‘52pc of Pakistanis combat insanitary conditions’

20 Nov 2014

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Special persons join a walk to mark the World Toilet Day in Muzaffargarh. — Dawn
Special persons join a walk to mark the World Toilet Day in Muzaffargarh. — Dawn

MUZAFFARGARH: Nearly 52pc of the population (94 million people) in the country has no access to improved sanitation facilities and 23pc (40 million) defecate in the open, says a report.

“The disparities in urban and rural areas are quite visible as out of 94 million people who do not use improved sanitation facilities, 75 million live in rural areas. And of the 40 million people who defecate in the open, the vast majority 37 million live in rural areas,” the report prepared by AGAHE, a non-government organisation, adds.

It further says Pakistan has the second highest under five child mortality rate in South Asia. The economic impact of neglecting sanitation costs Pakistan 343.7 billion (US $5.7 billion) annually, which is 3.9pc of the GDP.

AGAHE, in collaboration with WaterAid in Pakistan, the Public Health Engineering Department, the LG department and District WASH Forum, observed World Toilet Day to create a momentum towards “Open Defecation Free District” by 2018.

An awareness walk and a seminar were held at the District Council lawn in which more than 400 people from government departments, community volunteers and those with disabilities actively participated.

Acknowledging the efforts of WaterAid and AGAHE for creating awareness on sanitation issues, D.G. Khan Division Commissioner Dr Saqib Aziz and Muzaffargarh DCO Hafiz Shaukat Ali pledged their cooperation for development of a district ODF plan.

Abdul Hafeez, Program Manager Policy & Advocacy - WaterAid, said: “The dangers of poor sanitation and dirty water have been known for around 150 years, yet more than 40 million people do not have a basic toilet to use in Pakistan, which harms the health of children and often leaves a lifetime legacy of disease and poverty.

“Sanitation in Pakistan is at a crisis point, requiring urgent action and attention of the government and sector partners. Our decision-makers must deliver on the commitments made at local, national, regional and global levels to achieve real progress on equitable and inclusive sanitation.”

AGAHE CEO Mubarak Ali Sarwar, being a representative of the District WASH Forum, said the NGO had worked in 14 UCs of Muzaffargarh. Since 2011, he said, it had targeted 165,429 individuals for provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene facilities by rehabilitation of three water supply schemes, construction of nine sewerage treatment units, installation of 251 hand pumps as a reward for construction of approximately 1,914 latrines by community itself.

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2014