RAJASTHAN – Organized by the Center for Science and Environment (CSE) in India and the School of Water and Waste, over 100 national and international leaders are meeting in Rajasthan from April 2 through April 5 to study the Sustainable Water and Sanitation Program.
It is the first meeting of its kind in India during which government, research, and industry leaders have met to review maps of water and wastewater management on a city-by-city basis. Their goal is to determine the gaps between what has been done to provide water safety and what still needs to be done.
Speakers at the opening plenary session included the Secretary of Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the Director-General of the National Mission for Clean Ganga, and the Director-General of the CSE. Each spoke in earnest regarding the needs and how to effectively address them.
CSE’s Sunita Narain said,
“A country like India cannot allow a single drop of its precious and limited water to be degraded. But that is exactly what is happening – our rivers and lakes, and our groundwater are getting increasingly polluted . . . Our challenge of having a ‘Clean India’ will not be met just by building toilets, but by building entire sanitation systems that are sustainable and affordable for all. Only then will we be able to protect our water.”
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs’ D. S. Mishra agreed that, while the government fully understands that building toilets is insufficient and “not an end in itself,”
“Much more needs to be done, including bringing in systems to ensure the waste from these toilets does not end up polluting our land and water resources. That is where FSSM – fecal sludge and septage management systems – come in. They are the only cost-effective way of taking care of this waste.”
Narain added that although nearly all Indian cities are, as yet, unable to “treat or safely dispose of the human excreta they generate,” significant research has been completed to establish where waste is originating, where it is flowing, and how it gets to where it is going.
The Fecal Sludge and Septic Management (FSSM) program was launched in February 2017 to help Indian cities learn models of good practices, prepare local sanitation policies, design realistic sanitation system plans, and implement them.
The agenda of the four-day meeting aims to support the Clean India campaign while attempting to determine the most affordable and sustainable citywide sanitation systems for various situations.
Partners and participants in the groundbreaking meeting include the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance (SuSanA), the International Water Association (IWA), the National Fecal Sludge and Septic Alliance.
The issue of water safety and sanitation is expected to become even more critical over the next decade with the increasing urbanization in developing countries creating stress on water resources, sanitation systems, and public health.
To read more news on the problem of Open Defecation on Missions Box, go here.
- Center for Science and Environment, SFD Week
- Center for Science and Environment, CSE offers an “opportunity to reinvent” urban sanitation management
- SuSanA, SFD Week Designing and Implementing Affordable and Sustainable Citywide Sanitation for All
- SuSanA Secretariat [CC BY 2.0]