The First Afghanistan Conference on Sanitation (AFCOSAN-I) officially inaugurated today (22 November) at the Marble Palace, Kabul Afghanistan.
In this conference, the Afghan government's programmes for scaling up the current status of sanitation in Afghanistan were discussed, and it was stated that around 5 million Afghan populations lack improved latrines, and they practice defection in the open areas.
The conference was attended by representatives from sectorial ministries including Rural Rehabilitation and Development, Public Health, Education and Urban Development and Housing, UNICEF, national and international non-governmental organizations (I/NGOS), representatives of Kabul-based embassies, UN agencies and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).
Highlighting the importance of urban sanitation and hygiene, especially in Kabul City, Her Excellency Rulal Ghani, The First Lady, stated that sanitation and drinking water were the top priorities in the programmes of Afghan government.
The Minister of Rural Rehabilitation, H.E. Eng. Nasir Ahmad Durrani, said, "According to the latest Afghan Living Conditions Survey (ALCS) of 2014, 81 per cent of the Afghan population use some kind of toilets. This is a higher proportion than some of our neighbors. Yet, 19 per cent of the population still practices open defecation. WHO and UNICEF estimated that since 2001, over five million Afghans gained access to an improved sanitation facility and that the number of people practicing open defecation fell by 1.6 million, to around 4.5 million people today".
By the same token, Minister of Public Health (MoPH) expressed that, "The latest Afghanistan mortality survey demonstrates that diarrheal dieses, which have a direct relation with lack of access to safe drinking water and improved sanitation, constitutes around 6.2 percent of mortality in children under 5 age". He added, "Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) as a key member of the Afghanistan Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Sector, is committed to making efforts in provision of safe drinking water, improved sanitation facilities and hygiene promotions to all Afghans".
In addition, the Deputy Minister of Urban Development and Housing (MUDH) talked about the importance of water supply and waste management, affirming that, "MUDH is committed to solving the existing challenges in this respect".
Furthermore, UNICEF Representative, Adele Khodr, highlighted the importance of sanitation in public health, children education and women, calling all the partners to work jointly.
Similarly, Minister of Education (MoE) H.E. Assadullah Balkhi talked about sanitations facilities in schools and shed light on the needs in this sector.