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WashMedia-South Asia

WashMedia-South Asia is a group of South Asian journalists working on water, sanitation and hygiene issues. Theses journalists are from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
WashMedia-South Asia has written 102 posts for WashMedia-South Asia

Children at risk of water-borne diseases: Unicef

By: Ramzan Chandio

KARACHI – In the total 2.8 million people affected in recent rains in 15 districts of the country, at least 1.4 million are children, who may fell victim to water-borne and other diseases, such as diarrhoea, malaria, measles, polio and pneumonia.United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) has cautioned on Friday, pointing out that displacement due to damaged or destroyed homes is a serious concern for the health of vulnerable children, as the loss of access to safe water increases the likelihood of contracting and spreading water-borne and other diseases in rain-hit areas.Stating about their aid mission in the rain-hit areas, Unicef’s Deputy Representative for Pakistan, Karen Allen said here that Unicef has begun reaching 183,000 flood-affected people every day with safe drinking water in Punjab, Balochistan and Sindh provinces after heavy monsoon rains caused widespread flooding.

The Unicef response supports the government of Pakistan’s ongoing flood response in the worst-hit districts.Sharing the data, the Unicef said that the preliminary satellite imagery results from the Multi-Sectoral Initial Rapid Assessment – a joint initiative between the government and the humanitarian community–indicate that 2.8 million people in 15 districts have been affected by the latest floods, including 1.4 million children, of which 392,000 children are under the age of five.“Children from very poor families are among the worst affected by the severe flooding and they need our immediate help,” said Karen Allen, continuing, “the Unicef urgently needs $ 15.4 million to both scale up its water, sanitation and hygiene response to reach around 400,000 people over the next three to six months and to provide critical education, child protection, health and nutrition services.”Using funds from an emergency loan facility, Unicef and partners have begun providing safe water via water trucking to 59,000 people in Jacobabad and Kashmore districts of Sindh province, to 120,000 people in Jaffarabad and Naseerabad districts in Balochistan and 4,000 people in Dera Ghazi Khan district of Punjab province. The Unicef and partners have also installed water bladders in Jacobabad. In addition, 23,200 families in flood-affected districts of Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab will be provided with hygiene kits comprising soap, sanitary towels and water purification tablets this week, as well as jerry cans and water buckets to support safe water storage and prevent outbreaks of water-borne diseases.Unicef has also cautioned that displacement due to damaged or destroyed homes is a serious concern for the health of vulnerable children in terms of spreading water-borne and other diseases. Accordingly, in addition to responding by providing safe drinking water and sanitation, Unicef and partners are assisting the government with life-saving health and nutrition interventions.The Multi-Sectoral Initial Rapid Assessment results indicate that three quarters of children in five seriously affected districts are missing out on schooling, as schools have been damaged or destroyed or are being used to shelter displaced families. Unicef and partners are awaiting funds in order to establish temporary learning and protective spaces where children can continue their learning in a safe environment.“Some of the affected children are living in areas that are experiencing devastating flooding for the second or third time over the past three years, and these new floods have disrupted their recovery,” said Allen. “The government and humanitarian partners, including Unicef, are providing emergency assistance, but it is essential that we both continue and scale up the response to meet the huge needs of children and their families left vulnerable by these new floods. We are calling on the generous partnership of the international community to help us meet these needs,” Unicef concluded.
The Nation

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After six years, Islamabad okays Karachi’s water project

The Greater Karachi Water Supply Scheme or K-IV will cost Rs29 billion to pump to the city an additional supply of 260 million gallons per day (mgd) from the Indus River.

August 16, 2012

By Hafeez Tunio

The Greater Karachi Water Supply Scheme or K-IV will cost Rs29 billion to pump to the city an additional supply of 260 million gallons per day (mgd) from the Indus River.

KARACHI: To belabour a pun, Islamabad had pretty much pulled the plug on Karachi’s new water supply project until the president stepped in. On Wednesday it was back on track as the Central Development Working Party, the highest government body to take decisions on important projects, approved the K-IV project in its meeting held in Islamabad.
The Greater Karachi Water Supply Scheme or K-IV will cost Rs29 billion to pump to the city an additional supply of 260 million gallons per day (mgd) from the Indus River.
The federal government had initially refused to finance the project, citing lack of funds. The bureaucrats sitting in the capital were of the view that since provincial autonomy had been granted after the 18th amendment, Sindh should fix its own water woes. Karachi wrung its hands in despair as it doesn’t even have enough money to pay garbage collectors.
But now, upon the intervention of President Asif Ali Zardari, the federal government has agreed to foot 33% of the bill in the first phase. The remaining funds will be arranged by the provincial and district governments. The project is expected to take four years.
The K-IV project has constantly hit snags since it was conceived in 2006 by then Karachi nazim Mustafa Kamal given the severe water shortage in Karachi. The city needs 1,000 mgd but the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board only provides around 600 mgd. Leaks and water theft are the biggest drains on the system.
“We are really thankful to all those who have taken this initiative to get the project approved,” said Muttahida Qaumi Movement legislator Khalid Ahmed, a staunch supporter of the project, who always raised it during the Sindh Assembly session.
He added that the party would demand the federal government increase its share to 50% because the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) cannot afford it.
The Indus River System Authority (Irsa), which regulates the distribution of water in the country, had earlier refused to release the water for the project, but the Sindh irrigation department assured it would shoulder the share.
The water will be taken out from the Indus River and deposited in Keenjhar Lake. Then it would be released through the Gujjo canal to Karachi.
According to the project’s feasibility, 650 mgd will be released from the Indus to Karachi, but in the first phase, only 260 mgd will be provided.
Circular railway
In another major development, the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) is likely to approve the Karachi Circular Railway project at its meeting to be held today (Thursday) in Islamabad.
The meeting will be presided over by Federal Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and attended by the chief secretaries and other officials from all provinces. PPP MPA Hasnain Mirza, the newly appointed member of Ecnec from Sindh, will represent the Sindh government along with senior bureaucrats of the province.
Official sources told The Express Tribune that Ecnec will take up the mega projects relating to energy, transpiration, water, industry and housing etc.
Around 14 schemes are from Sindh.
Other projects likely to be taken up at the meeting include connecting the Thar coal power transmission to national grid, the construction of Darawat Dam and Nai Gaaj Dam in Dadu district. These schemes were also presented in the last Ecnec meeting, but the government was asked to wait till next meeting.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2012.

Whoops! Poor sanitation costs Pakistan Rs 343bn yearly

Amar Guriro

KARACHI – The total economic impact of inadequate sanitation in Pakistan amounts to a loss of Rs 343.7 billion and these economic impacts are the equivalent of about 3.9 percent of Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP).

This was disclosed in a detailed report under the title ‘The economic impacts of inadequate sanitation in Pakistan’ issued by the Water & Sanitation Programme (WSP), a multi-donor partnership administered by the World Bank. Conducted by the WSP, the study was carried on evidence-based research to help advocacy in the sanitation sector and was aimed to empirically estimate the economic impacts of the current poor sanitary conditions in Pakistan as well as the economic benefits of options for improved conditions.

The study calculated that in Pakistan, 50.1 percent of households have access to improved toilets, of which 55.8 percent have a sewer connected to a flush toilet, and 29.1 percent have a flush toilet connected to a septic tank.

It was also found that the total population, approximately 50 million people (31 percent) defecate in the open, and an estimated 8 million people (5 percent) use shared toilets.

National figures hide rural-urban disparities. While 90 percent of the urban population have access to improved sanitation (the kind that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact), this compares with just 40 percent of the rural population. The study states that in the rural areas, 45 percent of the population still practices open defecation.

All these data indicate the degree of inadequate sanitary conditions that expose the population to faecal-oral diseases, due to which the total economic cost of poor sanitation for the year 2006 was estimated at Rs 343.7 billion, which is equivalent to 3.94 percent of the GDP in Pakistan.

Of this cost, Rs 69.52 billion constitutes the direct financial cost, which is equivalent to 0.8 percent of the GDP.

Health impacts account for the vast majority of the total economic costs and constitute 87.16 percent of the total quantified economic costs, equating to the equivalent of 3.43 percent of the GDP.

The total economic impact on health is estimated to cost Rs 299.55 billion, of which Rs 48.76 billion represents financial costs, the study disclosed.

The study’s ultimate goal is to provide policymakers at both national and local levels with evidence to justify larger investments in improving the sanitary conditions in the country.

It also provides recommendations, again based on empirical evidence, for effectively planning and implementing sustainable sanitary and hygiene programmes. In Pakistan, the deterioration of environment continues to harm the livelihoods and health of the people, increasing the vulnerability of the nation’s poorer citizens. It has long been clear that lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities has a wide variety of impacts.

However, the data and evidence needed to verify the size of the burden imposed on the people of Pakistan are limited. As a result, investment in the water and sanitation sector remains well below what is required to ensure a basic minimum of services for the population. Indeed, Pakistan’s population is projected to grow by more than 2.9 percent a year, which means an additional 4 million people each year who would require additional clean water and sanitation facilities. In the study, the health impacts are included based on well-established links between sanitation and disease incidence.

Water impacts are deemed important because poor sanitation is one of the causes of water pollution that, in turn, leads to costly aversive behaviour by households seeking clean water.

Other welfare impacts are included as well, such as the productivity lost at work and in schools in the absence of convenient sanitary facilities when people must spend extra time accessing distant facilities.

Finally, the study added that tourism is included in the study because poor sanitation facilities could influence a country’s attractiveness as a tourist destination.

The analysis has interpreted sanitation to comprise activities related to human waste, particularly excreta. In measuring impacts, it has used standard peer-reviewed methodologies.

‘Make sanitation and water for all a reality’

Pakistan is one of the 57 countries currently most off track in meeting its sanitation Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) target to halve the proportion of people without access to adequate sanitation.

On current trends, Pakistan is due to halve the number of people lacking sanitation services by 2025, missing the MDG sanitation target by a decade, according to a new report released by the international aid agency WaterAid. According to the latest figures released by the UNICEF and WHO, only 48 percent of the population has access to safe sanitation in Pakistan. The MDG target for Pakistan is to ensure that 64 percent of its people have access to improved sanitation by 2015.

The report titled ‘Saving Lives’ comes as 70 finance and sector ministers from governments around the world, including Pakistan, prepare to attend the ‘Sanitation and Water for All: High Level Meeting (HLM)’ on Friday (today) in Washington DC, USA. In a statement issued on Thursday, Siddique Khan, Country Representative of WaterAid in Pakistan, said, “The Washington meeting is crucial to turning a corner on providing essential lifesaving access to safe sanitation and water. Our government and the international community must grasp this opportunity to act in response to the crisis of lost lives.”

The WaterAid report also said that the lives of 2.5 million people around the world would be saved if everyone had access to safe water and adequate sanitation.

According to the report, “There are more people in the world today without sanitation than there were in 1990” and “the poor quality of sanitation and lack of access to safe drinking water causes 1.4 million child deaths every year due to diarrhoea, and these deaths are preventable.”

The government of Pakistan acknowledged the sanitation crisis in South Asia at the fourth South Asian Conference on Sanitation in April 2011 and again at the 17th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit in November.

Abdul Hafeez, Programme Manager for Policy and Advocacy of WaterAid in Pakistan, said, “The 2012 HLM provides an opportunity to reinforce commitments made in 2010 and recent regional forums. We are urging the government to honour its commitments to improving water and sanitation and to demonstrate leadership by targeting resources to poor and marginalised people, developing robust monitoring systems to ensure the effectiveness of investments, and to promote learning and innovation.”

Hafeez also urged donors to prioritise and engage in basic sanitation. This is only possible by developing strong partnership with governments, donors, civil society and communities.

The Sanitation and Water for All meeting in Washington would bring together 100 ministers and delegates from over 50 countries to discuss the water and sanitation crisis.

Participating governments have to bring pledges to the table on increasing access to water and sanitation for the next two years; donor governments also have to provide commitments ahead of the meeting.

Friday, 20 Apr 2012

Pakistan Today 

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