UN setting up sanitation center in Southeast Asia

    A woman washes clothes in Sapa, Vietnam. The United Nations wants to set up a sanitation and wastewater management center in Southeast Asia that will focus first on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia before expanding to the rest of the region. Photo by: Kibae Park / U.N. / CC BY-NC-ND

    The United Nations looks set to develop a sanitation and wastewater management center in Southeast Asia by July to better educate stakeholders — particularly policymakers and implementers — and boost WASH programs in the region.

    The institution will serve as a knowledge hub for Southeast Asia to share experiences, best practices and innovative ways to deal with WASH issues, Aida Karazhanova told Devex Wednesday on the fringes of the 3rd Asian Sanitation Dialogue at the Asian Development Bank’s headquarters in Manila. Karazhanova works in the environment and development division of the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

    The center is part of a joint initiative by ESCAP and U.N. Habitat and will initially focus on strengthening the capacity of policymakers and stakeholders in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to fast-track the three nations’ pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals before expanding to the rest of Southeast Asia.

    Karazhanova explained that this is one of the two sanitation and wastewater management programs the United Nations is planning for Southeast Asia — the other being an open data platform for knowledge and information sharing. The U.N. official further noted that the multilateral institution is willing to offer seed money to the planned knowledge center, although she did not disclose the amount. Karazhanova noted that talks are ongoing with the ADB and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as potential donors.

    Where the center will be based is still to be determined, Karazhanova said. Organizers are planning to travel around the region in the next few weeks to look for partners — both public and private — in setting up the center.

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    About the author

    • Lean Alfred Santos

      Lean Alfred Santos is a former Devex development reporter focusing on the development community in Asia-Pacific, including major players such as the Asian Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. He previously covered Philippine and international business and economic news, sports and politics.