16m Pakistanis do not have access to clean water: report
ISLAMABAD: UK-based WaterAid released a report on the eve of World Water Day, revealing that water quality throughout the world has deteriorated, with Pakistan being no exception.
Around 16 million people in Pakistan do not have access to clean water and that there are also inequalities in the cost of the commodity, with the poor having to pay more, the report says.
It further reads: “Pakistan is among the top 10 countries with the greatest number of people living without access to safe water…they have no choice but to collect unsafe water from unsafe sources.”
About 84 to 89pc of the country’s water sources do not meet the water quality standards for human consumption, because of which about 53,000 children die of diseases like diarrhoea every year and over 3 million people suffer from water born diseases, the report says.
Even the country’s capital, Islamabad, has been constantly plagued with water scarcity.
Its civic body, Capital Development Authority (CDA), is finding it hard to meet the city’s water needs.
According to an official of the CDA’s engineering wing, “About 70 million gallons of water is supplied to the capital every day when it requires 170 million gallons daily which means 100 million gallons of water fall short each day.”
He said the main sources of water for the city were Simly Dam, local tubewells and Khanpur Dam.
“With increasing cases of water theft from the main supply lines, especially around the kachi abadis, the shortage will be worse if the summer is too hot this year,” the official said.
Pakistan has made many commitments at international forums to provide clean water and better sanitation and hygiene facilities, especially the sustainable development goals which stipulate that these be achieved by 2030.
However, this has not even been done for the country’s capital where locals are not satisfied with the quality of water as well and have resorted to buying bottled water for drinking.
“We were never concerned about the quality of water before and the water from the main supply line used to be fresh and cold. However, no one trusts water quality anymore,” said Sajjad Bukhari, a resident of the city.
Citizens have also dug up their own bores, resulting in the depletion of underground water resources at a faster rate because there are no bodies to determine the amount of water being pumped through private bores.
“Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water worldwide and the global rate of groundwater extraction is increasing by one to two per cent per year,” said Siddique Ahmed Khan, country representative of WaterAid Pakistan.
“There is clear evidence that groundwater supplies are diminishing with an estimated 20pc of the world’s aquifers over-exploited,” he said.
It says that the main reasons for the lack of access to water are a lack of money, because it is not political priority, because of the government’s inability to deliver and inequalities in the society.
The Nation: World Water Day