Amar Guriro

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Water, sanitation pledges may benefit 50m people

By Amar Guriro

KARACHI – The international development agency WaterAid has welcomed pledges from South Asian ministers that, if delivered, would provide 48.5 million people with access to essential lifesaving services across the region.
The pledges were made by ministers of developing country participating in the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High-Level Meeting (HLM) in Washington DC. If these commitments are realised, the governments would need to strive over the next two years to increase access to water by 5 percent and sanitation by 7 percent in their countries. The figures for increased access to water for 20.2 million people and sanitation for 28.3 million people have been calculated by WaterAid, a partner of the SWA initiative.
These figures have been released at the conclusion of the HLM that brought together a hundred developing and donor countries’ ministers and officials from over 50 countries. WaterAid’s discussion document ‘Saving Lives’ shows that by meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on sanitation by 2015, the lives of over 84,000 children under the age of five would be saved in South Asia.
At current rates of progress, the continent is not expected to reach the sanitation MDG until the year 2030.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, WaterAid Chief Executive Barbara Frost said that lack of safe sanitation and water and the diarrhoea it causes is the second biggest killer of children in South Asia.
She said that ministers in the region are committed to do more to reach people with water and sanitation services.
Their pledges to strive for increased access for nearly 50 million people are welcomed, but the key challenge now would be putting in place and delivering the national plans in a timely fashion to make these commitments a reality, she added. WaterAid has also welcomed the announcement from The Right Honourable Andrew Mitchell, the United Kingdom (UK) State for International Development Secretary and the Member of Parliament for Sutton Coldfield.

According to Mitchell, the UK is doubling the number of people they intend to reach with water, improved hygiene and sanitation by 2015 from 30 million to at least 60 million people.

WaterAid South Asia Regional Advocacy Manager Mustafa Talpur urged all the governments in South Asia to avail the regional and global opportunities coming up to end the undignified conditions of their citizens by proactively planning, investing and targeting national resources for sanitation and putting a better monitoring plan to measure the results.

Alongside the baseline pledges to strive towards increasing access to water by 5 percent and sanitation by 7 percent made by all the developing countries’ governments participating in the HLM, these governments have also tabled their own country commitments as part of this meeting.
For instance, the Pakistani government has committed to reach 20 million people by 2015 with access to sanitation to achieve its MDGs and 14.4 million people to reach 100 percent coverage for improved drinking water.
The Bangladeshi government has also committed to increase the allocation for sanitation and water supply in the development budget by 50 percent. Talpur said that these commitments re-enforce the promises made earlier at regional platforms like the South Asian Conference on Sanitation-IV in Colombo and the 17th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation summit. He said that the challenge is translating political aspirations into reality; hence, the test would be prioritising sanitation in the next budgets, promoting institutional accountability through information sharing and citizens’ participation, and focussing on excluded groups. He urged upon the key regional donors such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to prioritise basic sanitation in their sectoral plans.
Currently, banks support big water resources development programmes and the urban waste water treatment system, which are also essential, but nearly 700 million people in the region do not have a basic toilet. For this reason, proportionate investment that reaches the poor and marginalised people is only possible by investing in community-based sanitation systems.
Pakistan’s goal: reach 34.4 million by 2015

The Pakistani government has pledged to provide 20 million people with access to adequate sanitation and 14.4 million with access to an improved water source by 2015.
These pledges were made in Pakistan’s Country Commitment tabled at the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High-Level Meeting (HLM) in Washington DC.
Muhammad Javed Malik attended the meeting as the representative of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani.
WaterAid Pakistan Representative Siddique Ahmad Khan said, “These are crucial commitments made by the Pakistani government. They put the country on the course to universal access to water and meeting the sanitation Millennium Development Goal.”
WaterAid, along with other stakeholders, would actively engage with the government to support and monitor the commitments made during the HLM, he added.
WaterAid Pakistan Policy and Advocacy Manager Abdul Hafeez said, “The upcoming budget at the federal and provincial levels will be a great opportunity for the Pakistani government to honour its commitment by putting a dedicated water and sanitation budget line and increasing financial allocation for the sector.”
Pakistan was one of over 50 governments represented at the SWA Sector Ministers Meeting. The Pakistan Statement of Commitments tabled at the HLM includes 10 specific action points.
These include prioritising sanitation and drinking water within a sector wide approach; developing a national sector action plan by December 2013; increasing funding from the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers to water supply and sanitation by 1 percent by 2015; mobilising external assistance for an additional $200 million (Rs 18.17 billion) annually for water and sanitation; conducting a sector capacity development needs assessment by December 2012; and establishing a national monitoring framework for sanitation and drinking water by 2013.

Pakistan Today


Oh precious clean drinking water, where art thou?

Thursday, 22 Mar 2012 1:32 am | Comments (0)

Amar Guriro

KARACHI – While countries around globe, by celebrating the World Water Day on Thursday, will be focusing on water resources and how the water is embedded in the food that humans consume everyday, millions of people affected by the floods in the lower districts of Sindh still await safe drinking water and basic food items.
A national survey jointly conducted by the Aga Khan University (AKU) in collaboration with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) under the title National Nutrition Survey (NNS) 2011 reveals that despite being one of the important agricultural provinces of Pakistan, Sindh is the poorest and the most food-deprived province of the country with 70 percent of its total population (estimated at 35 million) facing food insecurity.

When disasters like floods hit such a poor population, the conditions worsen. Monsoon floods hit the southern Sindh in August 2011 and officially uprooted more than nine million people. But despite several months, these survivors of the natural disaster are yet to be rehabilitated. During the floods, the survivors lost every thing. Besides standing crops, the massive floods washed away the water and sanitation infrastructure and forced these already-poor population to face acute food shortage.
Though, Pakistan will be among one of the countries celebrating World Water Day but rarely these flood survivors would rarely be taken on priority by the government authorities.

The International World Water Day is observed globally on March 22 every year to highlight the importance of freshwater and sustainable management of freshwater resources. The day was recommended at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in 1992 and the United Nations General Assembly responded by designating March 22 1993 as the first World Water Day. Since then it is being observed every day under different themes and for 2012, the theme is being set as “Water and Food Security”.

The World Water Day team has issued shocking figures that there are around seven billion people to feed on the planet today and another two billion are expected to join them by 2050. Quoting official statistics, the team said each of us drinks between two and four litres of water every day, however most of the water we ‘drink’ is embedded in the food we eat: producing one kilo of beef for example consumes 15,000 litres of water while one kilo of wheat ’drinks up’ 1,500 litres.
Unaware of these figures, the people of Sindh are still waiting for basic facilities including safe drinking water and proper food. The survivors of the floods in Pakistan in 2010 and 2011 have lost everything and it is a dream for them to get all those facilities, which they had before the floods.

Ninety percent of the water supply schemes in nine districts of Sindh as well as sanitation facilities were completely washed away during the 2010 floods, the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) disclosed in a recently-published report. But despite the passage of several months, neither the federal and provincial governments nor international and local NGOs have started reconstructing water and sanitation infrastructure in Sindh.

In the context of the millennium development goals, Pakistan claims 89 percent of the rural population has access to improved drinking water, but PCRWR’s Dr Murtaza Arain disputes the veracity of these claims.“We took water samples from 19 out of 23 districts, and after a detailed study, we found that all samples had some biological contamination or that the level of total dissolved salts and turbidity was higher and the colour of the water changed. This meant that water in 19 districts is unfit for human consumption,” he said.

The PCRWR report further states that the water supply schemes in major portions of Larkana, Qambar-Shahdadkot, Shikarpur, Ghotki, Dadu, Jamshoro, Badin, Thatta and Kashmore-Kandhkot districts have completely been destroyed. The report added that 75 percent of the water supply schemes in the remaining districts of the province were built in the early 1980s. Many are now outdated, or that ponds have either been filled with silt or have vanished altogether.

Pakistan Today

-KWSB does not provide water supply connections in slum areas, prompting residents to make illegal connections
-Contaminated water causes diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain
-Losses of Rs 112 billion is caused by inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene conditions
Monday, 11 Oct 2010

Amar Guriro
At least 28 people living in the slums of Landhi and Korangi towns were hospitalised with diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain on Monday after allegedly consuming contaminated water.

They were taken to Landhi Town Hospital and other public and private hospitals of the two towns. Most patients belong to the Sindhi Paro, Bengali Para, Sherpao Colony and Kashmir Colony slums.
The patients told Pakistan Today that as they are settled in the slums, the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) does not provide them water supply connections thinking that the residents will claim land ownership on the basis of the monthly water supply bills. This has prompted the residents to illegally connect pipes to the supply lines, but the water coming through these pipes becomes polluted by the nearby sewage lines.
“There are dozens of slums in Landhi and Korangi towns, where thousands of poor people live, but they are not allowed basic facilities including safe drinking water,” said a resident of the Sherpao Colony, adding that, “Therefore we have no other option but to consume polluted water or buy water from tankers that is also unclean.”
Landhi Town Health Officer Dr Khalid Ghauri told Pakistan Today that diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain are common diseases in these areas. “The majority of these patients belong to slum areas where no proper drinking water supply schemes and sanitation systems exist. The people then have to use water that is highly contaminated,” he said.
Research studies conducted by different national and international organisations say that improper sanitation systems, bad hygiene conditions and a lack of clean drinking water are issues faced by millions in Pakistan.
A National Conservation Strategy study reveals that almost 40 percent of the total deaths in Pakistan are due to waterborne diseases. A World Health Organisation report discloses that 32 percent of hospital beds in Pakistan are occupied by patients suffering from waterborne diseases.
Quoting official figures of the Federal Health Department, a research by the Aga Khan University’s National Health Sciences called ‘The Impact of Water and Sanitation on Health: Our Problems, Our Solutions’, states that bad sanitation conditions are not only affecting human health but the environment too and the estimated loss caused by environmental degradation in Pakistan is Rs 365 billion per year. A loss of Rs 112 billion is caused by inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene conditions alone.
The level of water contamination in Karachi can be gauged from a recent research conducted by the Pakistan Medical Association (PMA) in which around 600 water samples were collected from taps in Korangi, North Karachi and other towns. The results disclosed that not a single sample was fit for human consumption.
“Most people living in these areas had maggots and bacteria in their stomachs because of an unhealthy environment,” the report says, adding that the residents were also suffering from cholera, hepatitis B and E, diarrhea and other diseases.
The official data of the Sindh ‘Katchi Abadi’ Authority reveals that there are 539 slums in Karachi, making 42 percent of the city’s total population without access to clean water.
Pakistan Today

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