Regional collaboration to improve public sanitation in South Asia

South Asia
Guests of honour seated at a table at the South Asian Exchange on Public Sanitation.
Image: WaterAid South Asia Regional Office

Countries in South Asia have implemented different initiatives to address the public sanitation crisis over the years. The South Asian Exchange on Public Sanitation brought together representatives from across the region to share their experiences, and this document summarises those discussions while highlighting the importance of regional learning and collaboration.

South Asia, home to nearly 1.8 billion people, is faced with many challenges related to health, hygiene and sanitation. This includes rapid urbanisation, which has made it increasingly harder for countries to manage their public sanitation needs, further compounded by limited space and inadequate maintenance of services.

While these scenarios remain a concern for many city authorities, the region has also been a leader in developing impressive innovations, technologies and practices to find solutions, through diverse partnerships with non-government organisations, the private sector, municipal and city authorities, and state and federal ministries. 

In fact, government stakeholders across the region have adopted various public sanitation models to address the crisis, providing scope for cross-country sharing and learning. With this in mind, WaterAid’s South Asia Regional Office, along with its country offices in Bangladesh, India and Nepal, and the Administrative Staff College of India, organised the South Asian Exchange on Public Sanitation. 

This initiative brought together government officials and country representatives from across South Asia to share best practices, ideas and innovations, focusing on operations, technology, inclusion, citizen participation, partnership and sustainable business models. 

This proceedings document highlights the accomplishments and challenges faced by countries in the region, and concludes with key recommendations for enhancing the scale and scope of public sanitation.

Top image (L-R): Chiri Babu Maharajan (Mayor, Lalitpur Metropolitan City, Nepal), Atiqul Islam (Mayor, Dhaka North City Corporation, Bangladesh), Shyamal Dutta (journalist and moderator), Gundu Sudha Rani (Mayor, Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation, India) and Prof. V. Srinivas Chary (Director, Centre for Urban Governance, Environment, Energy and Infrastructure Development, ASCI) at the South Asian Exchange on Public Sanitation roundtable.