Roundtable consultation on Goal 6 of the proposed Sustainable Development Goals by WaterAid India and Wada Na Todo Abhiyan

New Delhi: A roundtable consultation was held in New Delhi on September 14, 2015 to discuss and articulate key recommendations for Goal 6 indicators to be considered as part of the initial assessment of proposed provisional indicators by the UN Statistical Commission. A total of around 60 people attended the consultation encompassing government, civil society and academia.

The Sustainable Development framework will be adopted formally by all UN member states on 25th September 2015. Goal 6 of the framework focuses on ensuring water and sanitation for all. It is important to reflect on the set of indicators against each goal so as to suggest recommendations for strengthening the accountability processes.

“India along with all other member states has been invited to make statements during the summit’s interactive dialogues. It is an important opportunity to highlight Goal 6 and draw the attention to the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene in the global as well as country context. WaterAid as an organization is working towards ensuring safe water, sanitation and hygiene for everyone everywhere and thus will take a lead role in establishing the importance of Goal 6 in the global as well as the national context“, said Mamata Dash, Manager- Campaigns, WaterAid India.

WaterAid India and Wada Na Todo Abhiyan have come up with the following recommendations that the delegation from India should consider:

1. Water and sanitation are cross cutting issues which impact on a large number of the dialogue sessions. However, the poorest and most marginalised will tend to experience water and sanitation as an issue of extreme poverty, inequality, violence and climate change. We would encourage member states to make reference to WASH in sessions 1 on “Ending poverty”, 2 on “Inequalities” and 4 on “Climate Change”.
2. With specific reference to session 1, we would highlight the role of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) as a vital part of eradicating extreme poverty. According to the UN’s human development report, lack of safe water, sanitation and hygiene causes Sub-Saharan African countries annual losses equivalent to 5% of GDP, more than the entire continent receives in development aid. A recent study of 18 African countries, representing over half of Africa’s population, showed losses of $5.5 billion every year due to poor sanitation, with the largest losses caused by premature deaths, including children under five.
3. We would also highlight that session 2 on inequalities is extremely relevant to WASH. The MDG targets on water and sanitation have seen some of the largest disparities in progress. For example, whilst the MDG target on water was reached globally in 2010, over 650 million people still live without access to an improved water source. In a country such as Mozambique, 96% of the rural poor still practice open defecation whilst none of the urban rich do. Ensuring that we not only measure access for the poorest but proactively target them will be vital if the SDGs are to ‘leave no one behind’.

“Every target set by the Global Goals needs to be monitored. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has fixed 2019 as the target for universal coverage for sanitation. We are moving in a phased manner and are now taking the saturation mode where a monitoring chart has been developed. Any gram panchayat is declared ODF only if it fulfills all the criteria on the monitoring chart.

Hygiene is a very important aspect and should be one of the indicators but how to monitor hygiene is still a major challenge that we are struggling with”, said Sandhya Singh, Joint Director, Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation, Government of India.

Amitabh Behar, Executive Director of National Foundation for India and Wada Na Todo Abhiyan lead on Post 2015 said, “We need to identify the confluence of various policies and schemes offered by the government with the Sustainable Development Goals and then engage with respective line ministries to extract maximum results.”

Toilet Facts

44 per cent of the total population in India still defecate in the open.

Open defecation causes chronic diarrhoea that leads to stunting.