Rs 365 billion being lost owing to environmental degradation
“Pakistan is losing Rs 365 billion annually on account of environmental degradation, of which Rs 112 billion alone is accounted for unsafe delivery and disposal of water and sanitation,” said Federal Secretary for Climate Change Mahmood Alam.
He was addressing to the “Donor debriefing session on sanitation and water for all high-level meeting” organised by the Ministry of Climate Change in collaboration with Unicef as follow-up of the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) High Level Meeting (HLM) held in Washington, DC in April this year. The event was attended by representatives of all provincial governments and different governmental and non-governmental organisations including WHO, UN-Habitat, WaterAid-Pakistan, Water and Sanitation Prgoramme (WSP), PIEDAR, RSPN, ActionAid-Pakistan and Plan International.
Speakers on the occasion said that climate change had made achieving millennium development goals (MDGs) a daunting challenge, particularly in countries like Pakistan which were bearing the burnt of global warming in shape of natural disasters including floods, drought, sea-level rise, scarce and erratic rainfalls. The main purpose of this debriefing session to donors, development agencies and key stakeholders was to solicit support from the donors in the follow-up to their commitments made at the SWA HLM to facilitate Pakistan meet the MDGs on water and sanitation by 2015.
The central goal of the meeting was to shape sector policy dialogue and stimulate more effective decision and actions on targeting of resource, better coordination and on-the-ground interventions to accelerate access to sanitation and safe drinking water for billions, who have none of the facilities.
The meeting also catalysed a new level of political commitment to water, sanitation and hygiene. At the meeting, countries, international donor organisations, development banks pledged to increase international and external financing and to assign higher priority to the sector in their national development agendas.
Secretary Mahmood Alam said Pakistan was losing annually Rs 365 billion on account of environmental degradation and out of that Rs 112 billion alone was accounted for unsafe delivery and disposal of water and sanitation. “High rate of water-borne diseases including diarrhea, hepatitis, malaria, infant mortality are caused by lack of proper water and sanitation system, which are hurting socio-economic output of the country” the Secretary maintained.
“The off-shoots of climate change have further aggravated the situation; however Pakistan has achieved MDGs target related to access to safe sanitation despite the fact that it was a stiff challenge.” He opined that Pakistan could not acquire status of polio-free country without improving delivery and disposal of clean drinking water and safe sanitation system.
Mahmood Alam said Pakistan had made some specific time-bound commitments at SWA HLM, which included: enhance by 2015, the sectoral allocation for water supply and sanitation by one percent of overall PRSP allocation to partially meet 2013-15 resource gap of 750 million dollars for global MDGs target of sanitation and safe drinking water; mobilise external assistance for an additional 200 million dollars annually over and above its commitment to achieve its national MDGs targets of clean drinking water and safe sanitation, prioritise sanitation and drinking water within a sector-wise approach in the national Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper-III, Medium Term Development Framework (MTDF) and Medium Term Expenditure Framework; establish a national monitoring framework for sanitation and drinking water by 2013 and constitute a research working group to identify research for prioritising and developing a research plan for the sector.
Earlier, giving introductory brief on ‘Sanitation and Water for All’ alliance, Mahmood Alam informed the session that it was actually a union of national government, civil society organisations, national and international development partners and water and sanitation agencies, which were working in close coordination to increase political prioritisation, boost resource allocations, improve the efficiency of resource-use to strengthen the base for water supply and sanitation sector.
Pakistan has been elected as member of the steering committee from the government constituency and represents the South Asian countries at this forum. The country is deemed as one of the priority countries for assistance under Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) National Planning for Result Initiative (NPRI) programme. The programme aims at ensuring that all people have access to basic sanitation and safe drinking water.
Simone Klawitter, Chief of WASH at Unicef in Pakistan briefed about different aspects of the global Sanitation and Water for All Partnership. Earlier, ‘Pakistan Sector Status Report 2012: Investing Wisely in Water and Sanitation’ was also launched. The report provides outlook on present national and provincial situation of water and sanitation.
In his message, Federal Minister for Climate Change Rana Muhammad Farooq Saeed Khan said that as Pakistan grappled with several development priorities in a resource-constrained environment, allocating adequate resources for each priority becomes a daunting task for any government. He said the report had been prepared to provide discerning reader with an overview of the situation of drinking water and sanitation in Pakistan.