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Published Date: Dec 18, 2020

Addressing water shortage during pandemic stressed

Islamabad : Speakers stressed the need to address water shortage during the pandemic when handwashing has become a necessity.

They were speaking at a virtual panel discussion organised by WaterAid Pakistan in collaboration with Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) under the 23rd Sustainable Development Conference (SDC).

The discussion was titled ‘Access to Water and Sanitation in post-COVID-19 Pakistan’. The discussion was chaired by Kanwal Shauzab, Parliamentary Secretary Planning, Development and Reform and had panellists from World Bank, WaterAid Pakistan, SDPI and Salman Sufi Foundation.

Speaking as chair of the session, Kanwal Shauzab highlighted the worsening state of water and sanitation in urban and rural areas across Pakistan. “In terms of WASH, one of the main factors that pose a huge threat to our communities is the contaminated water which is the root cause of water-borne diseases. Therefore, a greater engagement of all the stakeholders is required at the grassroots level in order to carry out tree plantation, organic farming and wastewater disposal in a sustainable way,” she said. “There is a dire need for elevation of the financial allocation of resources for Water and Sanitation services, if the country wants to achieve the set targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6 i.e. Clean Water and Sanitation for 2030,” Niaz Ahmed from WaterAid Pakistan said at the event.

He also highlighted the need to improve coordination between institutions working in this domain and emphasized the role of civil society in facilitating governmental initiatives in meeting the requirements of SDG 6. He said there need of recognition of water and sanitation as fundamental right in the Constitution of Pakistan in addition to addressing institutional, legal and policy framework related to ambiguities.

Niaz Ahmed also highlighted the need for increasing financial allocation for WASH which is currently less than half of the requirement for meeting SDG-6 targets and for this partnership between government, private sector and development partners was more important than ever. Basharat Saeed, Water Resources Specialist at World Bank Pakistan highlighted the fact that a significant percentage of Pakistani youth was stunted due to lack of adequate water and sanitation facilities among other reasons.