New Delhi: The first India WASH Summit kicked off today in New Delhi. Hosted by WaterAid India and supported by the Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation and the Ministry of Urban Development, this one of its kind event aims to identify solutions for Government of India’s ambitious efforts to make India open defecation free by 2019 through the Swacch Bharat Mission (SBM). Attending the Summit’s opening plenary, the Hon’ble Minister for Rural Development and Drinking Water & Sanitation, Shri Chaudhary Birender Singh said, “A slew of new technologies that are relevant to rural areas and community based monitoring systems are needed to take the Swachh Bharat Mission forward”. He also added, “Sanitation is critical to making and keeping the Ganga river clean”. He called on the participants to provide solutions to reach the objectives of the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM).
Also present for the opening plenary were Ms. Santha Sheela Nair, Vice Chairperson, Tamil Nadu State Planning Board; Mr. Saraswati Prasad, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation; Ms. Naina Lal Kidwai, Country Head, HSBC India; Ms. Sue Coates, Chief, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, UNICEF India; Dr. Shiv Vishwanathan, Jindal School of Governance and Public Policy; Ms. Barbara Frost, Chief Executive, WaterAid; Tim Clark, Chair of Board of Trustees of WaterAid UK; Prof. K. Srinath Reddy, Member Leadership Council of the Sustainable Development Solutions Network; Mr. Biraj Patnaik, Principal Advisor to the Commissioners of the Supreme
Court, Mr. Oliver Cumming, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Mr. Mahesh Chandrasekar, Head of Asia Campaigns and Advocacy, Leonard Cheshire Disability.
The India WASH Summit is the first of its kind, bringing together about 550 participants, including 150 speakers and panellists, from across the country and overseas. Welcoming the delegates, Neeraj Jain, Chief Executive WaterAid India said, “16 technical sessions over the next three days will slice the sanitation programme into three distinct phases of planning, implementation and sustainability. It will take deep dives into specific issues under each phase.”
Barbara Frost, Chief Executive of WaterAid addressing the delegates said, “WaterAid is fully committed to making Swachh Bharat a reality. It is an ambitious programme with a clear timeline and deliverables. Through its India programme, WaterAid is looking forward to contribute towards an open defecation free India.”
The India Sanitation Map, which graphically represents the progress of SBM, was also presented to the assembled delegates. This was followed by a panel discussion between the plenary delegates where the different challenges facing water, sanitation and hygiene were brought out and dissected.
The Summit will continue with in depth technical sessions until 18 February and conclude with a closing plenary where concrete recommendations and solutions for the Swachh Bharat Mission will be presented and shared with the Government of India.