashtra, is a unique event that facilitates learning and sharing between WSSCC members, sector practitioners and policymakers, and seeks to showcase knowledge, investment, communications, advocacy, partnership and networking approaches.
It further seeks to strengthen National, Regional, South-South and Global dialogue and collaboration on the critical sanitation and hygiene issues of the time.
The Global Forum on Sanitation and Hygiene through its four main objectives, firstly facilitates learning and sharing between members, sector practitioners and policymakers, while it secondly energizes professional communities by focusing exclusively on sanitation and hygiene, at the same time it thirdly showcases knowledge, investment, communications, advocacy, partnership and networking approaches, and that its last objective seeks to primary strengthen national, regional, South-South, and global dialogue and collaboration.
According to the Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), as a professional community, its efforts including those of other partners designed to increase access to sanitation and use of good hygiene practices in developing countries have been ma many and varied.
But, the WSSCC says the good news is that sanitation and hygiene professionals have made great strides in both policy and practice in recent years, making the Mumbai Conference an opportunity to build upon such momentum.
The Conference which principally focuses on core sanitation and hygiene topics and links to other sectors such as health, education and business, equally provides a global platform for sharing knowledge and findings from the regional sanitation conferences in East Asia, South Asia, Africa and Latin America that precede the Forum in Mumbai, India.
The WSSCC has meanwhile expressed hope that the Global Forum Sanitation and Hygiene will draw in lessons from the impressive sanitation accomplishments in Asia and will offer instructive and inspirational field visits to key programmes in India’s Maharashtra State, considered a leader in the region in innovative service delivery at scale.
As part of the week-long conference, a WASH Media Workshop was held on Sunday, prior to the official opening on Monday. The Workshop brought together Journalists from the West African WASH Journalists Network, Journalists from the South Asia WASH Media Forum including other media practitioners from Africa, Asia and the United States of America.