ISLAMABAD: Over 22,000 children die annually because of preventable diarrhea with 79 million Pakistanis still lacking a decent toilet facility.
This information was shared by Salman Sufi of SS Foundation which runs ‘Saff Bath Project’, with Senate Standing Committee on Climate Change headed by Senator Sitara Ayaz, which met at the Parliament House on Friday.
He said Pakistan had fifth highest number of people practicing defecation in the open.
Besides, 53pc of Pakistani women do not have access to proper sanitation, and lack of public toilets costs Pakistan $2.5 billion per annum, he added.
Giving a detailed briefing on Saff Bath Project, Mr Sufi said this project was designed to provide clean toilet facility to public.
Saff Bath Project provides sanitised container toilets, SS Foundation representative says
Mr Sufi said the project provided sanitised container toilets, which were managed, maintained and cleaned by dedicated staff.
Earlier, he said according to a report published in 2017, almost 820 latrines need to be constructed per day to achieve an open defecation free Pakistan by 2030.
He told the Senate committee that women and girls were the hardest hit by shortage of toilets, and girls also commonly miss out on education if schools have inadequate sanitation and hygiene management facilities.
He said another important issue was safety of women at public toilets where harassment cases were common.
Mr Sufi said diseases spread through unhygienic condition, adding that the National Sanitation Policy of 2006 needed to be revised.
He said the country’s tourist sites had almost no toilet facilities.
The committee members and State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul assured their full support to Mr Sufi and said the committee would take all possible steps to assist him in providing toilet facility to people of the country.
Earlier, the committee came down hard on directorates concerned for poor cleanliness arrangements and not taking action against brick kilns operating in federal capital.
The committee was supposed to get compliance report from Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad regarding cleanliness arrangements in markets.
However, Director Sanitation Sardar Khan Zimri could not provide the compliance report to the committee. To this, the committee members said the MCI was not taking the committee’s recommendations seriously.
“We had directed you to hold meetings with traders to sort out cleanliness issue in markets and you were supposed to submit a report, but you failed; this is ridiculous,” she said.
Supporting the views of the chairperson, the members said the citizens of Islamabad were suffering from poor cleanliness arrangements because of fighting between MCI and CDA.
The committee members said the MCI collected garbage to dump it in I-12, which was hazardous and injurious to the health of people.
The committee directed the mayor and CDA chairman to appear before the committee in next meeting.
Meanwhile, PPP Senator Sherry Rehman criticised the Pakistan Environmental Protection Agency (Pak-EPA), saying a large numbers of brick kilns were polluting Islamabad, but no serious action had been taken against them.
Pak-EPA Director General Farzana Altaf told the committee that there were 63 brick kilns in Islamabad and 12 of them had been converted to the new environment-friendly zigzag technology.
Senator Rehman said the issue of brick kiln should be taken seriously.
State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul said the federal cabinet had already decided to help all 18,000 to 20,000 brick kilns operating in the country to convert them in zigzag technology. She said the climate change ministry is working on this project.
Senator Rehman asked that what is the cut-off date for completion of this project. The minister said she could not give definitive deadline.
“This is called truck ke batti (light of truck),” Senator Rehman said and left.
Later on, Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, while talking about the death of people in Karachi because of lethal gas poisoning, said that it was the responsibility of the climate change ministry to get an FIR registered against the people involved in this case.
Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2020