Freshwater Action Network South Asia (FANSA)

The FANSA journey began in 2007. A long and broad based consultation process, led by FAN members in South Asia, was conducted to explore the need for a South Asian regional water and sanitation network which would act as an affiliate of the FAN global network. Over 200 key actors from the water and sanitation sector took part in this consultation process, mostly small and medium sized civil society organizations from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. FANSA was formally launched in Nepal in January 2008. Over 20 representatives from South Asia, nominated at national and sub-national meetings came together to plan joint advocacy activities and take further steps towards building a strong and vibrant regional network. Despite being a nascent Network FANSA demonstrated tremendous potential with its influencing work around the South Asian Conference on Sanitation (SACOSAN-III, November 2008, New Delhi) in which South Asian governments made a huge forward step by committing to recognize access to both sanitation and drinking water as a basic right. Along with Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) and WaterAid, FANSA had organised a civil society pre-meeting that took place before the main SACOSAN-III. After conducting a series of in-country consultation meetings about 100 civil society members represented at this Pre-SACOSAN civil society meeting and contributed to develop a civil society declaration that reflected the WASH issues and aspirations of the people in South Asia. This declaration included a call to the National Governments of South Asia to recognize right to water and sanitation. Civil Society leaders participating in SACOSAN-III have used this declaration to lobby and influence the discussions of this conference which is an important Regional Inter-Governmental platform on sanitation. FANSA’s ability to systematically mobilize civil society around this event demonstrated its distinct edge as consortium of civil society organisations capable of building alliances and projecting unified voice. Through this effort FANSA has also demonstrated that it can manage the major advocacy processes in a true spirit of collaboration with other networks and institutions. In the process, the network gained many supporters who suggested that FANSA should follow up the work with the governments of South Asia to ensure that they deliver on the commitments made during the SACOSAN-III. The network now also needs to build the capacities of communities and their networks to claim their rights. FANSA national networks will continue to work towards ensuring that the right to water and sanitation is in the country level constitutions. FANSA’s experience of mobilising resources from varied sources including WSSCC, IRC and WaterAid is also a notable achievement. With the first major event under its belt.