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| Last Updated:28/05/2014

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Feeling thirsty: ‘Increase sanitation budget so families can have access to clean water’, 24 May 2014


According to the LG department's director-general, Faheem Junejo, Pakistan spends 0.18% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on water and sanitation - the lowest in the region. PHOTO: PPI


KARACHI: Around five to six children die every hour in Sindh due to malnutrition and diarrohea. Sanitation and hygiene in the province has gone from bad to worse and the only way to make it better is for local councils to ask for an increase in their budget allocations. This was one of the solutions discussed at a day-long workshop on how to draft a budget for water, sanitation and hygiene at Movenpick Hotel on Friday. The workshop was organised by the Sindh government’s local government (LG) department and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and was attended by the finance officers from different union councils of the province.


According to the LG department’s director-general, Faheem Junejo, Pakistan spends 0.18% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on water and sanitation – the lowest in the region.


He said that providing clean drinking water and proper sanitation was the responsibility of the provincial government and should be done through local councils. He added that the local government, town and municipal committees were working on their annual development programmes for 2014-2015.


“This is the right time for the councils to reconsider their priorities and increase the allocations for water, sanitation and hygiene,” he said.


Mubashara Iram, who works with WASH, UNICEF Sindh, said that 100 to 150 children die every day in Pakistan because of diarrhoea related illnesses and many of these deaths could be prevented by providing families with clean drinking water and proper sanitation. She added that overall, around 60 to 75 million people in the country were affected by diarrhoea or related illnesses every year.


Budgeting consultant, Niazullah Khan, provided an overview of water and sanitation in Pakistan and said that half of the country’s population was living without proper sanitation. “In Sindh, nearly ¾ of the rural population lives without improved sanitation,” he said. “Only 22% of the province’s population uses any effective treatment method for drinking water.” He added that the budgetary allocation for water and sanitation under the annual development plans had increased in 2013 to 2014 but there was a need to put more towards operations and maintenance of water and sanitation programmes managed by local councils.


According to Khan, the economic impact of the bad sanitation and hygiene resulted in an annual loss of 3.94% or more of the GDP.


Qaiser Shah, who works with WASH’s Karachi section, said that there was a need to maximise access to safe and clean drinking water and better sanitation.