Leaving No One Behind, WSSCC Gears up for Sanitation Action Summit in India

Date: 11th November 2016

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The event aims to foster dialogue on sanitation for vulnerable groups in India

In partnership with Global Citizen India, the Government of India and its Swacch Bharat Mission (SBM), and the Government of Maharashtra, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) will hold a unique Sanitation Action Summit on November 18 in Mumbai, giving voice to the sanitation and hygiene needs of marginalized and vulnerable groups in India.

Held at the Taj Lands End in Mumbai, this meeting is part of an ongoing consultative process convened by WSSCC with people in vulnerable situations, as stipulated in the Sustainable Development Goals. The meeting will include representatives from the most marginalized constituencies to create an open dialogue with the government, development partners, private sector, academia and ‘global citizens’ – young people who have completed so-called action journeys designed to raise awareness of the issues

In a country where 44% of the 1.27 billion people still defecates in the open, the absence of safe and hygienic sanitation largely affects marginalized groups such as sanitation workers, youth and adolescents, the elderly, transgender persons, people with motor disabilities and the visually and hearing impaired.

The summit’s sessions will follow a ‘Speakers Corners’ model followed by breakout sessions, bringing out the different represented voices to share their issues, experiences and ideas for progress, focusing on duty bearers and right holders by urban/rural, gender, age, physical condition/disability, ethnicity, religion and caste.

With opening remarks from Manisha Mhaiskar, Secretary, Urban Development at the Government of Maharashtra, Arun Baroka, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation from the Government of India and WSSCC’s executive Director, Chris Williams, there will also be interventions from WSSCC’s partners, Hugh Evans, CEO at the Global Poverty Project and Patricia O’Hayer, Global Head of Communications & Government Affairs at Reckitt Benkiser.

In support of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), the world’s most ambitious behaviour change movement, the summit will bring together, for one day, all of the different voices with shared aspirations and one objective: a clean India for everyone, everywhere, all of the time without stigma or discrimination.

A Sanitation Platform to Leave No One Behind

The final session will encompass all concepts and issues raised during the day to form a joint action to achieve sustainable behaviour change, Leaving No One Behind.  WSSCC’s Chair, Minister Amina J. Mohammed, Poonam Mahajan, Member of Parliament from the Government of Maharashtra, Parameshwaran Iyer, Secretary at the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation from the Government of India and representative voices from the meetings will participating in this discussion.

There are over 26 million persons with disabilities in India, 100 million elderly persons, 4 million rag-pickers, 490,000 transgender persons and around 459 million women who menstruate every month.

Their stories will be shared at the summit and will reflect the daily struggles they face because they do not have access to safe and hygienic sanitation facilities.

“This most basic and routine of all human needs and rituals becomes a complex, creative endeavour for hundreds of millions simply because they are unable to access this most basic of human rights- the human right to sanitation and hygiene,” said United Nations-hosted WSSCC’s Archana Patkar, an expert in equality and non-discrimination issues who will be contextualizing the summit at the first roundtable.

As a step towards addressing equity and inclusion in sanitation and hygiene WSSCC held consultations in 2015 with marginalized groups in South Asia, part of the preparation for the South Asia Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN VI), held in January 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

“As sanitation workers and waste collectors we work in the most hazardous conditions at odd hours, with no safety equipment, job security, respect or dignity. We are shunned and called unclean,” said one sanitation worker in the 2015 consultations.

To deepen the conversation and address the sanitation needs of India, WSSCC and its partners will seek to build voice and agency through this dialogue on sanitation so that the disempowered and stigmatized know their rights, their roles and can ask constructively for their entitlements in their society.

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