What is Sacosan?

SACOSAN is a biennial South Asian advocacy and practice forum on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), co-led by the governments of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

This regional event provides a forum to generate political will towards better sanitation in the region, with the following objectives:

  • To accelerate the progress in sanitation and hygiene promotion in South Asia

  • To reiterate political commitment in each country of the region for furthering the sanitation agenda

  • To share experiences and lessons learnt in sanitation and hygiene promotion

Every two years, key government officials from SAARC countries meet together – alongside development partners, WASH networks, think tanks, and civil society members – to evaluate progress made on WASH-related targets. The latest thinking on effective approaches is shared and discussed to support countries in their sustainable development goals journey.

At the end of each conference, nationally endorsed commitments on sanitation are agreed and signed by each country representative.

SACOSAN VII and SDG 6 review

SACOSAN VII, hosted in Islamabad, Pakistan in April 2018, provided an opportunity to reflect on the existing sanitation issues in South Asia, in light of the globals. Sharing experiences, challenges and lessons at the regional level on sanitation and hygiene in a multi-stakeholder forum helps to accelerate the national ambition of the global goals. The event also helped prepare countries for the July 2018 UN High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, where the global goal on ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all will be reviewed.

WaterAid contributed to the discussion at SACOSAN VII on sanitation in the region, focusing on the following themes:

  • Leave no one behind: inequalities in WASH
    In a plenary session, WaterAid, FANSA and WSSCC supported members of the most marginalised communities in relating their experiences to date on access to sanitation, and share research on transgender-inclusive sanitation.

    WaterAid also hosted a photography exhibition featuring images taken by young people in Nepal and Pakistan as part of a participatory photography project. The images document the impact of climate change on their communities, and the experience of girls in managing their menstruation in Pakistan.

    Ayesha from WaterAid Pakistan during a participatory photography workshop in Sindh, Pakistan.
    WaterAid/Sibtain Haider
  • Safely managed sanitation and faecal sludge management.
    WaterAid hosted a side event to highlight the crucial role of faecal sludge management in achieving safely managed sanitation services in South Asia. We facilitated knowledge exchange amongst South Asian countries on experiences of waste management, with the aim of setting an emerging common agenda.

  • Menstrual hygiene management in schools. 
    In collaboration with the national working group in Pakistan, WaterAid convened a side event on progress, gaps and realities on mainstreaming menstrual hygiene management in South Asia. Key findings from the Menstrual Hygiene Management in Schools South Asia situation analysis (UNICEF/WaterAid) was shared, and the group discussed and recommended how targeted measures can improve menstrual hygiene management in school settings.

  • Financing for sustainable sanitation services.
    The quality and quantity of financing is key for achieving equitable, universal access to sanitation and hygiene and address sustainability challenges. With support from WaterAid, the Government of Sri Lanka led a technical session on financing sanitation. Technical papers from various countries were shared to build common knowledge on challenges and solutions for financing of sanitation.