Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on Dawn.com.

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience

.

President stresses importance of awareness about water conservation

Updated March 22, 2019

Email

President says safe drinking water and sanitation are key priority areas of "Clean and Green Pakistan" initiative.— AP/File
President says safe drinking water and sanitation are key priority areas of "Clean and Green Pakistan" initiative.— AP/File

ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi said on Thursday that safe drinking water and sanitation are the key priority areas of ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’ initiative launched by the government.

On the eve of World Water Day being observed on March 22, the president was speaking at the inaugural ceremony of ‘Paak Saaf Pakistan’ initiative launched by Procter & Gamble Pakistan.

“Ensuring the health of our people requires that we invest in adequate infrastructure to increase access to safe and affordable drinking water as well as sanitation facilities,” the president said, adding: “It is also very important to create awareness about conservation of water, sanitation and good health and hygiene practices at the grassroots level.”

Says safe drinking water and sanitation are key priority areas of ‘Clean and Green Pakistan’ initiative

Under the three-year Paak Saaf Pakistan initiative, 50 million litres of clean drinking water would be provided to around 250,000 people besides creating cleanliness and hand-washing awareness among five million children.

Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul said the government’s goals can only be achieved with the help and coordination of the private sector.

Access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation facilities continues to take its toll on the health of a large number of Pakistanis.

Meanwhile, data released by WaterAid states that in Pakistan around 22 million people do not have access to clean water and 19,500 children under five years die every year from diarrhoea caused by dirty water and poor toilets.

WaterAid is a UK-based NGO working in water and sanitation hygiene sector.

The details released by WaterAid showed that Pakistan has the fourth largest groundwater aquifer - covering 1,137,819 square kilometres - and groundwater contributes to around 60 per cent for agriculture usage, 90pc for drinking and 100pc for industry.

While Pakistan is the fourth largest groundwater withdrawing country the Indus Basin aquifer is the second most overstressed groundwater basin in the world.

“Annual groundwater withdrawal is estimated to be 65 billion cubic metres (bcm) while the annual renewable groundwater resources are estimated to be 55bcm,” said Nadeem Ahmed, the manager policy and advocacy.

He said some hydrologists thought there could be a 10-20 metres decline in the groundwater tables which was a serious challenge.

He said there has to be water metering and pricing over usage of groundwater too apart from studies at local level over population growth rate and increasing water demand.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No 6 is regarding access to water and sanitation for all.

However, due to lack of policy in the country the quality of groundwater is depleting because of bacteriological and heavy metal contamination making more than 50 million people in Pakistan at a risk of arsenic poisoning.

Steps urged to avoid water crisis

A public health concern has suggested taking immediate steps to avoid a water crisis in future.

In a statement, Subh-i-Nau Chairperson Shahida Kausar Farooq said water shortage was worsening day by day in the country and it was feared that by 2025 Pakistan would be among the worst water scarce countries.

“Water shortage situation is alarming and people living in every part of country are facing this issue now. It is predicted that Pakistan will be among some of the worst affected countries in near future and we need to get ourselves ready to face this challenge. As this year’s World Water Day slogan says ‘leaving no one behind’, we need to make sure that clean water is in access of each and every individual.”

“Rainwater is another source that can be used to conserve water. Rainwater harvesting methods should be conveyed to general public and rainwater harvesting systems should be a part of building bylaws as well.”

Another issue, especially in cities, is that water supply lines are outdated and leakages are linked to water shortage and wastage. These lines should be repaired to save water.

Small dams are also necessary to save water coming from glaciers due to their melt in the summer. The groundwater is another issue as people are boring at homes to meet their needs and this badly affects groundwater recharge.

Though there is a ban on boring in the federal capital, still people are resorting to boring.

“CDA seems to be deliberately ignoring such practices and allowing people to have more boring to get water.”

Published in Dawn, March 22nd, 2019