Pakistan issues water projects plea to donors

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday issued a fresh plea to donors to help it execute water and sanitation projects to meet Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as experts told a briefing contaminated water and insufficient sanitation facilities cost the nation Rs 343 billion annually in terms of ailment and environmental degradation.

Addressing the donors debriefing session, organised by Ministry of Climate Change, the experts said that in 2006 the losses from poor water quality and insufficient sanitation were only Rs 112 billion. The increase makes the total losses at four percent of the GDP.
Opening the session for discussion, Secretary Climate Change Mahmood Aalam mentioned the worrisome situation and called upon the donors to help Pakistan execute water and sanitation-related projects to meet millennium development goals. He said, according to a World Bank Study of 2006 annual total environmental losses were recorded at Rs 365 billion with Rs 112 billion losses due to poor water quality and sanitation facilities.

“But, these losses have now rose to Rs 343 billion that incur on curing the water-borne diseases like diarrhoea, hepatitis, malaria and infant mortality caused by lack of proper water and sanitation system.” Mentioning various commitment and measures by the government, the secretary said, “The government is embarking on implementation of national and provincial sanitation and drinking water policies. We have been successful in undertaking UN initiative on Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water (GLAAS).”

Aalam said Pakistan remains committed to enhancing sectoral allocation by one percent of the overall PRSP by 2015 to meet 2013-15 resource gap of $750 million and mobilise external assistance for an additional $200 million annually to meet the millennium development goals. Regarding the commitments, he mentioned to developing National Sector Action Plan to implement policies and constituting task forces on upscaling rural sanitation as well as on Wash Programme for Disaster Preparedness and response to urban challenges in the present climatic changes scenario.

He said informed the representatives of the donors like World Bank, UN agencies and private sector organisations that debriefing was meant for soliciting support from the donors in follow-up of their commitments made at high-level meeting to facilitate Pakistan achieve the MDGs on water and sanitation by 2015.

Representatives from the provinces and AJK and Gilgit-Baltistan briefed the session about the situation of projects and the funds they needed to execute the schemes related to clean drinking water and improved sanitation. They urged that donors should understand the ground realities and prefer to reach out to poor in remote areas instead of formulating policies by sitting at federal and provincial headquarters.

They also called for evolving workable strategies and policies that benefit the poor villagers for whom the clean water and sanitation facilities are still a dream.

In his concluding remarks, Ministry of Climate Change Director General (Environment) Jawaid Ali Khan reiterated the government’s commitment to pursue the water and sanitation agenda at global and regional level. “The challenge is serious and we need to pool efforts to achieve MDGs targets. This needs continued and concerted efforts,” he said. The government, he added, values its partners and will continue playing the role of a facilitator and accommodate them in their projects as much as possible. Khan hoped the way forward of debriefing session is that how to proceed for mobilising more resources as well as putting in place self-monitoring and reporting tools. app