Posted 03 April 2011, by Shanika Sriyananda, Sunday Observer, Sri Lanka, sundayobserver.lk
Nearly 200,000 people still defecate openly in Sri Lanka, a spokesman for the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ) and Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka, said.
Executive Director CEJ, Hemantha Withanage said that according to the public perspectives’ study conducted by the CEJ it had been found that hundreds of schools do not have proper toilets, female students and teachers especially are affected as a result of this situation. Most cities have poorly maintained toilets. Many toilets built in the Dry Zone are not used due to lack of water and they have been converted into animal shelters and most plantation workers and families are compelled to share only one or two toilets for many line houses.
“Though the situation in Sri Lanka is far better than South Asia we need to address the remaining issues relating to water and sanitation”, he said.
The United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) aims at achieving a 50 percent reduction in the number of people who do not have proper sanitation by 2015. The fourth South Asian Conference on Sanitation in Sri Lanka
(SACOSAN IV) which will be held from April 4 to 8 will bring over 500 experts and SAARC Ministers dealing with water and sanitation to discuss the future course of action to meet the MDG goal by 2015.He said that SACOSAN was to monitor the progress achieved in the South Asia region and it would provide political support of the South Asian nations to achieve the MDG targets.
However, WaterAid’s Regional Advocacy and Policy Advisor for South Asia Mustafa Talpur, commending Sri Lanka’s achievement in providing safe drinking water and better sanitation has warned all countries in South Asia except the Maldives and Sri Lanka which were currently off track to meet the MDG target to halve the proportion of people living without access to a toilet.
“With every second a person obliged to defecate in the open and every eighth person having little or no choice but to drink contaminated water, the promises and resolutions passed by these nations have not been clearly realised”, he said.
Mustafa called upon the governments of SAARC countries to meet the sanitation commitments set out in the Delhi Declaration by setting clear budget allocations, providing cost-effective interventions and targeting resources towards poor and unserved communities and putting in place effective monitoring and measuring procedures at national level to increase accountability.